When searching for a natural-foods cookbook, it’s easy to get swept away in the eye-popping visuals, the thick, glossy pages, and the sleek typefaces. The choices are dizzying; one national bookseller offers over 15,000 cooking titles, and that’s not even counting the 150,000 additional options offered in the wellness section.
But while colorful photos of expertly-arranged super foods may be appealing and even inspiring, the relentless demands and limitations of everyday life often call for something more practical. It is moments like this when recipes from the classic More-with-Less Cookbook, in its 47th printing, never fail to impress.
Originally published in 1976, this quiet classic was commissioned by the Mennonite Central Committee as a collective call to responsible eating in light of the world food crisis. Driven by the question, “How do we begin using less?”, MCC constituents committed themselves to eating and spending less. During this time of intentional lifestyle change, many developed resource-conscious recipes that were subsequently tested and published in the More-with-Less Cookbook.
What the book lacks in color, it makes up for in content. The brilliance of this book lies in its reliance on basic pantry staples, allowing even the most simply-stocked kitchen to practice food alchemy. My family lived in Eastern Europe when I was very young, during the years when the economic and political situation lent itself to barely-stocked supermarket shelves. But even with such limited resources at hand, the More-with-Less Cookbook empowered my mother to create delicious, nutrient-laden meals.
While the recipes alone make this book worth its weight in gold, the editors did not stop there. In additional to the recipes, one-third of the book’s 328 pages contain helpful gems such as complementary protein charts, conversion tables, menu planning and cost cutting tips, cooking techniques, brilliant ingredient substitution, as well as fascinating commentary on the global food crisis and American eating habits.
“There is not just one way to respond”, author Doris Janzen Longacre pens, “nor is there a single answer to the world’s food problem. It may not be within out capacity to effect an answer. But it is within our capacity to search for a faithful response.”
Like the previously featured Simply in Season, the More-with-Less Cookbook can be purchased from the Mennonite Central Committee online store. But won’t you, too, do more with less and locate a used copy?