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Cookbook recs for very busy new parents

I'm looking for cookbook recommendations for very busy new parents who are more inclined to eat out than make dinner. I was considering getting them a crockpot and accompanying cookbook for some no-fuss recipes they can make. Simplicity is the key here. Any thoughts on cookbooks w/ very simple and easy recipes?

Thanks for your thoughts!


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  1. I haven't tried anything from it yet, but I just bought "Eating Well for Two" from Eating Well magazine for my parents and myself, and it truly has some good looking recipes. Almost all of them look super easy and simple... lots of salads and soups. It might be worth looking into for this situation as well.

    1. I'm a working mom, who loves to cook, but I find that it gets harder with each passing day to get a good meal on the table. I have had success with both of the Giada de Laurentis cookbooks, Everyday Italian and Giada's Family Dinners. Not all of the recipes are quick, but there are some pretty good gems in there. I also have made several items out of Barefoot Contessas Home Cooking book - great recipe for tuna with a mango chutney that I served with a box of Annie Chung soba noodles and it has a recipe for Eli Zabar's Asian salmon, which is great and quick - I also enjoyed her easy lobster paella, but substited lobster for shrimp instead along with white wine for pernod - it was pretty good.

      1. I don't think crockpot meals are easier to make, as much as it spreads the time out and is ready to eat at night when you get home. You still have to chop all the vegetables, pan sear the meat, etc. If you want really simple, I have friends who love Cooking Light, 5 ingredients under 15 minutes. I haven't tried it, though.


        1. Thanks, that sounds promising. I really think they are looking for food that can be made from items in the pantry and freezer.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sljones

            May be more work than you're wanting, but you could make them a cookbook, keeping your guidelines in mind. You could tailor it to their tastes and time constraints, and it would be more meaningful too!

            1. re: Katie Nell

              I do actually plan to do this, but sadly it will never be complete by Christmas...unless I post a thread and start collecting ideas from helpful chowhounders!

          2. It looks daunting, but it's always my standby- has GREAT recipes- The Joy of Cooking. I LOVE It.

              1. re: momskitchen

                I considered that, but my husband reminded me that they can be dangerous if you get distracted. I really don't think they cook much at all, so I'm trying to show them it can be easy. But you're right, they really do simplify and speed up meals. I'll reconsider..

                1. re: sljones

                  Pressure cookers have many saftey features to keep them from being dangerous. There are automatic locks to keep the lid from being removed under pressure and pop-offs that release if the pressure gets too high. If it pops, it would probably make a mess in the kitchen. I suppose it could be dangerous if you're standing with your face in the way. But if you're standing there, you'd know there was a problem and just turn the thing off. I have a feeling that if you're distracted enough for a pressure cooker to be dangerous, you probably need to eat more take-out.

              2. i say let them eat out while they can, it gets less convinient as the baby gets older! that aside, i have a cookbook called something like "the working parents cookbook" or something, and its very simple recipes that cook quickly and don't involve much prep or planning.

                1. I recently posted this on another cookbook thread:

                  A friend of mine bought this for me recently and while it's not necessarily gourmet, the recipes that I have made so far are tasty and easy (and as the mother of a 2 year old and a 7 week old (now 9 week old), sometimes just putting a tasty dinner on the table is key!). It's called "The Six O'Clock Scramble" by Aviva Goldfarb.

                  I also just received "The Best Light Recipe" and "The Best 30-minute Recipe: A Best Recipe Classic" from Cooks Illustrated/ATK, but I haven't made anything from them yet. I bought them based on recommendations from this board.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: valerie

                    I'll definitely check out the 6 O'Clock scramble. Let me know what you think of the best 30 minute recipe from CI...it's hard to imagine CI as simple, but let me know what you think!

                  2. I recommend Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (dubbed a more hip Joy of Cooking)
                    It has lots and lots of simple recipes, with endless variations (e.g., various spices and sauces for boneless chicken breasts), lots of lists of ideas. In short, it's got both technique, recipes, ideas and is very flexible and encouraging.

                    That said, a friend who loved spending evenings cooking gourmet meals now has a new baby and swears by her crockpot for meals ready when they get home from work.