We gave a lucky handful of community members a sneak peak of Amanda and Merrill’s new cookbook, A New Way to Dinner, and we’ll be featuring one of their reviews every day this week in celebration of the book's release—we'll see how their dinner game changed when they followed the plans for the book.
When I lived in Europe I got used to shopping a little bit each day and my cooking evolved accordingly. However, that's not always the best way to go when making multiple meals every day for two kids and a husband. Even so, it has been a long time (possibly never) since I planned a week's menu, shopped for it all on one day, and did prep work a day or more in advance.
I enjoy not following recipes, seeing what's fresh at the market, figuring things out in a laissez-faire way, BUT I am definitely inspired to adopt cooking like Amanda and Merrill encouraged me to in A New Way to Dinner.
Multiple plans appealed to me, and I spent a good chunk of time figuring out which to try, eventually settling on Amanda's first menu for fall.
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I learned, sadly, that none of us enjoys chicken thighs: for some, it was a texture thing (the fat-to-meat ratio is not my cup of tea), and some found them too gamey—about 75% of them ultimately ended up in the trash. I also didn't enjoy the tomato soup (I was hoping for more richness) so in the future will use my recipe, and that even though we're a family of four, I should have frozen half the short ribs for a later date. But we loved Amanda's mom's grilled cheese sandwiches (Um, bacon?! Double cheese?! Buttered bread?! I like me a good, not-American-cheese grilled cheese!!). And we also loved the chocolate olive oil cake—this one is rich and just cocoa-y enough, and Oliver (my 7-year-old) ate a good 60% of the cake by himself.
While it's very possible that A New Way to Dinner will save users from wasting food, it's as likely that much food will initially be wasted as we each figure out what recipes are keepers, which aren't, and how to scale amounts to optimally serve our families.
The biggest, most fabulous treat of the book is having seven whole days planned, grocery list included, for you. I will definitely attempt to recreate such planning in the future, both directly from the book, and also as a springboard for both weekly planning and grocery lists. I can imagine using half of any given plan and subbing in my own recipes or other favored ones for those I omit.
All in all, the concept is fantastic as is the realization that if you map AND write a comprehensive grocery list, daily cooking feels less stressful, and that is a huge win!
[Editor’s note: We want you to join in on the conversation, too (whether or not you’ve had a chance to pick up Amanda and Merrill’s book yet!). Tell us about your meal planning strategies, take photos of meal prep or your plan for the week, or share mini-reviews of A New Way to Dinner if you’ve already been cooking from it. Tag content with #f52cookbookclub or send your thoughts directly to me, Lindsay-Jean, at [email protected] We'll round up your responses and share them with you next month.]
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).