Cooking your own food is great for saving money and ensuring your meals are as healthy as they can be. Whether you are a seasoned cook or a beginner, it is useful to know how to choose recipes.
Choosing a recipe to follow always involves a couple of risks: the risk that the recipe is bad and the risk that you don’t like the dish. There is no guarantee you will be 100% satisfied with a particular recipe, however the more recipes you try, the more you can make educated guesses of whether a new recipe will work for you or not.
How to choose recipes
1. Look for a recipe
Check reputable sources:
- Good old cookbooks
- Websites (unless otherwise specified, the websites below are from Australia)
- Popular food-related websites such as Bon Appetit (USA), Food 52 (USA), Epicurious (USA), Serious Eats (USA), Taste, Good Food, Gourmet Traveller, etc.
- Nutrition-related websites: Dietitians Australia, Heathy Food Guide, Sports Dietitians Australia, GI Foundation
- Food brand or food industry website: Australian Avocados, Australian Eggs, Nuts For Life, Meat and Livestock Australia, Dairy Australia, Cobram Estate
- Recipe developer blog or website: Just One Cookbook (USA), Recipe Tin Eats
- Recipe cards provided with your meat/veg box
- YouTube, although many people sharing cooking videos don’t provide a recipe with exact measurements
- My own recipes page
Search according to your needs or priority:
- By ingredient
- By dietary requirements
- By course (e.g. breakfast, lunch, dinner)
- By cooking method
- By type of dish (e.g. salad, stew, soup)
2. Check the recipe
In general, good recipes should have the following characteristics:
- Clear measurements in grams, teaspoons, cups, etc. Handfuls and pinches are ok when the actual quantity doesn’t really affect the final dish.
- Easy to obtain
- Things you actually like and are not allergic/intolerant to (or substitutions)
- In chronological order
- No omitted/hidden steps (e.g. marinating, preheating the oven)
Nice to have
- A photo (or video thumbnail) that shows you how to plate the dish and that looks appetising to you, even if it’s not professionally styled and shot
- Number of servings
- Times, at the very least total time, ideally detailed times (preparation, marinating, cooking)
- Reviews (pay attention to the rating but also number of reviews – a 5 star recipe reviewed by a single person does not guarantee success)
3. Analyse the recipe
Read the entire recipe a few days before you’re planning to make it to ensure you have all the ingredients and equipment and that you know when to make any required prior steps (e.g. defrosting, marinating, soaking, preheating).
4. Make the recipe
- Get all your ingredients and equipment
- Measure the ingredients noting whether in which state you should measure them (e.g. whole, chopped, etc.)
- Follow the instructions to a T
- Take notes if you found the dish too sweet, too salty, if it made more or less servings than specified, etc.
- Rank the recipe (for example, out of 5) and/or indicate if you’d make it again
- Bookmark the source if you liked the recipe
If you need nutrition advice, click here to check out our range of available services.