Cooking at Home during Covid? Eight Great Cookbooks to Inspire You!

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If you’re like more than 50%* of Americans, the COVID pandemic has brought back the Joy of Cooking.  A trend that re-emerged as a necessity due to restaurant closures and food shortages has become a fun way for families to spend time together. 

COOKING IS THE NEW FAMILY-TIME

So many of my friends have turned to cooking as a way to inject fun and creativity into their homebound days. In our house, we take turns planning and cooking meals throughout the week. It’s challenged us to learn new kitchen skills and we’ve even become a little more adventurous in our menu selection.  Case in point: our pasta-loving daughter now makes vegetarian flautas!  Other families I know make a game of it by choosing nightly themes and planning activities that go along with dinner.  It’s just one more example of how the lockdowns have impacted our lives -- while distancing from others, cooking has brought many families closer together. 

WHERE TO FIND INSPIRATION

When looking for new ideas, the internet is usually where people head first. However, I often find that my online searches always seem to deliver the same types of recipes. That’s why I prefer to find new recipes from good, old-fashioned cookbooks. By picking a favorite chef or selecting a general theme, I find that cookbooks offer so many more options to choose from and inspire me to branch out from my regular ‘go-to’ choices. I love looking a beautiful photos of the completed meals and appreciate the tips provided by the chefs.

Here are some of the cookbooks we love:

FAMILY-FRIENDLY AND COMFORT FOODS

Roasting Pan Suppers (by Rosie Sykes)

This is my idea of an easy dinner: one pan to clean! This book features 80 delicious meals that can be cooked in a single roasting tray or pot. Just take a handful of fresh ingredients, spend five minutes or so preparing them, slam them in the oven, and get on with something else in the meantime. There are also vegan and vegetarian options and tips on how to make recipes meat-free. So simple, even the most novice chef can do it! 

Slow Cooker Everything! (from the editors of Taste of the South)

Slow cookers are a lifesaver for busy families; with a few simple ingredients and a dash of planning, they make getting dinner on the table easy and nearly effortless. Slow Cooker Everything! takes your favorite “set it and forget it” recipes and kicks them up a notch with the hearty and classic flavors of good Southern comfort food. From filling main dishes, to appetizers, breads and desserts, Slow Cooker Everything! is full of delicious tricks you never knew your favorite kitchen appliance could do.

FRESH-CLEAN EATING RECIPES

The One Peaceful World Cookbook (by Alex Jack and Sachi Kato)

This beautiful cookbook features over 150 Vegan, Macrobiotic Recipes for vibrant health and happiness.  It shows you how to prepare delicious, satisfying meals that nourish your body and mind and offers cutting-edge research on health, vitality, and fitness.

Simple Beautiful Food (by Amada Frederickson)

With more than a hundred ideas and a photo for every recipe, Simple Beautiful Food will have you making delicious dishes any day of the week.  As creator of Instagram’s “Fridge Foraging” series, Amanda Frederickson also provides “choose your own adventure” riffs where one ingredient is used in many different ways, giving you greater flexibility and confidence in the kitchen.

GREAT FOR THE GRILL

Healthy Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker Cookbook (by Nancy Loseke)

You just purchased a new grill or smoker, now what?  The Healthy Wood Pellet Grill & Smoker Cookbook is your go-to guide for healthy, competition-level meals. Nancy Loseke shares her tips for using your grill, along with 100 low-carb recipes for sauces, appetizers, main dishes and side dishes to create the perfect meal for a weekday night of backyard picnic. It’s a must have for bbq connoisseurs.

Pizza on the Grill (Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer)

We love pizza and we love to grill so this cookbook is a win-win for our family. Over 50 creative pizza recipes to cook on your gas or charcoal grill are included, with each one drink suggestions and ‘adventurous’ options to allow you to take it up a notch. The cookbook has recipes for homemade gluten-free pizza dough and 10 inventive gluten-free pizza recipes.  This book is a one-stop resource with yummy appetizer, salad and dessert recipes as added bonuses.

SPECIALTY THEMES

Tiny Book of Mason Jar Recipes (Phyllis Hoffman DePiano, editor)

Mason jars have hundreds of uses, but they are most known for serving, storing, and preserving recipes to eat now or enjoy later. This little book, with more than 60 test kitchen-approved recipes, is simply fun to use for any menu or celebration on your calendar. From Beverages and Salads to Entrees and Desserts, the Tiny Book of Mason Jar Recipes is packed with goodness!  As a bonus, it includes some fun gift ideas for all!

KetoMeal Prep (by FlavCity)

Who knew that Keto meals can be so easy and creative?  Keto Meal Prep includes more than 125 low carb recipes full of flavor that are perfectly calibrated to the ketogenic diet. The easy-to-follow recipes can be prepped in advance, so when you’re tired and hungry, a healthy meal is just minutes away. Mix and match the base recipes and your meal combinations are endless.

JUST A TREND OR HERE TO STAY?

The good news is that it looks like the home cooking trend is likely to continue even after these COVID days.  In fact, 51% of respondents in the Hunter* survey said that they plan to continue cooking at home even after the pandemic because it helps them save money and eat healthier.  Guess it’s time to stock up on cookbooks!

July 23, 2020 — Stacey Jess