Do you have a cupboard full of cookbooks you never reach for? These are the best cookbooks for healthy, family-friendly foods! You will be reaching for these all the time because they are so useful and inspiring!
I could chat cookbooks and recipes for hours. I’d love to be able to hang out with you in a coffee shop or bookstore and swap favorite recipes and funny stories about meals that just didn’t work out as we’d hoped. (We’ve all been there).
Cookbooks are my jam. Which is why it’s not surprising that I’m given new cookbooks every Christmas. I love flipping through the pages, tagging recipes I want to try, and reading about the authors’ experiences with various ingredients and dishes.
I have amassed a collection of cookbooks over the years, but I have to admit, many of them are just gathering dust. Because I neither have time to read them all anymore, nor to keep up with the dusting.
This list is of the cookbooks in my kitchen not gathering dust. The cookbooks with dog-eared pages and food stained recipes.
I don’t want to waste your time or your money with recommendations that will just end up sitting and gathering dust. These cookbooks are full of recipes you will be eager to try, tips to help you become a better cook, and inspiring stories to read in front of the fire or curled up in bed.
(Tell me I’m not the only one who has read cookbooks in bed…)
I also love that all of these cookbooks present a view of cooking that prioritizes family meals, gathering with friends, healthy-ish eating, and ENJOYING FOOD.
I know that sometimes healthy cookbooks can seem burdensome, but these cookbooks are not those. They are simply down-to-earth recipes with common ingredients that you can make at home. Healthy. Family-friendly. Foods.
Best Cookbooks for Healthy, Family-Friendly Foods
I am starting the list with this cookbook, because if I could only choose one cookbook to own, this one would be it. (I’m glad I don’t have to choose, though).
This cookbook is FULL of recipes and information. Over 2,000 recipes, in fact. Cook’s Illustrated is known for their reliable recipes– they literally test each recipe dozens, if not hundreds, of times.
I often flip to the index to look for recipes I want to try. With few exceptions, I find just what I’m looking for. A few of our most often used favorites from this cookbook include the ultimate chocolate chip cookies (the recipe in the picture, and the reason the page is so “well used”), quick and easy risotto, and braised winter greens. I’ve also referenced it for soups, cheesecakes, meats, breads, and more.
What this cookbook lacks in food stories and photography, it more than makes up for in delicious recipes and informative descriptions.
2. The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making & 3. The Homemade Kitchen: Recipes for Cooking with Pleasure
These cookbooks from Alana Chernila are so very lovely. The photography in the books is stunning, Alana’s writing is captivating, and the recipes are easy to follow and family friendly.
I have been cooking from The Homemade Pantry for years, and The Homemade Kitchen (her second cookbook) for one year now. Alana taught me how to make ricotta cheese, fresh pasta, graham crackers, homemade pop-tarts, baked potato chips, ice cream, and much more. The section on canning was also super helpful when I had boxes of tomatoes and peaches overflowing onto my countertops.
If learning how to make everyday, basic staples in your kitchen is appealing to you, then this book is definitely for you.
One of the things I love most about Alana and her cookbooks is her balanced approached to cooking and eating. She recognizes that using whole ingredients and cooking from scratch is beneficial for a family’s health and relationships. But, she also recognizes that we live in the real world, with real life schedules that are sometimes too full for long periods of food prep in the kitchen.
“Do your best, and then let go.”
I WHOLEHEARTEDLY recommend these books to anyone prioritizes real food and healthy eating, but doesn’t want to feel overwhelmed by having to do it all or guilty about buying the convenience food.
We have made the switch to cooking a majority of the food we make on the stovetop in cast iron pans. I have an expensive enameled cast iron pan that I love, and an inexpensive, slightly smaller cast iron pan that is just as great. Cast iron pans are reliable, durable (practically indestructible), and simply make really tasty foods.
As with every cookbook from Cook’s Illustrated, Cook It in Cast Iron is packed with tips and information to help you know what to buy, how to take care of your pans, and how to use them properly.
The cookbook is divided into types of foods– breakfasts, breads, main dishes, desserts, and more. A few of our favorites are the calzones (pictured), steak tips with mushroom onion gravy, and the German apple pancakes.
If you have a cast iron pan, then this cookbook is a must-buy!
If our meal is not being made on the stovetop, chances are good that it’s in our Instant Pot.
Before the Instant Pot, I was reluctant to get a pressure cooker. I knew nothing about them (other than my mother-in-law loved hers), and was not eager to figure out a new appliance.
On the whole, though, I was wrong because the Instant Pot is really user-friendly. But I still wanted a resource to learn more about cooking in a pressure cooker. So I turned to America’s Test Kitchen. And I found just what I needed.
There are cooking charts in the front, pages teaching you how a pressure cooker works, and tips throughout. And, of course, there’s a wealth of recipes perfect for one of our favorite appliances.
Cook’s Illustrated recipes occasionally include ingredients that I prefer not to use, but usually making real food substitutions is not very difficult. Some of our favorite recipes from this cookbook are the whole chicken with rosemary and lemon sauce, braised chicken thighs with potatoes, and the buttermilk smashed red potatoes.
I can’t remember where I first began to follow Erin Alderson. Maybe on Instagram? I do know that I was always inspired by her recipes and her photography. She was doing really creative and healthy things in the kitchen, and so when she announced the release of her cookbook, I was really excited.
The Homemade Flour Cookbook is a resource for anyone who wants to introduce a variety of grains, legumes, nuts, etc into their diet. Erin has written recipes for every meal of the day. The recipes are divided by type of flour, and each section begins with a detail page giving you a better understanding of the grain/legume/nut (nutritional benefits, best used in, etc).
We are not a gluten-free household, but we do see the value in eating a rich variety of whole foods. I also grind much of our flours, but even if you don’t, this cookbook could still be very valuable and informative to you. Many of the ingredients can be ground in a high-powered blender or food processor.
Pecan meal banana bread, berry cobbler with oat dumplings, and the sweet potato and red lentil gnocchi are some of our favorite recipes.
This cookbook is a newer release from Cook’s Illustrated. I have only had it since December, but I have really enjoyed looking through the pages and learning about how to more effectively substitute processed sugar for natural sweeteners.
Reducing sugar in your diet is hands-down one of the healthiest choices you can make. Sugar has so many negative effects on our health. We most certainly enjoy our fair share of treats, but I also try to reduce the sugar as often as I can in the foods I make at home.
Baking requires a different kind of precision than cooking. You can’t just wing it and hope for the best, because a recipe turning out right often depends on chemical reactions and the interplay of ingredients within the dish.
Naturally Sweet gives you an incredible collection of trustworthy recipes sweetened with sucanat, maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, chocolate, date sugar, and recipes with no added sweetener at all.
These cookbooks are either more recent acquisitions, or ones I use less frequently but still are worth mentioning.
This is the first cookbook from my favorite food blogger, Aimee Wimbush-bourque from Simple Bites. I adore Aimee’s heart for family and community, and have loved her recipes for years. I am looking forward to her next cookbook coming out soon!
This is a fun cookbook to have around for fun days in the kitchen making special treats and snacks with your kids (or without). If you have ever wanted to make your own Doritos or twinkies, this cookbook is for you.
I received this cookbook for Christmas this year, and I am excited to dig in. Vivian Howard is the chef from the show, A Chef’s Life, on PBS. The stories and photos are a great part of any cookbook, and certainly of this one.
This is another recent Christmas gift. I requested this book for a little more light reading on how to be a better home cook, haha. More great recipes, and more great instruction!
What are your favorite cookbooks?
What makes them the ones you reach for the most?
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