Hello everyone, Frugal Frannie here with another week of fabulous fun. By the time you read this, I will be playing Scrabble under the stars and sleeping under a bit of canvas because that’s how I roll when it’s my birthday and I want a holiday. This week, I’m planning to enter complete sloth mode so I will keep this brief.
A few weeks back I went shopping while hungry – big mistake for wannabe penny pinchers! After not sticking to a list and impulse buying all kinds of tasty looking morsels, I was waiting in line and having a minor meltdown from wanting to
EAT ALL THE THINGS.*
The line was irritatingly long and the gossip mags looked boring, so I grabbed Save With Jamie, the new Jamie Oliver cookbook. I’d heard about this book before – I think I saw an ad on YouTube or something, but I was skeptical and disinterested. Jamie might talk like a geezer, but his food tends to be pretty bourgeois, and I wasn’t expecting much from his ‘budget cookbook’. Flicking through, the photography looked pretty stunning. I was surprised to read that Jamie’s philosophy about food was quite similar to mine and he had a few ideas and recipes that really inspired me. Besides, the photographs made me want to lick the page (this is important).
I felt myself beginning to crumble and began a little internal pep talk about not being sucked into product placement marketing just because I was shaking with hunger and my stomach was starting to sound like a wounded bear. Then I noticed the book was on special, by some tiny token amount. This sealed the deal. In the trolley it went!
It was then I realised that the check out operator was smiling at me with that slightly steely look that they get when they get a really annoying customer.
“Are you alright?”
“Are you right?” she said as the grumpy customers behind me bored holes into my neck. I wondered how long everyone had been waiting for me to take my place at the checkout. As soon as I’d paid and got out and dived into some carb-laden hunger buster, I started to feel a bit of buyer’s remorse. After all, Jamie is a millionaire and an astute businessman who runs successful restaurants around the world. What would he know about food and money?
Quite a bit, as it happens. The book has already paid for itself (and then some) in the weeks since I bought it. Jamie really knows how to stretch food out, to safely preserve it and to get the most out of it. The best part of it is that his recipes are also really delicious. The biggest tip I’ve gotten so far from Jamie is to revive the Sunday roast. I love a roast, but I always thought they were the expensive option and I couldn’t possibly afford them. How wrong I was! Since then, our family of big eaters has enjoyed a Sunday roast. After that, including the stock we make from the bones, we get four meals from it. Jamie really knows how to make the most of that ‘leftover’ flavour and my goodness, the follow-up meals are possibly better than the main event. Having four dinners from the leftovers of one roast means there are only three dinners left for the week, and Jamie offers plenty of recipes that prevent that ‘samey’ feeling of eating the same thing for days.
I don’t think I could do it every single week (I don’t eat that much meat) but the Sunday roast is actually an incredibly effective way to save money. We’ve done it for a few weeks and it saved us loads of money. We use a lot of home grown vegetables and I have found that Jamie’s recipes are very forgiving if you alter them according to what you have on hand.
What about vegos?
Jamie also shares some recipes that use cheap cuts of meat and an impressive section on vegetarian food. I often find that the ‘vegetarian’ section in cookbooks is a bit boring and unappealing, but Jamie’s vegetarian recipes are gorgeous. Although I’m not sure I’d buy this book if I were a vegetarian, it is wonderful for getting me inspired to eat vego food more often, which is good for my wallet and the planet.
Jamie also offers lots of great ways to cut the food bill and preserve the food you do have. I was impressed at how much I learned and I will definitely use some of his tips. I am looking forward to trying some of his pickles and vinegars, for example. His suggestions for stocking the larder would mean that even in lean weeks no one would ever go hungry and he is very clever at making the most out of things that others might throw away.
The one thing the book did lack was a decent dessert section – I would have liked a few recipes to use up very ripe fruits, a decent custard recipe and a home made yoghurt.
Also, I agree with Jamie that it’s cheap to make things from scratch using fresh ingredients, but it would be good to have a few more recipes for time-poor folks who might be scared off at long prep or cooking times. Let’s face it, for many of us, convenience trumps cost. A few more super-quick recipes to make after work wouldn’t go astray.
Does the book receive Frugal Frannie’s floury thumbprints of approval?
You betcha! I have saved money since I bought the cookbook and although I might not adopt his ideas all the time, Mr Oliver does offer an excellent way to eat really well without overspending. This is a great resource and the recipes really are delicious. We have already covered several pages in splatters and yes, floury thumbprints: always a good sign. The recipes are easy to follow and seem to give consistent results.
I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a good budget cookbook. All the ingredients are accessible and many are family-friendly. It would also be a great book for anyone who is not confident in their cooking skills. Jamie is great at breaking his recipes down into manageable steps. All in all, this book gets the Frugal Frannie seal of approval.
Buy it here!
Ok! That’s me done for the week! Next week, I’ll help you out with some frugal boredom busters for the kids. Until then, keep smiling mamas!
*I’m quoting my favourite blogger, Allie Brosh from Hyperbole and a Half here. If you haven’t read her blogs, you really should.