What’s the deal with the weird little graph?
My day job is data visualization, so when I was trying to come up with a ratings system for recipes, I knew I wanted to be able to clearly see two things at a glance:
- How tasty is it?
- How much work is it?
If I know those two things, I can answer the key question: should I make it again?
With this in mind, I give each recipe two ratings: one for how much I liked it, and one for the amount of effort involved. I stick those ratings into the quadrant graph, which answers the question:
Will I make this recipe again?
If I thought it tasted good, it lands in the top half of the graph (either of the two green boxes), and has a good chance of being made again. If it’s less work, it’ll be that much more likely. If it wasn’t that good, I might still throw it together sometime if it was very easy, but the odds are worse. Get the idea? It’s just a quick way to see at a glance what I thought of it, so I can remember if I wanted to have it again. It’s tricky to try to put a number on something super-subjective like taste, but I hope it’ll be helpful to you too.
(Sticklers will note that the x-axis is kind of backwards, with a “high” work rating landing on the left. I agonized over this briefly, but the idea of labeling it as “less easy / more easy” seemed weird, and I’ve spent enough time looking at Gartner magic quadrants that not having the best results in the top right quadrant also seemed weird. I eventually decided that it’s just a blog, and I should really just relax.) 😉
Do you post a full week’s worth of dinners every week?
While I’d love to get to the point where you could use this site as a meal planner every week if you wanted to, I don’t post a full menu every single week. This is simply because I don’t make a full entree every day; if I did, I’d never get through all my leftovers. I’ve tried menu/grocery planners in the past that assumed one entree per day, and it was just way too much food. I usually find that if I make about three entrees per week, plus an interesting side or two, I have plenty for lunches, plus leftovers for one or two dinners. Your mileage may vary, but I’d guess that the kind of planning I’m doing will be best suited to smaller households (1-2 people).
So, long story short, most weeks I’ll post 3-4 entrees, but there will also be “off weeks” when I’m cooking less to use up leftovers. On these weeks I’ll still post some interesting smaller things, though: smoothies, baked goods, snacks, etc. I can’t seem to get through a week without trying at least one new recipe, so there should always be something to tell you about. 🙂
How do you decide which recipes to make?
When I first started getting serious about cooking for myself a few years ago, I spent a lot of time frustrated by underwhelming recipes. It was so discouraging to spend the whole evening slaving away in the kitchen and have the results turn out… meh. I’ve spent several years trying to get good at analyzing recipes, primarily to save myself time; I want to be able to tell from a quick glance at the page whether it’s going to be worth the time and effort.
For the most part, my instincts are pretty reliable now, and I can usually weed out the pointless recipes before I’ve gone to the trouble of making them. That said, it’s still kind of a crapshoot; there’s always some risk involved with trying new things, and sometimes I end up with results that aren’t super amazing.
I have mixed feelings when I run into one of these recipes. On the one hand, they’re built into the week’s shopping list and I’ve carefully planned other meals around them to use up ingredients, so it’s not straightforward to just swap them out. On the other, I don’t want to do the thing I most hate and post a recipe for you to try, if it’s not going to be worth your time. On the third hand (or, foot, or whatever counting appendage you prefer), I don’t like to throw shade… most of my recipe sources are individual food bloggers, just doing their best and publishing what tastes good to them, and I’d hate to make anyone feel bad just because my tastes are different.
So, I’m still developing a policy around this, but here’s the plan for now: if the process was reasonable but the results turned out a little blah and I wish I’d made something else, I’ll just edit it out of the grocery list and post one less recipe that week. If the steps were comically bad or complicated, or if the results were significantly different from what was promised, I’ll post it and rate it accordingly (but still will not include its ingredients in the grocery list).
But the goal, of course, is only to post recipes that are satisfying and worth the effort. Hopefully, most of what you find here will be in that category.