When you set out to plan an everyday or dinner party menu, where do you look for inspiration and recipes? Do you turn to tried and true favorites or do you follow in my misguided footsteps and pull out half the cookbooks you own and spend hours on the internet? I hope you don’t reinvent the wheel every time like I do. That’s just plain silly. Not when there are better things to do with your time. Like watch Project Runway. Or go outside to collect fall leaves. Or clean out a closet. No, scratch that last one. I hope you have dependable favorites that you know will be winners every time so you can find better things to do with your time than dig through your messy pile of recipes.
However, let’s assume you were approaching this challenge of building your own Delicious Dozen from the very beginning. Your family is young and you haven’t yet frittered away all of the time I have trying to reinvent the wheel. Maybe you’re hoping to find a little more time for your guinea-pig walking hobby. Or cat grooming business. Where would you look for inspiration to begin a collection of tried and true favorites? You could start with recipes handed down to you from your mom, your grand mom, your mother-in-law, or any fabulous cooks in your family. That wouldn’t be a bad place to start. But that may not be enough. Plus, recipes that worked for older generations don’t often work for our busy, on-the-go lifestyles.
Another place you could start would be with a single, multi-theme cookbook, along the lines of the classic Betty Crocker, which was my very first thanks to my friend Cristina. There is certainly enough diversity in a book like that to help you plan a month full of menus.
Or, maybe you’re all about the internet now, and don’t want to build a collection of cookbooks, at all! There are sites you can turn to for family meal planning that allow you to filter your choices based on your own family’s particulars.
Finally, could you be more of a creative cook who likes to find visual inspiration before you turn to a recipe? In that case, Pinterest might be the best place for your to begin.
Since I care so deeply for my readers, and I really, really believe what I said about the reasons why every family would want their own Delicious Dozen recipe collection, I’m going to begin a new feature each week. Each week, as I plan my weekly menu, I will turn to one book, website, or app for that week’s recipes. I will share with you the logic (or, more likely, illogic) behind that week’s choices. At the end of the week I’ll tell you how it worked out, for better or worse.
I would love to hear from you what your favorite go-to sites or apps are for meal planning. I’m sure I’m only aware of a very small percentage of the enormous resources out there. Please share your ideas either on our Facebook wall, in the comments for this post, or by email.
I look forward to hearing your suggestions.