We recently used some credit we had to get a variety of magazines, which I have been really enjoying. Several of them are food- or home-related magazines that include recipes. I thought that I would share my perspective on which magazines have been most useful to me personally, as someone who eats a “real food” diet.

As a general rule, I’ve found that I can use recipes from a wide variety of sources with good success by simply switching out a few ingredients or using organic or grassfed, or sustainably raised products when I desire. The key is finding recipes that use fresh ingredients and don’t rely on premade food products. The following magazines offer recipes that fit that criteria.

The four magazines to be reviewed are Bon Appétit, Saveur, Martha Stewart Living, and Cook’s Illustrated.

Let’s start with Cook’s Illustrated. This magazine does not have any advertising, which lends credibility to its product reviews. They seem to carefully and very truthfully review all of their products with little regard for maintaining good relations with any company (which they can do because of the no-advertising rule). The recipes are very well researched and compared and tested. I feel that these recipes are the opposite of how a great grandmother might teach you to cook (“A pinch of this, a handful of this, stir in milk until it’s this consistency.”), but rather a systematic, scientific approach to cooking. Think Alton Brown. It’s a great magazine to go to for getting great recipe information plus technique information. I have friends who cook a lot from this magazine because they get such consistent results.

The recipes tend to be fairly plain and basic, American-style food, which I have nothing against, though it’s not the type of magazine that is going to inspire you to try lots of new things. It’s where you learn how to make your meatloaf, beef stew, blueberry muffins, biscuits, and brined turkey better (as a general rule). It is in black and white, and I do miss the color photos from other magazines, plus it’s fairly expensive to get since they don’t accept advertising.

Personally, I haven't found a lot of basic recipes that I can use by tweaking them, but I haven’t used many recipes yet despite the fact that I have enjoyed reading it, simply because I often already like my own version of said recipe, or because of food limitations, I can’t try their version.

Saveur magazine is a collection of both food stories and recipes (some of which go with an article). I have found helpful advice, plus a variety of flavorful recipes in this magazine. However, unlike the next two magazines, I haven’t tended to go back to any recipes in this magazine. This is probably a personal cooking style issue, rather than the fault of the magazine. Many of the recipes could easily be made by most “real food” foodies with or without a few tweaks. And flipping through the magazine again reminded me of many delicious-sounding recipes that I should try.

Bon Appétit has been a personal favorite, and it’s hard to put my finger on why exactly. I like the magazine's 30-minute meal ideas, I like many of their food stories and restaurant features (some of them from my neck of the woods!), and there is usually at least one recipe that I have to try, most of them simple but all made using fresh ingredients. Sure, I am gluten- and dairy-free, but many of the recipes are just naturally that way, or easily adapted. I am always inspired by this magazine, and love their food pictures as well. So this has been a real winner for me.

And last, but not least, Martha Stewart Living. Okay, people, she is Martha Stewart after all, and her magazine is pretty cool. While not completely limited to recipes, as there are also home features as well as some craft features as well, recipes and food features take up the bulk of the magazine. The June edition’s subtitle was “fresh and simple: 56 ultimate summer recipes” and I felt that they really delivered on the promise of both simple recipes using fresh ingredients. 

Overall, it’s been a very enjoyable to read through these magazines, and inspiring as a home cook, food writer and recipe developer. In fact, it was so inspiring to me, that I started a new venture of quarterly eMagazines featuring Weston A Price-inspired recipes. But that's a tale for another time. 

Do you have a favorite food magazine? I’d love to hear about it! 

Related articles on MNN.com: 

The opinions expressed by MNN Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of MNN.com. While we have reviewed their content to make sure it complies with our Terms and Conditions, MNN is not responsible for the accuracy of any of their information.