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When the family sits down to a favorite recipe, there's a special love there. When the recipe belongs to a departed grandparent, the love multiplies.
One year I took all of my husband's mother's favorite recipes, my mother's favorite recipes and my father's favorite recipes (Dad had a number that were special just to him) and typed them on my computer. Then I printed off each recipe and put them in a 3-ring binder. I put sections in the cookbook under each grandparent to make it easy to find special recipes. I titled this cookbook "Heritage Cookbook Made Special for (and I inserted one of my kids' names)".
Now each child has a cookbook with her name on the front. When they miss one of their grandparents, they can create a favorite recipe and have Grandma or Grandpa for dinner. The books weren't expensive to make (unless you figure in the time). Each of my four girls has treasured her cookbook above any other present I've given them over the years.
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I decided to do something like this for the girls in my family, only it was "Aunt Peg's" favorite recipes. I'm still in the planning stages. One thought I'd like to include is pictures of the kids as they were growing up. Our home is on a lake so it was always off to Aunt Peg's in the summer and holidays. Maybe add a funny story about each one, or my favorite memory, there was always something going on. How I wish someone had done this when I was young. How I miss some of the favorites from grandma and aunts. (01/23/2009)
I made something like this for my son this Christmas and I've had several phone calls from him asking, "Mother, what if I don't have any so-and-so..?" I would recommend (if possible) a person add substitutes to some recipes. Seems young people don't always know that they can substitute or even do without an ingredient.
I also added some pictures and labeled some recipes "Glenn's favorite food in the world" and "Billy's favorite pie". If and when they have their own families they can prepare foods they know will please each other and wives (if they ever get any!) can know ahead of time what they like. They won't have to call their mother-in-law like I did! (01/23/2009)
I did something like this for my oldest son when he married. His new wife didn't know how to cook anything if it required anything more than opening a can and heating it. The cookbook I made for them had all of my son's favorite recipes in it and things that you could cook from staples only. Things such as gravy and biscuits, breads, simple cakes and puddings. Both my son and daughter-in-law really appreciated the little book I made for them and have gotten much use from it during lean times.
I've also since then started making my 13 y/o son a cookbook with our family's treasures in it. He loves to cook and is always asking me about this or that recipe and is very much interested in preserving our traditions when it comes to foods. I've told him that once I'm gone, my grandmother's recipes will be taken with me if one of them doesn't learn to make them because these recipes aren't written down anywhere. That was all I needed to remind me that he would proudly use any cookbook that I'd make for him and treasure it. (01/24/2009)
If you have more than one or two children (or other cookbook recipients), I highly recommend using a self-publishing services such as http://www.lulu.com/. For a quite reasonable fee, they'll publish one, two, or hundreds of copies of your book. You can type in the recipes by hand as you create the cookbook, or you can upload a book you've already compiled on your own computer; design the cover; choose hardback or softback; add photographs of you performing the step-by-step instructions, or just a shot of the finished product; print enough just for personal and family use, or turn it into a fundraiser.
Incidentally, a family cookbook is a brilliant gift idea when your child is getting married. Give it, not to your own child, but to their new spouse. Someday your son or daughter is going to be ill, homesick, missing the familiar foods of childhood. Their spouse will be able to pull out one of the old favorites and make something that will provide good nourishment and comfort, just like you've always done. You'll be contributing to their marital happiness, and that is one of the greatest gifts that a parent can give a child. (01/24/2009)
My sister made cookbooks for her daughter and all the neices in the family last year for Christmas. They had no idea they were getting them. She called their mothers and grandmothers for their favorite recipes. Now they have recipes from several different families that are wonderful. She put in a lot of "love time," but the cost was inexpensive. (01/26/2009)