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I started my new approach to dinner and shopping with a stack of recipes, my own ideas, and what I had learned from Jenny Rosenstrach's first book, Dinner: A Love Story, particularly scheduling dinners and picking recipes that fit my time constraints. After reading her new Dinner: The Playbook, I think I'm ready to take my planning to the next level.
Although Rosenstrach's strategies are specifically geared to busy families with kids, everyone can benefit from her tried-and-true method of cooking dinner almost every single night. Her tips and recipes will work for you, even if you think you can't cook or think you have the world's pickiest eaters for children. Her own daughters, for example, have exasperating deal-breakers: no eggs for either of them and no pasta for one. Yikes! But still, she and her husband manage a nutritious dinner each evening, despite working full-time and juggling their girls' after-school activities.
So how the heck does she do it? In Dinner: The Playbook, Rosenstrach shares every trick in her arsenal: how to plan meals, how to get the family on board, how get organized, how to save time, and even what to cook. All of this information is presented in a conversational, friendly style that makes it easy to absorb and will make everything seem possible.
Here are some things I love about the book:
- The weekly plans, complete with notes about how to save time and how to repurpose ingredients to cut down on waste.
- The tips on how to shop and how to stow your food when you get home.
- Advice on how to be more efficient with your time, so dinner gets on the table more quickly.
- The broad range of easy, flavorful, and nutritious recipes (each with a photo).
More important, thanks to Rosenstrach, I've relabeled myself from being a lazy cook to being a smart cook. All those quick (yet fresh and healthful) recipes I'm drawn to? That's probably the key to my being able to make dinner about 320 nights every year. All this time, I thought I was just unambitious . . . who knew I was actually being sane?
The recipe section of Dinner: The Playbook is chock-full of easy, family-friendly, and flavorful dishes. There are Asian-inspired soups, Southwestern tacos, Italian pastas, and all-American sandwiches. The ingredients are generally fresh and most of the recipes can be made in about a half hour. Throughout the book, Rosenstrach offers tips on how to adapt foods to picky eaters and how to save time in the kitchen.
If you're an experienced cook with file folders (or Pinterest boards) full of recipes, you won't feel locked in by Rosenstrach's sample dinners and meal plans. It's easy to take her principles and use your own recipes for your weekly schedules. On the other hand, if you're at a loss, are unsure in the kitchen, or are simply tired of being a short-order cook, then the recipes in this book will form the backbone of your new life.
No matter what your situation, your evenings will dramatically improve after you read Dinner: The Playbook. Jenny Rosenstrach's advice is based on her real-life experiences: she and her husband cook and shop, attend their daughters' functions, and work full-time. They don't have household staff or a live-in housekeeper. If they can do it, you can too.
In the coming weeks, I'll tell you about other resources I'm using as I join the modern world of meal planning. In the meantime, for more on Rosenstrach, check out her blog, which includes many tips and recipes. Note on photos: the photos were scanned from the cookbook; all rights remain with the original copyright holder.
Random House / Ballantine, 2014
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)