The picture above is of me recently going through all of my cookbooks. It got me thinking about the endless number of recipes that are out there. In addition to cookbooks, you can search for any recipe online. Really, we don’t even need cookbooks. Yet they are still out there and often do well.
And despite this plethora of recipes, many people still struggle to come up with meals. I know for every good cookbook I have, I end up making one or two meals from each one. A recent question on my Facebook page showed that others experience something similar.
This got me thinking of diets. There are lots and lots of diets out there. There are commercial diets and popular diet books and advice on the web. Yet with all these diets, people still have trouble eating well and managing their weight.
When I talk to people who are what I think of as “natural cooks,” they tell me they don’t even use recipes. Yes, they use them for inspiration and love their cookbooks, but most do not cook from recipes. I find that nutrition professionals view diets similarly — most do not use them, they simply balance their intake of different foods to manage their health.
The structure of both recipes and diets is what attracts people to them, but their inflexibility ends up being a problem later. Recipes tell us what ingredients to use and how long to cook the item. Diets give very specific rules about what to eat and what not to eat and how much. But what happens when you come home and realize you’re missing that one ingredient to make a certain recipe? Or in the case of diet, life gets hectic and one day you can’t plan to have the right food at the right time?
So relying on recipes and diets actually keep us stuck because we don’t learn how to cook or how to eat.
I’ve come to realize that there’s no substitute for doing the work to come up with my own meals, focusing on foods my family likes and ingredients I prefer to use. This has been kind of liberating as I’m finally embracing my inner cook instead of trying to be like someone else. I will still buy cookbooks and look to recipes for inspiration, but I no longer will rely on them to fix what isn’t working. That’s not their job, it’s mine.
What do you think? Are you a recipe follower? What food challenges do you still face even in a world full of recipes?