Review: Big Buy Cooking

Big Buy Cooking: The Food Lover's Guide to Buying in Bulk and Using it All UpBig Buy Cooking
by Fine Cooking Magazine

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Big Buy Cooking / 978-1-600-85154-4

I really like the premise of this book: cooks love the thrill of the hunt when shopping at bargain warehouses, so why not structure a whole book around how to create delicious meals with those bulk ingredients? The answer to that "why not" seems to lie in the major flaw of this book - there's just too much ground to cover with such a huge subject like this.

The book is structured around main ingredients - each ingredient has three accompanying recipes. The obvious problem arises immediately: three recipes each for capers or brie or pine nuts may be sufficient, but three recipes for "bread" and "canned tomatoes" seems surprisingly limited - especially when two of those three tomato recipes are marinara and tomato soup! I can't disagree that those are solid ways to use canned tomatoes, but if you're looking for new ways to use up bulk tomatoes, you've probably thought of those two recipes already.

The pictures accompanying each recipe are lovely, and the layout of the recipe text is clear and well-organized, but the overall book layout is a bit strained due to this focus on the main ingredient - the recipes for any given item may be savory or sweet, an entree or an appetizer, etc. Looking through this book, I have to wonder how necessary this type of cookbook would be to anyone with internet access, now that every recipe site online has a "search by main ingredient" option. In general, I believe that cookbooks are still vitally necessary to a household for the "browsing factor" - the ability to sit down with a good cookbook and flip through looking for recipes that catch your eye - but since this one is more organized with an eye towards what you already have (or at least, what you intend to buy), and since many of the recipes are well-known staples, I'm not sure that this cookbook really has a lot of browsing value.

I guess if you're thinking about joining a bulk grocery warehouse and would like some ideas, this book might be a useful thing to check out, especially if you're a novice cook still getting started in the kitchen. However, I think many people may eventually outgrow this book and end up looking for more variety online. Really, I think the idea behind this book is a great one, but that the editors were hampered by the usual problems of fitting a huge concept into a relatively small space.

NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through NetGalley.

~ Ana Mardoll

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