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The busy housekeeper whose demanding day job leaves little time to contemplate the family's evening meal too often falls back on prepackaged "helpers" or frozen entrees. Abrams and Caratozzolo show that with a bare minimum of planning, the cook can serve varied, nutritious, and attractive meals. Most of the secret lies in keeping a pantry stocked with plenty of staples so that only a few fresh ingredients need be ready in the refrigerator or picked up quickly at the grocery store on the way home. For those who haven't caught on to this "secret," the authors lay out a list of staples to keep on hand, and they provide recipes that can move to the table in 20 to 45 minutes. Speed doesn't mean that sound health need go unacknowledged, so each recipe carries a helpful nutritional analysis. Mark Knoblauch