We keep busy, but even with our busy schedules, we know that cooking meals for our family is important and is a priority. – Matt & Erin
We’ve got another cooking duo this week for our Hero in the Kitchen series! Husband and wife cooking team, Matt and Erin, are parents who like to keep a busy schedule. But even with all of their activities and taking care of their 2-year-old son, they still manage to make healthy, home cooked meals a priority, so that their son can grow up learning to appreciate real food. Together, these busy Kitchen Heroes split the cooking duties so that they can enjoy a variety of homemade meals and save time and money while they’re at it. Erin shares their family’s cooking story below, so read on to see how they are able to overcome cooking challenges and pre-packaged foods!
Name(s): Matt and Erin Killingsworth
Age(s): We’re in our 30’s.
City, State: Knoxville, TN
We cook for: our family and sometimes company! In our home, it’s the two of us, and our almost 2-year-old son. Erin has become known as the “salad” girl for all of our family get-togethers because they love the salad dressings and the different combinations that she brings to our regular potlucks.
Outside of the kitchen we: are involved in our church, are avid sports fans, we enjoy working out and are volunteers for our respective Greek organizations. We keep busy, but even with our busy schedules, we know that cooking meals for our family is important and is a priority. Professionally, Matt is a Fundraising Consultant for Pennington & Co, and Erin is a stay-at-home mom, as well as the CEO of her own business, Wedding Under Control. We have an almost 2-year-old son, and an almost 6-year-old miniature schnauzer that are very active! We like to stay busy!
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: This is hard to choose! Erin’s is probably the Southwestern Black Bean Burgers with Avocado and Cilantro Lime Sauce. Matt’s is probably the Shrimp Potstickers. He’s always requesting them and wants to double the recipe and freeze half so that we can throw them in the skillet at any time!
HOW DID you guys LEARN TO COOK?
Matt has always been knowledgeable in the kitchen. As he was growing up, he helped his Mom in the kitchen. He’s the kind of cook that will “add a little of this” or “throw in some more of that”.
I can cook, but I’m a total recipe follower. As a result, I could bake better than cook because baking requires more of a rigid process. Growing up, I was extremely picky and wouldn’t even try new foods. Even as an adult. So, cooking was never much of an interest to me. When we were registering for our wedding gifts, I remember wondering how much of these fancy kitchen gadgets we’d actually use. They sat in drawers and cabinets untouched, but now, they are used regularly!
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST COOKING CHALLENGE?
It took me awhile to get on board with trying new foods. I used to never eat peppers. Now, even if a pepper isn’t on the Cook Smarts grocery list, I buy one anyway and almost always eat it!
I’d say that my biggest cooking challenge is timing. I have a habit of not reading the entire recipe and just jumping in with number 1. It definitely helps to read the entire recipe, but I often find myself responding to my son in between every step, so I lose track of where I am or forget how long something has been on the stove. With a little one running around during cook time, it’s easy to get off track. If I actually read the recipe a few times pre-cook time, I do better, even with a toddler wanting my attention or wanting to help.
Thanks to Cook Smarts, I impress myself sometimes! . . . I would never have been cooking these types of meals two years ago . . . they sound fancier than they are because they’re so simple to make!
How has your family’s cooking routine changed since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
When we first got married 4 years ago, Matt was the predominant cook in the family. However, we found ourselves getting in a rut with our recipes. We’d have the same things regularly, and we were getting tired of it. Enter Cook Smarts! One of my friends from Jazzercise mentioned Cook Smarts because it gave her variety in her menu each week. That’s when I started to cook!
I began doing the prep and would then find myself cooking the actual meal. Thanks to Cook Smarts, I impress myself sometimes! My mom will ask me what I’m cooking for dinner and ask me, “Who are you?” because I would never have been cooking these types of meals two years ago! And I tell her every time that they sound fancier than they are because they’re so simple to make!
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROUDEST KITCHEN MOMENT.
Cook Smarts has definitely been an integral part of expanding my flavor palate. Like I mentioned, I grew up very picky and even as an adult, I wouldn’t try new foods. I just had no interest in it. When I became pregnant, I knew that I’d have to eat better and more of a variety so that I was a good example for our growing family. I also needed to eat healthier because most of my meals were pre-packaged and came from a box! Not good for a family who wants to have healthy children that will try anything new on their plates! So, our proudest kitchen revelation has to be that we eat more of a variety and that our shopping cart is made up of predominantly produce, meats, and dairy as opposed to boxed foods.
Probably my proudest kitchen moment was early on in our Cook Smarts journey. One of the menu items were shrimp potstickers. Luckily, I LOVE shrimp, but I was definitely intimidated by the potstickers! They looked so hard! I probably watched the tutorial video five times before attempting one. Then, sure enough, I got the hang of it! Now, it’s a regular in our rotation of meals!
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR HEALTH AND SUCCESS IN THE KITCHEN?
Shopping on the outskirts of the store means you’re being healthy. Shopping predominantly in the center aisles means that you’re buying pre-packaged items. I’ve learned a lot about how to pick the right fruits and vegetables, as well as learning how to prep them.
One success tip about prepping that I’ve learned is that if I prep, I’m more inclined to cook the meal those ingredients go with. It used to be that we would buy all of the ingredients and fresh produce but wouldn’t prep anything. So, dinner time would come around, and neither one of us wanted take the time to chop, mix, or prep anything, so we would default to something pre-bought or we would order carry out. Having everything prepped early in the week helps to keep us on track and to eat what we actually plan on making! Plus, it’s better on the budget that way because you’re using what you’re buying instead of throwing out old produce that came with good intentions.
Erin and Matt, we know it’s so simple to take the easy way out and order take-out or buy pre-packaged foods, especially when there is a little one running around, demanding attention. So kudos to you guys for making healthy, homemade dinners a reality! Thanks for sharing your family’s cooking story with us. We’re thrilled to hear that you guys are enjoying a variety of dishes now and trying new things – your son is going to grow up to be an amazing little eater!
To join Matt and Erin and cook meals like their favorite Shrimp Potstickers and Southwestern Black Bean Burgers with Avocado and Cilantro Lime Sauce, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!