What are you cooking tonight? Montreal's 'Dinner Mumspiration' wants to help you decide
Facebook group shares photos and recipes of meals you can actually make
The only regret Myriam Porrazzo has about her Facebook group, "Dinner Mumspiration" is its name.
"Because it has gone from just dinners to now breakfast, lunch, snacks, meal planning, we talk about absolutely everything," she said.
And it's not just for moms.
"It's for dads, it's for aunts, it's for uncles, it's for just about anybody who's looking for inspiration."
The group started as a few close friends from Montreal's West Island and has grown to include more than 5,600 members in several countries.
The concept is simple: take a photo of the meal you cooked, then post the recipe in the comments.
It cannot be a photo from the web — some ideal version of the recipe — it must be the actual meal you cooked.
"We're not looking for that perfect picture, it's about real life, real food," said Porrazzo, a mother of two from Vaudreuil, adding that advertising is not allowed in the group.
Most members are Quebecers but there are also members from other parts of Canada, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Italy, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Combined, they have a wealth of knowledge about how to make authentic meals from various cultural communities as well as how best to tweak recipes for people who have food restrictions or allergies.
While attempting to make wonton soup for the first time, Porrazzo got more help than she imagined possible through a Facebook group.
"I posted, 'Guys, I'm here in my kitchen, how do I make this happen?' and I was flabbergasted at how quickly people were guiding me through it and it was so good!"
Fussy eaters and keeping it real
Longtime member Melissa Vincelli says Dinner Mumspiration is helping her feed the fussy eaters in her family.
"My husband's reluctant to try anything that's not pizza, pasta or burgers," she said.
"I started making butter chicken, so that's way out of his comfort zone. Now, as a result, we'll go out for Indian food. That makes me happy," Vincelli said.
Meal preparation while caring for her two-year-old daughter and an eight-month-old son doesn't always go as planned for Vincelli, a corporate sales manager who is currently on maternity leave.
Still, she'll post on Dinner Mumspiration, even on a day when "nothing worked."
"I think I posted, 'we're having Lipton soup for supper and I'm having wine,'" she said.
"And so many moms commented 'I'm in the same boat.'"
It's the type of post that is comforting to members like Josiane Comtois, an audiologist working full-time who has two young daughters 17 months apart.
"It just makes me feel better [to know] other moms have the same reality that I do: I love my children, I want them to eat healthy and I do whatever I need to do," Comtois said.
"But it's always rush o'clock after work. I need to get meal prep done and this is always hard," she said.
Comtois often consults the group for recipes, not just for supper but also for breakfast.
One of her favourite recipes from the group simply involves combining oatmeal, almond milk, yogourt, vanilla or maple syrup and fruits in a mason jar overnight in the fridge.
"It's a life saver. It saves us time and the kiddos just love it," Comtois said.
Five star meals
As much as Dinner Mumspiration strives to remain down-to-earth, there are some members with a five-star reputation.
Alexandra Reid, a stay-at-home mother of three school-aged kids in Edmonton, often posts meals that are so visually impressive one might assume they were prepared by a professional chef.
Cooking for her family is a passion but she too has rough days and sometimes that means supper must be simpler.
"Some days after soccer when we're out there until 7 or 8 o'clock at night, we're going to Costco, we're eating our $1.99 hotdogs because that's life," she said.
She posted photos of her family enjoying hotdogs and got a lot of support from other members in the group.
"I got nothing but love and positive vibes back," she said.
Posting recipes on Dinner Mumspiration has also led to some members making surprising connections.
Vincelli says she recently posted a photo of white lasagna, her family's recipe from Casacalenda, a small village in Italy, and that post sparked an online conversation among Italian members of the group.
"Talking about where they were from in Italy and how their grandmother's grandmother used to make it," she said.
It turns out some members had relatives who had grown up together.
"It was a really great thing to see so many little Italian nonnis come together [online]," Vincelli said.
Some Dinner Mumspiration members came together in person recently when Porrazzo signed them up for a group cooking class in Montreal.
Porrazzo says she was pleased to see they connected as well face-to-face as they have online.
"It was really fun and I actually found out one member has applied to Master Chef Canada,"
"It was a nice night. So, friendships are being made."