10 Joyful Cookbooks You Should Buy Instead of Tom Brady's $200 "Nutrition Manual"

Don't waste your money dollars on a clean-eating cookbook with a wooden cover. These much better options all cost less than $200.
Publish date:
May 10, 2016
food, recipes, cookbooks, tom brady

Tom Brady has released a cookbook — sorry, I mean nutrition manual — to help you "achieve your peak performance," and it costs two hundred dollars.

Unsurprisingly, I am disproportionately outraged.



Like all things associated with the National Football Association, this thing is just too damn expensive. In a futile attempt to make sense of what is clearly a bunch of nonsense, I clicked over to Brady's website, TB12, where I found this description:

TB12 Nutrition Manual is a limited-edition "living document" containing information about our core TB12 nutritional philosophies and featuring a library of 89 seasonally-inspired recipes that you can use to support your TB12-aligned nutrition plan.

The TB12 Nutrition Manual is designed to be modified and expanded over time using its unique screw post binding: as we periodically update this manual with new or modified recipes, we will send additional pages to all purchasers of the manual.

The manual is printed and hand assembled in the United States, and is printed on thick 100 pound text paper. The covers are made from natural wood with a laser-etched TB12 logo and title. (Note: because of the natural materials used, some variation in covers is normal.)

This did not make me feel better.

I don't care how heavy the paper is, a "library of 89 seasonally-inspired recipes" isn't that big of a library. You're essentially paying $2.25 for each recipe and, though I have nothing against Tom and Gisele's plant-based, nightshade-free, sugar-free, gluten-free, joy-free diet per se, $2.25 for an avocado ice cream recipe just doesn't seem like a fair deal. But what really gets me — what really makes steam come out of my ears — is that you can't even preview one single overpriced recipe, as they are blurred out. I'm not even sure what the point of this photo is.

The limited-edition manual has already sold out, and I'm sure you're all very disappointed, but don't worry. I've gotchu. Instead of paying $200 for a clean-eating cookbook with a wooden cover, I have some other food-centric books for you to spend your money dollars on. Here are ten joyous cookbooks for your purchasing pleasure, all of them much less than $200.

Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet ($105.00 on Amazon)

This at-home version of Modernist Cuisine is accessible enough for a home cook, but doesn't skimp on science or technique. Where many mac and cheese recipes would instruct the reader to use Velveeta, Modernist Cuisine at Home shows you how to "transform really great-tasting cheese so that it takes on the same melting properties of Velveeta." What you won't find in this book is the necessity for a whole bunch of crazy expensive equipment (think centrifuges and rotary evaporators) or hard to find or work with ingredients (liquid nitrogen tbh).

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt ($24.47 on Amazon)

If you're a fan of The Food Lab (Lopez-Alt's column on Serious Eats), a fan of the scientific method, or a fan of understanding how and why things are done a certain way in the kitchen, you will be a fan of this book. In his trademark conversational style, Kenji teaches you how to make consistently tasty food with SCIENCE.

Mexico: The Cookbook by Margarita Carrillo Arronte ($32.23 on Amazon)

First of all, this book cheers up any bookshelf lucky enough to house it. Second of all, this book is packed with 650 authentic recipes from all over the country. Organized by type of cuisine, Mexico: The Cookbook covers everything from street food to blue crab soup to tasty desserts.

Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat by Chrissy Teigen ($14.99 on Amazon)

I always feel kind of protective over Chrissy Teigen. Not that she needs my protection, she is quite skilled at handling internet haters, but her Twitter mentions are full of people telling her that, as a woman, she is doing food wrong. I am here to tell you that Chrissy Teigen is doing food very correctly, and that her cookbook is effing awesome.

How to Be a Domestic Goddess: Baking and the Art of Comfort Cooking by Nigella Lawson ($16.56 on Amazon)

This is the cookbook that got me cooking. I've had it for over a decade, and have made the peanut butter squares, baby lava cakes, and chocolate loaf cake more times than I can count. I also just really enjoy reading the playful, flirty words that Ms. Lawson puts on the page. Her voice has long been one of my favorites, and "relax, it's just food" attitude that permeates the book helped me chill out about cooking and really enjoy it.

How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman ($20.30 on Amazon)

This cookbook is a classic for a reason. You get 2,000 simple, straightforward recipes that anyone can make using fresh ingredients and minimal chef-y equipment. (YOU HEAR THAT BRADY? TWO THOUSAND RECIPES. THAT'S A LOT MORE THAN 89.)

Pasta by Hand: A Collection of Italy's Regional Hand-Shaped Pasta by Jenn Louis ($18.25 on Amazon)

I'm lucky enough to live in the same city as Jenn Louis, and I frequent the heck out of Sunshine Tavern, mainly because the waffle in her chicken and waffles has a piece of ham running through it. (Also they have soft serve with magic shell and a margarita machine.)

Anyway. I've also had the pleasure of eating some of her pasta, and it is legit. Pasta by Hand is just what is sounds like: a delicious collection of recipes that teaches any home cook of any skill level how to form tasty Italian pastas and dumplings by hand, along with some "deeply satisfying sauces" to pair with your carby creations.

The Hot Bread Kitchen by Jessamyn Waldman Rodriguez and Julia Turshen ($20.83 on Amazon)

Not only did this cookbook win Food 52's yearly cookbook showdown, The Piglet, but, according to renowned eater Andrew Zimmern, it "has a way of motivating every bread and baking novice, myself included—every aspirant, every wanna-be gluten king—to start tossing the flour right away."

This isn't your normal bakery book, because Hot Bread Kitchen isn't your normal bakery. From their website:

Hot Bread Kitchen builds lasting economic security for low-income, immigrant and minority individuals by creating pathways to professional opportunities in the culinary industry.

Through our employer-driven workforce development and business incubation programs, Bakers in Training and HBK Incubates, we help women and men professionalize skill and passion in the culinary arts, transcend common barriers to fair wage employment and achieve financial independence and success in New York City’s $5 billion food manufacturing industry.

And that's pretty freaking cool.

Milk Bar Life by Christina Tosi ($20.83 on Amazon)

A follow up to Tosi's first cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar, this book has desserts, but it also has snacks, savories, and even kale. It's imbued with Tosi's fun and silly sensibility and is a little more accessible than her first, slightly more technical book. It's a perfect gift for the person in your life who is "afraid of cooking" or for someone who would love a tome of good junk food recipes.

The 12 Bottle Bar: A Dozen Bottles. Hundreds of Cocktails. A New Way to Drink. by David Solmonson and Lesley Jacobs Solmonson ($10.25 on Amazon)

So, this is not technically a cookbook, but it does have recipes (cocktail recipes) and it is my favorite bar book I've ever own. If you've ever wanted to build a bar but aren't sure where to start, buy this and be delirious with happiness. With bottle options at three different price points, this book shows you how to craft over two hundred cocktails using "seven hard liquors, one liqueur, two vermouths, and two bitters." There's also a good bit of booze history in there, if you're into that kind of thing (and I am).

And there you have it: ten awesome cookbooks to help combat the rage brought on by Tom Brady selling a $200 cookbook. I hope this helped, and if you have a joyful cookbook you would like to share, please do so in the comments.