How letting go of the idea of a ‘perfect recipe’ changed dinnertime in my home: A guest post by Angie Trueblood


Wait. There’s no perfect recipe? Nope. There’s not one single recipe that suits my family, your family and your neighbor’s family exactly as written. And I know this because I spent many years of motherhood searching for it. I would scour Pinterest, chat with my girlfriends about it on weekend getaways(totally lame, I know!), and I even started a Facebook group for the sole purpose of sharing recipes. You the hopes that one would be PERFECT.

What I was really searching for, though, was a way to get a dinner on the table (that everyone would at least CONSIDER eating) that didn’t leave me exhausted and frustrated when I sat down to join my family. I wanted dinnertime to be simple AND meaningful. At that point, I was working full-time and all I wanted was to reconnect with each other after we had gathered back together after a long day apart.

After pinning a ton of recipes, learning some great strategies for meal prep, downloading a boat load of pretty printables, trying app after app after app, and tearing out umpteen recipes from magazines, I cried uncle. This search for the perfect recipe had me feeling like that Pig and his Pancake.

I thought I needed a meal plan subscription because I saw them popping up everywhere. Duh. Clearly, I’m unqualified to decide what to feed my family and make a list to go with it. I also needed an app because OBVIOUSLY feeding my family is sooooo hard that I can’t do it just using notebook paper. I needed a binder with a reference section so that I could quickly turn to page 62 to grab the recipe for xyz meal because if I wasn’t following a recipe, then dinner just wasn’t good enough.

Funny thing is, we actually had a core group of meals that we were able to cook and get on the table without much stress. But, as we moms often do, I thought I needed more. More variety. More fancy stuff. More healthful meals. I mean, for the love, what self-respecting mom doesn’t serve QUINOA on a regular basis? #thismom

But, you know what? That binder went unused. The 3 different apps were never ‘good enough’. And, in the midst of all of this, I lost sight of the fact that I HAD BEEN feeding myself (and now my family) just fine enough before I started the hunt for red october the perfect recipe.

So, I scrapped it all and looked at what WAS working for our family. First, I decluttered my recipes and Pinterest boards...something I never imagined I would do. And, you know what I realized? We already had a couple of great seasonings and oils that we could use to marinate most anything. And we had a couple of meat and veggie dishes that worked perfectly for our family.

But, I couldn’t SEE those things when I sat down to meal plan because I was surrounded by the noise of the binder, the cookbooks, and the Pinterest boards. Ahhhh...the Pinterest boards.  Just recently, I created a free audio and workbook for folks who want to do the same. You can grab it here. 

So, I started embracing our theme night rotation of chicken breasts, chicken thighs, pork chops, flank steak, ground turkey, ground beef, salmon, cod, and shrimp. We were sure to serve one of our favorite veggies (broccoli, green beans, asparagus, corn, peas, and carrots) as a side every night. And, usually, we’d throw in something on the side like pasta, rice, couscous, or a salad. So, then, if what we were doing was working, why had I been searching?

Truth is, I was just searching for a bit more variety and didn’t realize it. And, at that point, I had no idea how to work ‘variety’ into this system that I didn’t even realize I had created. So, I wasn’t able to tune out all the noise screaming that I needed to DO more for dinnertime.

These days, I know that when I’m in a dinnertime ‘funk’, I just need to spice it up a bit. But, that doesn’t mean a complete overhaul. I don’t need a meal plan subscription. I don’t need to pin 100 recipes that have 12 steps in the prep section alone. I can decide that I’d like a little different twist on the salmon dish we always seem to make and search for simple salmon recipes.

And then, I go about my day. Would I love if my kids would eat beets when we make them? Um, yes. But, I’m not crafting up some beet hummus to sneak it in on their plate just to say they eat beets. Would I like to envision myself as someone who appreciates bone broth enough to make it? Yep….but I don’t. And, would I would love it if my kids craved quinoa? Um….no. Because I don’t actually like it. So, there’s that.

My being totally fine with serving quesadillas as a way to repurpose leftovers has allowed me more mental margin for other mom tasks than I’ve ever had. Last night, we had BBQ made from a pork shoulder that I had cooked in the slow cooker. Tonight, we’ll make quesadillas with the leftover meat, spinach and cheese. Everyone’s quesadilla will look a bit different, but we’ll all eat together, we’ll all share the highs and lows of our day, and we’ll all clean up together. And, for me, that’s not just good enough. That’s pretty much everything.

About the author

Angie Trueblood is a meal planning expert who spends her time helping busy moms simplify mealtime so they can enjoy their time around the table with their family. The mamas she works with feel more empowered in the kitchen, less stressed when they sit down at the table, and spend much less time scouring Pinterest for the 'PERFECT' recipe. When she's not working, she loves exploring her hometown of Richmond, VA's parks and playgrounds with her two kiddos, checking out new restaurants with her hubs, and laughing about motherhood over cocktails with friends. Connect with her on Facebook, in her Meal Planning Junkies community, and Instagram.

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