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Dec 5, 2013 04:37 AM

Cookbook for someone who doesn't cook

My sister just moved out of my mom's house after Thanksgiving. She has a roommate, but I don't know if she cooks much.

This girl doesn't cook. I'm pretty sure it's because she's never been in a situation where she has had to. (She is 22, and the only times she has lived away from home were two brief stints away at college.)

I want to get her a simple cookbook for Christmas. Something with easy but relatively healthy recipes. They would also need to be somewhat price-conscious. I was thinking some sort of "five ingredient" cookbook?

So things I'm looking for:

- simple, easy-to-follow instructions
- quick prep (30 minutes or less, maybe?)
- budget-conscious ingredients
- beginner-friendly
- cooking for two (nice but not req'd)
- preferably something that spans several cuisines

I'm perusing Amazon as I type this, but I wanted to see if anyone has any suggestions.

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  1. How about The America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook? It's hefty, beautiful (gift-worthy), and covers all your bases, plus it's basically a cooking curriculum in the form of a book.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Rilke

      I just pulled up the ATK Quick Family Cookbook before you replied. I'll check that one next!

      1. re: Kontxesi

        It looked awesome, but I think that would be WAY intimidating for her. If I gave her that, it would most likely never get opened.

        It seems like something I'd like to have in my kitchen, though!

    2. The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook has super easy recipes - I love that it's made like a a binder. (Guess it's the teacher in me!) It was my first cookbook as a beginning cook away at college, and I still go back to many recipes today.

      1. I have one called How to Cook Without a Book that gives basic recipes (stir-fry, sauteed chicken breast with pan sauce, pasta, eggs, etc.) and variations on each so you can get basic techniques and proportions down. Really useful for a beginner cook, I think.

        1. "Cookbook for someone who doesn't cook"

          I think that's called a "Take Out Menu".

          2 Replies
          1. re: jrvedivici

            That's valid. I just feel bad that processed food and take-out are her only options now. She's moved about two hours away from my mom, so she can't really just pop in for a real meal.

            Plus, neither her nor her roommate actually have a job right now. (The roomie's parents are starting them out, because they want their daughter out of the house....) So I figure they'll quickly go broke if they are living off of take-out.

            I mean, she is an adult. And if she really want to learn how to cook she would. I just want her to have the tools to be able to feed herself, I guess.

            1. If she has any interest in techniques, I think this book is good for a beginning cook -


              Not a lot of recipes but a basic education in "how" cooking works.

              2 Replies
              1. re: cleobeach

                Love Alton Brown - great pick. And it's a fun read too.