I’ve got a secret weapon when it comes to cooking for my family of 5. I found the best cookbook for busy families that has simple, delicious, and healthy food, plus it makes the cooking process incredibly easy. If you’ve talked to me about meal planning, I’ve certainly mentioned this book. I can’t shut up about it!
Cook Once Eat All Week is the best cookbook for busy families that I’ve found. Why? The book is simple and the food tastes amazing! The prep is so easy and the ingredients are healthy and easy to find. This is the book that I wish I wrote.
As a professional chef, I love to cuddle up with piles of cookbooks, but rarely do I find one with cover-to-cover recipes that my family will love. I’ve been brainstorming for years about the best way to teach people how to cook for their families without making themselves crazy, and this book hits the nail on the head.
What kind of recipes are in Cook Once Eat All Week?
The recipes are gluten-free and focus on whole foods. Plus, each recipe has guidelines on how to make it Paleo, low-carb, grain-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and more.
There are soups, casseroles, tacos, and the list goes on. It has something for everyone. I browse it all of the time and constantly find unique recipes and things I’m dying to try. Plus, with just a few simple kitchen skills, you can easily make all of the recipes.
This book is very meat-heavy. So, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan family, this book might not be for you. That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be worth trying a meatless protein option in some of these recipes. I suggest using your favorite meatless protein in the recipes that require ground meat.
What makes this the best cookbook for busy families?
The author, Cassy Joy Garcia, has a method for creating fast, easy, and mouthwatering meals all week long. And her method works – believe me! Usually, I roll my eyes at meal planning. I really despise it. But this book gets me on board and I look forward to the meals every week.
First, she picks three components (main ingredients) for each week.
Then, she builds three different recipes around those components.
You’ll have to dedicate a few hours to the weekly prep, but it’s well worth it. Then, everything is set up for success for the rest of the week. Dinner takes a matter of minutes to prepare and you’ll be sitting down to eat in no time.
What I love most is that the ingredient list for each recipe is less than 15 items. I love to cook with lots of unique and fun ingredients, but not when I’m trying to feed three kids and my partners.
Plus, the instructions are so simple. Garcia writes them perfectly and you won’t have to run back and forth between the book and the food. Each recipe can be completed in less than ten steps!
Here’s an example of a week’s menu:
The three components:
- Pork Shoulder
- Sweet Potatoes
Three recipes I picked from Cook Once Eat All Week, and how I make them work for everyone:
- Jerk Pork-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Mango Kale Slaw
- Honey Garlic Pork Skillet
- Sweet Potato Tamale Pie
Now, my family has a pretty diverse palette, but my kids are not miracle eaters. They do not love every single item that goes into these recipes. But, I’ve learned to improvise. And here are a few of the ways that I make it work (without making it more work for me!)
Jerk Pork-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Mango Kale Slaw
This one is a winner for me because it hits all the spots – sweet, spicy, tangy, with rich and savory pork. But, my kids don’t love sweet potatoes. (At least when they know they are eating a sweet potato – more on that later!)
So, I swap out regular potatoes for the sweet potatoes for the kids. It’s still a healthy and delicious meal!
Honey Garlic Pork Skillet
Just tonight my son raved about this recipe and asked me to make it more. It’s so simple and the sauce is to die for (and made with ingredients that are already in your pantry).
What I don’t love about this one is the lack of veggies in the meal. So, I added some extra sauteed kale or broccoli. But to be completely honest, I gave my kids a side of baby carrots last night to balance it out.
I also did not have any garlic… so I used shallots. These little swaps make weekday cooking so much less stressful. Keep that in mind when making these recipes (or any other ones).
Sweet Potato Tamale Pie
I truly love this recipe because it has so much flavor and the ingredient list is rather small. It’s perfect for an easy weeknight dinner. But again, my family isn’t that crazy about sweet potatoes. I will mix some white potatoes into the sweet mash to balance the flavor. But, for whatever reason, the kids devour this recipe without even questioning the orange mash on top. It’s that good!
Will you get sick of the same ingredients all week?
At first, I didn’t think I could get on board with this book because it’s essentially eating leftovers all week. You cook all of the protein and some of the other components ahead of time and bring them together in different ways throughout the week.
But honestly, it didn’t happen! I do not like leftovers but this system never felt like that’s what I was eating. Each recipe is unique and different from the night before. The other ingredients in the recipe make it feel like you’re eating three completely different meals.
The Sweet Potato Tamale Pie is one of my favorite recipes from the book and I’m going to share it with you! This is a great recipe from the book because it showcases that you can get a well-rounded meal with minimal ingredients and time.
Sweet Potato Tamale Pie
Yield: 5 servings
Prep Time: 8 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
- 4 cups shredded pork
- 1 can of tomato paste (6 oz)
- 1 lime
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons dried oregano leaves
- ½ teaspoon salt
Sweet Potato Mash ( (made on the prep day)
- 2-3 cooked sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons melted butter
- ½ lime, juiced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cumin
Garnishes: sliced avocados, plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream), fresh cilantro
- Heat the oven to 350F.
- While the oven is heating, you’ll make the base of the pie. Mix together the pork, tomato paste, juice from the lime, and seasonings in a large bowl.
- Then pour the mixture into a baking dish and spread it out evenly.
- Layer the sweet potato mash on top.
- Bake for 30 minutes.
- Garnish each serving as you’d like and enjoy!
I’m sure you all have your favorites and now you know my pick for the best cookbook for busy families! We’d love to hear if you’ve used this cookbook before or if you have other favorite family-friendly cookbooks, too.
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