Miranda & Dan: Cooking for Stress Relief

Miranda & Dan: Cooking for Stress Relief

Miranda and Dan share how they relieve stress in the kitchen, their simple meal planning tips that keep them organized as working parents, and tips for raising healthy eaters.

  • By Leila Kalmbach
  • May 18, 2021

As busy health care workers and parents of toddlers, Kitchen Heroes Miranda and Dan don’t have time to waste stressing about what to do for dinner. They both grew up cooking, though, and these days find it an enjoyable way to relieve stress at the end of a long day — provided they stay organized with their meal plan and open-minded to new flavors. Here they share how cooking fits into their lives, and their best tips for making it work for the whole family.

Names: Miranda & Dan
Ages: 35
City, State: Indianapolis, IN
We cook for: ourselves and two toddlers.
Outside of the kitchen we: work in health care.
The one kitchen tool / equipment I cannot live without is: a good chef’s knife (Dan); our induction range (Miranda)
We cook because: it allows us to control the ingredients we consume and helps us create fresh, new meals that can expand our family’s palate and selection. It’s especially important to us because we are both very busy with work and stress in this season. Cooking has become an enjoyable stress reliever.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: Gochujang Beef Fried Rice and Bouillabaisse (our girls LOVE the bouillabaisse!)

1. How did you learn to cook?

We come from two slightly different backgrounds. Dan’s father was a trained chef and inspired a passion for cooking. Miranda grew up in the country with homegrown seasonal produce that was home-canned or frozen and once a month grocery trips. Her mom and grandmother were excellent cooks and incredible at using resources and ingredients on hand.

2. What’s been your biggest cooking challenge?

Finding time with two toddlers.

3. What strategies have you used to raise healthy eaters?

We continually have them try new foods without forcing them. Eventually, they begin to try something new and learn that they like them. We sing Daniel Tiger’s tune frequently – “You gotta try new food because it might taste good!”

We are continually amazed at what they will try and eat if they are simply given the chance. We also talk about how healthy foods taste and feel – crunchy is always a fun one!


“Cook Smarts makes it less overwhelming to actually cook at home without spending a ton of time prepping and planning.”

— Miranda & Dan


4. What’s been the biggest change in your family’s cooking / eating routine since starting Cook Smarts?

We have trended away from getting take out as much and eating meals that are hot and fresh. We look forward to dinner instead of fretting about what is for dinner.

5. What have you learned since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?

How to expand our ability to cook more than meat and potatoes as well as our palate! Cook Smarts makes it less overwhelming to actually cook at home without spending a ton of time prepping and planning. We enjoy the meal preparation process much more which leads to a more relaxed family meal time.

6. How do you stay organized with meal planning?

Miranda: [There’s] a small white board we use to track which meals we are making which day [see photo above]. I plan based on the freshness of ingredients we have as well as my work schedule. I work in a hospital, so my schedule varies from week to week (various shifts, weekends, holidays, work from home, go in . . .), so Sunday / Monday isn’t always the “beginning” of my week. I write in what I have planned and then erase when we’ve eaten it. I also write down things like when to thaw frozen ingredients or if something needs to be marinated.

7. Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.

Every once in a while having a meal come out looking like the picture! 🙂

8. What are your tips for health and success in the kitchen?

Try not to look at a meal with a preconceived belief that it is something we wouldn’t like. Almost every time, something we might never would have cooked turned out to be very flavorful and a family favorite! Being open and willing to try is the biggest key.


Thank you, Miranda and Dan, for giving us insight into your family dinners! We’re so glad you find pleasure in cooking, and that our meal planning service has helped keep you relaxed and trying new foods. We wish you continued success in and out of the kitchen, and thank you for taking on the challenging job of keeping us all safe and healthy as health care workers!

To join Miranda and Dan and cook meals like their favorite Gochujang Beef Fried Rice and Bouillabaisse, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!

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