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The Fresh 20: 20-Ingredient Meal Plans for Health and Happiness 5 Nights a Week Paperback – 5 Mar 2013

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; Original edition (5 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062200984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062200983
  • Product Dimensions: 18.7 x 2 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 323,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Melissa Lanz has created a brilliant solution to reducing the consumption of processed foods by showing how easy it is to create delicious, healthy, budget-friendly meals for your family using locally grown, unprocessed foods. It’s easy to make The Fresh 20 a lifetime habit. (Mark Hyman, M.D., author of The Blood Sugar Solution)

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)

From the Back Cover

The End of "What's For Dinner?"

Say goodbye to grocery lists with 80 items that will eventually go to waste. No more boxed mac 'n' cheese or canned-soup casseroles. No more wasting money on endless nights of takeout. With The Fresh 20 cookbook, the focus is on creating meals the whole family can enjoy together.

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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By kathryn brown on 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) 164 reviews
112 of 115 people found the following review helpful
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.
122 of 129 people found the following review helpful
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.
100 of 107 people found the following review helpful
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 32 people found the following review helpful
Gorgeous "Real Food" Cookbook! 23 April 2013
By Lisa Leake - Published on
Format: Paperback
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! :)
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Shop One Day, Fix 5 Great Meals During the Week 5 Jun. 2013
By Wendy LunaMoth - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is, for me, hands-down the best cookbook I've ever purchased! As a wife & mother, and the only one who cooks in my house, my least favorite time is when I ask everyone, "What do you want for supper?" My husband always says, "Whatever you wanna make." My oldest daughter always says, "Spaghetti!" And my youngest daughter says, "Ugh. Why do you always ask that." I *hate* trying to figure out what to make for supper every freakin' day! But somebody has to do it...

Well, now i can thank Melissa Lanz, because BOY has she planned meals! And she's included the shopping list for the week, too! There are even vegetarian dishes, gluten-free and/or dairy-free options (not on *all* recipes), and NO SUGAR in *any* of the recipes (only honey &/or maple syrup)! She has even included *some* vegan recipes, which isn't even an option in many cookbooks. At the beginning of the week, she has the make-ahead options for you already posted. There's a section of Pantry Essentials, and one on Essential Kitchen Tools. She doesn't assume you already know everything about cooking, but she doesn't talk down to you, either.

I've been using this cookbook for 3 or 4 weeks now, and my family & i have loved every recipe so far! We each have our favorites, but I am simply tickled with the new variety in our suppers, and my husband loves that I'm no longer complaining (and whining) about what to make. It's already "spelled out", so all I have to do is go shopping once a week, and the cooking is actually enjoyable each evening. Plus I know i'm saving money (we used to eat out A LOT!), and my family is eating more healthfully.

Melissa Lanz lives in California and I live in North Carolina, so every fruit & veggie isn't exactly ripe here when it's ripe in Cali, but I'm really okay with that. My local store typically has whatever-the-recipes-that-week are needing.

I love this book so much, I bought one for my Dad, and I'm going to get it for other family members and friends, too.

If you *don't* like having meals planned out for you, or cooking with fresh ingredients, perhaps you would prefer a different cookbook. But I can't imagine ever needing to buy another cookbook for myself ever again! =-)
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