Sunday, January 23, 2011

Cookbooks for People Without...the Budget.

The Frugal Foodie Cookbook, by Alanna Kaufman and Alex Small, has 200 recipes ready for a cash-conscious cook. Unlike most cookbooks, the nutritional information has been ditched for the price of the ingredients, and the price per serving. Spicy Baba Ghanouj, 8 servings, a buck each! Cinnamon-Cranberry-Orange Oat Scones, 18 in total, 85 cents each!

If you like the idea of inexpensive edibles, check out a series that boasts meals under $7. The core book, The $7 a Meal Cookbook by Linda Larsen, starts with cost-cutting tips, then jumps directly into 301 simple recipes, categorized from Breakfast to Vegetarian. Each meal is matched with nutritional information and total meal cost. Also try their titles, Quick and Easy, Healthy (both by Chef Susan Irby), and Slow Cooker Meals.

The Everything Meals on a Budget Cookbook, also by Linda Larsen, opens with a large chapter for techniques that will save cash now and in the long run...from cooking tips that extend the quantity of ingredient, to tips on when not to be cheap. A great feature is the price-based equivalence chart on page 272. It compares the costs of store-bought items to home-made items, most of which is surprising.

How about some Canadian star power with The $10 Gourmet by Ken Kostick. Each meal pops with a matching photo, and a handy shopping list / price guide. These recipes are just as simple as those in the previous titles, but the flavours are impressive. Curry Vegetable Stew with Coconut Milk and Fresh Coriander: $5.07! Steak with Sweet Onion Relish: $7.01! However, it is essential to these price schemes to have a stocked pantry and fridge; Kostick provides two charts showing how to stock up for under $50 each. A worthwhile investment for foodies.

Finally, 400 Best-Ever Budget Recipes edited by Lucy Doncaster, offers recipes from the simple to extraordinary, complete with a price indicator (1 star for cheap food, 3 for economical) and the nutritional value. Photos balance with the streamlined instructions. But it is the 35 page spread on 'clever cooking' that sets this one above the others. Clever shopping, meal planning, foraging, extensive freezing techniques. Over a dozen pages on ingredients, sample menus, and seasonal food charts to maximize fresh produce purchases.

For a completely different take, try Ross Dobson's 3-Ways With... The premise here is not to save money by shopping smartly, but to maximize your use of the food. For each of the 99 items listed inside (almonds to yoghurt), he provides three different recipes for using up the leftovers. Organized by location (pantry, fridge, freezer) and again alphabetically, this book is a fun browse, full of colour photos and simple-to-make meals.

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