Jennifer: Finding Time for Careers, Kids, and Cooking
“Kids are motivated by what they see their parents doing.”
In Jennifer’s last Kitchen Hero feature in 2014, she used Cook Smarts as a way to have home-cooked meals while working full-time and going on regular flying trapeze adventures and mountain hikes. Since then, she welcomed a daughter into the family and time is even more scarce. Our healthy meal plan service gives Kitchen Hero Jennifer the resources for quick shopping and cooking so she can have the mental space to be both a great attorney and mom. Every week we deliver her easy recipes that are great for cooking with kids. Whether exposing her little one to a wide range of cuisines or new outdoor activities, adventures are still a big part of her and her family’s life.
Name: Jennifer Brough
City, State: Orinda, CA
I cook because: it’s wonderful stress relief after a crazy day.
The strangest food I have ever eaten is: silkworm larvae in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The 3 pantry items I cannot live without are: hot sauce, sesame oil, red curry paste
My 3 favorite Cook Smarts meals are: Asian-Spiced Fish Tacos, Turkish Pitas with Hummus and Lamb, Maple-Dijon Panko Crusted Salmon
Tell us about your daily / weekly cooking routine and how you tackle shopping and prep.
I cook dinner 4-5 days a week. I like to keep my weekends open for outdoor activities with the family, so I don’t do any weekend prep. On Monday, I check the Cook Smarts menu for the week and order groceries through Instacart. I pick my daughter up from preschool and we arrive home at the same time as our grocery delivery.
What has been your biggest challenge in the kitchen since having your daughter?
Finding the time to shop and cook as a full-time attorney and mom. I’ve been using Cook Smarts since before I was pregnant, so the meal planning part has always been a breeze. Grocery shopping with a toddler is not my idea of a good time, so I use Instacart most weeks to keep my sanity. Since we have limited time after work and before my daughter’s bed time, I’ve gotten her involved in the cooking routine. This helps keep her occupied while I get dinner on the table and also helps her to feel invested in what we make and eat.
How has Cook Smarts helped your daily life with a toddler?
One of the most common complaints I hear from fellow working moms is that they don’t have the time or mental energy to come up with dinner ideas. Cook Smarts shoulders that piece of the mental load for me. Without Cook Smarts, we’d be relying on convenience meals or takeout. I sing Cook Smarts’ praises every chance I get. The flexibility of Cook Smarts is essential because some weeks we just can’t get to the recipe we intended to make. I know that I can pick up where I left off the next week when things calm down a bit.
“One of the most common complaints I hear from fellow working moms is that they don’t have the time or mental energy to come up with dinner ideas. Cook Smarts shoulders that piece of the mental load for me.”
Now that you are preparing meals for a child, what ways have your cooking choices changed?
I make most of the same meal choices that I made before my daughter was born. I want her to be exposed to a broad range of cuisines and flavors. I may tone down the spice a bit more these days, but I don’t shy away from choosing dishes with complex flavors or new ingredients. I use my Instant Pot as much as possible to free up time that we can spend having dance parties or playing outside.
What strategies have you used to make cooking / meals a family activity?
Inspired by Jess Dang, I bought my daughter a set of nylon knives once she turned 3. She loves to help me prep vegetables. I’ve found that when she’s involved in the cooking process, she feels a sense of pride in what she made and will try any vegetable that she helped prep.
What are some helpful tips on cooking for kids and raising healthy eaters?
Kids are motivated by what they see their parents doing. I can’t expect my daughter to be an adventurous eater if I’m constantly making her a separate, kid-safe meal. At home, she eats what we eat and knows that we’ll never force her to finish something as long as she gives it an open-minded try.
Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to share your story with us, Jennifer! We know that your tips for raising healthy kids will help and inspire the Cook Smarts community. We’re so glad that our meal plan takes away some of the mental load of home cooking and provides you with fun parent-child cooking recipes for quality time with your daughter. We hope to hear about more of your grand adventures soon!