Do you have a shelf full of cookbooks that you rarely open? Are there recipes that look amazing, but the list of ingredients scares you? Do you come home tired, and want simple, delicious meals? It's possible to have amazing, simple meals!
Cookbooks are written by people who love to cook, and have time to cook. If you love to cook then the following complaints won’t resonate with you, but if you are like me, and don’t enjoy cooking, or don’t have time to cook then check these out:
1. Long ingredient lists: using recipes means planning in advance so that you have all the ingredients you need, or you end up making an extra trip to the grocery store to get those ingredients. In either case, it means spending more of your precious time to create meals.
2. Too many steps: many of us don’t have the luxury of having the time we need to prepare the kinds of meals in cookbooks. Often, cookbook recipes require more than one stage to get to the end result. I want tasty, nourishing food on my table with minimal effort.
3. Recipes within recipes: when a recipe calls for another recipe as part of its ingredient list it can feel overwhelming. If you haven’t done a thorough reading and shopped for all the ingredients for both lists you can get caught unprepared, and either have to ditch the dinner plans, or make a run to the store at the last minute.
1. Look for recipes with 5-8 ingredients, or simplify recipes. To simplify recipes just don’t use all of the ingredients, or use more of one ingredient to replace another. A good example of this might be a stir-fry that involves a beautiful assortment of vegetables. If you don’t have 1 or 2 of the vegetable ingredients, then just use more of the ones you have. Simplify the seasonings or stock your cupboard with seasoning blends that can replace ingredient lists. Some examples of versatile blends would include Herbs de Province, Garam Masala, or taco seasoning. For desserts a pumpkin pie spice blend is useful. If you have seasonings you like to use regularly, go ahead and make your own blend to have on hand.
2. Look for similar recipes that don’t involve all the steps. With the wealth of recipes that exist online, it is easy to do a search for a similar recipe. Let’s say you want to make a light, fluffy Paleo cake, and your recipe calls for beating the egg whites, but you can’t be bothered. Do a search for a similar cake that doesn’t require beaten egg whites. It takes a bit of time to do a search, but once you have found what you are looking for, print it out and start a file or binder with easy recipes.
3. Recipes are guidelines. Be creative. Recipes provide you with a guideline, but it's just that - a guideline (unless you are baking, which requires more precision.) If you get part way through your meal prep and realize you are missing ingredients then either replace them with something else or create something entirely new from what you have already started.
My favourite meals don't even involve recipes. Vegetables roasted in duck fat and a roasted chicken. A stew that has simmered in my crockpot all day. Hardy soup made from whatever vegetables I have in the fridge, cooked in my homemade chicken stock.
So ditch the complicated cookbooks and go simple!
What is your favourite meal that you throw together without a recipe?
Happy Healthy Cooking!