Cook By the Book: Budget-Friendly Cooking

“The most remarkable thing about my mother is that for thirty years she served the family nothing but leftovers. The original meal has never been found.”
– Calvin Trillin

The New Year is always a good time to try to get our budgets back in-line, especially after all of the heavy spending (and eating) of the holidays. Food costs seem to be constantly rising, so I think we could all use a little help in cutting our grocery bills. We’re also still in the dark days of winter and, if you’re like me, you’re looking for a little comfort in the foods that you’re preparing

$10 Dinners: 140 recipes and tips to elevate simple, fresh meals any night of the week $10 Dollar Dinners claims you can make a 3-course meal for four, for $10. This book contains good, basic ideas like “clear the pantry week” or freezing squeezed lemon halves to zest at another time. The Kale chips are simple and surprisingly addictive and the Corn and Black Pico was pretty good, with the addition of some jalapeno and garlic.

KeepersShelley spent a Sunday making several recipes from Keepers and then freezing individual dishes for lunches. “It was a lot of fun and I found a few ‘keepers’ and I have a few more I intend to make this month.” She now finds she’s craving the flavours in the Japanese Style Meat and Potatoes.

The $5 Dinner Mom

Elaine found The $5 Dinner Mom title to be misleading – it should probably be the $10 Dinner Mom. Unfortunately it wasn’t a very exciting book. She was also disappointed in the lack of vegetables in the recipes. The Pizza Penne Bake was a success – “Both my husband and I enjoyed this recipe. I could see it being a hit with kids as it had pepperoni mixed with pasta – both items kids usually like.”

EatingWell On a Budget: 140 delicious, healthy, affordable recipes : amazing meals for less than $3 a serving Ed enjoyed leafing through Eating Well on a Budget, which has a list of all the recipes at the beginning of each section – an excellent feature in any cookbook. It makes it much easier to sit and browse through and decide which recipes you want to try next. The soups he tried were perfect for a cold winter’s night.

The Affordable Feasts CollectionThe usually dependable Canadian Living cookbooks, turned out to be a disappointment to Tanise. She chose The Affordable Feasts Collection and made the meatloaf. “I would never serve this to anyone – I’ve never had mushy meatloaf and needed a glass of wine (filled to the brim) to make me forget just how awful it was.”

Poor Girl Gourmet: eat in style on a bare-bones budget Anda chose The Poor Girl Gourmet because she liked the title, and she tried a couple of the recipes that were fairly easy. The author also has an interesting blog with more recipes.

More Make it Fast, Cook it SlowLynda used her much-loved crock pot to make several recipes from More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, which turned out to be a gluten-free cookbook. Lynda received her crock pot as a wedding gift, over 30 years ago and it’s still going strong! Her favourite dish was the Asian Shredded Beef. (not pictured)

$20, 20 minute mealsVirginia wasn’t impressed with $20 Meals in 20 Minutes so she decided to do what her Mom would have done. She bought a BBQ chicken from the store for $8.99 and turned it into several meals:  one dinner, a couple of sandwiches, pot pies, Chicken Fried Rice and chicken broth to use for soups, gravies and bases. Very economical!

Save with JamieJamie Oliver’s latest cookbook, Save with Jamie, uses this same idea of cooking one “mothership” meal a week, then using the leftovers for the rest of the week. Mary tried the Sunday Brisket and her family thought it was wonderful. She did think the book could use some dessert recipes – what’s more budget friendly than home-made pie?

Quick Cook Budget MealsThe Quick Cook Budget Meals cookbook gives the reader three different versions of the recipes, depending on how much time you have – 10, 20 or 30 minutes. Nicole found the times weren’t very accurate, but she did like the codes, provided on each page, for their website, so you can have a recipe card or shopping list e-mailed to your phone.

Easy One Pot: Frugal Recipes for Busy Cooks Jackie thought  Easy One Pot: Frugal Recipes for Busy Cooks was “a very interesting cookbook with a diverse collection of recipes. I thought this book would be more about crock pot cooking with everyday items found in your cupboard. I do not think duck, lamb, saffron threads, baby leeks fall under the heading of frugal ingredients.”  Despite this, Jackie did like the cookbook and was planning on trying more of the recipes.

Eat Cheap, But Eat WellAudrey liked that Eat Cheap, But Eat Well did use ingredients that you would have in your home or would be easy to find at a grocery store. The recipes were also basic and easy to prepare.

We all enjoyed the challenge of cooking on a budget in January and are looking forward to a bit of indulgence for our February meeting – chocolate!

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