Review: Nosh for busy mums & dads by Joy May

Nosh for busy mums and dadsI had a lovely email ping into my inbox a few weeks ago from Ben May, asking if I’d review his family’s latest cookbook Nosh for busy mums and dads.

Bypassing conventional publishers, the May family decided to go it alone producing Nosh for Students 10 years ago when Ben was away at university learning to cook and fend for himself. After a lot of hard work the book has done really well, with other books joining the series. Now Ben is a busy dad of three, so their latest cookbook reflects this stage of his life.

It’s great to see a family pull together and achieve something like this, so I thought I’d share a review of Nosh for busy mums and dads, and also give you the chance to win a couple of copies!

Who is it for?

Family cooks who need inspiration or maybe new parents who previously haven’t been that into cooking but will soon be having to drum up hearty family grub on a daily basis. It’s not complicated, it’s conventional home cooking.

Easy to follow

The recipes are very clearly laid out with cost, level of ease, prep and cook time all clear to see. The steps are are concise and not full of waffle so are easy to read at a glance.

You could do with a little intro paragraph for each recipe giving you a bit more detail about the dish so you know what to expect from it – you get notes and quotes from families who have tried some of the recipes, but dishes like Chicken Tertrazzini for example – what is it? Where does the dish come from?

I was a bit surprised that the book uses mugs to measure, being a slave to the scales myself – but they clearly show the size in a picture and give you the measurement – half a pint. If you’re teaching kids to cook, or teens who are about to leave home then using mug measurements makes sense as it’s a good way for them to learn how quantities look and also means they can cook without scales.

The book gives you four sample weekly menu plans and associated shopping lists at the beginning – this is how I operate so this is incredibly practical for busy family cooks who haven’t got time to spend hours planning a week’s meals.

With chapters like budget days, getting kids involved, kids parties and old classics you can see it’s going to be one of those incredibly useful books you’ll go back to again and again as a reference.


For me this is where the book falls down.

The front cover is really busy so none of the pictures get a chance to breathe. I think you need one strong image on the cover of a book to give it an identity and draw you in.

The pictures are very brightly sometimes harshly lit, so the food doesn’t always look as appealing as it could. Family food isn’t generally the most visually appealing so I think more styling and props would have helped.

Most likely to cook

Courgette Fritters with feta salad looks like a divine light summer meal and one worth remembering when the courgette plants are firing out green torpedoes nineteen to the dozen…

Sausage and Chestnut Patties with roast squash and potatoes – I’ve never really used chestnut in my family suppers and this sounds like a brilliant winter recipe to try out on the kids and i’m sure I could make some kind of vegetarian version for matthew. The recipe even tells you where you can find chestnuts in Sainsburys – “over the freezer counters, near the stock cubes” love it!

Fried Ploughman’s – basically fried cheese and pickled egg bread sandwiches – wowzers! That sounds like a hangover brunch waiting to happen…. I can imagine Sam and Arlo cooking this up when they’re ravenous teenagers.

Least likely to cook

Almond Pear Pavlova – the picture really isn’t very attractive and looks like something out of my mum’s 1970s cookbooks. Tinned grainy peaches make me shudder.

Would you buy it for a friend?

I’d recommend it to a friend, but wouldn’t buy it as a gift as the cover and photos aren’t attractive enough for my tastes.

Rating out of 10

7 – It’s a practical family friendly tome, full of lots of recipes you’ve seen before, but some you may not have. Perfect for the home cook who needs a bit of inspiration rather than a coffee table book to leaf through at leisure. I’d have scored it higher if the photography and cover were a bit more aspirational.

Nosh for busy mums and dads is self published in hardback by, priced £14.99

Thanks for my review copy!

I’ve got two copies of this fab book to give away, head over to my competition page to find out how you can enter