Despite the ubiquity of the internet, cracking open the pages of a physical cookbook brings with it not only a certain charm but practicality, too; at some point, we’ve all had our phones die halfway through an attempt at baking. Traditional cookbooks follow themes tailored to every taste on the planet, of course, curated in a neat and streamlined format– so it makes sense that so many are written with the sole purpose of grabbing off the shelf and cooking something appealing in a short amount of time. The simple fact is that many of us don’t have time to make every meal an extended investment, but fortunately that means the market for time-saving cookbooks is a pretty big one. Here are six of the best-reviewed, unique, and generally delicious offerings.
250 Meals in a Mug (Camilla V. Saulsbury, 2014)
This one might just take the cake for dedication to the bit; that is, if it weren’t completely serious about providing 250 quality recipes you can make right in your microwave. The sheer variety ensures that anyone who picks it up is probably going to find at least several mug-meals they enjoy, and the accessibility means that should time be of the essence, you’re in luck (since you need to do is pop your concoctions in the same thing that pops your popcorn in two minutes flat.)
Quick and Delicious (Gordon Ramsay, 2019)
If it’s up to snuff by Gordon Ramsay’s standards, it’s pretty safe to say that it’s some good food. Detailed here are 100 dishes, all of which can be made in less than half an hour and are penned by the Michelin-star chef himself. Ramsay-level skills may not be included, but seeing as the main selling point is simplicity without sacrificing quality, you’ll probably do just fine without. Other good news: getting called an “idiot sandwich” appears to not be included, either.
Half-Baked Harvest: Super Simple (Teighan Gerard, 2019)
Super Simple promises easy cooking through the use of a few different tactics, including meal-prepping and overnight methods. Regardless of how you prepare these meals, you can find recipes that fall into both of two categories that are music to everyone’s ears: simple, and comfort food. The author, Teighan Gerard, runs a blog that provides the namesake for her cookbook series and has an impressive number of people singing her recipes’ praises– so this collection of convenience cooking is no amateur hour (easy as it may be to follow for even amateurs.)
Chetna’s 30-Minute Indian (Chetna Makan, 2021)
Indian cuisine is known for its wide variety of rich flavors, but Makan’s latest cookbook is on a mission to dispel the notion that it takes an eternity to create them. This is far from the author’s first recipe book, of course, and given her history as a Great British Bake-Off finalist, it’s not difficult to see why her work is so popular. As the title suggests, everything between these covers can be made in thirty minutes or less, and there are eighty different dishes to pick from.
Frugal Vegan (Katie Koteen, 2017)
Another oft-overlooked factor in the accessibility of recipes is affordability, and when you have certain allergies or dietary needs, this factor can become that much more complicated. In the case of plant-based meals, however, it doesn’t have to be that way. There are tons of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks based on efficiency, but few are quite as comprehensive and ideal for beginners (both in cooking and plant-based eating) as this one.
Clean Treats for Everyone (Laura Fuentes, 2020)
If you’ve ever tried your hand at baking from scratch, putting together each of the ingredients to make a dessert illuminated two things: wow, that’s a lot of sugar, and wow, this is hard. Sweetness is not equal to indulgence, however, and the pastries and other baked goods included in this particular recipe book are all centered around healthy options and easy preparation, with every single dessert being gluten-free. Plus, the recipes in question are flexible, designed to be tailored according to each individual’s needs. Just be open to working with some unusual flours, i.e. not your mother’s all-purpose variety and more along the lines of almond and coconut.