18 October 2014

Weekend Cooking: Dinner: The Playbook by Jenny Rosenstrach

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Dinner: The Playbook by Jenny RosenstrachWhat's in the air these days? So many of my blogging friends have gotten the urge to jump on the food-planning bandwagon, and I'm no exception. In fact, I'll be starting my fourth week of meal planning tomorrow, and although I'm seeing results, I can still use all the advice I can get.

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.

copyright Jenny RosenstrachHere 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).
Even though I don't have the same issues as Rosenstrach does--I have no kids and my husband is happy to eat whatever I put on the table--I wish I were more organized when it comes to dinner. And although I know it's not the case for many of you, I never really feel stressed at dinnertime; I like to cook and I'm good at it. But I would love to save time, money, and energy, and Dinner: The Playbook has helped me with all my goals.

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?

copyright Jenny RosenstrachThe 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
ISBN-13: 9780345549808
Source: Bought (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


rhapsodyinbooks 10/18/14, 6:04 AM  

Great idea for a book because I hate trying to plan meals!

jama 10/18/14, 6:30 AM  

I'd better check this book out -- I need lots of help with meal planning. :)

Tina 10/18/14, 7:05 AM  

This is certainly a book for me as I love reading about other folks' meal planning. As soon as we get paid I write out a two week meal plan. Sounds rigid but it's flexible in that we decide which of the meals to have any day of the week.
Definitely checking out The Playbook for tips!

Sarah (Sarah's Book Shelves) 10/18/14, 7:40 AM  

Wow - I think I need this. I used to be so good about trying new recipes...and now I rarely try new ones anymore (addition of the second child). The most stressful part about cooking for me is deciding what to make!

Jackie McGuinness 10/18/14, 10:53 AM  

I have always loved to cook dinner even when I was working. And, like Beth, my husband is happy to eat anything I put in front of him.

Carole 10/18/14, 2:42 PM  

Sorry, too organised for me. The pleasure is in creating new dishes with what you have on hand - we shop several times a week though. Cheers from Carole's Chatter!

Katherine P 10/18/14, 10:05 PM  

I've seen this book but didn't put it together with Dinner: A Love Story. I have a big family and am fairly organized when it comes to meal plans but it'd be nice to have tools for weeks when it doesn't come so easy. Thanks for sharing this one!

shelleyrae @ book'd out 10/19/14, 5:52 AM  

I've been meal planning for about a year thanks to a very tight schedule and with a family of 6 it makes dinner much less complicated.mid really like to take a look at this though, I'm sure there are useful tips in their for me.

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

Daryl 10/19/14, 1:33 PM  

i am such a non-cook .. but it is fun to read others experiences

Leslie (Under My Apple Tree) 10/19/14, 1:51 PM  

I am nowhere near that organized, but I think I do cook two-thirds of our meals. I do a lot of advance preparation like making a dozen jars of pasta sauce or huge batch of chili and put them in the freezer. That helps avoid the carry-out temptation when I don't have something planned!

I'll have to take a look at this book as I'm sure there are tips in it that I could benefit from.

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