You’ve done your meal planning for the week and now you want to get your recipes organized and ready to go.
Or Meal Panicking?
It’s 4 o’clock on Saturday afternoon. You just got home with the groceries and dinner tonight is chicken thighs (they were on sale) or fish sticks (again) or you will have to give up and order in (seriously, again? but you just shopped!) So you hit the computer and try to figure out how to cook chicken thighs in a new and interesting way by 5 o’clock.
I threw out my recipe books long ago and now have a digital file of family favorites and bookmarks of favorite sites. It’s fast, it’s easy and I never lose my grandmother’s ham sauce recipe.
What makes a great recipe site for busy working parents?
The site must:
- Simple and searchable, you need to be able to find what you are looking for quickly.
- Not be so cluttered with ads and distractions that you end up on a meandering journey of Hollywood gossip and anti-aging tips until you forget why you were there in the first place.
- Not be so exotic that your children will not even taste them. Children may be daring or not, depending on the kid, but there are definitely some flavors that seem to appeal to a more adult palate.
- Have simple ingredients you are likely to have around the house and use again. Who wants to buy sherry vinegar, if they only use it once and then it sits in the pantry for the next 2 years.
- Be quick and simple to make; none of us has time for hours of chopping and stirring and baking. And most of us aren’t interested in making gourmet meals after work every night.
- Be reasonably healthy. I am a moderate in many things. We don’t ban junk food, but we don’t eat it every night. I like to know that I am feeding my family something healthy more nights than not.
So here are the sites that I use. Some of them are inspiration, others are reference.
Recipe Sharing Sites
All Recipes is a site populated by its users. Most of the recipes on it are amateur ones. With a few professional ones sprinkled in. In the past few years, the editors have added curated lists to the mix, making it more fun to browse.
This site is great for so many reasons. It has thousands of recipes, so the variety is endless. There is a recipe for everything under the sun, sometimes multiple versions. You can search by ingredient, you can save a recipe and generate a shopping list. It’s strengths are also it’s weaknesses. Sometimes the number of recipes is overwhelming (“macaroni and cheese” brings up almost 500 results). And be sure to read the top reviews. Many people will rate it a five, but make a bunch of changes to the original.
Taste is a real boon to cooks in a hurry. Their 15 minute meals category has over 800 recipes. Curated our of Australia, it has a combination of metric and imperial measurements, but google convert can fix that in a hurry. And I find recipe combinations that might be less common on some of the local sites.
The joy of the Food Network is not just in the clever ideas, the fancy dishes and the entertaining menus. It is so much fun to surf this site and dream of the grown up parties you used to enjoy. But if you dig a little deeper there are the hidden gems. The quick and easy weeknight dinners. They change seasonally so try the 30 minute meal tag in the search bar.
This site has a Dinner in 20 category that is broken down by dish type. Sure thing to be able to find something.
Ricardo Cuisine is chock full of quick and easy dinner recipes, some of them are even kid friendly and fun. These fun and healthy hot dogs for example: Hot Dogs with Coleslaw, Broccoli and Cheese, Pineapple and Red Pepper Salsa. And with easy to browse categories, it’s all easy to find.
These sites serve up their recipes magazine style, so they are great for browsing and getting ideas. For the most part they have categories that focus on the everyday and the practical as well as the sophisticated. The other nice thing is that they are all professionally curated, so you know the recipes work.
These sites real gem is their archives; they share one, so while they are fun to browse separately, if you are searching for something specific, don’t bother checking both. Type a recipe name into its search and you will likely come up with a match; they maintain and often update their recipes.
There are not a lot of recipes on this site, but the good news is that they are all aimed at families. Targeted at busy parents and picky kids, there is something for everyone. They might even know how to get your kids to eat their vegetables. This is one of my kids favorites.
Food Brand Websites
I love recipe sites by food brands because I love recipes where half the work is done. Sites that assume you will start with their products are great for that. And let’s face it, kids love these brands. The downside is there not always the most healthy recipes. As long as you are not eating this much sodium everyday, these family favorites are great shortcuts.