Now that we know cooking delicious, nutritious family meals at home can be cheaper and better for us than buying low-cost, fast food, finding a great cookbook should be easy, right? But all of the weeknight warriors out there who do their best to whip up a low-cost, nutritious, tasty meal for the family after a long day know what a challenge this really is. Cooks commonly question whether a recipe will create good food, meaning food that looks good, tastes good, and feels good in the body after you eat it (e.g. gives you nutrients and energy rather than weighing you down). Asking these great questions makes you a critical cookbook consumer.
Now that you know what you want to learn about a cookbook, these quick tips will make finding a cookbook that inspires your confidence and creativity in the kitchen simpler so that you have energy to get right down to cooking.
The goal to keep in mind as you review cookbooks:
- Busy home cooks with loved ones to feed tend to aim to make a nutritious meal that the whole family wants to eat because it looks, smells, and tastes delicious – wouldn’t that be wonderful? It’s doable with the right cookbook by your side!
To get to this goal, look for cookbooks and recipes with these hints in mind:
- The recipes featured on Healthy Family Fun may not be bound in a book but they are approved by leading experts in nutrition from Boston Children’s Hospital – a standard that is not always met by cookbooks we grab off the shelf at the library or bookstore
Take a look around
- The cookbook that’s right for you will help you feel confident and ready to try out its recipes by giving tips on what to keep at hand in your kitchen, how to master the basics of a new type of cooking or skill, and what the finished dishes should look like with lots of images
Stay with stress-free cooking
- Pick books whose authors understand that stress-free cooking is done with kid-friendly foods on an adult-friendly budget
- Then go for books that feature recipes you can prepare in the time you actually have to spare (even if it is just 5 minutes)
Keep it simple
- Recipes that have few preparation steps and feature a short list of simple ingredients allow fresh produce to shine through in the dish – bonus: this makes less work for you
- Simple steps are great for getting kids involved in cooking and the more they are involved in making the meal, the more they will want to eat it
Be choosy about ingredients
Go through your checklist of the components of a balanced meal and see whether the cookbook’s recipes meet your standards for what you want to feed your family:
- Does the recipe include mostly fresh, whole foods like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains?
- Does the cookbook include nutritional information and recommendations for portion size with each recipe? Not all cookbooks do, so if you need a back-up, check out this library of nutrition facts where you can search by ingredient
Meet the menu
- Cookbooks that put together sample menus for you make it easier to plan to prepare all of the dishes you need to create a complete meal
Share your favorites
- Once you find a great cookbook, share it with your friends and family – you just might get some great suggestions in return
Let Healthy Family Fun know what you find, too, so we can all start off this summer cooking better meals with more fun together!