Sara: From Picky to Playful in the Kitchen

“My grandmother was a huge inspiration for me, and I always felt so loved when sharing a big meal with family at her house. She had fun in the kitchen, let me help, and taught me how to read recipes.”

Sara: Cook Smarts' Hero in the Kitchen @cooksmarts #WhatsYourCookingStory
Sara was once a picky eater but this gal has grown into a home cook that clearly appreciates a lot of different flavors and knows how to relax and have fun in the kitchen. Read her Heroes in the Kitchen story below:

Name: Sara
Age: 32
City, State: Houston, TX
Outside of the kitchen I: spend time with my two Havanese pups, am obsessed with keeping up with pop culture, and love anything that makes me laugh.
Being able to cook allows me to: relax, be creative (which is the only place in the world I really feel creative – I’m far too practical) & experiment.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal: Baked Salmon with Coconut Curry Sauce & Butternut Squash OR the Wine Braised Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Cabbage. I absolutely love Asian flavors but always been a bit intimidated by the sauces & ingredients. Cook Smarts breaks it down, makes it easy, and I look like a hero to my husband for wonderful dinners.

How did you learn to cook?

I learned to cook first out of necessity. I grew up in a large family, and when I was about 12, each sibling was assigned a night to cook. We could make whatever we wanted to make, but we were in charge. I quickly grew tired of spaghetti & jarred sauce, so I started SLOWLY branching out.

My grandmother was a huge inspiration for me, and I always felt so loved when sharing a big meal with family at her house. She had fun in the kitchen, let me help, and taught me how to read recipes, measure, etc.

Then after college I moved to NYC and had a job where I was responsible for planning events. I got to eat at the most amazing places NYC has to offer (on the company’s dime!), which inspired me to explore more in the kitchen.

What’s been your biggest kitchen challenge?

Branching out beyond what I’m comfortable with eating. I used to be beyond picky, but I think that’s because I hadn’t really experienced well-prepared FRESH food. There are still a few things I won’t allow in my kitchen (mushrooms & mayo) but I’m pretty open now.

“Cook Smarts breaks it down, makes it easy, and I look like a hero to my husband for wonderful dinners.”

How has your cooking routine changed recently?

I now use leftovers! I work mainly from home, so having extras from dinner allows me to eat a healthy & fast lunch. Plus, it’s SO much better than Lean Cuisines.

What new skill or dish have you cooked that you’re most proud of?

We got a grill this summer, and I’m becoming much more comfortable grilling meats. It’s still unpleasant to stand over a hot grill during summer in humid Houston, but the results are worth it. It’s certainly not perfect but it becomes a little less stressful each time.

Also I want to add that I’m also proud of cooking Thanksgiving dinner twice now. Once for 8 people pretty much by myself, and the second time for 26 people with my cousin. It felt like a huge rite of passage!

What advice would you give to other home cooks on reaching their cooking goals?

First, read a recipe through twice before you even start. Make sure you understand each step. Secondly, I’m a huge fan of the prep. I take out every ingredient I need at the beginning, measure spices out, chop veggies, etc. before I get started. Mise en place makes me feel like a chef! Lastly, don’t forget the apron. It’s always a handy place to wipe your hands :).


Sara, thanks for telling us a bit about your family (we have a soft spot for grandmas too), and sharing your cooking tips. We’re determined to help you embrace mushrooms and mayo. Maybe a homemade aioli (fresh mayo) will convince you?

Sara's Favorite Cook Smarts Meal: Pork Tenderloin & Sauteed Cabbage
To join Sara and cook meals like her favorite pork tenderloin with sauteed cabbage, check out our meal plan service. You can get started for free!

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