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The Fresh 20: 20-Ingredient Meal Plans for Health and Happiness 5 Nights a Week

The Fresh 20: 20-Ingredient Meal Plans for Health and Happiness 5 Nights a Week [Kindle Edition]

Melissa Lanz
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description


The Fresh 20 cookbook is an essential guide for every mom trying to meal plan using tasty recipes the entire family will love!--Catherine McCord, author of Weelicious

Product Description

The Fresh 20, the popular budget-friendly meal-planning service founded by working mother Melissa Lanz, is now a cookbook, offering families an all-natural and easy approach to mealtimes.

Using just 20 organic, non-processed ingredients per week, home cooks can create 5 wholesome, delicious meals in just minutes. A busy home cook herself, Lanz understands the “What’s for dinner?” conundrum and has developed a program that gives parents healthy cooking options.

Inspiring and educational, The Fresh 20 is filled with gorgeous color photos, shopping lists that take advantage of seasonal fruits and vegetables, prep tips, and, of course, easy and delicious recipes — including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 9030 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks (23 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0089LOJH2
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #472,816 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars easy to use 30 Jun 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
its easy to use, i like the short shopping/ingredient lists and the kids most of what i cooked, and a lot of it can be doubled and frozen. love that its divided into seasons.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  137 reviews
87 of 89 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What I'd been searching for 3 Jun 2013
By mreece - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I bought this book because while I can cook, I often times have a hard time coming up with weekly meal plans. I tried meal subscription plans [not Fresh 20, though] in the past but didn't like how many of them either used [a] a lot of processed junk that my family doesn't [or shouldn't. we're working on the doesn't] eat; [b] 50+ ingredients for a weeks worth of meals, many of which would only call for half of what you'd buy in the store, wasting product and money; or [c] the meals didn't repeat [husband's complaint, which I understood because sometimes you want to eat a dish more than once a year]. So I was looking for a cookbook with meals that would accomplish the exact opposite of these three things.

The Fresh 20 did exactly that.

The ingredients truly are fresh, seasonal ingredients, most of which are things you've [probably] heard of, if not at least eaten once before in your life. The recipes are presented in a weekly format, four weeks per season, with a coordinated shopping list before each week [and let me tell you, the first time I went grocery shopping using this book, it was liberating to just be able to take a picture and walk out the door. Literally. It was amazing.]. Because there are only four weeks of meals per season, that means you can repeat the weeks up to four times, giving you FOUR repeats a year! My favorite part about the meal plans is that there are only five days, giving two extra days for events, leftovers, or for a cook to add some family favorites in. Now if you don't regularly keep her suggested list of pantry items [grape seed oil? Never heard of it before this book], it can be a pain to purchase them at first but she does use them week to week and in such small quantities that they last you for a while. Well, except for chicken/vegetable broth. If that's on sale, go ahead and buy like 100 cartons. You'll need it [at least for the summer!].

You'd think with all of these positive points, I could give Ms. Lanz's book a 5/5 but there are some cons to it as well. First off, not everyone is going to like the food choices she gives you, as is the problem with every cookbook in the world unless it's your mama's cookbook. However, we have a pretty diverse food-loving family here to the point where at least one person likes the dish being offered. There have been a couple of dishes that we've made that have been absolute 'no's [I'm looking at you, gazpacho]. There are also other recipes that had the potential of being fan-favorites had it not been for one or two things [too much salt, for some reason watery, bland, etc.] but I keep notes in the margin of the book to remind myself of what did and didn't work, plus alternatives for which my family is okay with.

In any other cookbook, this wouldn't be a big deal but when you're taking the meal plan as-is, it because a little irksome. However, I honestly believe if you're using this book for the long run in terms of what your family eats, than it's worth the time to adjust or remove the recipe that isn't working for you and sub something else in [making notes on the shopping list page of what to get rid of and what to add]. For instance, the aforementioned gazpacho now lives a second life as a harvest salad, using most of the ingredients listed from before].

