Sunday, September 30, 2012

REVIEW: Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook: Easy Lunchboxes

I was given the opportunity to review a digital copy of the Cooking with Trader Joe's Cookbook, the Easy Lunchbox edition by Kelly Lester.  This excited me to no end, this cookbook is PERFECT for me and my family!!!!  I LOVE Easy Lunchboxes and I LOVE Trader Joe's, and I LOVE packing lunches.  So this cookbook feels like it was made for me.  In all honesty, many of the recipes in the book could be made using ingredients bought at any local grocery, but if you have a Trader Joe's store near you then I would get them there.  Trader Joe's is my favorite place to shop, even though it is a 20 minute drive from my house.  I go once a month to stock up, and do the rest of my shopping closer to home.  Trader Joe's is great because they have no GMI's in their food, and have many choices of foods with preservatives, additives and the like.  Their prices are great and their food selection is unique and healthy.  I keep hoping that Trader Joe's will decide to bring a location to Northern Kentucky, but that's a blog post for another day.  And I've been a huge fan of Easy Lunchboxes for years.  We have countless Easy Lunchboxes and four of the cooler bags for carrying the lunchboxes.  They really make packing lunches less of a chore.  I even wrote a guest post for the Easy Lunchbox Blog about packing lunch for my family.  So now you can see why I feel like Kelly Lester's new cookbook was made for me.

Here's a little bit about the book:
Cooking with Trader Joe’s Cookbook - Easy Lunch Boxes is a delightfully different cookbook, born from social media. Through the online network that grew around her EasyLunchboxes products, Kelly discovered a world of bloggers and parents whose ideas for attention-grabbing, healthy food matched her own ingenuity – so she brought them together for this book. Among the book’s 32 contributors are popular food bloggers Marla Meridith (the book’s food stylist and photographer), Aviva Goldfarb, Leslie Durso, and Lisa Leake, with a foreword by food activist Bettina Elias Siegel. The cookbook offers options for the entire family, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free offerings.

I am always trying to find new ideas for lunch packing because I pack my kids' lunches almost every day, so I want to keep things interesting.  I get bored making the same lunch day after day, and they get bored eating the same lunch day after day.  This book was a great inspiration for me!  And not just for the kids' lunches, but for Michael's lunches.  I'm not going to lie, there are some foods in here that I don't think my picky eaters will touch, but as my policy is to encourage them to try new things, I intend to use the recipes to try to persuade them to try some yummy new dishes.  And I will eat what they don't eat ;) 

This book is easy to use, contains lots of healthy recipes, and most are quite simple to make, and has clear labels for meals that are vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free.  Some of the meals are as easy as buying a pre-made meatloaf that you just have to slice and stick in the boxes, and others require a little more time but look worth taking that extra time to prepare!  I've already made a list of all the recipes I want to make from this book and have taken note of things I could change up in our menu to make our lunches a bit more interesting.  The book doesn't just have recipes & lunch ideas, the first part of the book is an introduction to the cooks behind this book, gives information about packing lunches, and tells you more about eating healthy.  It really is a good read.

My favorite thing about this cookbook is the pictures.  The cooks and photographer made these Easy Lunchbox meals look so good you drool a little bit while browsing the book.  And they made the lunches look super-cute and fun for the kids.  My kids peeked over my shoulder while I read the book and they loved all the embellishments and added touches to make the lunches special.   The digital copy of this book was fine, but I'm eager to get out and get my hands on an actual paper copy of this to add to my collection.  I see lots of fun lunches in our future!

This book is available at Amazon & Barnes and Noble for less than $20.  And be sure to take a few minutes to check out the Easy Lunchbox website and the It's Not Just Lunch blog (where you can find my guest post).

Do you have this cookbook?  What's your favorite recipe from it?  Or do you have a lunch-packing tip?  Please share below!

Disclaimer:  I was given a digital copy of this book to review, and will be entered into a drawing for a hard copy of the book & other goodies.  That being said, my opinions are 100% mine & honest.

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