It’s the busiest time of the year for me, being in the beginning days of my 11th annual Holiday Gift Guide! Every year, November and December are consumed with all things holiday shopping, gift giving, and giveaways. Working from home allows me the luxury of working these busy days in cozy clothing by the fire, but the busy season also means some of my other household duties can slack. Like any parent, I find it hard to balance my work and household responsibilities and also carry that guilt that comes when you feel like you don’t measure up.
Contributing to that feeling is, of course, social media. I struggle with pinning social media as the bad guy because that’s the realm I work in every day, but it’s true that with the positives of social media, one of the negatives that prevails is the “unreal” stuff out there. Think about it, even if you don’t work on social media like I do, if given 10 selfies, you’ll always chose the most flattering one and perhaps touch it up if you like. It’s human nature.
What’s important to remember, though, is everyone else there is doing the same. The Kardashians don’t look like their perfect selves when they roll out of bed in the morning and even your favorite food blogger has a messy kitchen and food that looks just like yours does when served to the kids. We add to, touch up, and prop our photos to look their best and especially for those who work in social media, they go the extra mile!
I’m not a professional food blogger, but I’m continually working to improve my recipe photos. So, in the spirit of sharing and being real – thanks in part to the inspiration from the Catelli Real Feels Good campaign where real parents share the real-deal when it comes to parenting trials and triumphs, I thought I’d share what it really looks like behind the scenes of a recipe post. If you check out my recent InstaStories here, you’ll see the process behind making a delicious lasagna recipe using Catelli Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles. Below, this is the real deal…
First, a photo of my lovely clean, bright white kitchen. Because it always looks like this right? Especially when prepping a recipe for photographing.
The realty is that no, nobody’s kitchen looks like that all the time, and especially when they’re cooking! Sure, it’s amazing to start your recipe with a clean surface and space everywhere but the reality of life for a mom of 3 working at home is that there’s always something on the counters. Also, my kitchen isn’t that bright – editing is needed of course to spruce things up! So bright and shiny later!
Next, here’s a great product shot photo. It’s a great way to share the product used and other ingredients that go into the recipe. But when you think about it – does anyone actually display their ingredients like this? Of course not. We grab and go. My spinach is in a large plastic container in the fridge, my cheese in a bag, and spices in the containers of course.
How it really looks when photographing that recipe post. In the fall and winter months, bright daylight is scarce so I have to rely on extra lighting to help – plus editing software of course.
And there it is! The final photo after a messy, then cleaned, kitchen. After the prep-shot that is pretty unlikely to occur in any kitchen, and the final result on a table cleared just enough to display the food (my laptop is just a few feet away from the plate!) Oh, and this is next-day lasagna because it photographs better than out-of-the-oven lasagna because 1) it’s already dark outside by that point and my kids want to eat, not sit and wait while I photograph their food and 2) the cheese doesn’t sit well and the steam causes issue with photography. Also, why is there spinach on the side of my plate? The spinach is IN the lasagna, cooked and wilted, but it makes for a good photo.
Looking for that lasagna recipe? Click to visit that page, back from 2013. Can we please also pause for a moment look at those photos? See? I’m learning as I go!
I used Catelli Gluten Free Lasagna Noodles this time around. No one in my family is celiac (which is a serious disease and utmost care must be taken to ensure the person dealing with it keeps gluten out of their system) but we have found, through trial and error, that gluten-free noodles are easier on the stomach for my husband and myself. Less bloat, we found. The kids don’t notice a difference at all, so we’ll continue using Catelli Gluten Free pasta products (we really like the spaghetti noodles too.)
Let me know if you try my lasagna recipe! Either way, I hope you remind yourself – as I do too – that the perfect photos, perfect parenting, and perfect lives you see on social media simply are creations for the post. None of us are perfect, and none of us have a perfect life. All parents are working hard to do their best, and we all make mistakes and missteps along the way. Even if your lasagna looks more like a simple mixture of noodles and sauce (“Wait, there’s supposed to be layers?”) and your kitchen looks like a bomb went off, the important part is the family meal at the end of it all; sitting down at the end of a busy day to come together and chat. Another best part when lasagna is involved – the next day leftovers! They always taste better the second day, why is that? That mystery remains.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in partnership with Catelli and the Real Feels Good campaign. All opinions and commentary are, as always, my own.