Another con is the prep-time on some of the recipes. I'll be straight up with you - some of it's a little ridiculous. But it's also really fun if you like to cook and have the time. However, this is billed as a weeknight family meal solution so I do think the prep time for some of the recipes doesn't fit that description. Once again, adjust it to meet the needs of your family. One of the meals is a Mediterranean spread of hummus and other dips with pita chips and veggie slices. It calls for preparing everything, including making tahini paste for the hummus and baking your own pita chips. If you don't have the time [or patience or skill level or a food processor, whatever], you can buy all of that stuff PREMADE, including the hummus. See? Adjustable. Sometimes just having the idea of what to make is more of a battle than actually putting it on the table. Of course, it may take out the "fresh" part of the dinner but come on, balance is the key to life and buying the pre-made stuff from reputable brands is still better than going through Mickey D's.

Also, if you have more than 4 people in your family, you're going to need to adjust as most of the recipes are made for four [if you have less than four, congratulations! Lunch is now covered]. But again, not a major con and an easily fixed one by the reader.

Other than that, this book is a godsend. The recipes are excellent, the layout is excellent, even the short stories about other families is a nice touch. This book is a book that, if used consistently, will change your family dinner habits immensely. If you're a new cook [or a seasoned cook who's stuck in a rut], then this book will help you explore new dishes in the safety of your own home. If you want to try out seasonally cooking, this book is for you. If you're trying to balance making good food for your new family, this is a book for you. If you like to EAT, this book is for you. I cannot sing high enough praise for this book. If you're here, then I highly, highly, highly suggest that you give it a shot.
92 of 97 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Week 1 Completed (updated with week 2) 4 May 2013
By Mel - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I just finished the first week (5 recipes) in the book and want to share some of my experiences. I am NOT a Fresh 20 subscriber, so this is my first experience with a meal planning concept.

First off, I love the shopping list and layout of the book. Very convenient. I was confused about the "20 ingredients" mantra, because it took me a bit to realize that it's 20 ingredients plus a hundred herbs/items you probably have on hand. In other words, the recipes involve a lot of items.

Week 1, spring menu (ratings from 1-5*)
Parmesan Chicken Nuggets with Herbed honey carrots - 4*
Coconut Curry-style Fish with lime coconut rice - 5*
Korean-style short ribs with braised napa cabbage and brown rice - 5*
Pan-seared chicken panzanella - 4*
Baked potato soup with simple cabbage salad - 1*

As you can see, 4/5 recipes were excellent, but the baked potato soup was bland and flavorless, even with extra salt (and optional cheese & bacon).

Each week has a "prep ahead" section, but I quickly learned that each recipe has far more prep than expected. There is a lot of chopping involved, and every recipe took far longer to cook than anticipated. I am hoping to find a few weeks that we like and then just repeat them over and over.

A few problems I encountered:
-The prep ahead included making bread crumbs and 2" bread cubes. I followed the directions and ended up with "croutons" that were 2x2x2 (a 2" cube). I didn't realize this was the final product, and I ended up having to chop them all up for the salad. I think the author meant 1" cubes. Spending 40 minutes preparing bread crumbs and croutons was a lot of time spent!
-My toddler isn't much into eating a salad for dinner, so this presented some obvious challenges.
-The "braised napa cabbage" was flavorless. You remove everything from the pan and then throw in the cabbage/carrot combo, but by doing that, it had no flavor. Maybe I should leave some of the juice from the ribs in there next time.
-TIME - again, each recipe took far longer to prepare/chop/cook than anticipated. I will try prepping this chopping ahead of time in the future.

Overall, we are pleased with the book and plan to try out a few more weeks, but we also plan to take a week off in between weeks. I'm not a pro chef, and it was a lot of work. Give it a try!

**UPDATE 6/11/13**

We recently completed a week from the fall menu which was absolutely delicious! The menu is this:

-Muffin Tin Meatloaf with Broccoli Forest Rice - 5*
-Shrimp Gumbo - 1* (unfortunately, it was flavorless and we couldn't even eat the leftovers)
-Chicken Tamale Spoon Bread - 5*
-Spaghetti & Meatballs - 5*
-Broccoli Cheddar Soup with leftovers - 5*

As you can see, 4/5 meals were five stars. One great thing about this week's menu is the prep ahead section. We prepared the meatloaf and the meatballs at the same time. I also chopped about 80 pounds of onions up front, which saved a ton of time since every recipe required them. These meals all made plenty of food plus leftovers. They weren't served with "side salads", but rather the veggies were built in. While I can't say my toddler came within ten feet of the broccoli forest rice, she did actually eat the broccoli soup. Twice!!

