It’s been really fun cooking as a team. . .Since we’ve started working together, cooking is a weekly activity we look forward to, not a chore.
-Stephanie & Meryl
Cooking for one is like exercising by yourself. It can get boring, and it’s easy to lose motivation and skip or day or two. It’s also much for fun with a buddy, which is why Kitchen Heroes Stephanie and Meryl decided to team up and cook together. These ladies, who also enjoy kayaking together during their free time, were tired of cooking for one, so they came up with a way to get around the cooking-for-one blues. By cooking together weekly, they are both able to have fun cooking. And the best part is that they can enjoy good company over a shared bottle of wine and a delicious, homemade meal. Now that’s some kitchen time that everyone could get used to! Find out more about Meryl’s and Stephanie’s tag team Hero in the Kitchen story below.
Names: Stephanie Whiting & Meryl Stark
Ages: 27 & 25
City, State: Chattanooga, TN
We cook for: ourselves.
Outside of the kitchen: Stephanie owns a graphic design and web development studio – Boho Studio. Meryl is an engineer at Shaw Floors, where she manages quality control. We both kayak whitewater all over the southeast.
The one kitchen tool / equipment we cannot live without is: sharp, high-quality knives.
We cook because: we’re both single and got tired of cooking for one. We found that it was easier (and more fun) to plan and cook our meals together. We hatched the idea of cooking together one afternoon while out kayaking. We both realized that we were experiencing similar frustrations trying to cook for ourselves. Meryl had already joined Cook Smarts and had some successes, so we figured it would be an easy way to get started.
Favorite Cook Smarts meal so far: Green Curry Noodle Soup & Miso-Maple Panko-Crusted Chicken Breasts. We’ve also added some of our own favorite recipes to meal plans. Meryl’s Cranberry Meatballs have been a big hit.
How did you guys learn to cook?
Stephanie – My grandma was a great cook, but she only passed down her recipes, not her skills. She hated when people got underfoot in her kitchen. My parents never enjoyed cooking much, so I’ve picked it up in bits and pieces over the years on my own.
Meryl – Food has been a big part of my family. Both my mom and dad (and grandparents) cooked all the time, so I picked up some of it while I was growing up, even though I didn’t usually participate. My dad has always worked in the foodservice industry, so he’s picked up tons of tricks from professionals that he’s passed on in addition to his skillset. My dad also introduced me to all sorts of kitchen tools and gadgets that I’m slowly acquiring an arsenal of on my own — having the right tools makes a big difference. I also love Asian food, so I’ve made an effort to teach myself how to cook that well. (Love the Asian recipes on Cook Smarts.)
How has sharing this cooking experience together been for the two of you?
It’s been really fun cooking as a team. We also usually split a bottle of wine while we’re cooking our dinners. Aside from the fact that we save money on groceries by shopping for two, we also are much more efficient when we cook all of our meals at once.
What’s been the biggest cooking challenge you guys came across?
Since we cook all of our meals at once, timing everything correctly (and having enough countertop space for prepping) can get tricky. Having a dog and a cat that like to steal food can also be particularly challenging, especially on rainy nights when the dog can’t go outside.
“We’ve learned a lot of tricks from the Cook Smarts recipes that have brought certain dishes to the next level.”
How has your cooking routine changed since starting Cook Smarts’ meal plans?
Stephanie – The best thing Cook Smarts has done for me is to eliminate the need for numerous shopping trips during the week. Using Cook Smarts ensures that I always have quality food on hand, eliminating the urge to eat out all the time.
Meryl – Cooking for one person is hard. I like to cook, but I wasn’t able to figure out the serving sizes correctly. I would end up with a week’s worth of one recipe, get tired of it, and throw it away. It was very frustrating, wasteful, and time-consuming, so I ended up eating out way too much. Now, I love not having to think about what to pack for lunch at work, or what to have for dinner. I just grab a container and heat it up. Cook Smarts also makes most of the planning decisions for me – “What’s for dinner?” is not a question I have to ask very often.
Tell us about the proudest kitchen moment for the both of you.
We forgot to buy tomato sauce for lasagna one night, but we had frozen leftovers from a can of tomatoes. We made a marinara sauce from scratch, and it turned out incredibly well!
Additionally, we’ve learned a lot of tricks from the Cook Smarts recipes that have brought certain dishes to the next level.
What are your tips for a healthy life and success in the kitchen?
Make it fun. Since we’ve started working together, cooking is a weekly activity we look forward to, not a chore.
Kudos to you guys for putting the fun in cooking, Meryl and Stephanie! We’ll admit that when we’re solo for the evening, we sometimes resort to take-out or some unhealthy option, so your cooking story is a definite inspiration for anyone who have to (and hate to) cook for one. Next time, we’ll be sure to buddy up!