Easy > Hard
Let’s Keep It Easy.
I read an article once that I often wish I had saved (doh!). It talked about the chefs you see on TV or instagram versus the meals we actually cook at home. It described how we watch chefs like a spectator sport and it creeps into our minds that we need to be pulling off some feat of cooking on a weeknight that would be pinterest-worthy. At the same time, we are not preparing meals like that at home, so we’re constantly falling short of expectations – or own or what we think other’s expectations are of us.
People often tell me they’re embarrassed to tell me what they’ve fed their families or cook for me (which is truly my loss. I love nothing more than someone else cooking for me! Of course I do!). Here’s the thing:
Good food can be simple. Simple food is good!
Beautiful plating and extravagant, complicated meals are fun and certainly can be delicious, but if that is not your jam just forget it! Save complicated food for special occasions when you go out to eat. Learn to love simple food at home.
On Ends+Stems, I try to walk the line of quick and simple to prepare, but still varied, and not too boring so you’re still getting out of your cooking rut a bit, but nothing too fancy. It’s a challenging line to find since people draw it in different places.
There’s this trend in feeding kids where moms put together these ridiculous lunch boxes using cookie cutters, and 57 ingredients, they stack, twist, dye, and manipulate food to make it look like a circus. Sure, it’s pretty. It’s amazing to look at on Instagram. But why in the world would anyone want to live up to that and feel like they need to repeat it on a regular basis?
I’m all for learning to love cooking and learning to be a more confident cook. But here’s what I propose:
- Stop looking at “aspirational” food photos if they make you feel inadequate
- Focus on learning basic cooking skills to start. Build slowly
- If you do not enjoy cooking currently, try to only cook 4 day per week maximum (double up the recipes so you eat the same thing twice, or find a family member who can do half)
- Make 90% of your recipes choices very simple – things that come together quickly with whole ingredients (sheet pan meals, 12 ingredients or less, pasta bakes, etc. Email me for ideas)
- The remainder can be slightly more challenging to your skill level, to inspire you to improve a little bit weekly. Plan this type of meal for a day when you know you have TIME. Don’t rush a recipes that’s challenging for you
- Start re-training your family to understand that cooking takes time and love and is a chore to many. They should thank you, they should help with dishes, they should help prep if you want that.
- If something feels overcomplicated. It is. Stop it. Drop it. You don’t have to do it this way.
I suspect that if you pull off a few home cooked, simple meals that turn out well and you are thanked for them (just you? Thank yourself!, or send me a photo and I will thank you!), the whole process will feel more fulfilling. Repeat until you have a thought like, “Hey, I bet I could try something new.” Then level up.
But, please, don’t feel like you have to make flower shaped sandwiches for your kid’s lunch or dinners with dozens of ingredients. No one is judging you and it’s a waste of time.