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The best cookbooks - as chosen by Mumsnet users

Food is one of life’s simple pleasures. Though, admittedly, it doesn't always feel simple when you're catering for different dietary requirements and sporadic food refusers. Whether you’re on the lookout for easy, budget-friendly family meals or hoping to add more healthy dishes to your weekly routine, this roundup of the best cookbooks - as chosen by Mumsnetters - will leave your stomach rumbling and your mouth watering.

By Mumsnet HQ | Last updated Jun 8, 2021

1. Ottolenghi: The Cookbook

For those of you looking for a cookbook that’s contemporary and imaginative, give this one a go. With over 140 recipes to flick through, Ottolenghi: The Cookbook will have you out of your comfort zone in no time. Expect simple dishes that are inventive, easy to follow, and inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi’s childhood in Jerusalem. Warning: dinner guests will be wanting seconds.

“This is an amazing cookbook. I’ve cooked at least seven recipes and they are all fab – definitely worth getting.”

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2. The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater

No kitchen is complete without a copy of The Kitchen Diaries by Nigel Slater. If you and your loved ones enjoy hearty, seasonal meals, this cookbook is a must-have addition to your collection. Made up of the meals that he makes for himself, friends and family, Nigel Slater has also thoughtfully included a selection of ‘Monday to Friday’ dishes – for when you need something on the table without delay. Some recipes are fast, others need time to stew, and the rest sit somewhere in the middle.

“My favourite cookbook is Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries. His recipes are often simple but always delicious – more than that, his writing is sublime. It’s like a love letter to food.”

“The Kitchen Diaries is one of my favourite cookbooks. His cake recipes are fantastic too and I regularly make his double ginger cake.”

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Related: The five best slow cookers for fuss-free meals.

3. Jamie’s Ministry of Food

It’s no secret that Jamie Oliver has spent his career trying to encourage the UK to eat better. From tackling childhood obesity by reshaping school dinners to altering the public’s eating patterns and helping us appreciate the real value of food. By looking British history, particularly at periods when food was less easily available, Jamie draws inspiration from the way previous generations used to eat and brings us a collection of recipes that are wholesome, nutritious, balanced and quick to prepare.

“Jamie's Ministry of Food gets my vote. His recipes are easy, family friendly and won't break the bank.”

“Jamie Oliver's Ministry of Food is very good. It features 'traditional' family meals such as shepherd's pie, roast dinners, as well as a few curries and stir-fries. It takes you through the recipes step-by-step and includes photos of everything.”

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4. Gousto’s Online Cookbook

If you’re the paperless sort, why not check out Gousto’s online cookbook? It’s a goldmine of tasty recipes and adventurous cuisines. From quick family favourites to exciting forays into new cuisines, there’s bound to be plenty of dishes that suit your family. Although lots of Mumsnetters swear by their weekly recipe box deliveries, you don't have to be a Gousto subscriber to access their recipes and, since it’s all online, you only have to pay for the cost of the ingredients.

If you'd like to find out more about Gousto's recipe box service, what Mumsnet users think of it, and how it measures up to other boxes, check out our round-up of the best recipe boxes for families.

“I’ve been using Gousto for the past three weeks and it is amazing – some of the best food I have ever cooked (and I love to cook). It pushes you to try different recipes and they don’t usually take too long to make. Plus, they are generally fairly healthy. Enjoy!”

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Best vegetarian cookbooks

5. Hairy Bikers Go Veggie

You know them for their culinary trips and love of roadside BBQs, but what happens when the Hairy Bikers turn veggie? Pure deliciousness, that’s what. The Hairy Bikers Go Veggie cookbook is suitable for both lifelong vegetarians as well as people experimenting with vegetarianism in order to lose weight or just eat less meat. With 80 delicious recipes to choose from, it’s bound to get you thinking about food in a new way. There’s more to vegetables than meets the eye, so don’t let your love of meat put you off.

“The Hairy Bikers Go Veggie cookbook is really good. It has lots of tasty and hearty meals, is nicely laid out and very easy to follow. They have pictures of all of the recipes as well, which is really helpful.”

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Related: Get your caffeine fix at home with our round-up of the best coffee machines – as chosen by Mumsnetters.

6. Rose Elliot’s New Complete Vegetarian

For those of you who aren’t familiar with her work, Rose Elliot is a respected cookery writer, well-known for her simple but creative vegetarian recipes and positive ethos when it comes to food. Her New Complete Vegetarian cookbook contains a whopping 1,000 delicious recipes, so it may well become the only cookbook you ever use.

“Try Rose Elliot's New Complete Vegetarian. It’s not terribly well illustrated but has loads of simple family recipes.”

“I love Rose Elliot’s cookbook. She is fab!”

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Best student cookbook

7. Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook

Afraid of your precious first-born returning from their first term at uni a malnourished shell of their former self? Fear not. Students might not always be the best eaters, but with a little help from Sam Stern, they should avoid scurvy. Mumsnetters recommend Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook for anyone inexperienced in (or slightly afraid of) the kitchen. All his recipes are quick, easy and (importantly) cheap to make. You can’t put a price on piece of mind so if you know someone starting university or striking out on their own, this would make a great gift – though we can't promise they'll use it…

“Sam Stern’s Student Cookbook book is ideal for students or beginners as his recipes are very easy to follow.”

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Related: Look after the planet and yourself with our collection of the best reusable water bottles.

Best baby-led weaning cookbook

8. River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook

If you’re looking into baby led weaning or you'd like to find new toddler-friendly dishes to serve, this River Cottage Baby & Toddler Cookbook comes highly recommended by Mumsnetters. The recipes are also tasty enough for adults so you won’t have to cook something extra for ‘the older ones’.

“Try the River Cottage Baby & Toddler cookbook. It’s a family cookbook that explains how to adapt the recipes to make them suitable for babies. It’s not pure baby-led weaning, but all of the recipes are baby-led weaning friendly.”

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