Before You Try that New Recipe…

One thing’s for sure about eating ‘paleo’: you (or someone in your house, who you owe a BIG hug) will spend more time in the kitchen! Hopefully you see that as a positive and learn to love creating awesome dishes and experimenting with new flavors. Chances are it also means you have been, or will be, turning to new ‘paleo’ or ‘primal’ recipes for ideas. If this is the case keep reading. I put together some helpful tips I have learned over the years when a new recipe is in front of me.
  1. Read the ENTIRE recipe before you start making your grocery list, before you go to the store, and before you start chopping! This gives you the chance to make sure you have all the tools you need, look up any unfamiliar techniques, and have access to all the food items. It also gives you the chance to back-out if a recipe looks too complicated for your level of commitment. 
  2. If you don’t have all the suggested tools or gadgets, but are still determined to give it a try, think ahead about how you might be able to get the job done with what you have.
  3. As you read through a recipe consider the number of servings it makes, how much you may need to feed your family, or have enough for leftovers, and adjust accordingly. Remember, washing, chopping, and cooking more food can take more time – allow for it.
  4. While reading through a new recipe estimate the amount of time each step might take. Many recipes will offer a proposed “prep time” and “cook time”, but if you aren’t familiar with the recipe, are less than a chopping wizard, are doubling the quantities, or are unfamiliar with some techniques, it will most likely take you longer! It ALWAYS takes me longer than the suggested time:-)
  5. Always check and see what might need to be done in advance, and how far in advance. Have you ever glanced at an ingredient list, noted that you had all the provisions, and began the steps before realizing you were supposed to marinate the meat for 5 hours?! Some recipes call for cooked meat vs. raw or homemade stock vs. store bought. Neither of which is a big deal if you plan ahead a couple days, but doesn’t bode well when your family is whining about their hungry tummies. A preheated oven is another important step not to be overlooked. 
  6. Once it’s time to put the meal together, gather all the tools and ingredients you are going to need. 
  7. I would recommend washing, chopping, dicing and measuring ingredients before you start cooking (especially with a new recipe). Having items ready to go will help you keep your cooking experience pleasant and moving smoothly. I also think it’s helpful to make note of what ingredients can be combined in the same prep bowl or on the same prep plate. For example, if carrots, celery and onions are all being added to a pot in the same step, chopping and putting them in the same bowl will help reduce dishes. My husband hates it when I use more dishes and tools than necessary (he does a lot of the dishes). 
  8. Once all is prepped and you are ready to get cooking, don’t be afraid to get your washed hands dirty. Cooking with whole foods can be a little messy at times, but don’t be afraid of it. Throw on an apron and have fun.
  9. Take notes along the way about ingredients you may have substituted, techniques you did differently, or any adjusted cooking times so that the next time it’s all right there for you. Make notes on what you served a dish with and what people thought. Note quantities or serving sizes so you know if you want to make more or less the next time around. 
  10. As with many things, the more you do it, the quicker it becomes and the more efficient you’ll be – cutting down prep time, combining steps, using fewer tools and adding your own signature to the dish! 

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