How many times have you been fooled by a recipe claiming to be the “Easiest (meal name) Ever?” A lot of recipes claim to be easy, so we jump in, buy the ingredients, do the prep work, only to discover after a few minutes that it’s much tougher than you expected. “Easy” means something different to everyone, so how can you avoid falling into the easy recipe trap?
Use these checkpoints to determine if a new recipe will actually be easy for you:
- How long will it take - The recipe may have a few times listed: active time, inactive time, and cook or bake time. You’ll have to add them all together to see how long it took the author to make the recipe, and they already knew what they were doing. While a long prep and cook time doesn’t necessarily mean the recipe will be hard, it does mean you’ll have to commit your attention for a long time.
- Check the yield - This tells you how much food it makes and can help you figure out if the recipe fits your needs and ability. You probably don’t want to make 48 dumplings if you’re cooking for one, and while you can sometimes cut recipes in half, you’ll want to know that up front so you can do the math.
- Read the ingredient list - That’s where you’ll see how many ingredients you already have, which ones you’ll need to buy and whether some ingredients are prepared, like a bag of frozen meatballs versus ground meat and spices. And if ingredients are hard to come by or really expensive, the recipe may not be so easy after all.
- What equipment will you need - A recipe will be easier if you already have and know how to use the equipment it requires. But if it offers simple instructions for a deep fryer, but you only have a pot of oil and no thermometer, it can switch from “easy” to “easy if” in a flash.
- Check the verbs, terms and phrases - Once you’ve done all of the above and decide to make the recipe, it would be a shame to get stuck on step three because you don’t know what “blanch” means. Look for the terms and if you don’t know what something is, like how to “deglaze the pan,” do your research or decide this recipe isn’t easy enough for you.
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