In a world where hundreds of books are published every day (maybe thousands?) it can be overwhelming to find the simple ones.
A while back on Facebook I shared a reader question about great basic cookbooks to buy for college students and newbies to real food, and when I asked others’ advice I got such a great list of books!
Today I’ll share those reader ideas with you and a few of my own favs at the end.
(Note: I haven’t read or used most of these, but I’ll include reader notes about how compatible they are with 100% real food when I have them. Also, these are all my affiliate links to Amazon, which means I’ll get a kickback but doesn’t change your price at all – and I didn’t price check for lowest price, so look around too. If you don’t search with Swagbucks yet, that’s one way to get some free $ on Amazon throughout the year…)
KS Community’s Top 6 Best "Basics" Cookbooks
These are listed in order of number of people recommending them!
- Reader notes: "One of my personal favorites!"
- "Keeps things simple when they can be."
- Katie note: Mark Bittman is great, has a blog, wrote for the NY Times and has tons of books. His newest, VB6, is kind of intriguing. This book is also available on Kindle.
- Helen, KS site editor here. One book on my 2014 Christmas list is his newest this year:How to Cook Everything Fast. Can’t beat using fresh ingredients to get a meal on the table quickly!
- Reader note: "Not that it’s terribly real food based, but I bought myself "Where’s Mom Now that I Need Her" when I was in college. It had basic cooking info, how to do laundry, 1st aid info."
- Reader notes: "Recommended to find an older addition; didn’t rely on microwaves then."
- Reader note: While not always entirely real-food, there are helpful substitution lists, conversions, etc.
- Katie note: Yep! I have this one, too, same old red plaid, although my version is older. It’s good to have a "basic" like this on hand…but I’m so curious to try the Mark Bittman book and the next one below…
More Recommendations (Honorable Mentions)
These below each had just a single recommendation from readers, but all had many and solid reviews…
- Note: Using just 20 organic, non-processed ingredients per week, home cooks can create 5 wholesome, delicious meals in just minutes. Includes shopping lists, prep tips and more.
- Katie note: I’ve had the pleasure of working with Melissa Lanz, the author, and you can be assured that this cookbook is 100% real food and doable. Gorgeous recipes and what a cool concept to help streamline shopping!
- Reader Note: Even breaks down how to boil an egg!
- Reader note: Important recipes/techniques that used to be handed down but aren’t any more. Pioneer Woman LOVES her books.
- Reader Note: Geared toward beginners. Author of Moosewood Cookbook
- Note: NYT Top Ten Best-Selling Cookbooks of All Time
- Reader note: A great cookbook for people who are just starting out and want to make good food. It really helped me to gain confidence with my cooking. I always buy this as part of my wedding gift or bridal shower gift for someone. I really think it’s excellent!
- Note: Alice Currah, whose popular food blog, SavorySweetLife.com, attracts half a million page views every month, now combines warm, personal stories, helpful advice and time-saving tips, and real-life food for those together times that the whole family will love.
My Own Additions
For those who have food allergies:
Katie notes: I use this book by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN, of the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen ALL the time. It’s not for the total beginner, but if you need to be gluten-free or dairy-free AND want to eat whole foods, this book is fantastic. Tom and Ali have 5 children and manage such amazing meals! I feel like this cookbook is the practical version of Nourishing Traditions, which overwhelmed me a lot at first.
Katie notes: I use this cookbook ALL the time. What can I say? I didn’t have a lot of slow cooker recipes I loved, and when I received the book to review we were entering the "my kid is in elementary school and has all these after-school activities" phase of life where dinnertime changed and was often crunched by driving to schtuff. Many of my staples are now from Crock On. I love Stacy’s style, and her recipes are very easy and full of flavors and ingredients your average Americans (us!) recognize.
Note from Helen: I also LOVE Stacy’s second book, Keep Crockin’. Her recipes are on a weekly rotation at my house.
This may be a little off the grid, but for the tech savvy college student, a membership to Plan to Eat might be just right. You could share an account with them so you can input all your family favorite recipes for your college student and not worry about them losing them or feeling pressured. They’d just "show up" in their recipe box.
If you try that, you’ll want to check out the KS group over there, where almost 100,000 real food recipes (and even some natural cleaners and stuff I see) are being amassed by KS readers. It’s super awesome!
They even just added a cool new feature, a "cooking view" where the whole recipe shows up on one screen and the screen saver gets suppressed, so you don’t have to touch your screen/keyboard while you’re cooking. How handy is that?