In choosing a recipe, the following is my MO:
- How many ingredients do I have to buy? (More than five and the recipe is likely out the window.)
- How many ingredients can I substitute with items I already have without making the whole thing yucky?
- Are the ingredients I need to buy cupboard items that keep for a long time? (I can justify buying spices that I may use again more than I can justify buying a bunch of radishes that I may only use for one recipe before they spoil.)
- Is the recipe more complicated or time consuming than it's worth? (If there is any prep work to be done before I go to work in the morning, the recipe is off my list. I can't be trusted to get out of bed in time to get to work at a decent hour, let alone get up early enough to do prep in the kitchen.)
- Will I learn something new that I can use in other recipes? (This doesn't always happen, but is a bonus, as long as the learning goes quickly.)
- Is my kitchen prep and assembly time less than 30 minutes? (Unless it's a Sunday dinner, it really should be a short prep time. I get home from work famished, so long preparation in the kitchen leads to snacking which leads to overeating which leads to more Gordita than I can handle.)
- Are there steps I can skip?
So my above MO may give some indication as to why a significant percentage (20% or so) of my meals don't turn out. However, I've gotten smart. I've started writing in my cookbooks. I write the date I prepared the recipe along with any substitutions I made, suggestions for the next time (things like, use less lemon juice than it calls for), or a warning not to prepare again. With my bad memory, there's no guarantee that I'm going to remember what went wrong when I go to prepare something for the second time. Now I don't have to remember. It's all in writing.
Do you have a kitchen MO? Care to share?