Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Website and Cookbook Review: Saving Dinner

Saving Dinner: The Menus, Recipes, and Shopping Lists to Bring Your Family Back to the Table by Leanne Ely

www.savingdinner.com and Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely have a mission worth supporting: bringing families back to the dinner table. Ely uses her nutrition and cooking training to create family friendly entrees and then offers side dish suggestions. In my experience, her recipes are quite healthy, generally budget friendly, usually kid-friendly, and easy to prepare. While I haven't like everything I've tried (isn't that true for most cookbooks?!), the recipes are very workable for general weeknight fare. Typically, the recipes use a nice variety of store bought time-savers (such as spaghetti sauce, canned beans, frozen foods) along with a healthy dose of fresh ingredients. I prefer her book to her website menus, partly because I can then shop ahead and repeat the meals I really enjoyed. You can subscribe on the website for a variety of menus that are then emailed to you weekly; menu types include low-carb, regular/like the book, frugal, etc. Each menu includes a shopping list, serving suggestions for side dishes (and these are beautifully simple--steamed broccoli, baked sweet potatoes, etc.), and offers options for numbers of servings (2, 4, or 6). The book provides similar menus, but all entrees are for 6 servings. Shopping lists are even available for the book online--simply select your week and print! This system really helped me get through the first year of my twins' lives because it helped simplify the dinner routine immensely. In addition, because we were religious about portion control--we lost weight! Each week, both the website menus and the cookbook, offers a variety of dishes: every week includes a fish recipe, every week includes a crockpot meal (there's even an entire crockpot menu for online subscribers), weekly summer menus include an entree salad, weekly fall/winter menus include a soup, every week includes a vegetarian meal.... Ely's created the kind of system I wish I'd had time to create with my own recipes. She's planned the week, filled it with healthy and tasty options, and even given you the shopping list.

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