I cook because it’s fun to get hands-on with food and experiment with flavors, and it’s relaxing to focus on something outside a screen. – Kim
Take one look at Kitchen Hero Kim’s home cooked meals, and you won’t believe that they don’t come from a gourmet restaurant. In fact, her delicious, healthy meals are also made on a budget! With meal planning, this Kitchen Hero is able to save money on groceries and still crank out simple meals that pack a whole lot of flavor. The result is a relaxing, enjoyable cooking experience and beautiful photos to prove it! Read more about Kim’s Hero in the Kitchen story below.
Name: Kim J.
City, State: Austin, Texas
I cook for: myself and my partner (he likes cooking too!).
Outside of the kitchen I: work in higher-ed marketing, podcast with my best friend, take photos, drink lots of coffee, and daydream about travel.
My favorite cuisine is: Tex-Mex. I might be addicted to chips & salsa.
I cook because: it’s fun to get hands-on with food and experiment with flavors, and it’s relaxing to focus on something outside a screen. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I turn a list of ingredients into a delicious (photo-worthy) meal.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: Black Bean & Spinach Skillet Enchiladas. I documented my success on Instagram here! (Below are photos of a few of my other favorite meals – Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Enchilada Stuffed Zucchini, and Southwestern Turkey Burgers.)
HOW DID YOU LEARN TO COOK?
My family was always cooking when I was a kid. My grandparents owned a BBQ restaurant where everyone pitched in, so I was around the smells of smoking meats all the time and really learned about patience in the kitchen. At home, I was always in awe of how easily my mom could “throw together” full dinners so I’ve learned a lot from her.
I’ve also grown so much from using Cook Smarts since that pushes me outside my comfort zone a lot, and I love scrolling through recipe tutorials on social media.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR BIGGEST COOKING CHALLENGE?
Knowing what tools and gadgets I need. I have limited storage in my kitchen, so I only invest in new appliances I think I will use regularly, but sometimes I buy something (like my immersion blender) and within a week it becomes a kitchen essential that I wish I had sooner.
What have you learned since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
Simple home-cooking doesn’t have to be light on flavor. I’ve really learned a lot about making homemade sauces and spice mixes. My marinade game is stronger than ever.
Cook Smarts was an investment we could make and it has paid off over time in dinners and in big savings at the grocery store.
How has Cook Smarts helped you stay on budget?
When I first started Cook Smarts, my budget was much tighter than it is now. We wanted help planning meals and coming up with dinner ideas, but most meal planning services were outside what we could afford. Cook Smarts was an investment we could make and it has paid off over time in dinners and in big savings at the grocery store since we don’t over-buy.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR PROUDEST KITCHEN MOMENT.
Probably making pretty great homemade ramen recently. Getting that perfect balance of flavors in the broth was a cooking high point. Any time I cook with my wok (another kitchen item I recently purchased and now use all the time), there are a lot of flavors happening and I love it.
WHAT ARE YOUR TIPS FOR HEALTH AND SUCCESS IN THE KITCHEN?
Be realistic about your time. No matter how tasty a meal comes out in the end, if you feel rushed or stressed about making it, it’ll be a bad experience. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t have time every evening to cook a full meal. Just plan ahead for the times you do and make the most of it.
Thank you for sharing your cooking story with us, Kim! We love seeing all your beautiful food photos pop up in our Instagram feed. You’ve definitely had a lot of kitchen successes, and we’re thrilled to be a part of them in some way. Maybe one day we’ll be able to try some of your homemade ramen!