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Cookbooks for Undergrads

The frosh fifteen is no myth. Now that the fall semester is wrapping up, you’re probably just as concerned with the numbers on your bathroom scale as you are your GPA. Being the campus in the heart of downtown Toronto unfortunately also makes Ryerson the campus within striking distance of tantalizing Big Macs, Whoppers, taquitos, pizza slices, and street meat galore, and your midsection is likely suffering from the prime real estate.

It’s time to consider tossing the styrofoam fast food containers away and cooking your own meals for a change. Hey, you have a student discount at the Metro on Gould Street – why not take advantage of it? Although starting out in the kitchen can be intimidating at first, these handy cookbooks can help you prepare delicious and healthy meals without too much hassle.

Starting Out by Julie Van Rosendaal

Starting Out was appropriately the first cookbook I ever purchased. Julie Van Rosendaal has done a wonderful job of assembling an anthology of all the basic recipes you would need on a day-to-day basis: banana bread, meatloaf, potato salad, and spaghetti with bolognese sauce all round out the table of contents. The instructions don’t assume any background knowledge and the ingredients are mercifully mundane – you’ll not find yourself scrambling out the door to search for sunchokes, nutritional yeast, or kefir. There are even suggestions on what to do with the leftovers!

I’m Just Here for the Food by Alton Brown

Alton Brown is a food magician. His long running television show Good Eats is a must watch for anyone interested in not only learning new recipes but also pouring over the history of and science behind cooking. Fittingly, his cookbook I’m Just Here for the Food is more about teaching methods than presenting individual recipes. Learn the difference between making muffins and cupcakes, the importance of searing meat, how to thicken a beef stew properly, and even what to keep on hand in your pantry. The book comes with a complimentary set of pull out animal magnets illustrating different cuts of meat too!

Done by James Peterson

One of the most agonizing dilemmas new chefs will face is knowing when a piece of food is cooked through. That’s why James Peterson’s aptly titled Done is such a valuable resource. The book is essentially a glossary of instructions for cooking individual types of food to perfection. Everything from preparing a soft boiled egg so the yolks are still runny to grilling a steak to precisely medium-rare is explained through step-by-step photos and precisely referenced cooking times. It’s a handy resource even for the experienced chef and makes trying out new ingredients on a student budget much less stressful.

Jamie’s Food Revolution by Jamie Oliver

Jamie’s Food Revolution has a clear mandate, conveyed in the tagline on its cover: “rediscover how to cook simple, delicious, affordable meals.” The recipes Jamie Oliver has collected here intentionally use common household ingredients and often take less than half-an-hour to prepare, making it the perfect cookbook to pull out after a long day of classes. Want to make a curry in a hurry or toss a salad together in a few minutes? Jamie’s Food Revolution has you covered. The attention to both Eastern and Western cuisine is also a delicious change of pace from most beginners cookbooks.