How To Pick A Great Recipe

woman over 50 wearing a light green shirt and pink readers leaning against a kitchen counter reading a cookbook to pick a great recipe

A great recipe isn’t always the easiest thing to find.  I have to admit that I really didn’t have an interest in cooking until my mid 20s.  To be honest, I really didn’t hone my cooking skills until I was in my late 30s.

My mother always cooked when I was a child growing up.  I remember lots of cookies, homemade pies and cakes (even the pie crust), and of course things like chicken and dumplings.  Yes, she even canned and froze things from my grandparents garden.  She always told me that if you can read, you can cook.

I would say that is true.  You can cook, if you can read.  It just takes a little more skill as to HOW to read a recipe to find a great one.  Even since I really started cooking about 20 years ago how we find recipes has changed greatly.  Who knew that there would be so many cooking shows and food bloggers like there are today.

woman over 50 wearing a light green shirt and pink readers leaning against a kitchen countertop reading a cookbook to pick a great recipe

Where I Go To Find A Great Recipe

I remember pouring over some of my favorite magazines every month such as Southern Living and Cooking Light years ago.  The photos, the food pairings, and the table settings would make my mouth water.  Now, I don’t get one magazine in the mail.   I don’t even know if either of the magazines are still being published.

I also still love a good cookbook.  How the food is styled for the photos and the settings just make you want to eat taste the recipes.  Most of my cookbooks are in storage and I really miss them.  I used to read a new cookbook like it was a novel, couldn’t wait to turn the page and see what was next.  You can read about why they are in storage here.  I did make sure that a couple of my very favorites by Cooking Light were in my “to be unpacked” boxes.  I would link them, but the last time I checked they were no longer being published.

The two cookbooks in these photos are recent purchases and so far they have not disappointed.  I have found a few thing that I can’t wait to try.  You can find them here and here.

Food Bloggers

The last few years I find myself more and more dependent upon food bloggers and their websites as some of my favorite places to find a new great recipe.  The search engines within their websites make it so much easier.  Here are a few of my go to food bloggers.

What I Look for When Reading A Recipe

If someone asked me to describe my diet or how I eat I would say that it is a cross between Paleo and Autoimmune Protocol (AIP).  Basically I eat a gluten free, dairy free diet that is full of foods that do not cause inflammation.  I have lots of food sensitivities and I also have colitis so I try to keep my tummy happy with the food that I know I can eat and enjoy.

So what questions do I ask as I read a new recipe…..

  • Do the photos of the dish make my mouth water and just wish that I could take a bite of it?

This is the most important factor for me.  There are so many dishes that I would love to cook, but because of the ingredient list I pass on them.  I also look at the macronutrient information that is usually listed.  If it is REALLY high in fat or carbs, then I skip it.

  • Is it gluten free and dairy free (or can I make substitutions)?

Most recipe developers will have something about this in their notes these days.  That is where the search engines within a food bloggers site really comes in handy.  Many times they will have sections just for gluten and dairy free recipes.

  • Is there a lot of prep work?

I don’t know about you, but if I recipe requires too much chopping and too many steps it’s not for me.  Dinner needs to be easy to pull together at night.

  • Does it have interesting flavor combinations?

I am big on flavor from natural ingredient combinations, fresh herbs, or spices.  I don’t like flavor from prepared sources.

  • Is it colorful?

Yes, to a pretty plate.  I like to make sure the plate of food that I am eating has lots of pretty colors and textures.

  • Does it have wonky or unusual ingredients that I don’t normally use?

Grocery bills are expensive enough without buying something that you will use once or twice and then you have to throw the rest out.  I really try to avoid doing this.

  • Is it an interesting spin on a dish that I really like?

We are big fans of salmon at our household.  I’m always looking for a new interesting spice combination or a different spin on a sauce or salsa to top it with.

  • Is this something that I can easily freeze?

If it is something that I can easily freeze I will double the dish and make sure we have leftovers for those nights when I just don’t feel like cooking or don’t have the time to fix something.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post.  I really appreciate it.  Hope these tips help you the next time you are looking for a new recipe.  Whether it’s something that you want to put into a weeknight rotation, your food prep, or a special occasion these tips should still be applicable.  Happy cooking!


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  1. I love recipe books as well- and the presentation in the pics ;and of course ingredients( is everything for me. Love this post!

    1. Yes, I just love to read a cookbook and think about what to plan for weekly dinners. The photos have to be inspiring. Thanks Lucy.

  2. Often I seem to gravitate to more of the Paleo or Keto recipes. And like you, I will avoid any recipe with ingredients that I am not familiar with.

    1. I do love some good Paleo recipes. Can’t quite go there with Keto. My body loves it’s healthy carbs for energy. Have you tried Paleo Running
      Momma’s recipes. She has some good ones.

  3. jodie filogomo says:

    There is definitely food magazines still out because we get Eating Well regularly!! It’s funny how food blogs have taken over though!!!

    1. I think Cooking Light is now Eating Well. I love my Cooking Light cookbooks. I know. I have several food bloggers that are my go tos. Funny I still print out the recipes because I end up making notes. If I don’t like it I toss the piece of paper.

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