There are hundreds of new cookbooks ready for Christmas giving this year, so many that there's no point in attempting to list the ''best'' ones of the year or the top 10 or any other such evaluation.
One may be the best for Spanish or for Chinese food, another the best for vegetarian cooks, for economical cooking, cooking for two or for many other categories.
Here is a list that barely skims the top, but includes some of the more moderately priced cookbooks available. Next week we'll suggest some of the specialty food and cooking books that are generally in a higher price range, some even as high as $35.
Betty Crocker's Working Woman's Cookbook (Random House, $10.95) was written by working women - trained home economists - using the same clear, easy-to-follow format that made best sellers of the Betty Crocker international and microwave cookbooks last year.
If you're combining a 40-hour week with the production of nearly 1,000 meals a year, this will assist with do-aheads and freezer meals.
There are simplified, recipes for Skillet Strogonoff, Tamale Pie, Spanish Rice and Beef, Glazed Chicken Wings, French Onion Soup, and Mexican Fruit Dessert.
The Wild, Wild Cookbook, by Jean Craighead George (Crowell Junior Books, $10. 50), is listed as a guide for young wild-food foragers, but it will appeal to adults as well.
Beautifully illustrated with Walter Kessell's delicate and detailed drawings of 37 edible plants, it is arranged alphabetically according to season.
For each wild plant, Mrs. George, who comes from a family of naturalists, describes her experiences in conversational style, on description, habitat, gathering and preparation and with recipes for cooking them.
Everyone's a Homemaker, by Beverly Nye (Bantam Books, $6.95), emphasizes economy through helpful hints, quick and easy recipes, and information on everything from shopping in the supermarket to planning a taffy pull.
Written by the author of ''A Family Raised on Rainbows'' and ''A Family Raised on Sunshine,'' the book contains information gleaned from her own experience, with emphasis on planning an economical food budget and carrying it out.
Pierre Franey's Kitchen, by Pierre Franey and Richard Flaste (Times Books, $ 14.95), is an unusual cookbook, for it is first about kitchen design and what goes in it, from pots and pans, utensils, appliances, and gadgets to greenhouses.
His easy and well-tested recipes go with every utensil: roast pork with sage, and roast beef recipes for a rectangular roasting pan; Irish Stew, Veal Blanquette and poached chicken for an enameled iron casserole, and pizza recipes along with his descriptions of pizza stones and the pizza peel.
There are excellent tips on designing a workable kitchen based on his own family kitchen and herb greenhouse, and there is a whole chapter on outdoor equipment.
Creative Cooking with Grains and Pasta, by Sheryl and Mel London (Rodale Press, $16.95), has hundreds of recipes using grains, starting with amaranth and barley through all the grains, rices, and corn.
Separate chapters include descriptions of every form of grain - meal, flour, grits, groats, flakes, whole kernels. There are short essays with a professional baker, the world-famous Corn Palace and an old grain mill.
Recipes include Wild Rice With Pecans and Tangerines, Broccoli and Millet Souffle, and many beautiful breads. Pasta dishes include classical as well as creative recipes.
Dim Sum, Fast and Festive Chinese Cooking, by Ruth Law (Contemporary Books, $ 9.95). Some of the points Ruth Law makes about the versatility of Chinese food have been made before, but somehow she makes them seem more original, more sensible, and even easy to accomplish.
Dishes she suggests for the Chinese buffet, a sit-down meal, are chosen because they stand well and don't need to be eaten while piping hot. Many of her dishes can be served warm, cold, or at room temperature.