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Useful cooking mags

I recently got a subscription to Bon Appetit and have been disappointed to find that there's almost nothing in it that is relevant to a home cook. I'm looking for a good, inspiring cooking magazine, and my favorite so far is Cooking Light. Sometimes I've liked MS Living, but I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for a home-cook's desire to change things up from time to time.

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  1. In the past I really liked Fine Cooking, I used to make sure to pick up every issue. I find now that they do a lot of themed issues repeating old recipes. Not so useful or me, but maybe good for someone who hasn't followed them over the years. I have always had success with their recipes.

    1. I think the only useful cooking mag I've ever seen is Cooks Illustrated. It's the "Consumer Reports" of cooking mags. It's not just recipes, but the whys and wherefores as well. It goes into a lot of food science. Oddly enough, I hate the show Americas Test Kitchen. But CI is still the best cooking mag there is, IMHO.

      1. I make plenty of BA recipes, so I am not sure what you mean by "relevant to a home cook." The mags I currently like are Fine Cooking the most and Cook's Illustrated far less. BA I use less and less, but I use epicurious.com plenty.

        My friend really likes Sunset--it's Pacific/Northwest/West oriented. I think Southern Living would be an equivalent, depending on your part of the country.

        1. I second the CI recommendation. No ads, no glossy photos - just good recipes with techniques and whys explained well. I personally love it because I have never had a bad meal. Some are labor-intensive, and I don't think I'd make them again, but for the most part, they are reasonable and delicious. (Quite opposite from BA....I've had mixed success with their recipes).

          Another note: I recently started a subscription to their website, which is a separate cost (no included in mag subscription), and it has a ton of great recipes, taste and equipment testing notes, and menu planning, BUT the recipes don't include the full explanation of how and why the recipe includes the exact steps it does. So if you are kind of a nerd for that sort of stuff (like I am), you might want to start with a mag subscription.

          1 Reply
          1. re: RosemaryHoney

            I'd also add the Cook's Country magazine - along the same lines as CI, only not quite as, well, not as nerdy. :) The recipes are a little more streamlined - nowhere near as fussy, and the explanations are not as detailed, but they're still informative.

            I look at it like: CI recipes are good for a weekend "project" or a day off - CC's are usually quick and easy enough for a weeknight.

            I do like CI's articles, too - I like to know, not just what worked and didn't, but why or why not. For me, it's not just about the recipes, but it's educational, too. I've been able to apply lessons learned to other dishes, usually with very good results.

          2. I really enjoy and use Food Network Magazine. I have found some great recipes to try plus cooking tips and meal planning ideas and I love the layout.

            1. I find CI most useful in terms of the how/why behind different recipes, so even if I don't make the actual recipes in the mag, I can often apply these things to other recipes or when I'm just throwing things together. In addition, I find the "extras" in CI to be very useful - the equipment/product reviews, the questions sent in, and the center spreads (which vary, but might include things like mise en place or handling a whole chicken). Some of their recipes are labor intensive, and I must admit that I cook from it much less frequently than in the past; but then again, I am a much more experienced cook now.

              I agree with the other poster that the separate subscription to the CI website is VERY useful. You can look up a zillion recipes and product reviews.

              I no longer have a subscription but really enjoyed Eating Well.

              1. I like Fine Cooking because I rarely follow a recipe. Nor do I feel like I need a separate recipe for every variation on a theme. Fine Cooking will do a story like "baked pastas" and then give you proportions, techniques and different ingredient combos for you to mix and match. I also appreciate their photos of things like blind baked pate sucree crust - "THIS is how brown it should be" - more useful than stylised photos of the finished product.

                1. I think what the OP means by Bon Appetit not being relevant to the home cook is that perhaps she finds much of it's too fussy for every day cooking? I would agree - love the mag, cook from it often, but I'd say that 80% of it falls into the category of "food porn"/cooking for company. I'm a mother of a young kid and life is way too crazy to be whipping up much of what's in BA M-F!

                  Have you checked out Everyday Food? It's a Martha Stewart pub but it's geared toward fast, fresh food - it is the #1 source of "keeper" clipped recipes in my arsenal!


                  1. I agree with Gansu Girl's endorsement of Everyday Food mag. I love the magazine and look forward to reading it every month. Recipes are very good, many take under 30 minutes to prepare, emphasis is on fresh ingredients with easy to follow steps and lovely pictures.

                    1. I don't know if you are able to get it, but there's an Australian food magazine called Delicious. It's my personal favourite and I have subscribed since its very early days of publication. The recipes are geared towards home cooks and are focused on using good, fresh ingredients. It carries a wide range of recipes for different skill levels and has regular sections such as 'Tuesday Night Cooking', which is a selection of recipes for a busy home cook to get dinner on the table in half an hour. Each month carries a different theme focusing on a particular cuisine or ingredient and they annually have a chocolate edition (Easter time), Italian edition (May) and healthy eating issue (September). Delicious magazine is my bible, I thoroughly recommend it.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: TheHuntress

                        Damn! Now I want this and it's USD 105.00 or so for a US subscription (through Amazon). Haven't seen it in shops here.

                        1. re: buttertart

                          Oh dear - if you email them they might be able to tell you where you can get it locally. They're very, very nice people. If I was to move anywhere in the world though my Delicious magazine would be coming with me regardless of the expense - I own masses of the damn things and I am ALWAYS referring to them.

