I picked up these two magazines within days of each other, but the sight of them on the coffee table together, inches away from the September issues of Elle and Allure, made me shudder.

I mean, it was one thing to clip recipes out of the newspaper, but … those are mom-jeans-wearing, mini-van driving middle-aged woman magazines! Is it only a matter of time before I’m wearing snowman sweaters and scarecrow vests and  — God forbid! — embroidered turtlenecks?

Let’s hope not. I grabbed Women’s World because of the Cupcake Fun! teaser line (Hamburger and french fry cupcakes! I had to know more) and I picked up Family Circle because its cover promised me 45 pages of family recipes, including slow cooker meals, desserts and 20-minute dinners.

Neither of these magazines is well-known for healthy recipes. I’d say Women’s World is more well known for juxtaposing a crazy diet trend headline (LOSE 50 POUNDS BY SATURDAY! WALK OFF THE WEIGHT!) with a teaser for a delicious dessert. But as I get more into cooking, I’m learning that almost any homemade meal can be health-ified or lightened — or is so satisfying that one serving is enough. It’s not about making diet foods, it’s about learning to eat a proper portion of real, whole foods.

I’ve also learned that recipes aren’t always meant to be followed verbatim. A lot of times, for me, they’re just inspiration for using what I have on hand. One of the Family Circle recipes was for crispy cheesey bean burritos. I had black beans, green peppers and half an onion on hand, and some tortilla wraps from ages ago.

A vegetarian meal we would both eat, with ingredients we already had on hand? I’m in! We did have to pick up salsa because I wanted to top the burritos with it. I cooked up the beans, peppers and onions in some EVOO.

Shredded up some pepper jack cheeese …

Assembly line on the cutting board …

And on to the George Foreman where they became crispy and delicious …

Topped off with salsa.

If you are making the majority of your meals at home, you have to be constantly on the lookout for food inspiration so you don’t succumb to takeout temptation. Even though all of those ingredients were just hanging out in my kitchen, I probably wouldn’t have thought to make this meal without seeing the recipe in Family Circle. 

Both Family Circle and Woman’s World were really inexpensive — Women’s World was $1.79, and Family Circle was $2.79. And there are actually some helpful organizing tips and other good reads in both of them. I’m not ready to subscribe to them, but I’d buy them both again if the cover caught my eye in the checkout line, and I won’t even bat an eye the next time. After all, an ugly wardrobe is a choice, not a mandate of domestic bliss (or even middle age).

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