How to Choose & Organize Recipes for Healthy Eating

Roughly 17.8 million cookbooks were sold in the US in 2017 and the sales are reported to be on an upward trend, according to the market researches at The NPD Group. That’s a lot of cookbooks and a lot of recipes. Not to mention the myriad recipes posted on social media, in blogs, and on YouTube every single day. It’s no wonder recipes and meal planning can be so overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be. Here's how to avoid recipe overwhelm and know exactly what to eat for health.

Searching Online recipes for Healthy Eating

Beauty Does Not Equal Substance

Many of us love a good cookbook. And good doesn’t necessarily refer to the actual recipe or how easy, healthy or practical it is. For most, a large part of the attraction is the lovely photographs of scrumptious looking food. Food, that in reality, we will probably never ever cook. We simply like to look at the pretty photos.

And, what about all those recipes you see every day in your social feed? Same thing there. The lead is always the delicious looking photo. You save them, collect them, bookmark them. Maybe even print them and add them to your stash of hard cover cookbooks.

Maybe you even get adventurous and try one of them. Think back over the last year or just 6 months, how many new recipes did you actually try from a cookbook? How many did you cook again? How many did you see or save and haven’t yet tried?

I’d venture to bet the second category is larger than the first: more you did not try than did. And why? Overwhelm. Time. Ingredients. Process. Take a pick. Any of them or all of them. And, it likely comes back to simple overwhelm.

There are seemingly too many yummy looking recipes to try. You are already busy and when it comes time for cooking every night on the regular, you go to what is familiar and easy. And that does not always mean healthy.

That is where we intersect all of those recipes and actually making use of them. I have a system for this. Because, that you see is my super power: simple systems.

How to Eliminate Half of Overwhelm Recipes in One Step

1. Decide what you are looking for. In this case we want healthy foods. That immediately eliminates all recipes that are not healthy. Admire the gorgeous photo sure. Save it? No. Let it pass.

That one step will eliminate probably half of all the recipes you’ve saved or bought.

RELATED: 70 Healthy Foods to Eat: Creating A Healthy Foods List

2. Take that a step further by seeing if the recipe is simple and easy to prepare. If it’s not, don’t save it. Don’t buy it.

3. See if the ingredients are ones you already have or are likely to use in other recipes? If not, don’t save it. Don’t buy it.

4. You should be down to very few actual recipes that are healthy, simple, easy to prepare, and call for ingredients you have or are likely to use. Now, take these recipes and see what is common. In other words, do you really need 10 recipes on how to bake chicken? Or make fajitas or bowls or wraps? No. A wrap is a wrap and a bowl is a bowl. What changes is just the sauce or ingredients.

5. This is the final step. The big one. Schedule some time to sit down and think of what you actually want to eat. What types of dishes do you tend to eat already?

The 6 Recipes You Really Need

Now, take a closer look and you’ll likely start to see some common traits. You see there are only so many actual meals to make. It is just the ingredients we change. You may be saying, “well duh, that’s why I need recipes,” but bare with me here.

Overall there are bowls, wraps, soups, pastas (healthy versions in this case), fish with sides, protein with sides, and salads. At the core of most all of your healthy meals is one of these foundations.

RELATED: How to Incorporate Healthy Foods into Meals.

Which ones do you like? Which ones would you like to add to your diet? All of them in a healthy format?

You know essentially what you want to eat and now you just want to add variety. That variety is typically the protein source or the veggies or the herbs and spices for flavoring.


You now have laser focus when looking for a recipe. You are simply looking for different ways to put together your healthy staples. It can be as simple as knowing how to make sheet pan meals (protein and veggies) and simply having a choice of seasonings to change the flavor. Same with soups. With all recipes, the base is always virtually the same, you simply change the flavor (different seasoning, protein source, maybe different veggies for variety).

Assemble a simple foundation of spices and know which dishes to use them in for a variance of flavor. I use and stock about 10 herbs and spices (maybe less). That’s it.

There you have it. Now, does this mean you can’t stray from this and cook that Thai meal you’ve always dreamed of cooking, or that fancy recipe you saved a year ago? No, of course not. On those days, you could do a search for a meal to cook that’s special. Use the recipe. Save it if you like it.

This method is for your every day cooking, recipe choosing and storing. Essentially it is how to make recipes work for you instead of overwhelm you.


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