9 Insider Secrets from Cat Cora

9 Insider Secrets from Cat Cora
See Gallery
9 Insider Secrets from Cat Cora

Read on to learn Cat Cora's insider cooking secrets.

Plan Ahead

Cat Cora is a big advocate of planning meals ahead of time. She even involves her children by asking them what they are in the mood for or whether they have any ideas for dinner. "It is not a negotiation," Cat explains. "It is a quick five-minute conversation: two options for protein and two options for the vegetable."

Cat also says she uses whichever items she has around the house to avoid waste. At her dinner table, the electronics are off so that everyone can enjoy spending time together.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Quality Over Quantity

"Our motto is we like to eat great food," Cat says. "We like really great quality ingredients, but also very simple food." Cat will go to the harbor with her kids to pick up fresh fish, and then they'll all make fish tacos together (substituting sour cream with yogurt). Cat says she cooks simple meals throughout the week (unless she's throwing a party), and she particularly enjoys grilling in the spring and summer.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Try New Flavors

It's important to Cat to try new dishes every week. "We have our standbys, but we definitely try to mix it up during the week for the kids," she says. "Our kids go through phases where they don't like something, but we continue to introduce things. That is kind of how I grew up. My momma said you have to taste everything once, and then if we didn't like it, she'd introduce it again a few months later. It is amazing because nine times out of ten, I did like it then," Cat admits.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Avoid Junk Food (But Don't Deprive Yourself)

Cat is opposed to giving her kids junk food and soda, but says she wouldn't deprive them of dessert. She and her family even enjoy pizza on Friday nights, which is a tradition she's carried over from her own childhood.

Image Credit: Getty Images

One Meal for the Whole Family

Cat is very aware that kids don't always agree on what makes a good dinner, but she encourages her four boys to choose the same meal because she grew up in a household that only made one."Growing up, my parents made one meal, and they'd say if you don't like dinner, breakfast will be delicious tomorrow, " Cat explains. "Our kids are more willing to try things because they know this is dinner, and we all eat the same meal."

Image Credit: Getty Images

Best Advice for Busy Moms

"It is great on the weekends to get ahead on your meals," Cat says. "Make a few meals ahead of time or prep a couple of things ahead of time. You can even freeze things if you need to. For busy moms, that is the best advice: Try to do as much as you can in your down time."

Image Credit: Getty Images

Use One Meal Different Ways

Cat also advises getting creative with a dish. "We'll make a big pot of chicken soup, and we'll eat it for a couple days. [Then] we'll change it up a little bit. We'll put it over some rice one night. We might even change the flavor of it by adding some Asian ingredients, like some ginger or some lemongrass, to just change it up a little bit," Cat says.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Pantry and Refrigerator Essentials

"I definitely always have lots of garlic on hand," Cat says. She also makes sure to always have onions, citrus, fresh herbs and some Asian ingredients for a good stir fry. She buys healthy greens like kale, chard, spinach and arugula, and makes sure to have good cheese for the kids (so that they can have chicken quesadillas). Cat also tries to keep different beans and tomatoes in her pantry for a quick, fiber- and protein-filled chili.

Image Credit: Getty Images

Underrated Ingredients

"I think citrus is so underrated. I think people think it is great in a drink, but I use it to pop every flavor," Cat reveals. "When I cook something, I add a touch of citrus and it brightens every single flavor that you have in the dish." Cat uses citrus to flavor fish tacos, stir fry, or chicken. She enjoys various kinds of citrus sources as well: Grapefruits, blood oranges, Meyer lemons and tangerines, which she considers a great snack for kids' lunches. "There are so many uses for citrus," Cat says. "It has zero fat and zero calories, but tons of flavor and it is good for you."

Image Credit: Getty Images


Cat Cora is a mom, restaurant owner, former Iron Chef contestant and host of Around the World in 80 Plates. While she juggles everything, the busy chef still finds time to cook for her family, and even insists they get involved in making dinner. Cat is all about planning ahead and trying new dishes every week, but that's not all. While she avoids having certain foods at home, there are a few items she always has on hand.

Check out the slideshow above to learn Cat Cora's insider tips for cooking at home.

More from Kitchen Daily:
10 Things You Didn't Know About Cat Cora
Cat Cora Shares Her Best Recipes
Behind the Scenes of Cooking Competitions

Read Full Story