It’s a common dilemma across America. About an hour before you should be eating dinner, you realize nothing is started and you don’t know what to make. Some of us like meal planning and shopping for our plan. Others prefer to be more spontaneous and not be tied to a set plan for each night’s dinner. This e-book I’ve been reviewing is a perfect fit for either – Simplified Dinners from Simplified Pantry.
Simplified Dinners came about when a busy mom, Mystie Winckler started simplifying her cooking once a child’s allergy was discovered. Without using the common, pre-made ingredients for homemade cooking that many recipes call for, Mystie found more flexibility and healthier eating with basic, real-food ingredients. A shorter list of items to shop for and some basic prep methods and the Simplified Dinners plan and e-book were born. A Gluten-Free/Dairy-Free version is also available. Either option is only $12.99 for the pdf. There is a code to save 30% found at the end of this post – act quickly though, it expires June 3rd.
What I have enjoyed most with Simplified Dinners is the flexibility. What kind of meat do you have? Pork, chicken, fish or beef (which could be any red meat – venison or goat in our freezer). How do you want to prepare it? (a roast in the crockpot, cutlets in a skillet or marinades for grilling) Basic directions are given for the method, then specifics to the cut/variety of meat and accompanying sauce, etc. Each page is its own method with variations below – following the same steps so you can see when to substitute or change something for the specific recipe. There are some great ideas for stove-top pasta dishes, too. I had some chicken breasts and broccoli so tweaked the chicken alfredo recipe to be chicken broccoli alfredo. Yum! It was a great hit!
Meats and main dishes are not the only things in this great book. There are pages for salads, veggies, starchy sides, breads, beans, soups, stews and more. The methods for the tacos and pizza are the way we fix these Friday night favorites. I found both flexibility and new inspiration. I could keep using methods I’ve been using, but also found ways to liven up some of our same-old, same-old. Leftover roasted potatoes became this yummy potato soup.
I don’t really think of these as recipes so much as guidelines or suggestions. The author admits her selection of spices is more basic than some families prefer. Want to add some curry or cumin? Go right ahead, tweak these for your family’s taste. I love ginger, tarragon and honey with carrots. Using the method for stovetop glazed vegetables, I made these delicious carrots.
Some of these methods/recipes would not meet our family’s idea of dinner, but are perfect for lunch. As a family that is home for most lunches, fresh ideas for this meal are welcome as well. I do wish there had been some dessert ideas and even some (more) for breakfast. The frittata and oven omelette were great for a hot breakfast without much effort (and using up some miscellaneous veggies).
My daughters have been cooking alongside me, making family staples, yet wanting to experiment on their own. These are just the sort of dinner ideas to give them a starting place, yet let them have fun trying new things. If my girls didn’t have experience with cooking dinners, knowing approximately how much is needed to feed our family, this book would not be enough for them. With one or two exceptions, there is not much information as to how many servings. For most things, you can adjust for your family. When ingredient amounts are given for a sauce for a meat dish, it would be nice to know how much meat the sauce is for so you know what adjustments to make. Otherwise, this has been a great book for all the cooks in our family.
Mystie’s great ideas don’t stop in the kitchen. She also has a book on Paperless Home Organization. She walks you through various means to keep track of to-dos and other lists, etc. without all the papers to
lose keep track of. I love the idea of this, but cannot quite grasp it. It’s hard to teach this old dog new tricks. I’m not giving up, I just need more time to adjust and find the system that works for me. That’s what is so great about these books. They are methods, but not intended as the only way – make it fit you and your family. I received all three of these great resources, but chose to focus my review on Simplified Dinners. Be sure to check out all the Crew reviews for reviews of all of these resources. Save 30% on your purchase through June 3rd using code TOS2013.