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Frugal and Simple Cookbook Recommendations

Yesterday(Sunday), we made it into the 50’s here in northern Indiana, the snow melted and I had very happy, muddy children, begging to run around outside in their shorts and t-shirts!

With the change in seasons, I’ve found myself trying to change up our menu!  We adore soups and stews (primarily because I can throw everything into the crockpot and forget about it!) but as it gets warmer, we’re craving lighter meals and different flavors.

This past winter, I changed my entire grocery philosophy and I no longer use a menu plan when I go to the grocery store!  This was a complete shift in food-philosophy for me, and we are still working out the kinks, but so far, so good! Despite my few stand-by recipes that make it onto our table every 2-3 weeks (at least) I’ve been on the hunt for new dishes, and so I thought I’d throw together a list of my favorite cook books!

I LOVE using my kindle or phone in the kitchen for looking up a recipe online and it saves me a lot of leg work.  However, there’s still something to be said for a real-life, ink and paper cook book and I have a few in my kitchen that are splattered with batters, oils, and have creases throughout.  Here are a handful of my favorites:

More with Less is a compilation of recipes from various contributors and it’s main focus is helping you stretch your menu with simple items and staple ingredients.  The recipes aren’t glamorous, but they’re surprisingly tasty and CHEAP.  This book was worth every penny, as I have started using recipes that have significantly decreased our food budget and have still filled us up.  (side note:  this cook book does not adhere to a Traditional Foods’ based diet, and there are multiple recipes that call for Crisco, margarine, soy-based items or refined sugar, to name a few.  It tends to make me cringe at times, but the items that are cited in their book are easy to substitute with the more nutritious counterparts). 

Another fantastic cookbook from the same publisher, Simply In Season breaks down into 4 sections – Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall, and the recipes are aimed at teaching you how to prepare food with what is in season, in order to take advantage of your own garden, Farmer’s Market, and local produce.  For example, you’ll find a lot of winter greens and root vegetable-based recipes in the Winter section, and tomato, cucumber and zucchini based recipes in the Summer section.  The recipes are simple and easy to make and use common ingredients.  Again, there are a few ingredients that we shy away from that are listed in the cook book, but overall, most of the recipes are produce-based (though not vegetarian).

And yet another cookbook from this publisher (they aren’t paying me to promote them, I just love their books!).  Extending the Table is comprised of recipes from all over the world, using (for the most part) simple ingredients.   There may be some exotic spices that you wouldn’t typically have on hand, but the goal of all of the cookbooks printed by World Community is to keep things frugal, simple and filling.   This cookbook is a nice extra to have on hand, especially if you like something other than standard American fare!

The full title is a mouthful, but it gives you a great idea of what you’re in for!  This is, essentially, the Bible for the Traditional Foods diet.  It covers everything from soaking your grains to probiotic drinks, making your own baby formula and how to make fruit preserves that contain beneficial enzymes.  At well over 600 pages, this is one of my heftiest and most thorough cook books.  In fact, I think it it just as much as a text book as a cook book; each chapter focuses on a different type of food (ie: legumes, meats, grains, dairies, etc) and the beginnings of each chapter are full of research that has been done in regards to that food group, it’s nutrition, and the best way to prepare it.  It’s not for the faint at heart, but if you’re even remotely interested in learning about Traditional Foods (ie: eating only foods that are identifiable as “food” and were not made in labs), then this should be one of your first purchases!

This is another great book to have on hand as a reference and it’s for those that are truly curious about making and using live-cultured and fermented foods.  His recipes and tips are simple and easy to follow and it covers everything from sourdough and sauerkraut to kombcha and homemade wine.  Although personally I completely and wholeheartedly differ with him on his political and lifestyle views that he expresses as commentary throughout, his cooking-related material is fantastic!

Although not technically a cook-book, this has been a great resource on using coconut oils in our cooking and diets.  The first 2/3 of the book is an explanation on our body’s use of fat and the surprising scientific proof that eating the right kinds of fat will actually make you LOSE weight!  The recipes in the back are really simple to follow and this is a great resource to have on hand.

Those few books comprise the bulk of my cook-book repertoire.  I have a few region-specific cook-books that I keep on hand for nights when we’re craving something Mediterranean or Caribbean.  Aside from that, I try to keep things simple in the kitchen, and keep only the books that are time-tested (and kid-tested!)

What about you?  What are your favorite cookbooks?  Are you a blogger with a fantastic recipe repertoire?   Feel free to shamelessly self-promote and link it up in the comments below!  I’m still looking for some new recipes to try out!

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