Who doesn't want to save a few bucks on dinner, right? Add to this the promise of simple and family-friendly meals for both weeknights and weekends, and this new cookbook from Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian might just find a permanent spot on the kitchen shelf.
• Who wrote it: Melissa d'Arabian
• Who published it: Clarkson Potter
• Number of recipes: 140 recipes, covering snacks and appetizers, soups, salads, meat and vegetarian main dishes, desserts, and breakfast.
• Recipes for right now: Slow Cooker Tortilla Soup, Cod in Garlic-Ginger Broth, Everyday Roast Beef, Veggie Moussaka, Crisper Drawer Pasta, and Peanut Butter Chocolate Lava Sundaes
• Other highlights: Lots of emphasis on family-friendly dinners here with a good mix of quick n' easy weeknight meals and longer-cooking dishes for the weekend. The tips for trimming food budget dollars and stretching meals are genuinely useful and worth paying attention to! (A few favorites: "Buy small as well as big at bulk bins," "10 Ideas for Leftover Chicken," and "Freezing and Substituting Fresh Herbs.")
I do have one quibble with the book: with so much emphasis on dinners that are $10 or less, I don't think the book does a great job of actually estimating the cost per recipe. Each recipe has a rating of 1 to 5 dots that are meant to indicate the relative expense of the meal, but this feels far too subtle and general to me. (Do five dots equal a $10 meal?) I understand that food prices vary based on where we live and the specific ingredients we choose to buy, but I really would have appreciated at least an estimate. The dot system is somewhat explained in the introduction, but the matrix for figuring out actual at-home meal cost still feels very complicated and nonintuitive to me.
This aside, I do think this is a solid cookbook with a good collection of truly useful and tasty-sounding recipes. The fact that so many of them are family-friendly is bonus points for anyone trying to please both young eaters and adults at the same table.
• Who would enjoy this book? Family cooks, college students on a budget and other budget-conscious cooks
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Ten Dollar Dinners: 140 Recipes and Tips to Elevate Simple, Fresh Meals Any Night of the Week by Melissa d'Arabian
(Images: Emma Christensen)