Home Cooking

Your Cookbook Shopping Guide

March 20 2012 - 10:57 AM

Some say cookbooks are a thing of the past. But who doesn’t love leafing through the pages of a beautiful, glossy book of recipes and drooling over the photos? The possibilities are right in front of you, and all you have to do is follow the directions to be able to bite into the dish on the page you folded over a dozen times.

The only problem is, you might be wasting your time and money if you don’t buy the right book. There are always the obvious pointers – don’t buy a book just because a celebrity chef wrote it. Do spend that extra $10 to invest in something you really love and will use. Never read cookbooks when you’re really, really hungry. Here are my other five tips on how to satiate your craving for the best cookbook.

Consider Your Skill Level

There’s no point in buying a cookbook that isn’t at your level of cooking. A more advanced cook will want a complex cookbook, or they’ll never use it. Likewise, a book filled with complicated recipes will probably seem daunting if you’re a beginning chef. If the recipes in a book look complex, yet the directions are short, chances are you’re missing some key steps in there.

Arm Yourself With the Basics

If you don’t have a book with some classic recipes, like Joy of Cooking, that’s your first go-to. These are tested recipes that will never go out of style, so it helps to have them on hand. Once you have the basics covered, then you can fill your shelves with anything else you’ve been craving. I have a book of just whoopie pie recipes. It seems unnecessary, but I also own an unnecessary amount of cookbooks.  

Think About What is Practical

If you typically cook basic dinners but love to try new recipes when you bake, buy a baking book instead of a cookbook. If you have always wanted to try to make Indian food at home…you probably want to try a recipe online or from a friend before deciding if you want to invest in an entire book

Go For a Book With Pictures

I personally only trust cookbooks that have great pictures. Otherwise, how do you know how the recipe is actually going to turn out? I do have cookbooks without pictures or with bad ones, and I find that I rarely ever use them.

Take a Look at the Ingredients Before Buying

If you’re health conscious, don’t buy a cookbook with recipes that call for tons of butter. If you’re a meat and potatoes kind of person, you may not be interested in recipes that call for agave syrup, chia seeds or quinoa – you probably don’t even know how to pronounce that. Also, keep a look out for cookbooks from outside the U.S. that use the metric system. You might not want to spend your time converting grams to ounces unless you have a kitchen scale.

–Marly Schuman