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Why I love Dinner Illustrated

Dinner Illustrated Review

If you’ve been following my menu plans this year, you’ve noticed a whole lot of our meals are coming from one cookbook: Dinner Illustrated.

Dinner Illustrated is published by America’s Test Kitchen, the company that publishes Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country.

So, I trust the recipes in this book. 😉

I’m not at all a cookbook collector, so the fact that I bought a copy of this says something.

Frugal Girl cookbooks

Why do I like this book so much? 


Let me tell you!

1. There are multiple pictures for each recipe.

Of course I love a good finished-product photo, but I also love seeing what things should look like step by step.

Thai Chicken Soup

(The book has 1200 photos in all!)

2. None of the recipes take more than an hour.

This means you can pick any recipe and have faith it won’t be very complicated.

3. The recipes are adding interest to our meals.

We’ve tried a lot of foods I’ve never made before, such as quinoa, falafel, gnocchi, and a whole lot of Thai-inspired dishes.

Chicken Katsu

4. The recipes are a whole meal.

Either they’re one dish meals (veggie, starch, protein), or they come with a side recipe to round out the meal.

5. The book is nothing but dinner meals.

I have almost no trouble finding good recipes for things like dessert or bread. Dinner recipes are where I struggle the most!

So a cookbook full of only dinner recipes is great.

Dinner Illustrated table of contents

Now for a few questions!

Are there gluten-free/vegetarian/vegan recipes?

Yep! The book is divided into categories like Soup, Salad, Pasta, etc., and each of those sections has vegetarian/vegan options.

Dinner illustrated
Plus, there’s a whole section dedicated to vegetarian recipes.

And there’s a list of gluten-free recipes in the index.

Dinner illustrated

Why should I buy this when there are free recipes on the internet?

I have nothing against internet recipes (I post them myself!), but there’s something super about having a physical book to use.

Plus, since these are well-tested recipes, you can trust them.  Sometimes that’s not the case on the internet!

Dinner illustrated

Is it worth the money?

Well, first of all, you should be able to get a copy for around $20. That’s not much money in the grand scheme of things.

Plus, if this book saves you from even one takeout excursion, it will have paid for itself.

Cookbooks full of useful, reliable dinner recipes are kind of like an investment in that they pay dividends over and over again.

Dinner illustrated

Where should I buy this book?

Amazon always has some used copies available.

eBay usually has a bunch of copies, but oddly enough, they are almost always more expensive than Amazon’s price for a new copy.

Note: I’ve heard that the Kindle version of this book is annoyingly formatted, so I would get the hard copy if I were you.

If you want to give the book a test drive, see if your library has it! That’s what I did and I ended up buying my own used copy on Amazon.

If you buy this book, I’d love to hear what you think of it! And if you have a go-to dinner cookbook to share, leave your recommendation in the comments today.

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Leanne Lowry

Wednesday 26th of July 2023

I adore The Stay at Home Chef and like you am not a cookbook collector but bought her cookbook.

Recipes are not intimidating and use everyday ingredients for the most part. Best of all there is a QR code with each recipe so you can watch a video on how to prepare it if you need to.

It is my go to!


Friday 25th of March 2022

I cook most of our meals, so ordered this right away. I like to limit the unnecessary preservatives, sodium, etc., plus save $$ by not ordering takeout. Thanks for this recommendation

Amy WW

Thursday 2nd of May 2019

I bought it on your recommendation and it arrived the next day. Tonight we had Parmesan Chicken with Wilted Radicchio Salad and it was delish! My husband said, "You can make this again anytime!" which is high praise from him. LOL The only problem I had was that no grocery store within 5 miles of my home carries radicchio so I substituted red cabbage, thinly sliced and lightly sauteed, in its place. I'm very much looking forward to many of the other recipes. Thanks, Frugal Girl!


Friday 3rd of May 2019

Yay! I'm so glad.


Tuesday 30th of April 2019

I am a cookbook collector and have way too many, but they can be fun to read. I am whittling down the collection these days! And I have to say I am a very good cook, who learned from books, not from Mom. I, too, intensely dislike trying to cook from an iPad. I wish there was a printed Frugal Girl cookbook (HINT!) Here is a sort-of strategy: if I make a good exciting main dish, then we have simple, quick sides (roasted, steamed, stir-fried veg and/or fresh fruit). If I have leftovers or a simple main dish, then we have some more elaborate and multiple sides (several cooked vegs, raw vegs, pickled vegs, cottage cheese, pasta or rice). It can be sort of like a buffet. It uses up stuff from the frig in new and different ways. We almost always have salad. Fresh bread makes everything a feast!


Tuesday 30th of April 2019

I checked it out from the library and thought the photos assisted with learning a new recipe. Looking for a recipe now for tonight!

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