I'm very excited about how well this week went and how the prep seemed to make a lot of sense. I didn't feel as exhausted or beat down as the previous week's experience and I will be more cognizant in picking weeks ahead that I can really get the most from. Enjoy.
84 of 91 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh 20 changed my life 23 April 2013
By Alexis - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Very rarely can I say that I encounter something that I can buy with money that can change my life forever. The fresh 20 has done just that, changed my life! I grew up poor and was raised by a single mother who also happened to be a bodybuilder. My mother worked long hours and my idea of dinner became fast food and steak. This lasted well into my late 20s. It got to a point where I would have fast food for lunch and dinner. My best friend that I lived with on and off for three years would laugh about my dinner staple of spaghetti, frozen dinners, and fast food. I did not know how to cook outside of heating canned food or boiling water for pasta. Two years ago I quit eating fast food and from there I slowly made healthy choices. I knew nothing about cooking and would use different websites and books for recipes only to find I would buy 30 ingredients for one recipe. I felt it was all such a waste of money and that I would much rather eat out since it came out to be the same cost. I found the healthier the meal the more expensive it was to buy (Hawaii grocery store prices are higher than stateside prices). I came across the fresh 20 online and decided 50 dollars for a year was a small fraction of what I paid in groceries and seemed I would save that amount within the first month of joining.

Now before continuing on I am engaged to a Texan. He loves his BBQ and his texmex. He is not the biggest fan of vegetables and was very nervous about me cooking with all the different ingredients I would buy. He noticed I would mainly be in the produce section getting what I needed for the week.

Within a month of joining the fresh 20 I was receiving nightly compliments on how delicious my food was and I finally felt as though I was taking control of my health. My fiancé lost weight and I have become healthier than I have ever been. Now whenever he is away from me he talks about how much he misses my cooking. So far my favorite recipes have been the stuffed cabbage and the butternut squash pasta. In a way he has fallen in love with me more since I began cooking with the fresh 20 since he appreciates the fact that I care about our health and yet somehow have not compromised the taste.

I plan on having my own garden where I grow most of the fresh 20 ingredients and I can see myself sticking with it for the rest of my life. It truly has changed my life and if you want to cook healthier or even learn how to cook while saving money start with this book and if it changes your life the way it did mine then I suggest joining the fresh 20. Those that I have known the longest still cannot believe that I cook every night and that I look better than I ever have.
27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gorgeous "Real Food" Cookbook! 23 April 2013
By Lisa Leake - Published on
More real food cookbooks is exactly what this world needs and "The Fresh 20" is not one to pass up! This book has brilliant photos with every recipe, shopping lists, and cook-ahead tips. What more could a home cook ask for? We've already tagged several recipes we can't wait to make and tried out the Broccoli Cheese Soup last night, which was a big hit with the entire family. Thank you Melissa for putting this together for everyone to enjoy! :)
25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Overall, serves it's purpose 12 Aug 2013
By Busy Mom - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this book. The idea is fantastic. But there are so many little things that have annoyed us in the 2 weeks we've used it! First, the pages are all falling out, which is super annoying. We have only used this for two weeks and have encountered a week where an item that should have been on the pantry list was not. We have had an ingredient missing from the ingredient list but was then included in the directions, an ingredient that was listed on the ingredients list that was not used, a recipe with odd and insufficient cooking times for salmon, and, while it is probably overly picky, the photos for many of the meals do not necessarily match the directions/ingredients listed in the recipe.
BUT, overall, the book is serving the purpose of helping us eat healthier. It has been fun to try new recipes. It isn't 'quick', though. Do not get this thinking it is going to cut your preparation time in half or something. I cooked extremely simple (boring) meals before because it is difficult to spend time on stuff with little kids hanging on your legs. (or constantly screaming and fighting while trying to prepare dinner). I think, once we get used to the style of the author's cooking, it will groove a little better. She does clue you in to some things to prepare ahead of time (meaning, on the weekend, from what I have experienced). You just need to look through the recipes and determine how much you need to prep ahead and how much you can do throughout any given day to get ready for dinner. So, it still takes a little time and thought on your part, but not nearly as much as it would to come up with the menus on your own. It's a great concept and we are happy we have the book. Maybe a little more editing was needed, but it doesn't mean the book isn't functional.
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