Pros: Recipe Index, Nutrition Information, Easy-to-find ingredients, Easy-to-prepare recipes
Cons: Recommends Kraft products in every recipe, No longer free
The quick-and-easy recipes in Kraft Foods Food & Family Magazine arrived every three months and I had assumed this was just a collection of recipes solely for the purpose of advertising Kraft products. Each issue focused on recipes appropriate for the season (such as summer outdoor cooking and festive holiday foods). All recipes had something in common – each included products from the mega-corporation Kraft Foods. If I’m willing to work around some of the ingredients and find a lower sodium or fat food, or substitute with an unprocessed ingredient, the recipes often provide a fast and somewhat tasty (although bland) meal.
For several years this advertisement had arrived in our mailbox and for several years I frequently decided to recycle the Food & Family recipe magazine after a month. This quarter’s issue arrived with a notice: Attention Final-Issue Alert. See envelope below & reply at once! This now requires an annual subscription fee of $13.98. Perhaps that’s really not much for this magazine, perhaps you use it enough to warrant the fee, or perhaps you don’t really want to pay for the advertising in such a conspicuous fashion. Decide for yourself.
The recipe index is delightful and helpful. The recipes are divided into categories: appetizers & snacks, salads and sides, entrées & sandwiches, and desserts. Each entry has a full-color thumbnail image of the completed recipe with the page where it is located. Each thumbnail is accompanied by decision-making information: recipe name, calorie content as well as fat and saturated fat, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, and protein. It also uses symbols explained in the index key. ☼ implies this is a healthy living recipe, a clock means it requires 20 minutes or less to cook and prepare, and $ says it’s a budget-wise recipe. I wish my favorite food magazine, Cooking Light, would use a similar format.
The magazine includes advice columns and offers features on menus and timesaver tips. Naturally the final free issue is the one designed to tempt us. The Snowball Cake on the cover is one love if you really like the combination of chocolate and coconut. The cake requires 15 minutes preparation and a total of 2 hours and 20 minutes for preparation, baking, cooling and frosting. This is an “upside down cake” in that it’s made in a 2 ½ quart ovenproof bowl. It’s on my list for holiday season treats. Each step of instruction is highlighted with colorful photographs.
Let’s face it, Kraft pretty much owns a lot of the products that we use in our cooking but if you prefer another brand of mayonnaise over Kraft’s mayonnaise I doubt that will destroy the recipe. Substitutions seem fine and I’ve done that numerous times.
The Perfect Zesty Chicken Tortilla Bake calls for Miracle Whip Dressing, flour, milk, Kraft Shredded Cheddar Cheese, boneless skinless chicken breasts, Taco Bell Home Originals Thick ‘ Chunky Salsa, fresh parsley and four tortillas. I know immediately how I would modify this recipe, of course by doing that the nutrition content would also be modified. (Regarding nutritional content, that information is not repeated from the recipe index—it doesn’t appear with the recipe.)
Nutritionists and well-known chefs contributed feature articles in each magazine. The Snowball Cake is a “Cooking School” recipe. The Reader Connection column features a “round-up of festive food traditions” from readers. The pages are colorful, the magazine is full of illustrations and quick recipes, and there seem to be more advertisements in this issue than in past issues but far les than in other magazines. Trust me when I say that all of the advertisements are for Kraft products.
If this level of advertisement bothers you I doubt you’ll be interested in paying nearly $14 for an annual subscription. The magazine is slim – this issue is less than 70 pages. The appeal is attractive, easy-to-prepare meals for the families on the go. The ingredients are easy to find and you don’t have to go to a special grocery to find anything used in this collection of recipes. The organization is far better than average and there is no pretense about being a gourmet foods magazine. Links to Kraft Foods online cooking school shows videos on how to prepare (and assemble) some of the recipes.
Kraft Foods is gambling with charging for this magazine, but they’ve been known to gamble (and at the moment they’re also gambling with buying Cadbury Chocolate). In thinking about this magazine and its contents I’ve probably talked myself into a trial subscription. The danger of that is my renewal will come while staring at next year’s holiday issue.
How to subscribe?
It’s easy, it’s very today. Visit kraftfoods.com/join. They are currently accepting credit card numbers or you can select the bill me later option. If you subscribe now you’ll also receive a free copy of their Best-Loved Recipes Cookbook; you also have the option of subscribing for a second year at a substantial discount while still receiving the “gift” cookbook.
My life is fairly slow paced at the moment, but when it’s busy the last thing I really want to do is cook. While we opt for leftover meals a lot, I can see the appeal of many of these recipes and it’s quite possible we’ll be using several from this issue. I’ve used them in the past (with modifications—we prefer our food spicier than many, and we definitely prefer less salt than most).
The temptation is the sinful cake on the cover and the delightful organization of the recipe index. While I’ve probably talked myself into subscribing, your response could be different but before automatically saying no thanks I’ll pass, if you enjoy recipe magazines consider giving this a second look.