Enjoying the Best of 2018 with the Cook Smarts Community

This year featured some awesome forms of entertainment, so see what received five-star ratings from our cooking community on our Best of 2018 List!

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • December 10, 2018

Every year is filled with busy schedules, but it’s also filled with rejuvenating little breaks, smile-worthy entertainment, and all of our favorite ways to unwind after a long day. As 2018 comes to a close, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the things that made us happy this year.

Three years ago, we started the tradition of surveying our cooking community for their best books, movies, shows, music, podcasts, and games to compile our year-end lists. Since we always love hearing from you, we especially love hearing about what YOU love.

Thank you to everyone in our community for your wonderful recommendations that will help us all bring more enjoyment into our daily lives. (Also, if you haven’t finished your holiday shopping yet, then this list and our 30 Meaningful Gift Ideas can come to the rescue!)

Join us for a fun way to engage with your fellow Cook Smarts home chefs! And for more recommendations, check out our best of lists from 2016 and 2017.

Didn’t get a chance to participate in our survey? Let us know your 2018 favorites in the comments or excitedly gush about why you love any of the entries below.

2018 Favorites of Your Cook Smarts Team

Before we look to our cooking community’s favorites of 2018, let’s start with recommendations from those who run, plan, and bring our special meal plan service to life!

Sarah Byun (Washington, DC) | Kitchen Happiness Cheerleader

Best Book: Everybody, Always by Bob Goff
Best Movie: Incredibles 2 – It was so worth the wait!
Best TV Show: The Great British Baking Show
Best Song: You Say – Lauren Daigle
Best Album: Look Up Child – Lauren Daigle
Best Games: This year I introduced my kids to old-school Mario – I had forgotten how fun good ol’ 8-bit Nintendo was!

Jess Dang (Mountain View, CA) | Chief Kitchen Cheerleader

Best Book: Couldn’t decide – Evicted by Matthew Desmond; Born a Crime by Trevor Noah; Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat by Samin Nosrat
Best Movie: Couldn’t decide – Crazy Rich Asians and Free Solo
Best TV Show: Ugly Delicious
Best Song: Sorry Not Sorry – Demi Levato
Best Album: Rainbow by Kesha
Best Podcast: NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour
Best Games: Drawful 2

Jackie Sun (Portland, OR) | Content Manager

Best Book: The Mistborn Trilogy by Brandon Sanderson (sci-fi and fantasy at its finest, with amazing characters you can relate to and politics and religion woven throughout)
Best Movie: Song of the Sea (the storyline is wonderful and the art is simply beautiful!)
Best TV Show: Hilda (from Netflix – such an adventure and the illustrations are awesome!)
Best Album: Ten Years (EP) by Aly & AJ and Wanderlust (EP) by Hollow Coves
Best Podcast: Geek Critique Podcast (for fans of Harry Potter, Star Wars, Hunger Games, Lord of the Rings, and Avatar: The Last Airbender, this podcast is filled with thought-provoking discussions regarding specific themes of each geeky property) and How I Built This

Jess Smith (Kansas City, MO) | Meal Plan Creator

Best Book: The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
Best Movie: A Star is Born
Best TV Show: The Handmaid’s Tale
Podcast: This American Life – The Walls (Episode 641)

Best Books

If you think about the books you have loved most throughout your life, you probably picked up many of them because of a recommendation. Here are the books your cooking community recommends, organized into genre.

Top Picks:


Historical Narrative:


Memoir / Biography:


Sci-Fi / Fantasy:

Best Movies

It doesn’t matter what kind of movies you love, our list is sure to satisfy your itch for a quality film. Among our top picks with 2 or 3 submissions are action, rom-com, musical, drama, and documentary. You’ll probably want to head to Redbox tonight so you can start making your way through this thrilling list!

Top Picks:



Comedy / Drama:


Documentary / Biography:

Horror / Mystery:

Best TV Shows

Spanning topics of stand-up comedy, ability, exploitation, friendly baking, coming out, and a very peculiar after life, our community has got you covered with a list of riveting TV shows. The unceasingly clever show The Good Place has topped our list with 9 emphatic recommendations, so you should definitely check it out if you want to add some pure joy to your day.

Top Picks:








Best Music

We know that one of the most enjoyable ways to cook is with some great tunes on in the background. Although we couldn’t find a few of our member’s favorites on Spotify, we compiled as many as possible into this fun playlist. With hours of songs to try, you can bob your head along with us as you cook your way through the next several weeks!

*Note: Some of the lyrics are explicit, so you may not want to listen with kids around (or just pop on some headphones for your first listen).

Top Pick artist:

Top Pick albums:


  • Bullets by Needtobreathe
  • Despacito x Shape of You by Pentatonix (“Two of the catchiest recent songs mashed together.” – Chelsea S.)
  • Don’t Blame Me by Taylor Swift
  • DVD Sweetener by Black Moth Super Rainbow
  • Good Old Days by Macklemore
  • Happiness by Marshmello
  • It’s Alright by Mother Mother
  • Joy by For King and Country
  • Life is Beautiful by Lil Peep (“It is a haunting posthumous release that could not have been released at all. While examining some of the darkest parts of life, he simultaneously gives comfort, showing us that our love for each other is what makes life beautiful. His Orwellian lyrics mixed with emo-trap beats make impacting but simple statements ring through to your soul. – Dana H.”)
  • No Tears Left to Cry by Ariana Grande
  • Perfect by Symphony (with Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli)
  • Run Run Run by Celeste Buckingham
  • Sorry Not Sorry by Demi Levato
  • Still Rolling Stones by Lauren Daigle
  • Who You Say I Am by Hillsong Worship
  • You Say by Lauren Daigle
  • Your Wings by Lauren Daigle


  • Art Angels by Grimes
  • Audrey Assad by Evergreen
  • Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life by The Wombats
  • Cinematic by Owl City
  • Come Over When You’re Sober Pt. 2 by Lil Peep
  • Dance and Cry by Mother Mother
  • Durand Jones and the Indications
  • Floating Harmonies by Júníus Meyvant
  • Forever on Your Side by Needtobreathe
  • Hamilton (Soundtrack)
  • Land by Unspoken Tradition
  • Moana (Soundtrack)
  • Space by Sleeping at Last
  • Ten Years (EP) by Aly & AJ
  • Wanderlust (EP) by Hollow Coves

Best Podcast

As we perfect recipes or edit photos for your meal plans, we love to keep our mind engaged with a stream of fascinating podcasts. Whether you have a long commute or simply want to be a good Ravenclaw (yes, we are all Harry Potter fans here!), have fun with a bit of hands-free learning!

Best Games

Since we’re never too old to have fun, it’s great to see that our members still make time for play in their lives. If you have family or friends coming into town for the holidays, think about ordering one of these fun games to spice up your festivities!

Top Picks:

Board / Card:

Computer / Video:

  • Mario (Nintendo)
  • We Happy Few (videogame) – (“Creepy alt history game set in a British town after surrendering to the Germans during WWII.” – Chelsea S.)
  • The Witcher 3 (video game)


A little note: Some of the above links are Amazon affiliate links, which means we earn a small percentage from those sales. We use this affiliate revenue to support the continued growth of Cook Smarts. Thank you!

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