Park City native and food blogger adds a cookbook to her renowned ‘Tastes Better from Scratch’ website
Lauren Allen’s blog racks up 10 million readers a month
Park City native Lauren Allen has been sharing her love of food and cooking for over 10 delicious years through her popular website and blog, Tastesbetterfromscratch.com.
On Sept. 27, Allen will add a side dish to her website with the “Tastes Better from Scratch Cookbook.”
“A cookbook has always been a dream of mine,” said Allen, who was known as Lauren Bailey in Park City High School’s Class of 2006. “It’s something I thought about for years since I started the business. It’s just been tricky figuring out how to do it.”
Allen, now a mother of four, had grown up with the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, known for its red-and-white checkered tablecloth cover, and used that as the catalyst of what she wanted her own book to be.
“I’ve always known that I wanted my first book to be like the ‘Taste Better from Scratch’ cooking bible that people would want to use for every meal, every day,” she said. “I wanted it to be the resource you go to.”
Another inspiration was the 10 million readers of her monthly blog.
“I was a little nervous of how my fans would feel, because a lot of people in my position would usually put out a cookbook with 150 new and unique recipes,” Allen said. “But I wanted mine to be more of a mix. I wanted the book to have all the basics, the fan favorites and some fun new recipes. I wanted the book that represented my favorites, and a lot of times my favorites aligned with my fans’ favorites.”
The recipe categories are breakfast, muffins and breads, main dishes, salads and sides, soups and dessert.
“I wanted to have a lot of main-dish recipes, because I think that’s where people struggle the most — needing to cook their family’s dinner after they get home from work,” Allen said. “I also wanted to include some fun, unique recipes that were approachable and attainable for any level of cook.”
Allen began putting the book together two years ago.
“That’s when I started testing recipes and making a list of which ones I wanted to include,” she said.
The final product, which is available at Amazon, Walmart.com, barnesandnoble.com and target.com, features 116 recipes and photos, and it also includes freezer tips and QR codes that link to instructional videos.
Allen said it was a dream come true to hold the finished book in her hands.
“When it first came in the mail, I cried,” she said. “It’s pretty surreal to see something you spent so much time on come in a beautiful hardback form.”
Publishing the cookbook wouldn’t have been possible if Allen hadn’t set up her website, which started as a blog while she was attending Brigham Young University.
“Food was a fun part of growing up, and my family grew up in a hot spot,” she said. “Lots of my mom’s friends were from France, Germany and Portugal. We had neighbors who liked to share recipes, and my mom was a wonderful cook, so our kitchen was a gathering place for my family.”
From the time Allen was 5 and 6 she was in the kitchen learning new recipes from her mother.
“It’s always been something that I loved to do, so I was really surprised when I went to college that people bought pre-made pie crusts and ate store-bought jams,” she said. “Plus, the cafeteria had the most sub-par food I have ever experienced. So I was constantly calling my mom and talking with my sister and getting recipes from home.”
While cooking up those recipes, Allen felt the need to start documenting them in a blog so she could share them with her roommates, friends and the rest of her family.
“I called the blog ‘Taste Better from Scratch,’ because I felt nobody really understood how much better cooking from scratch is. Also, pre-made things at the store taste terrible, and they’re expensive, while cooking from scratch is more affordable and healthier.”
Allen continued adding new recipes to her blog after she and her husband, Jeff Allen, also a Park City High School graduate, finished college.
“My husband and I moved to St. Louis, Missouri, where he started law school, and I either had to get a real job or take a big leap of faith,” Allen said with a laugh. “With my husband’s and family’s encouragement, I turned (the blog) into my real job, and did all I could to build my website.”
Allen had studied new media design and journalism in college, and those classes included photography, writing and editing.
“It’s funny to think how they all play into this hobby of mine,” she said with a laugh. “It’s neat to see.”
The blog began racking up page views, which astounded Allen.
“Lots of people had blogs at the time, 10 years ago, so it was surprising to read comments from strangers and random people who were finding my recipes online,” she said.
Since the website and blog pull in millions of readers each month, Allen makes sure the content she posts has integrity.
“It started with the food that I love, and while it’s still that way, I feel, as the business has grown, there has to be a fine balance between what people are searching for and want mixed with what inspires me,” she said. “While I cook Mondays through Thursdays, we eat out on the weekends, because I love trying out new foods. So, I have a running list of things I want to try and test out to see if I want to put it on the website. The recipes have to be something that I’m really proud to promote, otherwise I just won’t share it.”
The main reason for Allen’s selectivity is her audience.
“I have a loyal following because people trust me,” she said. “They found me because we’re similar foodies, and I have to keep that in mind.”
Maintaining the quality of the business is also why Allen hires women who she knows care about the recipes and website as she does.
“My sister (Liz Haslem) was my first hire,” Allen said. “Since then I’ve been lucky to provide jobs for amazing women who can also work from home on something they are passionate about has been exciting for me.”
Country music singer and songwriter Mitch Rossell is set to perform Saturday at the Eccles Center for the Performing Arts.
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