If there is one thing I have learned about parenthood, it is that kids have to eat. If they don't, things get pretty cranky. With that in mind, I am always on the lookout for a cookbook that strikes the happy balance of satisfying adult and kid tastes with an appreciation for budgeting of time and money. Family Meals by Maria Helm Sinskey through William-Sonoma and The Family Dinner by Laurie David fit that balanced bill. Also thrown into the mix are two books just for fun: Eat Your Math Homework by Ann McCallum and Funky Lunch by Mark Northeast aren't so practical as they are entertaining additions to your cookbook collection.
The Family Dinner by Laurie David
The Family Dinner by Laurie David is more than just a cookbook, although the recipes alone are yummy enough to warrant buying this book. This book is part recipes, part argument in support of reinstating the sacredness of family dinnertime, part party planner with fun dinner table games and ice breaker conversations to remind us that meal time is about pleasure and fun with family and less of a chore. I also love the page-long vignettes written by famous chefs and celebrities talking about their personal dinnertime traditions. You just might a new tradition to add to your family's dinner table.
William-Sonoma Family Meals by Maria Helm Sinskey
This is a book that shouldn't be judged by its cover. I picked it up at my local William-Sonoma store a few years ago on a whim. It didn't jump out at me, didn't promise to make my children love kale brownies, didn't have a ton of press. I honestly don't remember why I picked it up, but I'm so, so glad that I did. This book is filled with some of the best recipes that have become staples that I cook every week. It has really solid basic recipes like different breads, ricotta cheese, and yogurt, along with tasty meals that are adventurous enough for adults but safe enough for the pickier bunch in our family. My favorite recipe is the honey wheat bread. It is delicious and simple to make, and the best part of this recipe is that it makes two loaves which tells me Sinskey understands me as a time-strained mom. I make it once and have enough bread for two weeks!
Eat Your Math Homework by Ann McCallum
Baking and cooking with all of the measuring and timing are a natural lesson in math. This book teaches geometry and probability and other mathematics principals through recipes like tessellating two-color brownies and probability trail mix. Learn something and get brownies out of the deal too!
Funky Lunch by Mark Northeast
Food can be art, and this book elevates even the PB&J to something Instagram worthy. Some of these do take a bit of time, but others are quite simple to make. Happy food equals happy people.