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Saving Dinner: The Menus, Recipes, and Shopping Lists to Bring Your Family Back to the Table

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  472 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews
Certified nutritionist Leanne Ely has a simple philosophy: “Make it and they will come.†Dinner, that is. Take-out, opening a can, or microwave fare shouldn’t pass for a nice, healthy meal–and nothing can replace a family’s time together. Believe it or not, preparing dinner can be a stress-free endeavor. Even your time in the supermarket can be cut in half!

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Paperback, 301 pages
Published September 30th 2003 by Ballantine Books
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Community Reviews

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Absurd Book Nerd
Feb 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I got myself this book as an early Christmas present. I can't believe the difference it has made in my life. We have gone from eating out and scrounging for dinner at least half the time to having a home cooked meal every night.
The menus are great and the shopping lists make it all so easy. I can take it and buy everything I need for the week.

My sons, the best of the picky eaters, are eating things I never dreamed they would eat. I am actually able to get the eat fish (something they never did b
Sep 18, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: health-cookbooks
This might have been helpful when I was first married and had no idea what I was doing. I have since learned how to meal plan and make grocery lists though so a lot of this information was not pertinent. I found 2 recipes I'd like to try...the others I knew we wouldn't like or were too meat-based or expensive or had foods we're trying to avoid. I also have a lot of "tried and true" recipes that I'd rather use instead of her version of chili (or whatever).

I do appreciate that the author plans a v
Diana Glyer
Aug 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I'm the kind of person who comes home from work and searches through the fridge for food and then gets upset because all I can find are ingredients. I do not like to cook. This book did not change that; what it did is make me realize that with a little effort, I can make food at home that tastes a whole lot better than anything I can get at a restaurant. This was a revelation. I have made most of the recipes in this cookbook, and everything I've made is easy and delicious. I still don't like to ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it really liked it
Literally read it in one day- lots of great recipes that are organized not only by week, but also by season. Very helpful and works hand in hand with the Flylady approach.
D Murgatroyd
Feb 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: recipe-books
Love this book - love photocopying out shopping lists when the brain has been too overworked/underslept to function well and still be able to provide a meal plan for the family. Only reason it has 4 stars is that I had to convert ounces to grams a lot and although it was good for my math skills it was not a favourite thing to do:) Being an American cookbook, and us living downunder, I did a bit of substituting of ingredients. A big bonus was that we tried things like Vietnamese Chicken Salad tha ...more
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I LOVE this cookbook. I love how it is organized seasonally. The shopping lists are perfect for our budget, and the recipes are delicious. With my family of a hubby and 3 growing boys, ages 11, 6, and 4, we have had 1 meal in 4 solid weeks of menus, that they wouldn't want to repeat, although they still cleaned their plates, because it still wasn't bad. I love how none of the summer meals use the oven, and how there are weekly soups scheduled for the colder months. The variety every week is nice ...more
Jan 29, 2012 rated it liked it
There are a couple recipes in this book that make the regular rotation at my house, namely Asian Honey Chicken & Garlic Lime Chicken (I highly recommend them both). This is a book filled with basic, simple recipes to serve on a daily basis when you gather your loved ones around the dinner table. The ingredients are all easily obtained and mostly inexpensive. This is not the cookbook to turn to for flavor innovation or new & exciting recipes. But if you're looking for dishes that both you ...more
Keri West
Jul 12, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: food
Love the idea. It's not just a cookbook; it's a flight plan. If you've ever wanted to start meal planning for convenience and budgetary reasons, this is a good start. An even better start would be visiting her website and buying the e-menus. She's added so much content over the years and the flexibility of downloading a set of recipes that fits your specific dietary needs can't be beat.

Meal planning takes an initial investment of energy, but once you get rolling you'll never want to go back to
Jan 19, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: chez-mama
If I could give this book 10 stars I would!!! It has really helped tame the dinner monster in our house. The recipes are GREAT! Lots of yummy crockpot ideas without a single mention of Campbells soup!! My 12 yr old daughter exclusively made the Garlic Lime Chicken and we all loved it. The ginger beef roast is cooking in the crock as I type. Really easy wonderful ideas to help simplify dinnertime without sacrificing quality! I bought my book used on amazon for $2! The only thing is that the recip ...more
Apr 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cooking, organising
This was okay, but really frustrating. I really like the idea of it, having a menu and shopping list to help plan out your own meals, but almost every single recipe had meat in it, or chicken broth, and since I dont really know much about cooking I wasnt sure how to adapt them to be vegetarian and still have them taste good. I will try a couple of her sides - the potato salad looks really easy and is meat-free (though it does have mayonnaise). I see she has a vegetarian version of the book which ...more
Jennifer Barr
Nov 01, 2016 rated it it was ok
Some of these recipes look pretty good, but the nutritional info is pretty dated, using non/low fat ingredients and vegetable oils. Plus, there's a lot of processed, convenience ingredients. I like that it has optional side dishes included, but I wish they were chosen to go with the seasons the way the recipes were. I don't eat salad in the winter; it's too cooling, and it's more expensive as it's out of season. Oh, I don't like that she adds a dessert chapter to the contents, but when you flip ...more
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Folks who don't like pork
So, I have to admit that I only tried one recipe out of this cook book and it was pretty yummy. It didn't have many ingredients, it was easy to prepare and pretty quick to make.

However, my first experience with this cookbook was annoyance. I had pork that I needed to use and I was trying to find a new recipe...there is not a single pork recipe in this cook book. And no explanation as to why that might be.

