the 5 most common dinner mistakes (and how to avoid them)

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Do you struggle sometimes with getting dinner on the table?

You’re not alone!

Recently, I did a survey of Stonesoup readers. One of the biggest problems that kept coming up was finding the time, motivation and energy to prepare dinner. Especially after a long day of work, when you’re tired and hungry.

So today I thought we’d delve into the most common mistakes people make when it comes to dinners and, of course, some simple tricks avoid them.

the 5 most common dinner mistakes (+ how to avoid them)

1. Not thinking there’s enough time.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling like you need at least half an hour, or longer to get dinner ready. But it doesn’t have to be like that.

As I discovered when I was writing my book, ‘5 Ingredients 10 Minutes’, dinner can be made in 10 minutes, and even for some recipes as little as 5 minutes. You just need to find ideas and recipes that focus on fast techniques and keeping everything as simple as possible. There are plenty of ideas over in the 50 healthy 10 minute meals post on Stonesoup.

2. Not having the right ingredients in the house.
There are 2 parts to this. First, not having a well stocked pantry. The second is choosing recipes that call for things you just don’t have.

To avoid the former you just need to get some sort of pantry system happening, which we discussed last week.

Then you need to either choose recipes that allow for lots of ‘variations’ like the ones here on Stonesoup. Or you can learn to master the art of adaptation and cooking without recipes, which we’ll be covering step-by-step in the upcoming Solve Your Dinner Dilemma class at the Stonesoup Virtual Cookery School.

3. Getting stuck in a rut.
Boredom and repetition will always make dinners more frustrating than fun. The easiest way to overcome this mistake is to ‘outsource’ your dinner inspiration and planning.

4. Seeing it as a chore.
If you’re someone who loves getting home in the evenings and spending a little time relaxing and unwinding from your busy day while you prepare your evening meal, congratulations! You’ve avoided this common mistake.

If, you’re not in the happy-dinner-cookers camp. That’s OK.

Maybe it’s time to re-frame how you think about preparing dinner? How can you turn dinner time around and start seeing it as time for you to relax and enjoy yourself?

5. Making things more complicated than necessary.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of planning weeknight dinners that are just a little too ambitious. I certainly used to be guilty of this.

All you need is a collection of recipes or dishes that tick all the boxes of quick, simple and delicious. The good news is, you need look no further than Stonesoup! The majority of the recipes here are designed to be as quick and easy as possible without sacrificing deliciousness or healthiness.

cumulus spiced eggs

cumulus spiced eggs
serves 2

These eggs are a simplified version of a dish served at one of my favourite Melbourne restaurants, Cumulus Inc. They bake the eggs in individual cast iron pots but I’ve found cooking on the stove top with a lid on so the top of the eggs steam gives just as good results.

I like to use an ‘arriabata’ tomato sauce which has in-built chilli spice. But you could just add your own fresh chilli.

1 jar tomato pasta sauce (about 1 1/2 cups)
1-2 teaspoons ground coriander
4 handfuls baby spinach leaves
4 eggs
small handful soft goats cheese

1. Heat a little oil in a large frying pan. Add sauce and spice and bring to a simmer.

2. Add baby spinach and stir for about a minute, until the sauce has come back up to a simmer.

3. Make 4 indents in the sauce. Crack an egg into each indent.

4. Cover with a lid and gently simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the egg whites are set and the yolks still runny.

5. Season. Crumble over the goats cheese.


dairy-free – serve sprinkled with roast sliced almonds Or be like Cumulus Inc and serve with dukkah.

different spices – try ground cumin, smoked paprika, dried chilli or a mixture. Curry powder would work for a more Indian vibe.

egg-free – you could cook chicken thigh fillets like this. Will take about 10 minutes, depending on the size.

vegan – Wilt the spinach into the sauce with the spices. Divide sauce between two plates. Top with chunks of cold avocado and sprinkle over dukkah or roast sliced almonds.


video version of the recipe


With love
Jules x

ps. What’s your biggest dinner dilemma? I’d love to hear about it. Share your dinner woes in the comments below.

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