How To Avoid “Netflix Syndrome” When Choosing A Recipe

It’s 10:05 pm on a Sunday, and I’m scrambling to wind down for the night.

Normally, that doesn’t involve writing. It’s usually just me spending 45 minutes scrolling through shows and movies on Netflix so I can spend 30 minutes watching something before drifting off to sleep.

Netflix is not a chill experience for me at all, to be honest.

The time-suck that is looking for something a) I’m in the mood to watch and b) I have never seen before is extremely frustrating for me.

I actively seek ways to cut down the amount of time I spend searching for good TV and movies.

I follow a few blogs that come out with lists about what to watch every week. I even use this site called What The Hell Should I Watch On Netflix? which simplifies the process of finding new movies and TV to watch based on your preferences.

Because I can only watch Friends so many times.

I call this waste of time Netflix Syndrome.

Netflix Syndrome permeates many aspects of life when we have to make ONE decision but are faced with wayyyy too many options.

Think about the last time you went clothes shopping.

Unless you knew exactly what you were looking for, you probably spent a good chunk of time searching through racks of clothing… monotonously searching until something caught your eye.

It works the same way for choosing recipes.

I wish I could get back all of the time I’ve spent pouring through Yummly, Damn Delicious, The Kitchn, Food 52, Minimalist Baker, Cookie & Kate and Epicurious. I feel like I could have written hundreds of recipes myself with the time I wasted searching for the perfect one.

Searching for the perfect recipe is no easy feat.

There have been points where I’ve looked for so long, I give up and just order a pizza.

It can be incredibly overwhelming.

First of all, if you search for something simple like “fettucine alfredo,” Google immediately spits out over a million results. Even just choosing one recipe off the first page of results is difficult when you don’t know exactly what type of recipe you’re looking for.

To avoid getting lost in all of the recipe options, it’s best to have a specifics in mind based on your diet or certain ingredients.

Get specific about ingredients when you can. Yummly is great for this. When you have one ingredient but don’t know what to do with it, plug it into Yummly. You can see ratings of each recipe and how many ingredients it calls for before even clicking through to the blog it’s from. I do this whenever I start to experiment with a new ingredient.

Even if you find a recipe, how do you know if it’s actually good?

The pressure gets even worse when you’re cooking for someone else. I recently hosted a dinner party for eight people and I spent more time searching for recipes and crafting the menu than I did actually cooking the meal.

Obviously, I care a lot and I’m super picky. But I know I’m not alone.

The truth is, many recipes out there aren’t actually tested. That’s why it’s so important to read the comments.

The comments will let you know if others have had success with the recipe or not. And if the results were less than brag-worthy, commenters often explain what they did to improve the recipe or make suggestions.

Know your limits.

When searching for a movie on Netflix, you have a few things to consider.

One of them is time. Do you really have enough time to watch The Wolf Of Wall Street from beginning to end?

Another is your mood. Do you feel up to watching a tearjerker like Marley and Me?

The same thing goes for food.

What kitchen equipment do you have? What food is already in your pantry? Do you have a whole afternoon to dedicate to cooking or just 30 minutes?

When I come across a recipe with less than 15 ingredients and a 40-minute prep to cook time, I know I’ve found a winner.

If I see the words “crock pot” or “cast iron skillet” in the recipe, I don’t even read on because I don’t have that stuff.

While there are way too many recipes out there, that also means you can find one to fit your needs. You don’t have to stretch too hard to make a recipe work.

Could I cook recipe meant to be made in a crockpot in the oven? Probably. But I don’t have to do that because I can definitely find one that only uses the equipment I own.

Have “go to” blogs and sources for recipes.

Above I mentioned a few blogs that I continue to get recipes from because:

  • They fit my requirements of having a manageable amount of ingredients
  • Their recipes yield consistently positive results in my kitchen
  • They’re health-focused, but don’t go overboard

What are your recipe requirements?

Here’s what you can do this week to cut your recipe search time in half in the future.

  1. Find five blogs that offer many recipes to choose from that fit your dietary needs and restrictions and your style of cooking. You don’t need more than five! It should take you no more than a half hour to do this, and you’ll save yourself so much time in the future.
  2. If you’re worried that you’ll forget the five blogs you like, email a list to yourself and make the subject line something like “recipes I want to cook” with links to each blog. Or keep them all in Evernote, which is what I do!
  3. Instead of searching broad terms, start with one or two ingredients you have on hand to find recipes. You’ll get even better results if you add a specific meal. For example, searching “chickpea lunch” will bring up better results than just searching “recipes with chickpeas.”

Want a head start finding good recipes? Check out original Workweek Lunch recipes for cheap, healthy options to take to work.

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If you want to leave a comment below, tell me what your favorite sources are for finding recipes!

  1. Danielle

    This is an awesome post! I love the Friends references 🙂 Thanks for the good ideas! Especially searching by ingredients you already have. Keep it up!!

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