Desperately seeking inspiration

Looking for inspiration for this week’s meal planner got me thinking about the recipe sources that I turn to again and again when thinking about the week of meals ahead.

I look to lots of different sources when deciding what we’re going to eat including websites, my own brain (less and less reliable), good old-fashioned recipe books and, of course, social media. I like mixing it up, partly to make sure the kids eat a variety of different tastes as they’re growing up but also because I enjoy the variety, and I’m determined that we’re not going to live on pesto pasta alone.

In terms of the recipe books that inspire me day in and day out there are a few that have been staples for years. Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals has proved a great source for recipes that have become stock like his cauliflower macaroni cheese and a simple chicken pie. I’ve tried lots of his other books including the more recent health-focused ones but it’s 30 Minute Meals I turn to again and again for good, tasty family food.

In the same category I would add Felicity Cloake’s Perfect which is more obscure than Jamie but if you’re looking for foolproof recipes for staples like Coq au Vin, fishcakes and chocolate mousse. For me this is truly one of those that you’ll pass down to your kids when they’re ready to fly the nest (*sob!*)

Others that I use regularly would be Tana Ramsay’s Family Kitchen (which for some reason I assume would be annoying?), Marcus Wareing’s How to Cook the Perfect (I just made the most amazing custard) and also his Nutmeg & Custard which includes some more complex recipes but also a great almond and chickpea curry that I go back to again and again.

In terms of books that I’ve invested in more recently you may have noticed that I’ve been using a lot of Diana Henry’s recipes of late having bought her Cook Simple from about 10 years ago. I can’t get enough of how simple (duh) the recipes are and yet so full of flavor, they’re right up my street food-wise. I also recently bought the National Trust Family Cookbook by Claire Thomson (@5oclockapron) which has a really good number of recipes that feel feasible for a family mealtime – there are surprisingly few books around that hit that spot.

I’ve also bought Georgina Hayden’s Stirring Slowly which I like but see working less well in for your average family mealtime and others with a healthy agenda including Jamie’s Everyday Super Food and River Cottage Light & Easy.   Again, some great recipes but probably only a few that work for us as a family.

Of course as well as relatively expensive recipe books there are a wealth of online resources to access for free. I use the BBC Good Food website on a practically daily basis – there’s a recipe for pretty much everything you can imagine on there and the rating system is useful to tell you when a recipe is a particularly good one. I’ve used so many ideas from there it’s hard to narrow it down but the pulled pork, laksa and perfect Yorkshire puddings are the ones that spring to mind.

Also, if you’re a tad tragic like my sisters and I you can subscribe to the magazine and feel a burst of joy on the day it drops through the letterbox.  It’s almost as good as Birchbox but not quite.

I’ve also started using supermarket websites more for inspiration although it somehow seems like a less fashionable option. Ocado has some great ideas with a direct link to shop the ingredients and I’ve made their gluten free cats a couple of times now and I’ve also had some great ideas from the Tesco site, they’re certainly worth a look if you’re feeing devoid of inspiration one week.

And then last but not least – social media. This month we are asking our Instagram followers to use our hashtag #feedtheteam when posting their family food pictures so that we can share the food that we’re all making for our teams everyday. Hopefully you’ll find even more inspiration there!