I may not have given this cook book a totally fair shake after that. But, honestly, most of
Dec 30, 2009 rated it really liked it
I love Leanne! I ordered her menu mailer after I had my first child, and it really helped me lose the baby weight, by helping me to eat healthy(her idea of healthy is a very balanced diet). I like that in this book she goes through some of the basics of food preparation, like how to use the chef knife to cut an onion. She is a big promoter of family dinner time, healthy homecooked meals, etc. I am planning on reading more of her books. I haven't tried the recipes in this book yet, but am going t ...more
Aug 13, 2008 rated it really liked it
I'm having another go with this one...I bought it on clearance at B&N...FlyLady highly recommends this book, so I couldn't pass it up in hardback for $4...It gives you a menu & shopping list for the entire week, but I wasn't sure that my family would go for the recipes...However, after spending my summer "winging it" on dinner (I was pretty good about planning meals out during the school year), I decided to pull this book out and use it as my inspiration for planning meals to start this ...more
Sep 18, 2008 rated it liked it
Not really a book to 'read' exactly. It's a reference book of recipes by week and includes the weekly shopping list. It is really easy to use, pick a week, buy those groceries and then you don't have to worry about 'whats for dinner' all week. Only problem is that we've been less than thrilled with the results. I'm a picky eater and have so far eaten most of the meals, but neither of us have found any of the recipes to be favorites or even something we'd eat each week. We are going to keep using ...more
Apr 28, 2009 rated it it was ok
I perused “Saving Dinner” by Leanne Ely recently. Can’t really recommend it – I tried three recipes and . . . while they weren’t “bad” recipes, they did not impress my family and I won’t be making them again. I don't consider my family to be picky or hard to cook for.

But, I did like some of her time-saving tips and healthy alternatives. The cookbook is nicely arranged by season for those who live in colder climates and want soup in the winter and cold dishes in the summer.
Pretty disappointed. Lots of recipes but they're all pretty similar. Cook protein with a sauce and serve with a starch. Lots of casseroles. Was hopeful that the freezer kits would be helpful but again the recipes are just okay. Plus she uses way too many convenience foods...packaged seasonings, BBQ sauce, corn muffin mix, and on and on.

Keep hoping that one of these books will give recipes using real food for those of us limiting or eliminating processed chemical junk
Jan 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: someone new to menu planning
Recommended to Carma by: FlyLady
I like the concept of the book and the author certainly helped me get into the menu planning mode. However, I am not a big fan of the majority of the recipes and they don't work for my household.
I keep the book since I have been starting a cooking class and have been asked about menu planning. I think it is a good starting place.
Also good if you are a big fan of Which is why I bought it in the first place.
Dec 13, 2008 rated it liked it
Borrowed this one from the library as it is so highly recommended by FLYlady. Lots of great recipes, but a bit too fiddly and too long to prepare for my taste. I don't have that much time to get dinner together. But for those that like to have a full shopping list prepared by someone else with meal plans etc to match (and also dont' mind googling up "food substitutes" for what strange food names mean in Australian, LOL) then this could be an invaluable tool.
Oct 04, 2008 rated it liked it
I like her ideas about having a menu each week that allows you to plan ahead by cooking extra meat to put in a dish on a later day. She even included weekly grocery lists, but I didn't find as many yummy recipies as I was hoping for. She has different tastes than I do. Some of them were good though. Good tips, too.
Oct 02, 2007 rated it did not like it
Half the recipes I tried simply didn't work. The recipes were incomplete. For example, a recipe would call for garlic. No idea if it was chopped, minced or whole. This makes a huge difference. The recipes were pretty bland and just plain not good. I was very disappointed because I am a huge FLYLady fan and she highly recommends this book.
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was ok
This is a poorly organized cookbook. I guess technically it's organized, though the way it is set up puts me off. It's not easy to read, and there weren't many meals that I thought my family would enjoy. I guess I expected too much out of it.
Jul 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cooking
This book presents simple, fast, healthy recipes for day-to-day family style meals. Although I haven't followed the weekly suggestions, I have used many of the recipes, and most have become family favorites. This is a well-used cookbook at our house.
Oct 25, 2009 rated it liked it
I love the idea of this book, which is to create multiple weekly meal plans along with catagorized shopping lists to go with them. This book has a ton of meal plans prepared for you; it's just not much of the type of things we eat. If your family eats "home-style" cooking, you will love this book.
Mar 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
When you are on a grocery budget, this recipe book has some great, simple, CHEAP things you can cook for your family. I don't follow her shopping lists, mostly because I don't eat that much meat these days.
Lucky Bug
Feb 15, 2011 rated it liked it
It's really easy to use this book because of the simple recipes and shopping lists, but it was definitely written for carnivores. Almost every every day of the week calls for meat, but if you're into that kind of thing, it's a great book. All the recipes I've tried so far are excellent.
Aug 27, 2008 rated it really liked it
This book is my resource for dinners. I love it. It's got the shopping list for each week, and then the recipies are simple and good. Warning: There are recipies from every culture, so if you don't like a variety of flavors, this isn't for you.
Jan 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cookbooks
We have found many weeknight recipes that we love. The Asian Orange Salmon and the Sweet Potato chili were worth the price of the book alone. It is organized in seasonal weekly menus, but I don't use it as intended.
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Lynnea by: FlyLady
The idea of this book is great and I have a bunch of recipes from this book I use regularly. Some recipes are rather odd, using ingredients I don't regularly have on hand, but overall, it's worth buying or checking out at the library for a few weeks!
Jul 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Cookbook provides weekly grocery lists and menus. I think it would be a challenge because my family wouldn't like everything....but still a great book.
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