Since moving in together in October 2015, I think the kitchen is the place where we’ve both changed the most. That sounds a bit odd, but I mean our skills and confidence in the kitchen are what have changed the most over the last two years. We started off with takeaways, microwavable meals, and extremely boring and simple chicken/salmon recipes. Now, we love nothing more than perfecting a new recipe. I don’t see either of us concocting our own spice blends or sauces anytime soon, but we are excellent when it comes to reading recipes written by someone else.
As a result, we have really stocked up on cookbooks and online recipes (I store online recipes on OneNote). We try at least one new recipe each week and spice up our meal planning with daily themes. Monday is vegan night; Tuesday, vegetarian; and Wednesday is where we try to incorporate international flavors. Weeknight cooking can be an absolute pain, but overtime we have figured out the best cookbooks for weeknight meals – these are quick, budget-friendly recipes that result in a delicious meal. While we have more time to cook on the weekends, these are the cookbooks we constantly turn to Monday-Friday.
5 Cookbooks for Weeknight Meals
Quick + Simple = Delicious
It’s all in the name! Quick + Simple = Delicious could not be a more perfect name for this book by Emily Kydd. This was a rather spontaneous purchase by me, and I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we are constantly impressed with how tasty these meals are. The book is not formatted like a traditional recipe book with the ingredients and the process separated; instead, the ingredients are just bolded within the process. This would be a pain in most situations, but these recipes are so quick and involve so few ingredients that it’s actually an extremely efficient way of doing it. The only downside is that there aren’t that many recipes in the book, so we try not to use them too often and exhaust them. Emily – please write a follow up!
Favorite Recipes: Naked Gyoza + Wasabi Guacamole (pg. 87); Crispy Noodle Cake + Hoisin Aubergines (pg. 89)
Jamie’s 15 Minute Meals
Sean and I both absolutely love Jamie Oliver and continuously use ‘what would Jamie do?’ as a guiding factor in our kitchen. So it’s safe to say we were thrilled when we ordered and received Jamie’s 15 Minute Recipes. We have yet to complete one of these recipes in anywhere remotely close to fifteen minutes (probably because we didn’t follow Jamie’s advice and buy a food processor), but we are always thrilled with our results. Jamie’s recipes include an entire meal, so we never have to think on our feet to produce a side dish or salad to go with our meal, he’s already done that thinking for us. My favorite part? The presentation tips are spot on…I’ve never seen anyone make food on a platter look so beautiful!
We also purchased Jamie’s 5 Ingredients when it came out and, again, were blown away by the ease and deliciousness of each meal!
Favorite Recipes: Golden Scallops with Sun-Blush Mash & Greens (pg. 144); Turkish Flats (pg. 114); Gorgeous Greek Chicken with Couscous & Tzatziki (pg. 38)
Once we got over our 3 takeaways a week phase, we knew we needed to eat healthier. I purchased a spiralizer and the Inspiralized book to go along with it in order to inject more veggies into our diet. These aren’t always the quickest recipes, but there is a time guide on each one so we can plan for shorter ones during the week. It’s absolutely amazing how much flavor a spiralized vegetable can add to what would normally be a boring pasta dish.
Favorite Recipes: Sweet Potato Carbonara (AMAZING!!!!) (pg. 185); Chicken Banh Mi with Sriracha Greek Yogurt (pg. 109)
Whole Food, Slow Cooked
I’m convinced that slow cookers were made for full-time workers. Seriously, you prepare stuff the night before, pop it in the slow cooker in the morning, and you have a full meal waiting for you when you get home! The recipes aren’t as summer friendly, but there are some year round classics. This book is great because it also has a stove top version of each recipe; if you don’t have a slow cooker (or you forget to start it in the morning like I regularly do), you can still end up with a delicious meal!
Favorite Recipes: Chilli Con Carne (pg. 31); Black Bean and Spinach Enchiladas (pg. 168)
One Pan and Done
One pan dishes are perfect for weeknights because they leave such little mess. This means we are actually willing to clean up after we cook, even if we’re severely lacking in energy. There’s nothing better than waking up to a spotless kitchen! I love how this book is broken down by meat, but also gives an index of dishes by which pan they require. This means that, if you just want something you can pop in the oven, you can look specifically for recipes that use a casserole dish. Not to mention, all of the recipes we’ve tried so far have been incredible!
Favorite Recipes: Quick Chicken Pot Pie (pg. 123); Saffron Chicken & Rice (pg. 120)
BONUS: Meal Boxes
Subscription meal boxes are a life saver. I love how they challenge us to try new recipes and new food, and do so in such a simple way. Pre-portioned ingredients are delivered to our door, ready to be cooked! At this point, we have tried Hello Fresh, Gousto, Mindful Chef, and Cook Well by Waitrose. We highly recommend meal boxes, especially for couples – the two portion boxes are perfect for a night in! Watch this space for my upcoming series on meal boxes – individual reviews of each one and then, finally, I’ll determine which is the best!
We really encourage everyone to have some fun in the kitchen. Cooking is a great activity to do with a partner/friend and there’s always a reward at the end! If you don’t use recipe books or try new meals often, these cookbooks are a great place to start. Share your recommendations for cookbooks for weeknight meals in the comments – we’re always looking for new cookbooks to try!
This post was updated in April 2018.