                          1. re: TheHuntress

                            I was like that with (the late lamented) Gourmet when we lived in Taiwan, I know exactly what you men. Must keep an eye out.

                            1. re: buttertart

                              Delicious is available at our Barnes/Noble and Borders. Not necessarily th eissue that Australia put on the stands three days ago, but it's there.

                              1. re: lemons

                                I'll have a look next time I'm in one. Thanks!

                      2. My mother in law subscribes to Bon Appetit, and I feel the same way about the recipes not necessarily being relevant. Beautiful, sure, but the recipes are more like dinner party or company recipes than every day ones.

                        I subscribe to a whole bunch of magazines. Vegetarian Times is my go to magazine for weeknight dinners. We're not vegetarian, but don't eat meat so often. The recipes are tasty, easy to prepare, and don't have too many crazy ingredients. I've made a lot of the side dish recipes to go along with chicken or beef entrees. The soups and salads are creative and tasty.

                        Eating Well and Cooking Light are also good magazines. Not really "diet food" but lighter and healthier versions of classic foods. Eating Well is very seasonal the ingredients they focus on reflect that. It's not a very thick magazine, but the articles and recipes are well written. Cooking Light has a nice mix of 'for company' recipes and everyday recipes. Solid magazine, but not sure if I will subscribe again.

                        Although not an exclusively food magazine, I really like the recipes in Good Housekeeping magazine.

                        1. I guess I'm going to be the odd (wo)man out. I think BA is quite dumbed down. My MIL died last summer and I'm getting the last of her subscription. I can't wait for it to expire. I go through the whole thing every month and generally toss it in the recycle. I was shocked with the current issue cause I actually tore out two recipes.

                          Generally I find that cooking magazines are a waste of money for me. Once the current issue arrives, I rarely look at previous ones.

                          As for Cooks Illustrated, I subscribed for some years but finally let that go also. It seemed to be a lot of repetition. I have several of their books and the old issues but I refer to them less and less.

                          Just one (wo)man's opinion, of course :)

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: c oliver

                            I am SO with you on BA being dumbed down! I, too, am waiting for the thing to expire. On the lookout for more challenging and attention-grabbing magazines. Something unique would be wonderful, along with ideas for uncommon ingredients rather than the same old tired stuff. I am SO SICK of easy, 30-minute meal stuff.

                            A second (wo)man's opinion! :0

                            1. re: c oliver

                              Right there with ya. Every time a new BA comes in the mail, I'm reminded of how much I miss Gourmet.

                            2. In the department of magazines that aren't strictly cooking, I love the following for their food pages: Canadian Living, Sunset, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping. All run very good, very well-tested recipes. Family Circle and (particularly) Woman's Day were 1000% better at food back in the day 60's-80's than they are now (much more "quick and easy" types of things now). WD used to be terrific and featured a pull-out cookbook each issue on different topics - still have some of the Christmas cookie ones. Shame. (Side note, at the same time they carried great knitting patterns and other craft things, now you might get a mitten pattern IF you're lucky.)

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: buttertart

                                bt, you were instrumental in hipping me to BHG, and I have to say it's great to see their emails, packed with useful well tested recipes. Definitely not fussy restaurant cheffy stuff, no molecular gastronomy, but good solid home cooking. Thanks!

                                To the OP, YMMV, but I've given up entirely on cooking magazine subscriptions, mostly due to budgetary constraints and storage space availability, but I do get BA, Fine Cooking, Food & Wine, BHG, Canadian Living, also courtesy of buttertart, Epicurious (some ex Gourmet recipes) Everyday Food, Cooking Light and Saveur delivered to my inbox, easy to read, copy, save, file or delete, all free and no trees harmed in the process.

                                1. re: bushwickgirl

                                  i wouldn't know about BH&G other than its being a staple of the Iowa family household. Happy you like it - and CL. Check out Sunset if you haven't already.

                                  1. re: bushwickgirl

                                    I'm in the same camp. Saveur is my fav - Mrs W gets Cooking Light and the meals have been interesting. With exercise and meal planning we've both lost over 20 pounds this winter.

                                2. Has anyone tried any of the recipes out of Real Simple? I have a friend who's tried a few and spoke highly of them.


                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: The Dairy Queen

                                    I've tried a few.The recipes are simple, nothing requiring any strange ingredients or equipment. I thought some of the recipes were a little TOO simple- like sesaon salmon and grill and serve with brown rice sprinkled with almonds and sauteed spinach. Also, I thought a lot of the recipes relied on packaged stuff. LIke 10 meal ideas with frozen tortellini.

                                  2. For what it's worth, the only cooking magazine I currently get is Saveur. It may not have as many everyday recipes and tips as some magazines (like Cooks Illustrated or Bon Appetit), but it has wonderful articles about food and cooking. It inspires me to get into the kitchen, and that inspiration can be just as valuable to me as a bunch of random recipes.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: weem

                                      I should clarify my previous post. As a single man living alone, not trying to come up with three meals a day for a family, I may not have the same magazine requirements as others. I didn't mean to suggest that bunches of recipes are useless. I was suggesting (or trying to suggest) that the inspiration that I get from Saveur would be a useful supplement to the everyday magazines, if subscribing to more than one is an option.

                                      1. re: weem

                                        I'm also a big Saveur fan. I like their web site a lot too.