Great Magazines for the Home Cook
Cooking Magazine Subscriptions: The Best Gift for the Passionate Home Cook
Recently, I arrived at the surprising realization that despite my fondness--no, passion--for hardbound cookbooks of every variety, the recipes I most often use in my kitchen come in the form of loose leaf clippings with unceremoniously torn edges, bespattered with colorful speckles of sauce and other mysterious foodstuffs. In other words, many of my favorite recipes are not those featured in my revered cookbooks, but rather those torn from cooking magazines over the years. Some of these recipes are for pedestrian weekday favorites, like my treasured granola recipe that has greeted many a morning sleepyhead in my household. Others are for ornate holiday desserts, like the Pumpkin Mascarpone Cheesecake that frequently adorns my holiday dessert table. The cooking magazines to which I have subscribed have thus formed part of the fabric of my culinary life, and I am grateful for their inspiring contributions.
Food magazine subscriptions are an ideal gift for anyone who treasures their time in the kitchen, and can even be helpful and enjoyable reading for those who need a little bit of culinary assistance or fresh inspiration. Many of these great magazines have companion cookbooks, and for a very special gift, it is wonderful to present a hardbound cookbook along with a gift subscription to the accompanying magazine. There are a wide variety of cooking magazine subscriptions available today, including gourmet cooking magazines, quick and easy cooking magazines, and health-conscious food magazines. Here are some of the best gift magazine subscriptions, and some tips on locating the cheapest magazine subscriptions to help stretch your gift-giving budget.
Bon Appetit Magazine and Related Books
Bon Appetit Magazine Subscription
Bon Appetit has become the flagship magazine for the foodie reader, especially since the demise of its close cousin, the now-defunct Gourmet magazine. Packed with recipes both adventurous and practical, cooking tips, and pages of glossy advertisements, Bon Appetit is a complete resource for anyone who is passionate about food. Bon Appetit routinely features travel articles, restaurant reviews, and other resources for those who would rather let someone else do the cooking for them. But the mainstay of this magazine is its plethora of well-researched, tempting recipes, ranging from easily executed weeknight meals to complicated, restaurant-inspired creations that present a challenge even for the veteran cook. In my experience, the recipes found in the pages of Bon Appetit are generally very successful, while remaining flexible enough to accommodate those with various dietary needs and encouraging one to follow one’s own culinary muse. Several of the magazine’s columns, including its ‘Fast, Easy, Fresh’ feature, are ideal for providing inspiration for daily meals with a delicately upscale touch. And isn’t that exactly the type of encouragement a food magazine is supposed to provide?
Cook's Illustrated Magazine and Related Books
Cook’s Illustrated Magazine
Published bi-monthly, Cook’s Illustrated is a very different type of cooking magazine. Cook’s Illustrated provides intricately detailed, step-by-step, illustrated instructions for each recipe it offers. Its design is austere, with absolutely no advertising in the magazine. The magazine’s focus is on providing its readers with the ideal way, the ‘correct’ way, to prepare every dish featured in its pages. Accordingly, its recipes leave almost no room for culinary creativity, but also very little possibility of failure. This magazine tends to appeal to scholarly kitchen science types who want to know the reasons behind every bit of magic that happens in the kitchen. Serious chefs also swear by Cook’s Illustrated, and for good reason. Every recipe that appears in the pages of Cook’s Illustrated has been exhaustively researched in the Test Kitchen, and you will discover many ingenious techniques that will greatly enhance your cooking experience and make you wonder, “Why didn’t I think of that?” For example, every autumn, I am grateful to Cook’s Illustrated for teaching me the best way to seed a pomegranate without staining every surface of the kitchen (no, I’m not telling; you will just have to subscribe and read it for yourself). Cook’s Illustrated also features in-depth cookware reviews and taste tests of staple ingredients, such as canned tomatoes and extra-virgin olive oils. Be forewarned: this is not a magazine from which you will tear clippings. Instead, you will find yourself with boxes full of these magazines in the closet, carefully indexed by month, so as to facilitate your ability to locate that perfect recipe for… well, you name it. It is worth noting that most cooking magazines allow free access to their websites, with most of the monthly recipes posted online. Cook’s Illustrated does not allow non-subscribers to access its web content, so the subscription price, while relatively high, does include the coveted access to the wealth of information available on the Cook’s Illustrated website.
