“Over and over again, I prove to myself that more time spent in the planning and preparation of a meal does not necessarily make for a more delicious, more enjoyable, more exquisite meal,” says CindyJ. Call it the law of diminishing culinary returns. Great effort does not necessarily yield great food, and sometimes the most memorable food is a great ingredient in a simple presentation.

“The general rule is that the higher the quality of the ingredients, the less you need to do with them,” says Ellen. Good-quality fresh food—dry-aged, organic grass-fed beef; farmers’ market veggies; fresh local butter—needs little intervention or extensive preparation to shine, she says. “On the other hand, I once spent hours making a classic beef Wellington that was beautiful but such a yawn compared to the effort.”

shaogo agrees. “The more complicated (I say ‘convoluted’) my plans for dinner become, I guarantee you the ‘wow’ effect of a dish (or of the whole meal) diminishes,” he says. “Like others who’ve posted here, some of my best ‘home-run’ dinners were created à la minute from a short list of simple ingredients.”

Board Link: The Laws of Diminishing (Culinary) Returns

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