Customer Reviews: Saving Dinner: The Menus, Recipes, and Shopping Lists to Bring Your Family Back to the Table
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on October 23, 2003
I recently ordered this book from and I have not been disappointed. From the Flylady website I knew that Leanne Ely has some of the most delicious recipes. My family has raved over most of the recipes that I received from Leanne through Flylady. The same holds true for the recipes that are in SAVING DINNER. The food I have prepared using this cookbook has been popular with my family. I love having the menus and shopping lists prepared for me. It saves me about thirty to forty minutes each week in meal planning preparation. I should add that these recipes take thirty minutes or less to prepare.
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on April 5, 2004
Wow, what a book. I can't say enough good things about it. Eveything I have cooked has turned out well and gasp!, been eaten by my family. I love the fact that I don't have to agonize over what to cook for dinner -- we usually ate out is what happened.
The book is organized into seasons so you can take advantage of fresh veggies and fruits. I like the fact I can print the shopping lists off the internet.
After a couple of weeks of doing this, I had most of the staples on hand, so my shopping list is even smaller than before. An added plus is that I can now go to the grocery store and know EXACTLY what I need to get. No more "I might use this" only to have it languish in the depths of the pantry never to see the light of day again.
Leanne has gotten me back in the kitchen and LOVING it. I actually have told my husband, "No, I'd rather cook than eat out" (I can't believe I've actually said that), but that's how good these recipes are. I've tried things that I never thought would pass through my lips.
A real plus is that Ms. Ely is available by email to answer questions. She is sooooo nice.
I'd recommend this book to everyone.
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on January 14, 2004
I got myself this book as an early Christmas present. I can't believe the difference it has made in my life. We have gone from eating out and scrounging for dinner at least half the time to having a home cooked meal every night.
The menus are great and the shopping lists make it all so easy. I can take it and buy everything I need for the week.
My sons, the best of the picky eaters, are eating things I never dreamed they would eat. I am actually able to get the eat fish (something they never did before). When they discovered that I was using cod, they got all excited and said they were eating Captain Hook. I realized soon enough that it was their own little joke about codfish. So now, they look forward to their weekly serving of Capt'n Hook, LOL.
I can not say enough good things about this book. It is a must for any kitchen. Even if you don't use the menus and only use it for the recipes it is worth it(though I wouldn't pass up such a great time saver if I were you). The food is so good and it is easy to follow the directions.
I have already decided to buy one for my sister and my best friend. Everyone needs this cookbook.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon October 28, 2004
If you're as busy as I am, you don't have time to read a long review, so I'll keep this one short and focus on the reasons why you really need to have this one on hand:

1. The menus are family friendly, healthy and economical. There is a balance between vegetarian and maat-based recipes, reducing dependence on meat and reducing the costs for food. From Turkey Meat Loaf (the FIRST turkey meat loaf I ever liked) to Pea Soup, the recipes are tasty, kid friendly and yet sophisticated enough for adult palates.

2. There is a shopping list for EACH week, making trips to the grocery store quick and easy. Fresh ingredients are used and there are no recipes using foods with artificial preservatives, chemicals or artifical dyes.

3. The menus are arranged by season, which means you aren't going to waste money on a lot of items that are out of season or costly.

4. The author has helpful tips on nearly every page and even though I've been cooking for our family for years, I learned plenty of new info. That, in itself, made the book valuable to me since I now prepare even more nutritious meals for my family and I shop more wisely as well.