Cooking Light Magazine and Related Books
Cooking Light Magazine
For the health-conscious cook, Cooking Light is a fantastic resource. More than just a cooking magazine, this lifestyle magazine provides tips for fitness and overall health, as well as for good nutrition. The magazine is also brimming with tempting recipes, many of them suitable for vegetarians or those with other special dietary needs. However, Cooking Light’s recipes don’t skimp on flavor. The magazine is a treasure trove of ideas about how to substitute herbs and other healthy seasonings for high fat cooking techniques without sacrificing nuances of taste. Each recipe contains a complete nutritional analysis, which makes fitting recipes into any diet plan much easier. Many of Cooking Light’s recipes have an exotic flair, making eating well an interesting and enjoyable prospect. Particularly beneficial are the magazine’s recipe ‘makeovers’, where a favorite recipe is revamped to increase its nutritional benefits while eliminating unnecessary fat and extra calories. Cooking Light isn’t an austere, preachy ‘diet’ magazine; its tone is vibrant and joyous, fostering an atmosphere of enjoying delicious food and the effects of brimming good health.
Other Food Magazines
While the abovementioned magazines are some of the most highly recommended cooking periodicals, there are numerous others that merit attention. I will briefly describe some of these other possible choices, and you can visit the individual magazine’s website for additional detailed information. Food and Wine Magazine is a worthwhile resource for recipes, and also includes stunning travel articles and reviews of mostly high-end restaurants. Among the healthy eating magazines, Eating Well Magazine, which emphasizes the enjoyment of organic and sustainable foods, deserves special mention, especially for its attractive, tempting weekday recipe ideas. Saveur Magazine appeals to the connoisseur, often featuring rare, expensive and hard-to-find ingredients in its preparations, but to tremendous avail. For those in Great Britain, there is Good Food Magazine, the most popular British cooking magazine. Sunset Magazine, a lifestyle magazine aimed at West Coast residents, consistently has delightful recipes, though it is not a magazine exclusively devoted to cooking. Everyday Food Magazine is a useful resource for the home cook who needs more inspiration for quick and basic daily meals and isn’t overly annoyed by Martha Stewart.
- Magazine Price Comparison Tool
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- Best Deal Magazines
Cheap Magazine Subscriptions as low as $4.69 a year! Good selection of cooking magazines at competitive prices.
Finding the Cheapest Magazine Subscriptions
Finding the best prices on any magazine can present a challenge. Magazine prices span a wide range; some are almost unbelievably cheap, others have a heftier price tag. Cook’s Illustrated seldom offers any discounts on its subscription price, making it one of the most expensive magazines of those featured, although sometimes you will receive a free gift issue with your subscription. Bon Appetit regularly offers special discounts on its subscription price, so be sure to do some price comparisons before purchasing a subscription. Magazine publishers sometimes offer free trial subscriptions of these magazines to those in related businesses, so if you are a caterer, chef, or work in a food-related industry, you might want to determine if a professional magazine subscription is available to you.
Many discount magazine websites have dubious customer service; this can become problematic if you are improperly billed or if your subscription is automatically extended beyond the period that you have specified. Amazon.com is currently one of the most reliable magazine subscription providers. You can order any magazine featured in this article through Amazon. See the sidebar for some other recommended discount magazine vendors, who generally provide adequate customer support. The price comparison tool is especially helpful, as magazine subscription costs can fluctuate substantially on an almost daily basis. If you compare magazine prices using the price comparison tool, you can be confident that you have procured the best available offer, at least for today.
Determining which magazine subscription is right for you and your loved ones should be an enjoyable and relaxing task. Buy a few sample issues and browse through them. Some magazines will send you a trial issue to try to lure you in as a subscriber, but be aware that in most cases, these ‘free’ trial issues will automatically become a full, paying subscription unless you specifically indicate otherwise. Choose a magazine that excites and inspires you, order one as a gift, and purchase a duplicate subscription for yourself to enjoy. After all, you know you’ll want the recipe for that cheesecake the next time you come to dinner at my house, and although I jealously guard my favorite recipes, if you find the right magazine, it’s yours.