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4.0 out of 5 starsCheap and quick are relative terms
Reviewed in the United States on 23 November 2015
The book is of a high quality even though it is a softcover. About half of the recipes are a full page and about a half of those are accompanied by a full page color photo. I'm not sure how many people would have the ingredients for any of the recipes without having to go to the store for something and would not necessarily consider all the ingredients cheap. I think with experience the recipes could be termed as "quick" but probably not the first time or those that don't cook a lot. The book is worth it for the quality of the printing and using it for ideas to use with other recipes and mixing and matching and also for those that do want to prepare relatively quick meals but don't expect to have all the ingredients.
4.0 out of 5 starsValue Depends on Your Needs and Interests
Reviewed in the United States on 18 December 2015
To review this book, I tried a few of the recipes and looked through the entire book. For a great cookbook I want four things.
1) Clear instructions: These are relatively clear by that I mean that basic preparation steps are in the list of ingredients -- chopped this, drained that, peel and pit these. If you are beginner in the kitchen, that might be a bit confusing but Jessica Fisher isn't asking to do a lot of complicated things.
2) Lovely photos that make the meals seem possible. Not every recipe has a photo, that would make the book more expensive, but the ones that have them seem like plates I could make at home without a lot of stress.
3) Real recipes, not just basic ideas for food. There are real recipes here, made from scratch. Actually I don't mind if a recipe includes things like using a cake mix or a pre-chopped lettuce, time and money saving can be achieved with prepared or packaged ingredients. However, if the recipe is cut some apples and drizzle X over it or take slices of bread and layer these ingredients over it are these really recipes or just ideas?
4) The book does what it claims. In this case it is make dinner in 30 minutes or less but this is complicated by two factors.
First the blog this book is connected to "Good Cheap Eats" implies that the dinners will be cheap... I didn't find that to always be the case. I live in a decent sized college town with a lot of huge grocery stores as well as several organic and ethnic shops. Several of the ingredients are not what I would classify as "cheap" but your financial situation will determine that and since no price range is given, I won't say much more on that.
The second implication is that these will be dinner, full meals, not just a main course. Each "recipe" is really a two-recipe menu along with a preparation tip that could help out those with less experience in the kitchen. Are two items a full meal? Again that depends on your expectations. I think it would have been great to include 3 dish idea per menu myself given the nine different categories of recipes in this book, give us more an idea of what goes well together.
I really hoped there would be more dishes with chocolate but then I do run The Chocolate Cult and I was hoping to review this book there as well... only three "recipes" with chocolate so it will be a short review on the blog. The dessert section was actually pretty short but the other eight chapters were 20+ pages each.
I am always looking for dishes I can make ahead, transport, and then they can be heated in a microwave. This cookbook provided about 9 recipes that I am interested in trying, which is more than I get from some cookbooks. These recipes are all in the first section titled quick casseroles, bakes, and broils. The other sections have a lot of soups, salads, and sandwiches which won't meet my needs. If they are something you are looking for, you may find many more ideas for you than I found for me. There is a nice assortment of main dishes and sides and the comments about the recipe and how her family likes them is enjoyable. There are lots of pictures, although not every recipe has a picture.
4.0 out of 5 starsFast recipes that use fresh ingredients
Reviewed in the United States on 14 December 2015
I use this cookbook often. For the most part, all the ingredients are things I already have on hand, or can easily find at the grocery. They are all easy recipes that make getting a meal on the table faster. Some of my favorite recipes are the Confetti Chili, the Asian Steak Salad, Pesto Shrimp Linguine Salad, Crispy Pepperoni and Olive French Bread Pizza, and Quick Fish Tacos. This would make the perfect gift for the beginning cook, but is also enjoyed by someone like me, cooking for 45 years. I appreciate fast recipes that use fresh ingredients.
4.0 out of 5 starsYou'll buy it, enjoy it, then most likely forget about it
Reviewed in the United States on 31 December 2015
This is a perfectly average book on the subject of convenience cooking. The recipe is largely American with a decent amount of Tex-Mex and southern European and some definite New American restaurant influence, and there's plenty of tips for meal organization, leftovers, etc. Fisher's writing is a little Taste-of-Home-ish, but not so much so as to be irritating. If you buy it, you'll probably like it and even recommend it to others. The main downside as I see it is that it is, indeed, very, very average; there's nothing about it that stands out compared to many other similar books, so unless you're a fan of the author or a specific recipe, you probably won't go out of your way looking for it.