It’s my favorite time of year: fall cookbook season! These months see some of the most exciting cookbook releases of the year and we’re flying through them here at Cool Mom HQ. We’re obsessed with Ready or Not, the new Nom Nom Paleo cookbook, and now we’ve got another one that we can’t put down. But while Ready or Not may not be for everyone (for the record, we think it is, but we get that you might not want to spend money on a Paleo cookbook if you aren’t on the Paleo diet), The Dinner Plan: Simple Weeknight Recipes and Strategies for Every Schedule is. Yes, including for you.
Because if you’ve ever wished that recipes came with a friend who’s a killer cook to help you get dinner on the table — like a real person with a second pair of expert hands — this cookbook is the next best thing. I love it, and feel sure that you will too.
The Dinner Plan is the second book from Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion, the authors behind another one of our absolute favorite family cookbooks, Keepers. Just like with their debut book, Kathy and Caroline have jam-packed this one with tips, tricks, and easily-executed strategies that give their recipes real life relevance that goes way beyond the usual, “that looks good.”
The recipes do look good, but they also come with crib notes from the ladies, whose easygoing tone and real life grasp of the demands of family life really do make them feel like friends lending a hand in the kitchen. (Too bad you can’t share a glass of wine with their book — then it would be perfect.)
Every recipe in The Dinner Plan is coded with one or more of Kathy and Caroline’s five weeknight meal strategies: make-ahead, staggered, one-dish, pantry, and extra fast. These strategies speak to their focus on helping parents find the right recipes to navigate the various situations that a typical workweek throws our way.
Because they get that we don’t need the same kind of recipe on nights when everyone is coming home from work and after-school activities at different times as we do on nights when everyone is eating together, for example. Okonomiyaki, savory Japanese pancakes that folks can grab as they’re able (top), work well on one night, while you might prefer a roast chick on the other (bottom).
In addition to plenty of dinner options, including meatless meals that everyone will love (looking at you Curried Coconut Noodle Soup; top), there’s also a chapter with recipes for what Kathy and Caroline call The Forgotten Meal, the food that kids eat between school and dinnertime. You will especially love this chapter if you have older school-aged children for whom a quick little snack is no longer enough. The healthy, hearty options, including Melted Mozzarella Squares (middle) and DIY Roasted Seaweed Hand Rolls (bottom), are exactly the kind of filling foods you can feel good about serving up before dinner. Because the kids will still be hungry — and if not, what they ate was worth the calories. Seriously.
There are other helpful notes along the way, too, from musings on how to think about proportions to the tools you should have in your family kitchen. These ladies didn’t miss a beat.
If you ask me, you should run out and get The Dinner Plan right now (it’s available at your local indie bookstore or our Amazon affiliate for $19.49). Also, we’re thrilled to let you know that Kathy and Caroline will be contributing a few posts right here over the next few weeks. If I haven’t convinced you to pick up your own copy, they surely will.
Photos by Maura McEvoy from The Dinner Plan by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion, published by ABRAMS c 2017