Linda and Emma: Divide and Conquer Family Dinners

Linda and Emma: Divide and Conquer Family Dinners

“Don’t fuss too much over imperfections and messes . . . all that is fixable and allows for creativity.” – Linda

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • March 13, 2019

After constantly coming home from work and jumping straight into cooking with no break, Kitchen Hero Linda found a perfect solution: divide and conquer.

When we first interviewed the family five years ago (read their story here), Linda had recently started involving her two daughters in the cooking process. Since then, Audrey and Emma have gained a confidence in the kitchen that allows them to take ownership of meals and lets their imaginations foster new creations.

Now these three Kitchen Heroes divide up the weekly dinners so everyone has time to enjoy cooking, as well as their own activities. This stress-free system is so successful that Linda even has time to read a book or take a nap these days! There’s just no downside. Read on for a charming update from Emma and Linda!

Name: Emma
Age: 13
City, State: Hayward, CA
My specialty dish that everyone always asks me to make is: I always like to try new recipes, so I almost never make the same meal twice.  
The strangest food I have ever eaten is: In Japan, we ate corn and mayo pizza.
My all-time favorite snack is: Takis (a spicy corn snack)

What has been your biggest challenge in the kitchen?

Cleaning up afterward.

Tell us about your proudest kitchen moment.

The first time I made macarons successfully.

What is your favorite thing about preparing a meal for your family?

I like getting feedback, especially when everybody loves it.

How do you and your sister share the cooking responsibilities?

I cook and clean up most weeknights. Sometimes my sister will cook.


Cook Smarts got us into the habit of having nightly family meals without stress, which continues to be one of my favorite things.


Name: Linda
Age: 53
City, State:  Hayward, CA
I discovered Cook Smarts through: I think I was just Googling “meal planning”, because that’s the chore I dreaded the most every week.
My top 3 favorite Cook Smarts dinners are: My daughters have gone in their own direction when it comes to meal planning. My younger has a favorite app she uses, and my older prefers to buy main ingredients at the Japanese grocery store and then wing it without recipes. They both possess a confidence in the kitchen that I’m still working on achieving. Cook Smarts is still my favorite when it’s my week to do the cooking! I love so many of the soups, especially the Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Italian Sausage and Chard White Bean Soup.
Now that my daughters cook most of the dinners, I use my extra time to: I used to start preparing dinner immediately after work, and it felt like I never got a break. Now I have an hour or two of downtime. Sometimes I get other things done around the house, or read a book. Sometimes I take a nap!

How has meal planning with Cook Smarts affected your lifestyle and your family?

Cook Smarts got us into the habit of having nightly family meals without stress, which continues to be one of my favorite things. Especially as the kids get older and are off doing their own activities.

Why have you stayed with Cook Smarts for over 4 years?

Other than taking over the task of meal planning, I love that each week cleverly reuses ingredients even while providing a great variety of flavors. It’s a smart use of my grocery budget. And the Cook Smarts online community is one of the most positive, useful, fun, supportive groups online.

What is one of your favorite memories of cooking with your daughters?

When the girls graduated to doing their own planning, shopping, and cooking, I loved seeing the pride and sense of accomplishment on their faces.

What advice would you give a parent who wants to get their kids involved in the cooking process?

Give them credit for being capable; you’ll be surprised how much they can do on their own with just a little guidance.  And don’t fuss too much over imperfections and messes . . . all that is fixable and allows for creativity.


Thank you for sharing with us about your inspiring family of chefs, Linda and Emma! We are so glad that our meal plan service has helped you get into the beautiful habit of stress-free family dinners, and still supports you through recipes and our great online community. We are thrilled to see how confident, responsible, and creative Emma and Audrey have grown up to be and can’t wait to see what they do in the future!

To join Linda and cook meals like her favorite Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Italian Sausage and Chard White Bean Soup, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!

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Linda and Emma: Divide and Conquer Family Dinners | Cook Smarts Kitchen Hero

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