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We're just going to say it—Ina Garten is one of our favorite celebrities. She's taught us how to cook, entertain and dine like royalty from the comfort of our own homes and has certainly helped us step up our homemade cocktail game! Plus, our other favorite celebrities all want to be her best friend, so that makes her the ultimate star.
We decided to sift through The Barefoot Contessa's Instagram account to collect some of her most sage cooking advice—let it be known, this account is a gold mine! We selected our eight favorite tips, which you will find below:
1. Prep What You Can Ahead of Time
Garten shared her gorgeous Fourth of July menu on Instagram last month, and with recipes like watermelon mojitos and grilled herbed shrimp with mango salsa, we're sure she spent some serious time making sure everything was fresh, vibrant and beautiful. However, she didn't do this at the expense of losing time with her guests!
Garten's advice when entertaining is to create a menu that allows you to prepare as much of it in advance as you can, so you don't have to miss you on precious moments with your loved ones. Here, she prepped the cocktails, salsa, panzanella and cake beforehand, so all she had to do was grill up some shrimp just before mealtime.
2. Tasty, Healthy Weeknight Recipes Are a Must
We all know The Barefoot Contessa isn't afraid of real butter, lots of cheese and enjoying life's indulgences. However, she finds it extremely important to keep a healthy, crowd-pleasing, 30-minute recipe in your arsenal at all times for last-minute company and extra-long work days when you need dinner in a hurry. Her personal favorite is this gorgeous Parmesan-crusted chicken and simple lemony salad. Yum!
3. Double the Recipe Whenever You Can
Ina is a huge fan of batch cooking, and we are too! Even anti-meal preppers will love this simple trick for saving time trying to eat healthy during the week. And not only is Ina unafraid to eat the same meal twice, she also can repurpose it into something else! Here, she turns this soup lunch into a pasta sauce for the next night's dinner. Brilliant!
4. Don't Be Afraid to Let Your Veggies Shine
The Barefoot Contessa is far from vegan, but she knows how to work those veggies! It's easy to be turned off by vegetables when you're always eating them in the same fashion (steamed broccoli gets old quickly!) Ina steps outside the box to make her veggies become the star of a dish. Just how creamy and cozy does that cauliflower toast look?
5. Snack Dinner Is Nothing to Be Ashamed Of
If you've stalked Ina Garten's Instagram before, you'll notice a whole lot of pictures of tomatoes and cheese. This picture in particular is a great reminder that a simple dinner of good-quality ingredients—tomatoes, burrata, olive oil, herbs and bread—is certainly a healthy and satisfying dinner option on those days when you just don't feel like turning on the stove. Because sometimes you want a little bit of everything instead of a whole lot of one thing, and that's OK!
6. Simple Is Always Delicious (and Still Instagram-Worthy)
Ina gushes over some pretty basic dishes on her feed, and it's a good reminder that you don't have to pull out all the stops for a meal to be delicious. This woman loves toast, and she is hyped over this one with smashed eggs and herbs.
7. Don't Waste Your Money on Store-Bought Salad Dressing
"Store-bought is fine—" except when it comes to dressing your greens! We like to think Ina Garten that Ina Garten scoffs at the shelves of preservative-laden dressing bottles as she hunts down her favorite olive oil at the market. And when you use her recipe, it's too easy not to make it yourself! All you need is lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, and voila! You have a salad worthy of The Barefoot Contessa herself.
8. Dinner Is Best Served With a Bottle of Red and Good Company
There is actually some scientific research to back this one up. Several countries list communal dining as part of their healthy eating guidelines because of the mental health benefits it has to offer! Think about it—eating dinner with your best friend, significant other or office buddy is way better than eating alone. Plus, cooking will feel that much more rewarding when you see another person enjoying the fruits of your labor.
Now, let's get to the wine. The Barefoot Contessa loves her some fancy French vino, but our favorite $12 bottle still offers the same heart health benefits, too! Resveratrol, a compound found in red grapes, shows to protect our heart from chronic disease, possibly lowering our blood pressure and cholesterol as well. Cheers to that!
Related: How to Add Wine to a Healthy Diet