When “Cooking From Scratch” Doesn’t Apply

Hi, my name is Natalie, and I am a food snob.

I think it started when I became a coffee snob during my time at Starbucks. I suppose I’ve always been a baked goods snob on account of my mom and aunt’s bakery (fans of Afternoon Tea can relate). But the food snob in me was an unintentional (yet predictable) side effect of my Year of the Chef endeavor.

These days on the interwebs it’s pretty tough not to get inundated by recipes. Which perhaps, wouldn’t be so bad for foodies like me if the recipes weren’t always made in a crock pot or a casserole dish.

I mean, what is WITH casseroles in this country?

9 times out of 10, the recipes call for more than 1 processed product. Like, somehow if you combine enough cans and jars of “food” you will get a solid and balanced meal?


Opening a can shouldn’t be considered “cooking.” And cooking shouldn’t be considered some labored event that takes hours to prepare (unless you’re preparing an Eric Ripert meal, then yes, clear your schedule for the day).

Cooking a healthy, tasty meal isn’t a scary endeavor. Taco night? Sauté your onions, peppers and garlic and then add whatever protein you have on hand. The veggies will soften in the cooking process, so even your picky eaters will eat it. No need for taco seasoning packets here—spare yourself the excess sodium and sugar (oh yes, they sneak that in there), and season it yourself.

Or maybe your family loves pasta. Avoid the heavy creams and instead sauté some shallots, garlic, and preserved lemon, then toss with a little olive oil and pasta, and voilà. Want to add some protein? Slice up some deli ham and heat in a pan (it’ll crisp up and taste like bacon, but you’ll save on fat and calories).

And please, for the love of food, cook with respect for the ingredients.

Otherwise, we get “food” that looks like this:

Photos originally appeared on: AllRecipes, GotoNC, and AlltheCooks
Velveeta Sliders, Mexican Spaghetti, Tator Tot Casserole | Photos originally appeared on: AllRecipes, GotoNC, and AlltheCooks

So without further ado, I present my version of the the popular, “You might be a redneck.”

“Cooking from scratch” doesn’t apply when:

  • 4 out of 5 of your ingredients require a can opener.
  • No extra steps are required to convert your recipe to a “crock pot” meal.
  • Corn syrup is listed as an ingredient in one or more items.
  • The only spices called for in the recipe are generic blends, like “Italian seasoning.”
  • Everything on the plate resembles a brownish-yellow. Is that a piece of meat? Or bell peppers? Nobody knows.
  • Your recipe title combines cultural classics into “American-ized” blends like  “mexican spaghetti” or “enchilada pasta casserole.”
  • 3 words: Tator Tot Casserole
  • Velveeta is a listed as “cheese” in your ingredient listing (and run if you see ‘1 lb. of Velveeta’ for a dish with 4-6 servings. This is totes real.)

And if you really need to get your casserole fix, may I suggest this gem?

Tuna Casserole