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 / Updated  / Source: TODAY
By Patty Lee

When it comes to family dinner ideas on busy weeknights, three things are key: Recipes must be easy, fast and fresh. These 10 essential family cookbooks are perfect for simple weeknight dinners the whole family will enjoy again and again.

1. "Barefoot Contessa at Home," by Ina Garten, $19 (usually $35), Amazon

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Also available for $32 at Barnes & Noble and $37 at Walmart.

The Food Network star reveals her tried-and-true secrets to dinner success — whether it's putting a meal on the table right after work or hosting an impromptu dinner party for a dozen guests.

2. "How to Cook Everything," by Mark Bittman, $21 (usually $35), Amazon

Also available for $21 at Walmart and for $32 at Barnes & Noble.

Before there was Google, there was Mark Bittman's award-winning guide on how to cook, well, everything. This edition — revised for the book's 10th anniversary in 2008 — offers even more techniques, tips and tricks than the original, along with The New York Times writer's refreshingly straightforward recipes.

3. "The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook," by Deb Perelman, $21 (usually $35), Amazon

Also available for $21 at Walmart and for $32 at Barnes & Noble.

Deb Perelman, the self-professed "obsessive home cook" behind Smitten Kitchen, doesn't cut corners when it comes to recipe testing, so you can trust that her take on the perfect pizza or beef brisket will work without fail.

4. "One-Pot: 120+ Easy Meals from Your Skillet, Slow Cooker, Stockpot, and More," by the Editors of Martha Stewart Living, $19 (usually $26), Amazon

Also available for $19 at Walmart and for $23 at Barnes & Noble.

Leave it to the editors of Martha Stewart Living to make both cooking and cleanup a breeze. Their collection of one-pot recipes is anything but one-note. Sure, there's the typical slow cooker roast, but the book also features baked risotto, pressure-cooked short ribs and a skillet chocolate chip cookie that's guaranteed to turn heads and make mouths water.

5. "The Mom 100 Cookbook," by Katie Workman, $10 (usually $17), Amazon

Also available for $5 at Walmart and for $15 at Barnes & Noble.

Katie Workman's book has been rescuing busy moms (and dads!) since it debuted in 2012. As a parent of two, Workman is no stranger to dealing with picky eaters or reworking leftovers into something exciting. Her book also offers up plenty of smart, practical cooking advice you'll actually use.

6. "Joy the Baker Cookbook," by Joy Wilson, $11 (usually $20), Amazon

Also available for $11 at Walmart and for $18 at Barnes & Noble.

Weeknight dinners aren't all about the savory. If you want to whip up a treat without any fuss, turn to blogger Joy Wilson's cozy sweets. Think six-ingredient chocolate lava cakes and an irresistible white chocolate mousse that can easily be made ahead.

7. "Everyday Italian," by Giada De Laurentiis, $19 (usually $35), Amazon

Also available for $26 at Walmart and for $32 at Barnes & Noble.

Using easy-to-find ingredients, the celeb chef's very first cookbook boasts page after page of Italian recipes that are low on fuss and high in flavor.

8. "Dinner: Changing the Game," by Melissa Clark, $24 (usually $35), Amazon

Also available for $24 at Walmart and for $32 at Barnes & Noble.

Tired of turning to the same old stir-fry or five-ingredient pasta? Enter Melissa Clark, who breathes new life into dinner staples like burgers, sheet pan chicken, pork chops and more — without relying on complicated techniques or hard-to-find ingredients.

9. "Super Natural Every Day," by Heidi Swanson, $14 (usually $23), Amazon

Also available for $14 at Walmart and for $21 at Barnes & Noble.

Eating healthy doesn't have to be intimidating. James Beard Award-nominated writer Heidi Swanson offers advice on incorporating superfoods into your everyday routine in a way that's down to earth and approachable.

10. "Keepers," by Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion, $23 (usually $27), Amazon

Also available for $11 at Walmart and for $27 at Barnes & Noble.

Meal prep made easy is the goal behind this keeper of a cookbook from former Saveur editors Kathy Brennan and Caroline Campion. It's packed with recipes that are guaranteed to become new weeknight favorites, like a lemony turkey Bolognese and coconut chicken curry.

Want more amazing cookbooks? Check out our 13 favorites for healthy meals.

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