Blissful and Domestic - Creating a Beautiful Life on Less: Save Money With Cook Books

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Save Money With Cook Books


I recently received an e-mail from one of you sweet readers. It was from a busy mom, who was wanting to make a change for her family. She was having a little trouble planning dinner every night. She had started using my menu plans, but was needing some help with cookbooks. She wanted to know which ones I love, which ones were great for beginning cooking, and if I bought my books or not. Well today I am going to give you a run down of how I do cookbooks the thrifty way and save money!

Before I get started, let me give you a bit of a back story. I know I know. I love giving back stories. I just think it is a great way for you to see I was not always a frugal lady. I struggled....a lot. Most of the time I fell short. It wasn't until I found a system that worked for me. When I found that, I was able to make a great change for my family. Growing up, my dad did the cooking. My mom got home from work later than my dad, so he did all the cooking. Our menu was pretty plain. Hamburger helper, baked chicken, buttered noodles and veggies. Pretty bleak I know. Poor hubby didn't know what he was getting himself into when he married me. There were many dinners where the chicken was not cooked enough, the potatoes were still hard, and the veggies were cold. I had no clue what I was doing. I was a pretty sad case. I slowly learned the right temperatures to set the oven on and how to brown meat the proper way. I found skillet meals, chicken bakes, and such. I thought I was doing pretty good. Hubby was fed and we weren't getting salmonella  from my "cooking". I thought I pretty much rocked. Boy was I wrong. I was just getting by. I was buying quick meals, which were prepackaged and cost a ton! I wasn't saving us money. In fact we probably spent well over $600 a month on groceries or more! We had a budget, but it was negotiable.  Know what I mean by that? Means I rarely followed it. I just went shopping. I didn't have a plan. I would get the 5 o'clock blues every day. I didn't know what to make. I would have a full pantry, but no clue what to make. Yep, sad case folks.

It makes me cringe at all the money I wasted when we first got married. Well, Hubby went to Iraq and I was living with his Mom. I decided I needed to learn how to really cook. Oh and hubby's call from Iraq, begging his Mom to teach me to cook, didn't hurt either. I wanted to learn "real cooking". I didn't want to just get by. I wanted a  "Booya Son" moment when hubby got home. I wanted him to be thoroughly impressed with my mad cooking skills.

My motherinlaw taught me all the basics. She taught me how to pair things and how to improvise when it came to recipes. She gave me the foundation I needed. If you are reading this Mom W. Thank you and I love you for all you did. You taught me with love and never laughed at my short comings in the kitchen.

Once I had my foundation, I turned to cook books. I loved browsing them and seeing what I could create for my family. Later on I started trying to become more frugal. I wanted to create the best meals for my family, without breaking the bank. I learned that by using cookbooks, I could stay organized and save money. I started growing my cookbook collection. When I first started out, I needed pictures. I needed to see the final product. I wanted to share some of my favorite books, which have a bunch of pictures. These books are perfect for beginning cooking or for visual learners.

Ree Drummond rocks it for visual learners. She takes step by step pictures.
Perfect for when you are learning to cook.

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

Where bread making is concerned. This is a great one.
Every recipe has a picture to go with it.

The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook

Jessica Seinfeld is just that, Deceptively Delicious. She adds purees into all her foods. A great way to get your family eating more fruits and veggies. Seriously so awesome!

Chef Bobo has great, simple recipes for creating healthy meals for your kids.

Here are some more cook books I absolutely love. 
Some of these have pictures. 

I know it is a crazy long list. Have I not mentioned that I love cookbooks? Honestly I do. A good time to me is sitting down with a cookbook. I love finding new things to make. So now that you know some of my favorite cookbooks, let me break down how I acquire cook books. I do have a bit of a collection in my kitchen.You can see I even have a few from the 80's. I found those at a library side walk sale. I got them each for 25 cents. They may be from the 80's and out of print, but the recipes are great! I always ask for cookbooks for Christmas. My grandma knows I will always appreciate a new cookbook. Thanks GG. The rest of the time I check cookbooks out from the library. I write down a few recipes and then send the book back. If I check the same book out a bunch, then I know it is a keeper. I borrow books from friends. I look at yard sales, thrift stores, etc. So many great cookbooks are out there. I try to make cooking fun for me. I try to find the best recipes, so I don't get bored with the same meal plan all the time. You don't have to spend money to make your family tasty meals.

