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Everything Meals on a Budget Cookbook by Linda Larsen

About a month ago I decided to become an Independent Pampered Chef Consultant, and while that's separate from my library career, I can't help but notice ways that being a librarian can help me share quality kitchen tools with people. For one, I've already talked at length here about my recently discovered love of teaching. Luckily for me, Pampered Chef is more about teaching than selling. The products are so good they sell themselves, so my role as a consultant is to more to guide people to the products that will best meet their needs and facilitate discussions about how to make cooking fast and fun (the only way you can get me in the kitchen).

But this really isn't meant to be an entry about how great Pampered Chef is. It's really a way to introduce a series of cookbook reviews I'm going to be starting here. I have no pretensions to being a great chef, but now that I'm going to be getting paid to go into people's homes and demonstrate kitchen products, the overachiever in me feels like I should make sure I know what I'm doing. So I'm making my way through the cookbook collection of my local public library and sharing the books that I've found with all of you here. Hopefully, I'll find some great recipes and become a little more versed in everything culinary.

The first cookbook I picked up is Everything Meals on a Budget Cookbook: High-flavor, Low-cost Meals Your Family Will Love by Linda Larsen. This book was published in 2008 as part of the popular Everything series by Adams Media. Larsen approaches low-cost meal preparation in a very practical way with an introductory chapter on the basics of cooking on a budget, the cost per serving of each recipe is clearly displayed, and the back contains many helpful guides, including a chart comparing the price of prepared versus home ingredients for many popular grocery items. The chapters were divided up in pretty commonsense ways, including a chapter on how to deal with leftovers. Throughout the recipes Larsen gives tips for how to make a recipe even cheaper, or how to dress it up if you've got a little extra to spend.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to try as many recipes as I wanted before I had to return this cookbook to the library, because everything I tried was good. I think the Crockpot Beef Stroganoff recipe may replace my old standby or at least share equal billing. The Uptown Tuna Casserole was a surprisingly rich twist on an old budget cooking standby. I also appreciated the Everything Stew recipe because I'm still a pretty novice soup maker and this one basically tells how anyone can make soup with whatever odds and ends you have on hand.

Overall this was a great cookbook and one I might even consider buying.
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