Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really useful system for working families who want a variety of good basic meals on a controlled budget., July 26, 2011
This review is from: The Stocked Kitchen: One Grocery List . . . Endless Recipes (Hardcover)
I only started cooking about three years ago so I know personally how daunting it is to try and decipher your first recipes, what some ingredients are, what all those crazy measurements mean, and even what the intermediate steps of a recipe are supposed to look and smell like. However, I now have lots of successes under my belt and can make delicious food that my friends and family both enjoy and appreciate. And I enjoy the whole process of cooking. And the process doesn't begin in the kitchen. It begins with planning WHAT you are going to cook and when. Then you have to plan your shopping and do the shopping. Another key step is building a solid pantry of items you can call on at any time to supply spices and core ingredients to the kind of cooking you like to do. You also have to acquire equipment over time and learn how to use it. For example, a good food processor will save you hours of chopping. The issue is, you have to balance the kind of cooking you want to do with the realistic demands of your work and family life and pair that with your food budget. Eating at home can be a LOT cheaper than eating out - if you don't waste a lot of food and shop with a clear purpose.

Sarah Kallio and Stacey Krastins have developed a complete system to help you do every step. They have created a shopping list that you can use to create an endless number of recipes. They have more than 300 in this book and even more on their website and you can get a free newsletter emailed to you with new recipes every week.

The recipes are practical for working families with a basic food budget but who like variety. They use canned and frozen veggies and they do NOT require you to have vast stores of food knowledge or highly developed knife skills. Nor do they ask you to spend a day making a fancy meal for your friends. Instead, they want you to plan your week out so you can make the most of your food and time. During the week, you need quick meals that can be put together quickly and still come out tasty and nutritious - even with a slow cooker. You can re-purpose leftovers from the night before into new dishes for tonight. And you can splurge on the weekends.

These recipes offer a surprising variety for being drawn from the same shopping list. Obviously, there are some substitutions. For example, vichyssoise is usually made with leeks but here they use green onions because they are on the list. I think one will notice the difference, but the substitution works. Or, you can step off the list for this dish and buy a couple of leeks. Your choice. They themselves, for example, recommend picking up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store some nights to save the step of having to roast a chicken yourself. Their recipe for Hummus substitutes great northern or cannellini beans for garbanzo beans. Now I don't know why their shopping list doesn't include something as useful as garbanzo beans, but it doesn't. I guess you can be a renegade and add them.

The heart of their system is that shopping list. And they have about a dozen copies of it that you can cut out at the back of the book. Or you can print them for free from their website. The idea is that you fill your cupboards, fridge, and freezer with the items on the list and attach a copy of the list to your fridge. As you run out of items you check them on the list and that becomes what you use at the store. Again, the list is made for practical cooks who want to provide a variety of healthy, good tasting meals for their family. The meals are not made for aspiring chefs who want to explore the worlds of cooking. Nor is it for the experienced cook who demands fresh ingredients and knows how to make everything from scratch. But it is a great system for beginning cooks and for cooks who work hard at their jobs and want to do a good job for family meals, but can't be bothered with elaborate preparations or exotic ingredients. Heck, it is for people with real food budgets not the endless bank account of a food show that can afford to make $60 lasagna! Most of us can't do that very often. This book is far more everyday and useful than that kind of thing.

The book also has a bunch of really good tips for one author or the other throughout the book. They are really quite good. But one struck me as really odd. On page 52 we are told that "This is absolutely the easiest, cleanest, and least stinky way to cook bacon." Stinky? Bacon? I love the smell of bacon. If your bacon stinks I suggest you upgrade to something nicer. I mean what an odd word in a cookbook.

But that is a vanishingly small quibble. If you fit into the categories I described above, this book is for you and you will thank the authors for helping you get a handle on your food budget and your family's meals. Get the book and use it to death.

Reviewed by Craig Matteson, Saline, MI
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 24, 2011 5:55:53 PM PDT
laribrook says:
thanks for the good review!! i laughed about the bacon comment... whenever i cook bacon my whole house smells like it!! which is great during the meal but not 6 hours later! so maybe they have figured out a way to solve that problem!? hehe.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2011 6:57:57 PM PDT
Good quality bacon (say, Neuske's Applewood Smoked) smells great when you cook it and all day until you wash and dry the pan.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 24, 2011 6:57:59 PM PDT
Good quality bacon (say, Neuske's Applewood Smoked) smells great when you cook it and all day until you wash and dry the pan.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 12, 2012 1:20:18 PM PDT
Shopper Girl says:
I agree. Can't stand the lingering bacon smell hours later. Burning a candle in the kitchen after making bacon seems to help. :)
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Craig Matteson
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Location: Saline, MI

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