5. All the recipes are easy to prepare and fit into busy schedules. That's a definite plus!
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on March 31, 2004
My grocery bills have dropped dramatically, my fussy four year old is eating salmon, and my husband asked for seconds of brussel sprouts!! This cookbook has replaced the rows of dusty cookbooks I never used. It is easy to use, the shopping lists save me hours of time. I recommend this book to every busy mother out there. At first I was leery of some of the recipes but decided to just go with it and see what happened, my family and I have been amazed at the things we love! Dropping a dress size without trying was another added bonus. Plus the recipes don't require a mass of pots and pans which makes clean up much simpler. Thank you so much Leanne Ely.
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on October 23, 2003
I am so excited about this book. I have tried several of Leanne's menus/recipes from the website and have liked everything I've tried. I love that the book is divided into seasons and that the shopping lists to go with the menus can be downloaded from the internet (so you don't have to copy things out of the book.) The ideas for making some of the more sophisticated items more kid-friendly are great. I love that there is a real variety each week - not all casseroles or all slow cooker recipes - some soup (which is great for us since at least once a week we have a busy night out and a quicker meal is necessary). The tips included in the boxes beside the menus/recipes are great too. I also like that the side dishes, etc. are suggested. So many good nutritional facts included too. I will use this book over and over and I'm sure I'll include many notes in the margins to make the book even more useful next time around. Thanks, Leanne for a great idea done well!
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on January 21, 2004
I really enjoy this book. I have to admit I was VERY skeptical about all the "hooplah" on I thought to myself, I bet her recipee's isn't as good as Grandma's [Southern country girl, EVERYTHING from scratch!]. So I checked it out at the library [try it before you buy it - kinda thing], and Wow, did I put my foot in my mouth! I love how organized it is into seasons, the shopping lists are neatly organized by sections of the grocery store: Meat, Cheese, Produce, Dairy, etc. With these lists I have become so familiar w/all types of food. Not to mention the meals! Oh, they are wonderful! My 2 1/2 yr old daughter has become a very picky eater and since I've been cooking from this book, she now eats everything on her plate and always says, "It's GOOOOD Mommie! and "Thank You!" That is a Wow in our house! My husband who isn't a big fan of veggies, only like a select few [the basics: corn, green beans, carrots, broccoli, collard greens] let alone taste anything he has not heard of, is now loving EVERYTHING! He takes the leftovers to work and his coworkers comes to him everyday to see what's for lunch [half the time they think it's leftovers from a resturant, LOL] and he humbly tells them, "Oh some'n my wife fixed" - It's great!
I really love it! I got so envolved in this book that I forgot that it was the library's! Before this book I would go grocery shopping and would make a general menu of what I "could" make w/the sale ads, and also buy things at random [whatever looked good at the time] but by the middle of the week we would be out of food or have plenty of things that didn't make a meal and you guessed it, no Dinner! With Leanne's book, I print the shopping list 2 weeks ahead, then I check the sale ads to see which of my items are on sale and I purchased those. That way everything that I buy is on SALE and I always have my pantry stocked for two weeks! Now my shopping list has a purpose - Six nights of dinner for two weeks! I'm saving money, my family is eating healthy and we are having good family bonding time at the Dinner Table - not in front of the TV! It truly has blessed us!
Thanks again Leanne!
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on April 29, 2005
I'll be the first to admit that I am a cookbook junkie. I buy a lot of them and, most are great for me and my husband but never succeed at tempting my kid's (age 2 and 3.5) palates. This one was different. So far I have cooked with it for two full weeks of menus. Out of 12 dishes, my kids have eaten 10 of them, the only two being the fish dishes which they don't quite have a taste for yet. That's a pretty good ratio in my house where they usually turn their noses up at anything new. To see them eating what is made the first time is rewarding both financially, due to not wasting money on food and heath wise, as the meals are really well balanced.

Another reason I like this book is that it is so easy to incorporate the dishes into the Weight Watchers lifestyle. The dinners mostly fall in the 4-8 points per serving category with a few in the 10-12 (but never more than one of the higher point meals a week). The servings are extremely generous, enough so that our small family of four can get two full meals out of one dish by the time sides are added in. It really helps me track my points each day since I already know the point values of what's for dinner.

There is also a lot of variety in this book, both in proteins and cooking methods. Chicken, fish, steak, ground beef and beans are all included (for each week as far as I can tell) and each week you have a range of soup, baked, grilled, and crock-pot cooking methods.

