Cooking meals should be a natural extension of our everyday lives, yet many people find the process too complicated.  Learn why going back to the basics is the way to go.


We are immersed in the world of food blogs, Pinterest, high-end magazines, and online recipe resources.  It is one that often casts a shadow of guilt when we can’t whip together a gourmet, perfectly-balanced wholesome meal for ourselves or our family.

But what if this environment is causing us to lose touch with our intuitive ability to cook by being pressured to make elaborate meals?

In other words, are we making cooking too complicated?

The fact is, an entire industry has been built on the premise that creating gourmet meals at home is simple and effortless. We are constantly bombarded with those messages – beautiful, “easy” recipes that are more work than they seem. While the decision to cook from scratch has many virtues, ease is not one of them.  You can find an “easy” recipe online, spend an hour making the dish, and 20 minutes cleaning up. Once it’s all said and done, you may be asking yourself:

Was that meant to inspire or discourage?

Often times recipes are marketed as easy when they in fact aren’t. While it’s great to nudge people towards cooking for themselves, our culture has sustained an environment of unrealistically complex recipes that often ends in disappointment.

Real “easy” cooking, if that’s what you’re after, is far too simple to sustain the magazine and cookbook industry.

True “easy” cooking relies on foods that can be purchased with a minimum number of ingredients and doesn’t require a culinary degree. It leans heavily on the things your mom or grandma taught you.

Quick, from-scratch cooking rarely even involves a recipe – it’s simply about knowing the basic steps for roasting vegetables or cooking pasta without complicated instructions. It’s about learning the cooking techniques and simple skills they can use over and over to create meals at home without much thinking. It’s about relying on your intuition to cook simple meals that are:

  1. Enjoyable and satiable.
  2. Nutritious and balanced.
  3. Less complicated through a short, carefully-chosen ingredients list.
  4. Easy to prepare ahead of time.
  5. Cooked with a technique that can easily be learned.

For everyday cooking, all we need is a simple meal within our food budget that takes less than 30 minutes, and doesn’t require a whole lot of pans and dishes. Save the fancy recipes for the weekends when you have an hour or two to spend in the kitchen, or some extra money in the budget to splurge on unique ingredients.

Adapted from the original article.

Emily Weeks, RDN, LD is a nationally-recognized nutrition and culinary expert based in Fort Worth, TX. Emily believes the path to a nourished, happy life is to develop a healthy relationship with food, our minds and our bodies. She focuses on helping others achieve a life of balance and harmony through mindfulness and nourished bodies. Read more from Emily at Zen and Spice.