Jennifer & Anthony: Healthy Eating for Busy Professionals
Want to know how to eat healthy on a budget and busy schedule? Learn Jennifer and Anthony’s secrets for eating well as a grad student!
We all know that going to graduate school can be one of the most busy times in life. So how can a grad student save money and find the time to cook? It really doesn’t sound possible. Well, the good news is that it is! Medical student Jennifer and PhD student Anthony have found a way to save money by avoiding restaurants and to eat healthy, home-cooked meals in the midst of hectic schedules. Take a glimpse into their daily routine and get tips that can make your busy life more manageable, too!
Name: Jennifer Woodard & Anthony Veltri
City, State: Baltimore, MD
We cook for: stress relief, enjoying food, making quick meals, and fun!
Outside of the kitchen we: enjoy reading and board games.
If we could have any cooking superpower, it would be: super-speed prep!
We cook because: it saves money and gives us control of our nutrition.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: Mushroom and Swiss Chard Stroganoff
We know that you both recently did a no-restaurant challenge for a whole month. Can you tell us more about it – what inspired you, what kept you motivated, and how it was like completing it?
We initially chose to do a no-restaurant challenge because we realized we had been spending a lot of money eating out and ordering from restaurants, wasting food that we had already bought for Cook Smarts meals that we never made. The no-restaurant challenge was great because it motivated us to cook together and eat healthy even on nights when we didn’t feel like it. It was tough the first week trying to get on top of the prep work, but when we actually followed a schedule, it went pretty smoothly. It was also just a lot of fun to spend time together accomplishing a goal we set for ourselves.
How did the two of you first get into cooking, and what’s your favorite thing about cooking?
We first got into cooking in college. There’s only so much cafeteria food you can eat before you want something else. Once we had our own apartments with kitchens, we would try to make our own meals a few times a week. We love trying new foods and flavor combinations. One of our favorite things about Cook Smarts is the emphasis on seasonal produce and vegetables that we wouldn’t have tried otherwise.
Jennifer, you’re currently doing a residency for medical school and we know that Anthony is in grad school, too. Tell us what your shopping, prepping, and cooking routine is like while managing a busy schedule?
I’m in my clinical years of medical school, so instead of being in the classroom, I’m doing hospital rotations – because of this, my schedule is a bit unpredictable! I rely a lot on Anthony for help with shopping and cooking, because, as a PhD student, his schedule is a bit more flexible. We sometimes use Instacart and grocery pickup services when things get too hectic. Even for the fee, we’re still saving money by using them and not going to a restaurant. Also, buying pre-prepped items is a huge time saver!
“Cook Smarts has helped us try new things and master cooking techniques.”
How do you two split the cooking responsibilities?
In an ideal world, [Anthony] does the shopping and I do the prep, then we split the cooking. In reality, it varies week to week depending on our schedules and when / if we actually get to the grocery store. A lot of the time Anthony will tackle the cooking when I am studying or have to work late.
What have you learned since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
Cook Smarts has helped us try new things and master cooking techniques. Even when we aren’t cooking with a recipe, we find ourselves going back to combinations of flavors and ingredients that we first learned in Cook Smarts recipes. We almost never buy sauces or salad dressings anymore now that we know how easy and delicious they are when made from scratch.
What are your tips for health and success in the kitchen?
For us, it’s all about planning and flexibility. We do our best when we know in advance what we’re going to eat and who is going to make it. However, plans often change, so being able to swap out meals and fall back on favorite recipes from the [Cook Smarts meal plan] archive is a huge plus.
On another note, keeping the kitchen and table clean helps remove barriers that might stop us from cooking on a night when it’s hard to get motivated.
Thank you so much, Jennifer and Anthony, for spending some of the limited time you have with us and giving our community insights into your life in and around the kitchen! We are so glad that we can make your weeks a bit easier by meal planning for you and giving you exciting new meals to enjoy. We’re sending you warm wishes as you both finish your degrees!