The Anti-Cookbook: Food for Thought


The Anti-Cookbook from Shelley Onderdonk & Rebecca Bloom came along at just the right time for our family. The past few months have really put our little crew through the wringer. We started running ourselves ragged in November and, just now in these spring days, are finding our way back to some semblance of healthy normalcy.

I loved that the genesis for this project was the need to help their young adult children develop greater independence and joy from the (seemingly) simple answer “Let’s stay in.” when faced with the age-old question “what should we have for dinner?”. As a working mom, I shoulder a massive ‘mental load’ about feeding my family. I always feel I ‘should’ cook more gourmet meals like the Insta-perfects, meal plan, and prep for the week like the Pinterest listers and have it all on the table by 6:00 (crazy midwestern dinner time!). And yet, more often than not, I start meal planning as I sprint to my car at 5:20 p.m. and frantically rush toward my kid’s school. Why am I holding on to this ‘responsibility’ single-handedly? How can I simplify this aspect of our family life and actually share the job with my husband and kids?

In The Anti-Cookbook, Shelley and Rebecca offer some answers in suggesting more flexible ways to think about cooking – learn a basic technique or simple recipe and understand how to improvise based on what’s in season or in the pantry. I found some family favorites (here’s looking at you, Quesadillas) that anyone can master – though I’m totally loving the idea of the panini grill to make it even easier! At the same time, they offered a refreshing simplified take on other ‘basic’ recipes that I’ve always found intimidating (maybe we should try making our own pizza dough next weekend just to see how it turns out!). I also found lots of ‘food-smart’ ideas that I can use right away, like how to experiment with variety in your meals to increase the diversity of foods you eat.

This book would be a great gift for the new grad just starting out on his/her own or to any parents who are, like me, feeling a bit overwhelmed with feeding the family. Shelley and Rebecca also offer awesome reminders and strategies to help teach kids more independence in the kitchen. This weekend, I put both kids to work helping try out The Anti-Cookbook version of pancakes and smoothies. The food turned out great, both kids loved to help and it was a good exercise for me to let them crack eggs (the little guy) and cut fruit (the big guy). Of course, I could have been more efficient cooking alone, but it would have been far less fun as a family bonding experience. I was inspired to set some higher expectations for my family members to help carry the load of meal planning and meal prep thanks to The Anti-Cookbook.

Product received. Thanks to PR for providing us a copy of the book. All opinions are our own.

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