I just finished my four week experiment based the Stocked Kitchen cookbook and I rate it an enthusiastic one thumb up. I embraced the system fully in order to take advantage of the promise: maintain the master shopping list ingredients and be able to make any recipe in the book. I lived according to the guidelines in the book and had mixed results.
What I liked:
- I loved shopping once and being done for the week. No mid-week “honey, can you pick up X?” trips. No being caught off-guard by potlucks, dinner parties, or camping trips. Truly awesome.
- We discovered new go-to foods. This cookbook included mostly recipes we had never tried. I discovered that my son loves ham, and he likes ham and cheese tortilla roll-ups for breakfast and lunch!
- We found new options for potlucks and dinner parties. I loved the Greek Roll-Up (flank steak with spinach, bread crumbs, and feta) and ate all the leftovers during the course of one week. My foodie guests enjoyed the Empanadas too. The Asian Cole Slaw is sweet, delicious, and EASY for a potluck.
- The dessert section is versatile. From the basic stock, we made Lemon Bars (delicious but wrong texture because of user error), Chocolate Peppermint Bars, and Apple Pie Bites. There are many more we still want to make.
- Most meals had simple prep. If you’re home with a baby and can make use of the naptime windows for prep, you would be in great shape.
What I didn’t like:
- Most meals took too long to make. While the prep for most meals was very simple, once you factor in the cooking time, I struggled to get the dinner on the table in time. Once, I had to make an entirely separate meal after letting the boys extend their allotted TV-time and the food still wasn’t ready.
- What, no side dishes? The authors would be doing readers a HUGE favor by suggesting side dishes to accompany the main dishes. I found myself lacking a veggie more often than not because I was too focused on making the main.
- Over-reliance on canned goods. I am concerned about BPA exposure and the freshness of ingredients. Canned corn? No thanks.
- My family didn’t like enough of the food. Unfortunately, I have a refrigerator full of leftovers that my family doesn’t want to eat. If, based on the table of contents, you can tell you’ll like the dishes, the system is pure genius. If you live with a bunch of picky eaters or food snobs, it may backfire.
The simplicity of the grocery list and the approach is phenomenal. I am happy to have this cookbook in my arsenal, but I’m not ready to fully embrace the Stocked Kitchen lifestyle because the specific dishes didn’t quite make the cut with my boys. If it were just me and Alec, we could go on eating chili mac for a while before we grew tired of it, but not our children. (I think we have the only two kids on the planet who won’t eat macaroni and cheese.)
P.S. Now that I’m done with the official part of the experiment, I’d still like to try a few more of the dishes: Ham Corn Chowder, Peanut Noodles, Bacon Wrapped Shrimp, and Hot Spinach Artichoke Dip.
Depending on your taste buds and your willingness to delegate meal planning, I strongly encourage you to give it a try, if only to be inspired by the systematic planning and management of your dinners.
Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the cookbook for my review. All groceries were purchased by me. The opinions expressed here are mine and I’m a meal-planning, chicken-raising food snob with two sons who don’t eat macaroni and cheese.