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Cookbooks for beginners

by Jessica Lockyer-Palmer

published on 1 January 2024

We all know a student who lives off baked beans, or have that one friend who has Deliveroo on speed dial because they can’t face cooking. If they’re short on time, lack inspiration, or swear that they simply can’t cook, this round-up of the best budget-friendly and easy cookbooks for beginners will help to get them started. From a collection of all-in-one recipes to a novice’s guide to curry, these are the best cookbooks to buy for first-time cooks.

The Roasting Tin

The Roasting Tin is the perfect gift for new cooks and committed kitchen-phobes. Featuring 75 flavour-focussed recipes that all come together in just one roasting tin, this is a book that leaves the hard work to the oven. All that’s left is to marvel that something so easy can taste so good – and leave so little washing up. Dishes like one-tin bulgur wheat with roasted red peppers and feta and all-in-one steamed salmon with broccoli, ginger, and lime will quickly become weeknight favourites.

Nadiya’s Simple Spices

Nadiya Hussain’s cookbooks have always been full of recipes for dishes that are delicious to eat and uncomplicated to make – and Simple Spices is no exception. Using just eight readily available spices, Nadiya shows us how to cook easy midweek meals and sweet treats that are packed with warmth and depth of flavour.

River Cafe Cook Book Easy

River Cafe Cook Book Easy

by Rose Gray, Ruth Rogers

Pioneering a new approach to cooking and eating, The River Cafe Cookbook Easy offers stripped back instructions, accessible recipes, and easy takes iconic Italian dishes, designed with home cooks in mind. You’ll find impressive, dinner party-worthy dishes like beef carpaccio, as well as go-to, everyday recipes like pork chops with lemon and easy plum and orange almond cake.

Five Ingredients

Five Ingredients, Ten Minutes

by Jules Clancy

Even the most reluctant of cooks can’t argue with 130 incredibly simple recipes, from a chicken and cashew stir-fry to a frozen banoffee cheesecake, each of which can be made in ten minutes using just five ingredients. These recipes couldn’t be more straightforward, and are perfect for students or those on a tight budget.

At My Table

In Nigella’s most accessible cookbook yet, the emphasis is on the laid back dishes that she loves to serve at her own kitchen table, from pastas and traybakes to cakes and puddings. It’s makes a perfect gift for beginners who want to create a whole range of dishes without intimidating or complicated recipes. At My Table also happens to contain plenty of comfort food favourites, including sticky toffee pudding and meatballs with orzo.

Eat Well for Less: Family Feasts on a Budget

by Jo Scarratt-Jones, Gregg Wallace, Chris Bavin

If they’re worried that cooking from scratch means spending lots of money on expensive ingredients, Eat Well For Less will show them how to cook interesting and adventurous meals that are also budget-friendly. This one is another great choice for students or families. 

One Pot Wonders

by Lindsey Bareham

A warming and hearty dish all made in one pot is surely the ultimate in un-intimidating cooking. With 100 warming and nutritious one-pot dinners, One Pot Wonders is a brilliant initiation into cooking. There are dishes to suit every occasion, whether curling up on the sofa in front of the telly or feasting with family and friends. The red orzo risotto with goat’s cheese and the sausage and lentil stew are two of our particular favourites.

Slow Cooked

by Miss South

With 200 recipes for adventurous, affordable food that’s low on effort and big on flavour, Slow Cooked is a useful book for beginners and budget-conscious cooks. There are recipes for hearty main courses (like this classic pulled pork recipe) and indulgent puddings (like this fluffy cherry Bakewell pudding), as well as quick-and-easy side dishes and creative ways of using up any leftovers. This is no-fuss, inexpensive, slow-cooker food at its best.



Budget friendly and super easy, the recipes in TV chef, Dean Edwards’ mince-tastic cookbook take inspiration from all over the world to help beginners get to grips with everything from fajitas to pizza. Great for students or reluctant cooks, Dean proves that cooking great food doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. We love the pork meatball Thai curry, the chicken and chorizo lasagne, and the easy toffee banana tarte tatin.


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