Monday, July 28, 2008

Cookbook Review: Meals for a Month

Part of the "Meals for a Month" series.

Alas, it looks like this cookbook is no longer available--I can't find a picture of it because I can't find it listed anywhere! The title is Meals for a Month by Linda Larsen. It was published by Borders. There is a new book out in the "Everything" series (The Everything Book of Meals for a Month or something like that) by the same author, so perhaps it is the same book. At any rate, this is my favorite freezer cookbook.

The book is written expressly to give people recipes that work well frozen for a later date. The book is organized partially by meal (appetizer, breakfast, lunch, and dessert), partly by cooking method (slow cooker, grill, everything else), but most importantly, by meat type: all entrees that are not slow cooker or grill oriented are categorized by what type and cut of meat they feature. This is genius. It enables the reader/chef to stock up on a particular good deal for any given cut/type of meat (say, ground beef, or boneless skinless chicken breast) and then cook it up into savory entrees. In addition to its nice organization, each recipe provides ingredients in amounts for one recipe's worth (4-8 servings, depending on recipe) and for a tripled recipe's worth, in case you're cooking in bulk for your freezer.

The recipes are pretty good--definitely okay for ordinary cooking, but I don't quite have the confidence to serve them to company without having made them before. However, the main point of this book is to feed your family home-cooked meals by putting in one day a month of hard cooking and relaxing the rest of the month! Sounds good to me!

The first chapter contains a wealth of very helpful information for freezing any recipe, how to strategize and plan a list of meals to cook, and how to strategize the actual cooking day. Rather than give the reader/chef a prescripted menu for the month as some monthly cookbooks do, this book teaches the reader/chef how to intelligently pick a group of recipes, cook/assemble them, and stay organized throughout the month as the freezer gets depleted!

There's a nice variety of techniques: marinades, old-fashioned chicken pot pie and meatloaf, ethnic dishes, casseroles, vegetarian specialties, etc.

If you're interested in cooking a bunch of recipes for your family ahead of time, this cookbook is a great place to start. As with all cookbooks, it's important to try a few recipes out on your family before "committing" to it.

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