Tag Archives: challenge

Week Four of #Cook90… and DONE!

Epicurious issued the #cook90 challenge to cook 3 meals a day for 30 days in January and I decided to accept. (Read: Why I’m Going to #cook90.) But now it’s the end of the month. Which means, I did it!


img_9032Post-dinner on January 31 and that’s a wrap! I’d love to claim “where did the month go?” but I can’t. This challenge was surprisingly difficult. I even missed some of those pre-made foods – after all, they’re tasty! And I buy them because there are some things that I just don’t want to make myself. (Bring on the Trader Joe’s potstickers!)

Lessons Learned

So what did cooking and Instagram-ing so many meals in one month teach me?

  1. Weekend prep is KEY. There is no getting around it. Coming home on a weeknight knowing there’s roasted veggies, washed and chopped lettuce, and cooked chicken in the fridge, makes dinner seem less daunting. Pasta, sandwiches, wraps, and tacos can all the made from those ingredients in less time than it would take me to decide where to call for takeout.
  2. Meal planning is a must. To keep from getting bored with everything I’ve cooked on the weekend, a meal plan with pre-determined variations is necessary. It also helps in dealing with the inevitable leftovers.
  3. The freezer is my friend. Much of my weekend meal prep goes into Ziploc bags and into the freezer so I can easily thaw sauces and sides in minutes. This has helped keep the variety up and the leftovers to a minimum.
  4. A lot of people like pictures of food. I am still surprised when complete strangers leave encouraging comments on my Instagram posts. It’s oddly motivating and definitely appreciated.

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Goal Reached

When I started this challenge, the goal was to get back to truly enjoying cooking. Last weekend, after sampling some fresh-from-the-oven blueberry banana bread I declared out loud “I love cooking.” It was completely spontaneous, and definitely told me that this little experiment has been a good one.


Now comes the really hard part – keeping it up. At least in some capacity. While I have no doubt that some pre-made food will sneak back into rotation, my new goal will be to keep up some version of the weekend prep and planning for as long as possible. Who knows, maybe I just spent 30 days creating a new habit!

Recipes from this week:

Week Two of #Cook90

Epicurious issued the #cook90 challenge to cook 3 meals a day for 30 days in January and I decided to accept. (Read: Why I’m Going to #cook90.)

14 days down. 16 to go.


img_8711Day 8 (Sunday) was a birthday celebration, so a special dessert was in order. Individual Chocolate Lava Cakes are quick to put together, and use ingredients that are always in my pantry. Easy! Turns out, not so much when the cake sticks to the ramekin and the whole thing turns into a puddle of lava before you can get it out of the dish. #fail. Oh well. It tasted delicious, even if it wasn’t pretty.

Buying Ingredients

For the second week in a row, I’ve noticed #cook90 leading to a change in my grocery shopping. Instead of coming home with mostly pre-made food, I bought mostly ingredients, including two bags full of produce. In our world, this is a big deal. Pretty sure there was a week in December when the only produce that made it into our house was a bag of apples, and those were turned into pie…

Bonus Prep Day

On Day 12 (Thursday) we woke up to find our world coated in ice and just about every area school closed. For my office, it meant a work from home day. So I used the day to cook up two big pans of roasted veggies since I could get emails and other work done while the oven did the cooking. Those veggies are now getting tossed over salad greens, folded into tortillas or topped with eggs.

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The Freezer is my Friend

While cooking this week didn’t feel any easier than last – especially when it came to my motivation – I was reminded almost every day that weekend prep to fill the freezer is the only way I’m going to make it through the #cook90 challenge. Cooking prep for this weekend includes: another chicken in the slow cooker, a carrot/parsnip mash (so I can attempt to get more veggies in the kiddo), re-stocking the baked oatmeal supply, and a huge batch of waffles.

Onward to Week 3

The upcoming week is going to get tough with some major schedule shifts on the horizon. Hopefully #cook90 will keep me focused on cooking at home instead of resorting to pizza or takeout. Fingers crossed!

Recipes from this week:

Why I’m Going to #Cook90

I like to cook. And I’m pretty good at it. But for the past year (and then some) everything else has been getting in the way. New baby, new job, too tired – the excuses are easy to find. However, that new baby is now a toddler who’s eating table food and wants dinner the minute we walk in the door.

Once in awhile I manage to get dinner on the table quickly during the week – at which point I feel like Super Woman – but most nights that doesn’t happen. And so we end up grabbing pizza or quickly combining pasta with marinara sauce, which is resulting in a waistline I don’t like and leftovers I don’t want to eat.

Enter #cook90. Getting back to truly enjoying cooking is a goal for 2017. From the editors at Epicurious, #cook90 challenges you to make 3 home-cooked meals a day, every day, for the month of January. For me this means getting serious about meal planning, weekend meal prep, and not defaulting to Lean Cuisines for lunch.

Getting dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less during the week will only happen if I plan and prep each weekend, so I’ve spent several hours during the holiday weekend doing exactly that. My freezer now contains: tomato and meat sauce, mac and cheese with veggies, black beans with tomato rice, meatballs, mashed potatoes, apple sauce, and chocolate chip cookies. I also made a block of garlic butter to help make garlic bread that much faster to put together. Everything is portioned to be part of a meal – not the entire meal – so I can mix/match with various meats, veggies, breads and other groceries depending on my mood.

Want to join #cook90? Sign up! Want to see what’s cooking? Follow #cook90 on Instagram. If you want to see how I’m doing with my cooking goals? Join me on Instagram or follow this blog.

Happy cooking! 🙂

UPDATES: How’d I Do?