I also really appreciate that the menus are divided by season. Each section has different recipes utilizing what is available fresh. I am not saying that all the ingredients are fresh as how to develop a well-stocked pantry is included.
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on March 4, 2004
I have been looking for a cookbook like this for many years....healthy recipes and menu ideas organized by seasons along with nutrition information per serving. The shopping lists to go along with the recipes and menu plans are an added bonus I had not considered for this "ideal cookbook". I have used the first week of Winter menus and my husband loved having all the variety of vegetables included. I had gotten into a rut of serving the same basic vegetables my mother had served. I use a lot more pots and pans to prepare the meals and they have more steps than I'm used to, but I'm not saying that is a bad thing. I am enjoying the creative process. However, I'm not sure these are the ideal recipes for busy mothers who have to work outside the home. I do like it that there is a fish meal weekly, a meatless meal weekly and a crock-pot meal weekly plus the meat and poultry menus.
I do have some problems with the book. For example, she suggests some food items that I have never heard of before. Not only had I not heard of fusilli before, my grocery store did not have it. I assumed it was some kind of pasta and substituted. Some description of unfamiliar foods and possible substitutions would have been helpful.Tarragon is a spice I had never tried before. Speaking of spices, people need to be warned that the first few times one goes shopping using this plan, the shopping bill will be higher than usual until all of the spices and condiments are on hand. I was not put-off by these considerations. It is kind of an adventure to try new foods, spices and condiments. Adventures usually cost a little extra. I understand that when all of these things are on hand, the weekly shopping costs will probably even be less than what you are currently spending on groceries.
However, I was put off by something else. The only meats suggested for the first week of winter menus are chicken breasts and cube steaks. I did not buy chicken breasts because my husband had already complained about me using those in an earlier attempt of mine to cook healthier. Neither one of us cares for chicken breasts, so I substituted chicken thighs for the chicken recipes. That worked fine for one of them, but not so well for the other because of the shape of the breasts. We also did not like the cube steak because it was too tough. Well, when I checked the shopping lists for other weeks, lo and behold, she had those two items on almost every week's list! So, if you buy this book and don't particularly care for chicken breasts or cube steaks, be aware that you will have to come up with alternative ideas for many of her recipes. She has no recipes for pork, although she does say at the beginning that she has been told that some of the chicken recipes do well with pork.
I also had a problem with some of her serving suggestions. There are usually three suggestions to serve with the meat dish. Usually two of them are starchy and I even noticed one serving suggestion that had three starches. I understand that the author has lower carbohydrate menus on her website, so those interested in fewer carbohydrates may want to check that out. By the way, she doesn't give rcipes for the vegetables to go with the main course. Some of these vegetables are unfamiliar and you may have to check one of your other basic cookbooks to find out how to cook these foods. I had to look up kale, for example. Again, this was part of the adventure for me, but would be just an extra hassle for the working mother with young children.
I did not use one of her suggested menus for the first winter week. The other five menus for the week have protein counts of 23-58 grams per serving. The corn chowder only has five grams of protein. The recipe sounds good, but I don't think that is enough protein for an entire meal. One would probably want to serve something else with this to increase the protein.
Oh, yes, and if you're like me and have been cooking for forty years and don't have a garlic press, you had better get one if you want to enjoy these recipes as intended. Also, she gives menu ideas for only six days a week assuming, I guess, that you will eat out once a week. If you don't, you can plan one of your family's favorites for that other meal. Just remember to add the ingredients for it to your shopping list.
All in all, I think this book is a good investment, especially if you are tired of the "same ole', same ole" , like the creative side of cooking and are looking for healthier alternatives for your family. Maybe I should have given it a four instead of a three because I personally don't buy books that have three ratings and I would buy this book again.
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on March 26, 2005
This is not only a nice cookbook but a great concept...that there are shopping lists is VERY nice!

I found the recipes to be very easy and very flavorful with minimal ingredients. Frequently with cookbooks there are many ingredients...way more than I want to drag out on a busy night but many of these recipes have just a few ingredients.

I find alot of cookbooks where you are cutting out time or fat or something...make up for what your cutting out by increasing the number of ingredients to boost flavor. I agree that sometimes that is necessary but Leanne has found a happy medium... just a few well thought out items makes for an easy and delicious dinner.

Many of the foods I would have never tried without having gotten this book and I found I liked them. Things like kale for instance...I never thought to try it and with urging from this book I did try and found I liked it.

I see the recipes as a springboard and I so alter them. If my family doesnt like one kind of meat or fish (or the called for item is expensive), I will use something else. If I dont want the set of spices I can use several different ones (perhaps change the mexican spices for herbs de provance)...

Its a great book for busy people and you do not need a lot of cooking experience. The recipes are quite easy
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