by Tara Wohlenhaus and Nanci Slagle
The Freezer Cooking Manual is written by the "30 Day Gourmets," Tara Wohlenhaus and Nanci Slagle, owners of the 30 Day Gourmet website. Their book is already in its 3rd edition and it is a book that would be a welcome addition to any freezer cookís cookbook library. The book contains 60+ recipes, 250+ equivalents, time-saving worksheets (which are reproducible!), step-by-step directions for beginning once-a-month cooking as well as cooking & preparing the dishes for freezing. It also contains 25 photoes, health tips (such as how to make a recipe lower in fat), money-saving ideas and practical advice for cooks - all of this comes packaged in a nice lay-flat paperback binding! To see a picture of the manual and a listing of the recipes included, click here!
The Freezer Cooking Manual is very aptly subtitled "A Month of Meals Made Easy." I have read many once-a-month and freezer cookbooks and this book is the one book that has made the whole process of freezer cooking seem attainable for me and my family. Iím not sure if this is because before reading The Freezer Cooking Manual, I had already been exposed to the idea of cooking once a month or what. However, I do know that the authors really take their time in explaining the fundamentals and preparations for a day-long cooking session and the way they separated it into sections (i.e. Set Dates for Planning, Shopping and Cooking, Take Inventory, etc.) helped me visualize the whole process in a better way. The whole idea of cooking once every 4-6 weeks so that I could fill a freezer full of food, reading for heating/cooking at a momentís notice truly overwhelms me, so Iíve never tried it! The main difference in this Manual and other freezer cooking books is that the authors recommend you tackle the huge cooking session with the help of a good friend! What a difference this could make to someone! Personally, Iíd rather spend 8-10 hours cooking and talking with a good friend than to spend it cooking by myself -- I think the time would fly much faster and this "work" of preparing meals for my family wouldnít seem so much like "work!"
In promoting the idea of cooking with a partner, the authors have taken great pains to discuss issues of figuring out how to share the grocery bill and divide up the food when family sizes differ, how to share recipes when families have different tastes, and how to have a good time with your friend while you work (I especially like their advice, "Keep conversations positive and uplifting. Gossip is destructive and your partner will tire of it quickly."). This book is sooooooo practical - any question I could think of is answered in this book. Another thing I really liked about The Freezer Cooking Manual is that there are recipes for freezable side dishes (many of which would be great as meatless main entrees) and snacks/desserts. Each recipe contains wonderfully easy-to-find ingredients, many of which go on sale often at the grocery store, thereby keeping your bill down! In addition, the recipes contain ingredient lists for preparing each recipe to serve 1-6 times. This is a nice feature because you are automatically able to see that 2 Tblsp. of an ingredient in a recipe to be served one time becomes ĺ cup of that ingredient when preparing 6 meals of the same recipe! Finally, each recipe gives directions for either preparing it for same-day eating or for freezing it to eat later.
In trying to come up with a list of things that I believe could improve this book, the only thing that I can think of is that I would love to see a section of recipes based on using peas, lentils, beans, etc.as the main ingredient. This is one area of freezer cooking that I have yet to see addressed much in any cookbook. In trying to keep my grocery bill down, I know I need to learn how to cook more meatless meals, relying instead on beans and such as protein fillers and I donít find this area of cooking addressed in many freezer cookbooks. Basically, I do not consider this a complaint about the book, but more of a suggestion for improvement in future editions! If you would like to order this book or are just seeking more information about the book, its authors, etc. please visit the 30 Day Gourmet website today! Their site also contains message boards, the authorsí appearance schedule and much MORE!
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