Sans Meal Plan: Finding Inspiration

We all know that finding the inspiration to cook can be trying at times.  I plan so many more meals than I actually crank out, as the idea of a dish is sometimes more appealing than actually doing the work.  And let’s face the facts, sometimes it’s just easier to heat a can of soup, or make pasta (again), or even run to Nice Slice for a quick dinner.  Despite this, the therapeutic qualities of cooking your own food are undeniable and I am going to share with you some of the many places where I find inspiration to put down the ramen and get out the cutting board.

One of the first places you can begin your path to culinary obsession is, of course, television.  If the Food Network isn’t enough to get you salivating, then I think you’re on a path to hopelessness.  I can remember when my love for cooking began and I started watching the Food Network regularly, my father used to come into the living room and say, “why are you watching the food porn channel?”  And, folks, that is exactly what the Food Network is: a place where you can look at the goods, wish you were with the goods, fantasize about the goods, but you cannot touch or taste the goods; what a sad state.  Regardless, the Food Network is a fabulous place to get those creative wheels turning and discover which of the TV personality chefs’ styles you prefer.  That way, you know what type of cooking you would like to start with when you begin recreating recipes yourself.

Back in the olden days, recipes were written down and passed on to family members and friends.  Sometimes, famous recipes or recipes specific to a particular item—such as the chocolate chip cookie for Nestle chocolate chips—were written on product packaging (and they still are!). But, for the most part, folks had to rely on good ole intuition or on recipes written on bits of grandma’s scrap paper to cook.  Luckily for us, we have something called the Internet (how do I love thee? Let me count the ways) to help us along.  Not only are there websites dedicated entirely to providing our favorite recipes, such as or, but there are also countless food blogs that record the attempts at cooking by regular Joes like us.

These blogs provide step-by-step instructions, photos, helpful hints, and reviews all in one convenient place.  We don’t have to make the mistakes they did, because they’ve already figured out what went wrong and how the same mistake might be prevented in the future.  Even better, most food bloggers concentrate on a specific type of cooking, so you can have several favorite blogs to check out for specific hankerings. It is on these blogs that I have found the bulk of my inspiration.  Moreover, I find that they provide a plethora of procrastination tools: I have more recipes in my “Must Make This!” box than I know what to do with. Also, StumbleUpon gives me almost exclusively food blog results – I consider it a blessing.

Once you’ve reached this point, you’ll start realizing that, sometimes, it’s nice to have a recipe alongside a beautiful glossy photo and then you’ll start buying cookbooks.  You’ll start asking for subscriptions to Bon Appétit for your birthday.  You’ll begin reading recipes like they’re pieces of literature.  And that’s OK.  Welcome, you’re a foodie.  Be proud!  And, maybe start saving money for pricey restaurant visits…those might become a frequent and persistent desire.

Here are some of my favorite places to look for recipes online.  The options are boundless, but they are a few places to start your search!

General Recipes:

For the more advanced cook:


Baked Goodness:

Image via.


  1. Julie Rodriguez


  2. Andrew Singer

    Epicurious also has a great iPhone app that I use

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