The key to saving money on food …
. . . is not to follow a recipe
It might sound strange from someone who once wrote a book on frugal eating (The Frugal Cook. Back in 2008, believe it or not!) but cookbooks are not necessarily the best way to cut your household budget.
For inspiration and getting you out of a rut, yes. If you like to collect cookbooks (which I do), for sure. But actually saving you money? Only if you use them the right way. Which is not to strictly follow the recipes.
Easier said than done maybe if you’re not a competent/confident cook but hear me out
I’ve just been sent a review copy of a book called Wasted from an Irish publisher called Blasta Books. Beautiful little book. Inspiring recipes. Gorgeous illustrations (below). Lots of great advice about not letting ingredients go to waste BUT you could still spend more than you need if you follow the recipes to the letter.
I decided to tackle a pasta dish with mushrooms, kosho and parmesan rind (see end result at the top of this post) because who doesn’t love parmesan rind and the idea of using a Japanese condiment on top of that really appealed.
As the author Conor Spacey points out you can make kosho with lemons rather than yuzu although you need rather more of them than he suggests (I only made half the quantity and still managed to get through 8 pieces of citrus). But the main thing is not to use fresh pasta if you don’t happen to have it in the fridge. Use dried as I did.
You can find the recipe here along with my comments and alterations. Which doesn’t mean my version is an improvement simply adapted to what I had in my kitchen. You should do the same - maybe you already do?
There’s also loads of inspiration for cutting your food bills online now. If you want to have a bit of a fridge purge I suggest you follow my friend Elly Pear’s Rollover leftover reels on instagram.
Claire Thomson - 5 oclock apron’s - appeal is more about simple family cooking but it’s based on seasonal produce and frugal by default
Food writer and cookery teacher Jenny Chandler posts amazing meals based on one pot of pulses which she stretches over several meals.
I also love Rosie Kellett’s insta account which catalogues her life with 6 other housemates living on a budget of £25 a head a week. One of them cooks for the others each night (or most nights. Obviously they’re not all there all the time but they’ve worked out a way to handle that. See her Q & As). It’s a fun account and useful for any of you who have friends or kids going to uni this autumn.
So my message would be - and this isn’t the first time I’ve written on the subject - don’t be afraid to go off-piste!
PS Do share your own money-saving tips!
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