I also only use cookbooks that fit in with my staples list. I don't do fancy shmancy. I want simple, quick recipes for my family. I am a busy Mom and spending 2 hours cooking dinner is just not realistic. I like meals that are finished in 30 minutes or less. Rachel Ray has a great line of books for this as well. I also browse Pinterest for recipes. Pinterest has become a virtual recipe box for me. I am constantly pinning yummy things to bake and make.


It may take a little bit of time to find recipes that work for your family, but it is so worth it. Being organized is essential in saving money. Having cookbooks on hand is a great way to keep your cooking and meal planning organized. Menu planning and going shopping with a plan will literally save you hundreds of dollars every month. Read my post on cutting your grocery bill in half and learn more tips and tricks to saving. Request books at your library and plan this weeks meal. I even have simple meal plans that are printable. Check them out here. I hope this post helped share a little bit about me and how I became a frugal cookbook enthusiast. Happy cooking today lovelies!

You can find recipes in my Let's Eat section and money saving tips below.
Cut Your Grocery Bill in Half
Freezing Your Milk
Living on $14,000 a year
How Does She Q and A
Breakfast and Lunch: Meal Planning and Saving Tips 
Fresh Produce All Month Long   
Save Money at Costco
Weekly Menu Plans + Printable Shopping Lists

Dressing on a Shoestring Budget

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  1. I have lots of recipe books I love! Have you tried fix it & forget it? I even have a family heirloom which is an original Betty crocker spiral notebook from the times when there are actually chapters on how to feed your husband & how to have dinner ready when he gets home so you can pamper him! Lolllllll I'm a pinning fool though! Follow me on Pinterest @StephanieLouiseATB. I have everything separated which I adore!

  2. Whenever I think of cookbooks, I cannot help but think of my favorite- Betty Crocker!! I got the bridal edition when I got married, which has a lot of helpful tips for cooking, especially if you haven't cooked much before. Nearly every recipe I have made from the book has been great. It has a great variety of food, and the recipes don't have crazy ingredients. I highly recommend it!

  3. Pioneer Woman has a website as well, I check terr often for recipes- I love her recipe for sloppy joes (and usually use ground turkey instead) and her knock off CPK BBQ chicken recipe too!!

  4. Inspiring post, as usual! Pinterest is my new fave - just started following you there. Recipes are the one thing I've consistently actually done what I've pinned :).

  5. I love love love to go "shopping" at our local libraries for books. Im always on the lookout for a good cookbook for picky eaters, my husband is the pickiest eater ever in the history of picky eaters, and I refuse to prepare more than one meal or allow him to make something else and set a bad example for our son. Anyway, I started a few weeks ago doing weekly meal plans (baby step #1) and found you on pinterest about a week ago. While some of the things you do to save money are not feasable for us you are amazing just the same!

  6. You should totally get Jamie Oliver's 15/30-minute meals! They are incredible, with well-written explanations, and since he is really big on healthy, local, and seasonal food, I always know I am eating something that's good for me!

    1. I am so looking for it at my library. Thanks so much!

  7. Hey Danielle, I noticed the cookbook that I co-authored on your cookbook shelf. I would love to send you a casserole cookbook if you are interested. You blog is seriously awesome!! Keep up the good work!!! Email me if you are interested: (Janet Eyring, co-author of "101 Things to do with a Slow Cooker")

  8. Hey Danielle, Your blog is amazing!! I noticed the cookbook I co-authored on your cookbook shelf. I would love to send you a casserole cookbook if you are interested (free of course) Email me if you are interested at Keep up the good work!!!! - Janet Eyring

  9. Danielle - I love your blog so much!!! I've got pumpkin muffins I made from scratch in the oven right now, from a recipe I found on pinterest. next I'm going to try your homemade shower cleaner! I dont know where I'd be without your advice ( probably doing a WHOLE lot more expensive trial and error!!)
    - a nurse in minneapolis


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