A must-have cookbook for busy families
School is back in full swing now, and that means time is at a premium. Whatever you family dynamic, the dinner hour is almost always a busy one. Decisions about what to make that will please the entire family can be daunting, am I right? And what about the all-important budget? Anything you can do to stretch your meal-planning dollars is a good idea in my book.
This book has the answers.
Betty Crocker's The Smart Dinner answers not only the question "What's for dinner?" but also the question of what to do with all of the odds and ends we always seem to have languishing in the leftover graveyard in our fridges. More than just a recipe book, The Smart Dinner is absolutely chock-full of tips and tricks for getting delicious, family-friendly meals on the table on even the busiest nights while using up what you've got on hand. There are tips for minimizing dinnertime stress and how to set your kitchen up for success. There are ideas for a variety of dinnertime scenarios, such as:
-- When everyone has to eat at different times
-- Meals you can make ahead of time
-- Meals you can have on the table in less than 20 minutes
At every corner of this book, there are tips and hints for ways to change up the recipes to use what you have on hand, as well as ways to use up leftover components of the recipes themselves. For example, in the recipe for Ten-Minute Boat Tacos, the authors suggest that if you don't have the taco "boats" on hand but do have tortillas, don't make a special trip to the store just for that one ingredient -- swap it out! They also suggest a recipe-within-a-recipe for guacamole to top the tacos and also a suggestion for what to do with the leftover guacamole. Perfect for families who are looking for ways to save time, energy, and money -- and who isn't??
The book is divided into chapters like "Chicken and Turkey," "Soups and Sides," and "Breakfast for Dinner," and each recipe features labels like "one pot," "quick fix," and "slow cooker," so it's easy to find a recipe that fits not only what your family is craving but also how much time you have to make it. Perfect!
It wasn't easy to decide what to choose to make from this book in order to actually test drive the recipes (because what good is a cookbook review without actually testing the food??). In the keeping with the spirit of the book, I decided to find something to make using (mostly) what we already had on hand. I only had to buy one ingredient. Perfect!
The recipe I chose to make was the Steakhouse Sloppy Joes (found on page 70 if you buy the book, which you definitely should). These are essentially much like the classic Sloppy Joes your family probably already loves (which makes them a great option for those family members who won't eat things they don't recognize) but with a twist. Instead of a tomato-based sauce, this version uses things like steak sauce, Dijon mustard, and beef broth to create a savoury sauce. When combined with the ground beef, butter, and onions it creates a sandwich that is the perfect hybrid of casual weeknight dinner and that steakhouse taste we all love.
OK, confession time: This recipe also calls for mushrooms, but I absolutely cannot do mushrooms. They are one of the very few foods on my not-gonna-do-it list, along with eggs and mayonnaise (which I think should be labelled "not for human consumption").
The recipe was very easy to make (came together in less than half an hour) and was well received by all of us. It's definitely a keeper! A few of the other things I plan to make from this book:
-- Tastiest Turkey Meat Loaf
-- Greek Burgers with Tzatziki Sauce
-- Grilled Cheddar Burger and Veggie Packets
-- Asian Beef Noodle Bowls
-- Amazing Bacon-Cheeseburger Tacos (what????)
-- Roast Pork Loin Sheet Pan Dinner
-- Bow Ties with Broccoli Pesto
-- Breakfast Burgers (again, what???)
THE VERDICT: The Smart Dinner is going to be kept well within reach in my collection. There are so many recipes that I want to try in this book, so stay tuned for other recipes reviews!
If you buy this book and make something from it, I'd love to see what you make. Tag me on social media @3plusabunny or comment below!