Monday, March 5, 2012

The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System by Toni Spilsbury

The Organized Cook Weekly Meal Plan System: The Busy Mom's Remedy for Dinnertime Ruts & Runaway Grocery Bills by Toni Spilsbury, Tate Publishing, $16.99 list price, paperback.

I always appreciate a cookbook that offers ways to streamline the meal planning and cooking process, uses (planned) leftovers to save time later, and uses regular ingredients I can find in my local grocery store.  The Organized Cook offers all of that in a format that is easy to read and includes color photos of the dishes.  Even the weekly grocery lists are included.

As the title suggests, the menus are for weeknight dinners, Monday through Friday, and include a main entree plus a side dish or salad.  Desserts aren't included.  The idea is to reuse ingredients throughout the week.  For example, weekly meal plan #3 is Slow-Cooker Beef Roast, Sesame Baked Chicken, Peppy Spaghetti, Beef Enchiladas, and Chinese Chicken Salad.  Extra portions of the beef and chicken are cooked with the Monday and Tuesday meals to be included in the other recipes that week. 

The recipes are suitable for cooks of any level.  However, the amounts seem to be small for the number of servings (four per recipe), but the author does suggest that for families with larger appetities (or a husband and always hungry teenage boy, in my case), the recipes can be doubled which I found to be about right for my family and given that my husband usually takes dinner leftovers for lunch at work the next day. 

While I haven't yet tried any of the 12 weekly plans exactly as outlined in the book, I do believe they do work to streamline weeknight meals and would save money.  The recipes tried so far have been good (Sesame Baked Chicken and Italian Sausage and Peppers).  Any of the recipes can also be revised to reflect the tastes one's family prefers, and extra ingredients such as vegetables could be added as desired.

Overall I do like this cookbook as a resource for good recipes, menu planning, and keeping the food budget under control.

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