I was asked to share family friendly cookbooks worth investing in. Cookbooks that are practical for everyday cooking, not overly complicated and those that use ingredients that are readily available. 

I sifted through my collection of cookbooks, looking at the ones I use frequently with one caveat – they couldn’t involve too many exotic ingredients and complicated processes (which automatically excludes every Ottolenghi cookbook as much as I adore them). Below are eight of my most used cookbooks that I’d classify as family-friendly and perfect for weeknight dinners and make ahead lunches. While some do include specialty ingredients like miso paste, tahini and fancy produce, the majority of the recipes are made with ingredients you can find in any decent grocery store. 

Where cookbooks do include specialty ingredients. I have made note of them to help you decide if it’s an ingredient you can get or want to use or not. While there are many child-friendly dishes, many of them include spices and flavors that a picky eater may not enjoy but nothing too adventurous not to give a go. I’ve also tried to include a variety of cookbooks aimed at different dietary needs and flavour profiles. 

1. Every Night of the week by Lucy Tweed

Every Night of the week by Lucy Tweed

Whenever I am looking for a simple recipe that still packs flavor, this is the cookbook I come to. It’s sectioned into days of the week, which means you’d be able to plan an entire week’s worth of meals from it. 

The recipes are simple enough to be able to make them during the week without expending too much effort, but exciting and flavorful enough that it makes you feel like you’re making something special. 

Best for

  • Those who eat animal proteins  but still like dishes packed with veggies. Most recipes do include animal proteins like seafood, chicken, beef and lamb but include loads of veggies too. There are still a number of vegan and vegetarian dishes.
  • Those who like Asian and Indian flavors as there are quite a few curries. 
  • Those who aren’t catering to picky eaters. Her recipes aren’t too adventurous, but they do involve the use of spices, herbs and ingredients which may not suite a beige eating palate. 
  • Savory cooking. This is a cookbook centered around dinners. The only baking is the few pies and lasagnas. 
  • Gluten Free cooking – while a few recipes do have gluten in the form of pie dough or pasta, the majority are gluten free. 

Get her recipe for silky soup and read my review here

Get the cookbook here

2. Quick & Easy by Deliciously Ella

Quick & Easy by Deliciously Ella

Another favorite go-to is Deliciously Ella’s Quick & Easy. What’s genius about this cookbook is the way she sets it out. The breakfast, dips & dressings, sweet and big batch chapters are all recipes that can largely be made ahead of time and saved for when you’re ready to eat. While her dinner chapters are split into the time it takes to make them: 10-15 minutes and 20-30 minutes. This allows you to select the recipe according to the time you have. What always surprises me when I make her dishes is that even though they’re quick to make, they all have such a good flavor profile. 

Best for

  • Vegan and Gluten Free cooking and baking. All her recipes are vegan and gluten free. The only time you’ll see gluten is when a recipe is paired with bread or her use of spelt flour in some of the baking. 
  • If you want to eat more plant based. As a vegan cookbook, plants feature heavily. However, it’s a great cookbook to use a few times a week if you want to limit the animal protein you eat and eat more plants.  
  • If you want to experiment with the odd specialty ingredient. While most recipes are made with easy-to-get ingredients she does use specialty ingredients like miso and tamari. 
  • You don’t have a nut allergy: Nuts are heavily featured throughout the cookbook and are used in many sauces. 

Get her recipe for pulled aubergine dip and read my review here

Get the cookbook here

3. Food Savers A-Z by Alex Elliot-Howery and Jaimee Edwards 

Food Savers A-Z by Alex Elliot-Howery and Jaimee Edwards

Not a traditional cookbook (although there are recipes) this is an essential guide that belongs in every kitchen. Set out like an ingredient dictionary, it’s easy to flip through it to find ideas for the ingredient you have on hand. They’ve specifically shared tips and recipes that utilize odd ingredients you can’t seem to get rid of but don’t know what to do with. Like the times you went a little too crazy with buying apples, or that half packet of nuts and even those specialty ingredients you bought for one recipe and now can’t find a recipe that calls for them.

Best for

  • Using up random ingredients and preserving food. 
  • Reducing food waste 
  • Recipe inspiration. If you’re stuck in a rut, reading this book will help you shift out of it. 

