Frankie Celenza evolves the food conversation in a new season of Struggle Meals

Tastemade’s Struggle Meals season 7 ( Photo by Nick Agro / Tastemade )
Tastemade’s Struggle Meals season 7 ( Photo by Nick Agro / Tastemade ) /

When Frankie Celenza brought Struggle Meals to Tastemade, the cooking show helped many cooks gain confidence in the kitchen. From stretching the budget to learning foundational cooking techniques, those first seasons created a foundation. Now with Season 7, the episodes can expand in creative ways. From new approaches to the Thanksgiving meal to appreciating ingredients’ versality, each new episode gives the home cook more tools to create a delicious feast.

During a recent conversation with Frankie Celenza ahead of Season 7 of Struggle Meals, Frankie shared how his approach has evolved. He said, “in the early days of the show, we definitely focused on value, one wow ingredient, and gave viewers several directions, like how to use the remaining cauliflower when the recipe only calls for a half of head. The recipes were cost effective, reduced food waste and offered variety. Now in Season 7, each episode takes a broader approach.”

Looking specifically at the Thanksgiving episode, Frankie not only offers a cost-effective meal but delivers classic flavors in an approachable and innovative way. The classic turkey, potatoes and even cranberries are featured, but the recipes are something that both the novice cook and the more comfortable one can handle.

That idea was intentional. For Frankie, he believes that Struggle Meals is “fundamentally an educational instructional program. The idea is to encourage people to go out and cook something.” For him, the purpose is to get people to cook and understand that the gesture of cooking is a gift that keeps on giving.

When discussing Thanksgiving for this year, Frankie understands that food costs can impact the meal. He recommended looking at everyone is willing to bring to the table. If one person always makes the turkey, why not build on the meal with something else, like adding seasonal offering.

Struggle Meals on Tastemade with Frankie Calenza
Tastemade’s Struggle Meals season 7 ( Photo by Nick Agro / Tastemade ) /

Frankie explained how eating in season is and always has been budget friendly. Not only do the ingredients taste better because they are fresh, but they are also abundant.

Beyond the traditional, favorite recipes, there can be some room to experiment and grow. That ability to apply the cooking knowledge learned from previous Struggle Meals episodes comes in handy. That way the head of broccoli isn’t served the same way time and again.

In some ways, Frankie wants to encourage cooks to expand on the seasonality conversation in another way. For example, he has been swapping Meatless Monday for Meat Monday, while eating vegetable forward dishes the rest of the week. That concept not only can stretch the budget but adds variety, helps to grow cooking techniques, and can bring new ideas to the table.

Those swaps do not have to come with a particular label or a requirement to fit into a lifestyle choice, it is about learning to appreciate ingredients, flavors, and the engagement of cooking. Whether more robust items are incorporated into a recipe or the idea is kept simple, the willingness to try starts to show home cooks that the kitchen is not full of struggles. Rather it is full of opportunities.

Season 7 of Struggle Meals airs on Tastemade. New episodes debuted on November 10.