During the pandemic, most of us had no choice; We were tied to our kitchens to support ourselves, forced to eat our own creations week after week. At certain points, eating fatigue definitely set in. However, there was a time when I embraced that time and actually put a lot of effort into preparing meals. With a seemingly endless amount of time with nothing to do and nowhere to go, why not?
I’ve prepared elaborate three-course Japanese feasts, rolled handmade noodles on the kitchen table, proved my own pizza dough and made falafel from scratch on Monday night. But now that life is more or less back to normal, my meal prep time is significantly shorter. Some nights when I don’t have food in the fridge, a snack wins over cheese on toast or stir-fries once again.
The search for cooking inspiration can be overwhelming. From converting online recipes from imperial to metric measurements and skimming paragraphs with SEO flow before you reach the actual recipe, to seemingly every month a new themed cookbook that claims fast, healthy, easy and just five ingredients to being – you know the drill.
However, this list of cookbooks is tried and true and ideal for everyday cooking. They factor in speed, effort, and of course flavor, and will hopefully break you out of the cooktop-brain standoff.
Broken down into helpful categories from “Feed Me Now” to “More Food, Less Work”, Tandoh’s book contains truly unique recipes that are super easy to make thanks to her simple writing style. It also provides practical tips for making recipes vegetarian or vegan, including optional substitutions and tips on what you can leave out of the recipe to make it work.
Cook: Harissa, gnocchi and broccoli stir-fry (I’ve made this literally 10 times since I bought the book a few months ago) and buttered miso linguine with leeks for weeknight decadence
If you’re like me and find yourself waiting 30 minutes for dinner when you’re hungry, this version of Iyer’s roaster collection is for you. Plus it keeps the washing up minimal which is always a bonus.
Cook: Lightly roasted chickpea, halloumi and red onion salad with jumbo couscous and cinnamon-spiced eggplant with feta, olives and herbed bulgur wheat for fresh, Middle Eastern dishes that double up for both lunch and dinner
This is one of my favorite vegetarian recipe books (sauce squirts can be found on many pages of my copy) because while some of the recipes aren’t as fast-paced as others on this list, it’s great for batch cooking and so well worth the prep time if You have a fridge full of groceries for the week.
Cook: Ian’s Dal, Vietnamese Sticky Tofu, and Baba Ganoush for weekday dipping (better than any store-bought version I’ve found by far)
Divided into categories like fresh and spicy, these recipes are a great way to curb your cravings, as the title suggests, without succumbing to a weeknight grab-and-go meal. Some of the ingredients might not be the staples of your usual weekly shop, but it’s nothing you shouldn’t be able to cook up something restaurant quality.
Cook: Sheet cake with poussin, artichoke and peas and orecchiette with pork, fennel and milk stew
This Super Easy Cookbook is another cookbook that saves on the washing up with one-pot recipes. This cookbook is great for those who like visual instructions. It includes a photo of each recipe. Also, the book is relatively short, so you won’t be overwhelmed with deciding what to do.
Cook: Creamy potatoes with olives and traditional ratatouille
Pasta, a staple often associated with college life, can sometimes get a bad rap, but this classic doesn’t have to be boring or plain! Best known for her writing on Italian food, Roddy offers a literal A to Z of pasta shapes as well as recipes for cooking with both dried and fresh pasta and familiar fresh and pantry staples.
Cook: Linguine with anchovies and tomatoes and breadcrumbs and pasta with chickpeas
Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar brings curries from all corners of the world into your kitchen. Broken down by region, the curries in this book will challenge your idea of what a curry actually is and get your taste buds tingling too.
Cook: Rolled Egg Wraps and Mango and Tempeh Curry
The slow cooker can conjure up an image of the 1950’s housewife preparing a casserole that is ready on the table when her husband comes home from work. However, Sidey’s book, with its fresh, vegan recipes, is definitely a modern take on the slow cooker. Turn on the slow cooker in the morning (perfect, a lot more of us are working from home now) and enjoy a nutritious, comforting meal in the evening.
Cook: Sweet potato shepherd’s pie, slow-cooked caponata and flavorful pho