Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Why cookbooks are awful

This weekend, I am getting rid of the majority of my cookbooks. I'm beyond fed up with them.

Let me explain.

For my 100 challenge last year, I tried out 100 new recipes to add to the repertoire of yummy dishes my family already loves. Friends and family learned about the challenge and sent me cookbooks. And after a year of flipping through them, this what I learned:
  1.  The trendier the cookbook, the worse off you are. I think that most families (especially with children) have a picky eater in them. And I really do not like having arguments at the dinner table. Yes, my family will try something new, but there are limits: I had one cookbook that touted 10 recipes that included chard. Chard. We were not going to eat that.
  2. The do ahead cookbooks waste your time. Yes, there is something great to be said about doing prep work ahead of time. But, cookbooks that have you clocking in 90 minutes of prep work before you even start cooking need to go away.
  3. Most of the cookbooks today are filler. If you already know how to cook, you really don't need a 100-page section of the cookbook telling you the basics. For some cookbooks, recipes are an afterthought.
  4. Cookbooks are expensive. I would often only use one or two recipes out of a book that cost $28. So each of those recipes cost $14. Not worth it.
Here's how I kept my sanity throughout the project.
  1. I looked for recipes online. Sites like gave me access to thousands of recipes that were tried by actual people. And, I could search by ingredient to make sure that the recipe contained something that my family would eat.
  2. Chopping on the weekends. I did prep work for longer recipes on the weekends, but I kept weekday meal prep time to under 45 minutes so we could eat at a decent hour.
  3. Make your own recipe book. If I did find a recipe in a cookbook, I just copied it into the binder where I keep of all our family recipes. No need to keep that extra book in the house.
  4. Be realistic. You can't serve new dishes every night of the week. Limit it to two. Otherwise family members will revolt.
I'll be dropping off all those extra books at my local book swap shop this weekend. (Think of the shelf space, I'll gain!)

So, only one question remains: What's for dinner tonight? Tell me in the comments.

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