In a now-viral TikTok, Rachael Sullivan found her husband Tom’s secret Instagram account @MealsSheEats, chronicling the recipes he had been cooking to help Rachael regulate her hormones after being diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
According to Tom, @MealsSheEats was initially created to catalog his recipes for future reference.
“When I started cooking for Rachael to help with her PCOS, we had to stick to some pretty strict diets, and I always used to just read a bunch of recipes and wing it,” Tom said. “I also knew that I’d have to write these out to make sure we're getting the nutrients she needs and to track it better and be able to reciprocate them down the road. Instagram’s the only platform I knew how to use where I could put the pictures up and write everything out without starting a full-on blog or something intense.”
When it comes to finding recipes, Tom usually begins the process by shopping seasonal produce and sales, looking for items that fit Rachael’s dietary and nutritional needs.
“Tom will look at things that are on my list and be like ‘OK, Rachael's protein this week is chicken,’” Rachael said. “‘What's a fun chicken dish I can make that maybe incorporates something that's seasonal, but also something else from the list that will add nutrients to her diet?’”
The Raleigh couple has also begun cooking for local college students, serving home-cooked meals for free every other week. The opportunity arose when Rachael and Tom reached out to Kevin Gallagher, a second-year at NC State studying computer science, known as “College Kid Kevin” on both Tom’s Instagram and Rachael’s TikTok accounts.
As a Chicago native attending Appalachian State University, Rachael was invited to meals and get-togethers by family friends, an experience she cherished.
“Being that far away from home and having a family that took me in, I knew how much a home-cooked meal meant," Rachael said. “Especially having someone who supported you and how much that means.”
Tom said he began setting aside leftovers for Gallagher after running into him at the gym.
“I was cooking that night, and I basically said, ‘Hey, I'll make some extra and throw it in a tupperware for you to grab,’ and that turned into every time I cooked something,” Tom said. “When we went on Rachel Ray, she gave us a year of groceries for free, so when we would order stuff, I'd order a little extra and just cook some extra for Kevin, and he would come by. Then Rachael started recording every time he came through, and would like send it to his mom and be like, ‘Oh, Kevin's back with the Tupperware we'll let you know what's going on with him.’”
Following several posts of Gallagher on her TikTok, Rachael began getting comments and DMs from other college students, eventually deciding one weekend to send out an invite on Tom’s Instagram.
“Five students came and then after that, we just got a really thoughtful text message from a student who said how much she appreciated this and kind of what it meant to her that week,” Rachael said. “I think that alone gave us the gratification, it just meant so much to know that what we were doing meant so much to someone.”
After documenting each of the invites on Rachael’s TikTok, the sign-up list began getting even longer, currently at more than 500 locals in the Triangle. This past Sunday, the couple ran out of food for the first time with the most attendees yet.
On Monday, the couple held a live cooking demonstration with NC State Dining in the WellRec Center as part of Red and White Week.
In the future, the couple would love for their meal program to hit a national level and even visit other colleges to cook meals.
“We'd definitely like to also possibly do a cookbook for women and hormone health,” Rachael said. “I think that would be really awesome, and something that I have tried to find on the market that isn't out there, so I just feel like there's a need.”
To donate, visit the MealsSheEats GoFundMe.