Read my review here

Get the cookbook here

4. Hummus to Halva by Ronen Givon and Christian Mouysset

Hummus to Halva by Ronen Givon and Christian Mouysset

I love Israeli and Middle Eastern flavours and Hummus to Halva is packed with them. There are loads of recipes for hummus, falafel and salads. Tahini is the “fanciest” ingredient you’ll find, but it’s become widely available, so I think this fits the easy to make cookbook list

Best for

  • Fans of Middle Eastern flavors: If you love hummus, tahini and falafel this is your cookbook.
  • If you eat mainly plant-based with the odd inclusion of animal protein. Most recipes are vegan or vegetarian. 
  • If you love a simple salad. Israelis are known for Israeli salad which is as basic as it gets and this cookbook has multiple variations of the cucumber, tomato and onion salad. 
  • You want to make labneh or pickles from scratch – both of these recipes are my go-tos and last a while. 

Get their recipe for Tabouleh salad and read my review here

Get the cookbook here

5. Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson 

Cook, Eat, Repeat by Nigella Lawson

One of the more “complicated” cookbooks on this list, Cook, Eat, and Repeat is one well worth buying. Aside for the delightful food writing (please spend time reading it, not only skimming for recipes) it has so many delicious recipes that have become staples – like her apricot harissa sheet pan chicken, burnt aubergine dip and pickled red cabbage. Some of her recipes do involve some time, so this isn’t your quick & easy cookbook, rather it’s one that you’ll pull out for family dinners or when you want a classic dish with a twist (her mac n’ cheese).

Best for

  • Home cooks that love a good food story.
  • Nigella fans – this is bursting with her personality and cooking style. 
  • Recipes for family dinners. From her one pot chicken with orzo and lemon to her meatballs and pasta dishes. 
  • Those who don’t follow any specific dietary restrictions. There’s something for everyone diet wise. 
  • Those who have a more adventurous flavor palate. While there’s classic recipes, you’ll also find unique dishes like beet juice pasta and bone marrow mince. 

Get her recipe for Gluten free Banana cake and read my review here

Get the cookbook here

6. Simply Seasonal by Ilse van Der Merwe 

Simply Seasonal by Ilse van Der Merwe

Divided by seasons, this cookbook shares recipes that use seasonal ingredients. The recipes are produce heavy, vibrant and fresh and there’s something for everyone. As it’s a South African cookbook, the ingredients will be familiar, but as I do mention in my review, ingredients like waterblommetjies, and heirloom tomatoes seem to be a Cape Town phenomenon so if you live elsewhere, you’ll have to give those few recipes a miss. Aside from that and her occasional use of miso, the remaining ingredients are easy to find. 

Best for

  • Fresh and vibrant recipes heavy on produce
  • Those who want to eat seasonally and avoid buying overpriced unseasonal produce. 
  • Cooking for a crowd – there’s so many dishes that would be great for a braai like her salads, platters and desserts. 
  • Those who like to eat healthier but aren’t restrictive. 

 Get her recipe for roasted butternut, herb and orzo salad and read my review here

Get the cookbook here

7. Curried by Careima Isaacs 

Curried by Careima Isaacs

This is a cookbook for curry lovers. It is a treasure trove of curry intel and includes curry recipes from all over the world. What puts this on my family-friendly list is that she includes a peak into her pantry and shares the spices, brands and mixes she uses and most of them are local. While this is a more niche cookbook, if your niche is curry it’s a perfect addition. A number of her dishes are on constant rotation. 

Best for

  • Anyone who loves curries.
  • If you don’t follow a restrictive diet. Recipes range from vegan to vegetarian to curries with fish, meat and chicken. 
  • Days you have a little more time to cook – most curries involve developing flavour so do require a little more time. 

Get her recipe for Thai Red Beef Curry and read my review here

Get the cookbook here

8. More by Matt Preston 

More by Matt Preston 

More is a fun cookbook that has loads of vibrant, delicious, and creatively named dishes. It celebrates veggies so all recipes are vegetarian or vegan but he does include a poultry and meat section at the end as well. Each recipe has a time marker on it, telling you just how long it’ll take to make. He also includes a recipe for beet pasta which is actually easy to make and a genius way to sneak vegetables into kids’ meals. Like a couple of other cookbooks on this list he does make use of miso, mirin and masa harina, but the majority of recipes are made with easy to find ingredients. 

Best for

  • Those eating plant-based or wanting to incorporate more plants into their diets.
  • Those that love moreish dishes like big bowls, pasta, substantial salads, and sandwiches.
  • Those who want to experiment with new ingredients and recipes. So many of the recipes are unique and different despite being made with simple ingredients making it a great cookbook if you want to expand your cooking repertoire.

Get his recipe for Stuffed Eggplant and read my review here

Get the cookbook here

What’s on your most used family friendly cookbook list? 

Subscribe so you don’t miss a post
Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates!

What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No Comments Yet.