A Non-Recipe Kind of Cook

by Meri on August 29, 2012

My sister-in-law found a meal planning site that she really likes called, www.thescramble.com. As a dietitian I’ve seen lots of meal planning sites and I agree with her (she’s also a dietitian), this one looks great! However, I immediately thought it wasn’t for me. The funny thing is I couldn’t figure out why. I do meal plan every week to make my life sane and to help balance the family budget. I know the meal planning sites are helpful, easy, and affordable. I actually don’t have anything negative to say about them. So why doesn’t it appeal to me? I sat down and thought about it for awhile because maybe I was just not giving it a chance.

I realized a few things about myself. First, I love finding recipes through cookbooks or stumbling across them on Pinterest or someone’s blog. I think I would miss that little activity that I enjoy so much that’s all mine. Even though there’s an enormous amount of recipes on meal planning sites I still love it when I find that amazing recipe on the web or an old cookbook- it just feels different. Secondly, I sort of like challenging myself with out-of-the-box recipes. Actually, the more different the recipe is, the more I’m drawn to it. Grilled Romaine with Parmesan? I’m there! I’m not lying…I really did find this recipe on Pinterest- just follow the link to check it out!

Also, for some strange reason, I feel completely overwhelmed seeing 5 recipes for the week. That sounds like a ton of formal cooking to me and I love to cook. I typically make a few large meals so we have leftovers and then I do some non-recipe cooking type of meals that I throw together. You know, like burgers or grilled fish. Those items you could use a formalized recipe for, but you don’t really have to (and I never do).  I pretty much only cook 2-3 dinners a week that require an actual full recipe. However, I do plan for my non-recipe nights as well so I have all the ingredients I’ll need in one shopping trip.

My week may look like this:

Sunday: Grilled chicken, corn on the cob with rosemary and grilled zucchini (no recipes)

Monday: Mix leftover chicken with pasta and pesto sauce, sun-dried tomatoes and leftover zucchini (no recipe)

Tuesday: Leftover pasta with a side salad (no recipe)

Wednesday: Grilled salmon with lemon slices, grilled bell peppers and yellow squash and broiled new potatoes (no recipe)

Thursday:  Baked chicken strips with sweet potato fries and steamed broccoli (recipe for chicken strips- previously made and frozen so just threw it all in the oven)

Friday: Black Bean Burgers with grilled asparagus and cherry tomato and cucumber salad (recipe)

Saturday: Leftover Black Bean Burgers with rest of grilled asparagus and side salad (no recipe)

As you see, I only used two actual recipes here for 7 days (really just one as the chicken strips were made before and frozen). The rest are leftovers or things I’ve come up with that are tasty, but very basic ingredients that takes little time to prepare.

So, are you more of a recipe-cook or a non-recipe cook? I think you can figure out what camp you’re in by your reaction to the menu plans. Do you feel exhilarated having someone else give you a menu, recipes and shopping list for the week? Or… do you feel boxed in or overwhelmed with all the cooking? As I said above, there’s nothing wrong with either…you just need to come to reality of who you are so you make the best choices for your family. It’s far easier to make time for healthy meals when you know what type of cook you are.

Either way, it’s not a bad idea to start experimenting with serving foods that require little cooking. The more non-recipes you have in your recipe box (did that make sense?) the easier it is to get healthy foods on the table.

In this blog you’ll find a little of both. Just visit the “eat” section for some ideas.

If you love the idea of having someone do it for you then go check out www.thescramble.com! It looks like a good one!

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

esther August 29, 2012 at 11:31 pm

Your style and meals look very similar to ours, except we use tofu instead of chicken (for no other reason than the babies like it better than chicken, and so does my husband). I buy a sprouted, high-protein, super-firm tofu I can only find at Sprouts. For now I blend it with the triplets food, but I need to figure out how to introduce it on its own (successfully). But I would like to move to chicken as well, for the sake of variety (I actually hate tofu). With recipes, I’m somewhere in-between simplicity and a full-blown-all-afternoon-into-evening recipe adventure. But I love a new recipe, and usually seek them out when I need to use ingredients lying around I don’t want to go bad (i.e., spinach). Lately, I’m finding a panini press takes care of ANY food that needs to get eaten! Keep posting recipes, I’m always waiting to hear the about latest one! Ironically, I love your Mediterranean diet, but my husband dislikes tomatoes. :(


Meri August 30, 2012 at 3:28 am

Panini presses are awesome! I’ve had one for awhile although I haven’t used it lately. You’ve inspired me to try a new lunch for the kiddos tomorrow!


Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple August 30, 2012 at 1:56 am

I’m definitely a non-recipe cook. I love to cook. I have over a hundred cookbooks (including yours!) I love to look up new recipes and try them. But these days, I do max one or two new recipes a week. I have a recipe I found somewhere and it’s been sitting, waiting for the baby to cooperate.

My husband is definitely a recipe cook, so if he ever cooks, he has to shop first.

When I had my first baby, I cooked 4 new recipes a week while on maternity leave. But that’s much harder with two.

Example, this week:
split pea soup – from a recipe, but one I’ve done many times
tabouli – ditto, from a recipe, but a regular one
baked chicken, celery and peanut butter, steamed broccoli, apple slices
spaghetti with marinara and meatballs, steamed green beans with olive oil, vinegar, goat cheese

We also eat a lot of leftovers.

I find that I’ve been doing a lot of things in 15 minute chunks of time (just blogged about it). So, in 15 minutes, I can wash and cut celery, and wash and peel carrots. If in 15 minutes the baby isn’t crying, I keep washing and cutting things until he does. So now I have a fridge with washed and peeled carrots and celery, leftover green beans, leftover pasta, cut melon, and some other fruits.


Marcia @Frugal Healthy Simple August 30, 2012 at 2:18 am

Hey Meri, your link for thescramble is actually set at scramble, so it goes to the wrong site!


Meri August 30, 2012 at 3:27 am

Woops! Thanks…I fixed it! I totally know how those 15 minute increments go…Now that mine are older I try to do as much prep as I can during the one big nap time. Way to go- having a newborn and keeping up with meals isn’t easy!


Rachel September 25, 2012 at 10:16 pm

I just discovered your blog via Multiples and More. This post really spoke to me. I’m a semi-recipe cook. Some weeks, I’ll try a whole bunch of new stuff and then the next week, it will be mac n cheese and take out, followed by balance the third week. A lot of my go-to meals were recipes once, but are now instinctive and I just start throwing things in. As far as meal planning, getting to the store with 3 little kids is usually difficult (as you know) so I’ve gotten pretty good at using whatever is in the house whether there’s a weekly menu or not. And then I have a panicked breakdown because there’s nothing left in the house because I haven’t been to the grocery store for a month.


Meri September 26, 2012 at 6:24 pm

HaHa Rachel…I know that feeling all too well! Those days of: You’re having toast, yogurt and bananas for dinner…mommy needs to go to the store.


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