Newest Review: ... On top of this they are cheap - they retail at around £4.99 but I have frequently seen them on offer, whilst Amazon sell them for less ... more
Fab Little Cookery Book For Any Budget Kitchen
Good Food Magazine: 101 Cheap Eats
Member Name: missrarr
Good Food Magazine: 101 Cheap Eats
Advantages: Great layout, good value, handy size, simple recipes
Disadvantages: Some recipes may be a little carb-heavy for the Atkins crowd!
I love to cook, and I can't stand eating processed food or pre-made meals. To me, the best way to look after your body is to eat a balanced diet of well-cooked food made from basic ingredients, and the best way to show people you care about them is to feed them with such food. This has put me in good stead with more than one former boyfriend, and has allowed me to show my friends and family what they mean to me on many an occasion.
I'm also terrible at following recipes - I own dozens of cookery books, but often will flick through them only for inspiration and references, to get a basic idea and then alter, tweak and generally be inspired from them. I own many books from the BBC Books Good Food Magazine range, having grown to love the associated website (www.bbcgoodfood.com) for its wide range of really healthy recipes starting with basic, healthy and nutritious ingredients and simple instructions. Later on in my life a lovely, sadly now ex-boyfriend, treated me to a subscription to the magazine itself, which I would say is executed in the same clean, simple yet inspirational format - further review on that in future!
BBC Books have released a wide range of '101...' recipe books now. These are fantastic as they are small, simple, light on preamble, easily arranged into sections and boast recipes that are both achievable, balanced and delicious. The books are lightweight, paperback and, if you're quick with the splashes, you can probably wipe any stains suffered during cooking experiments off at least fairly effectively! On top of this they are cheap - they retail at around £4.99 but I have frequently seen them on offer, whilst Amazon sell them for less more often than not.
Ever since I bought my first house I have become more and more conscious of what I'm spending and as such, when I saw the range had '101 Cheap Eats' available, it was a no-brainer - it was a must-buy. On my previous experience of the books I was confident that the recipe selectors would not compromise healthy food in the interests of saving money - they are not the types to say "save money - buy some rubbish processed sausages and stick them between two slices of odious additive-laden white stodge". So I was confident this was going to be a good purchase - and I got it at less than the RRP when my local supermarket were selling the whole range on discount. So, here's my review...
As I stated earlier, these books are small square paperbacks. For every double-page spread you have a recipe and a photo - the recipes are concise, simple and the list of required ingredients is always comprehensive, although you very rarely feel you'd have to travel to the moon to get some mystical-sounding rare component. The photography is clean, fresh and uncluttered, making the recipes look appetising but also achievable, and you also have a nutritional breakdown of the meals included with each recipe.
There is a short introduction from the editor-in-chief - in this case Orlando Murrin - and this book is described as a collection of recipes from Good Food Magazine that best suit the budget-cooking lifestyle. There is a page about conversions and amounts, and the following chapters:
- Salads, Snacks and Light Meals
- Pasta and Noodles
- One-pot dishes
There is also an index.
As the title suggests, there are 101 of them! So I'm not going to ruin the surprise by listing them all. Instead, I'll go through highlighting ones I have tried, ones I would like to try, and ones that have formed inspiration for meals based upon them.
First off, ones I have tried: Mustardy Toad - this is a variation on Toad-In-The-Hole that I cooked a couple of years back after first getting this book. In short, gorgeous, giving you the means to make this and the batter from scrach. Tuna and Broccoli Pasta Bake - a testament to the fact that cheap, store-cupboard food needn't resort to E-numbers and processed ingredients. Chilli Bean Tortillas - absolutely lovely and so easy to tweak to your taste! Chicken and Spinach Pasta - lean protein with carbs and the added iron and vitamins from spinach - brilliant.
I'm not much of a one for desserts so that is a section I have made little use of, but some of the recipes are tempting - Pecan Tart and Choc and Ginger Nut Slice being serious cases in point!
But there are a multitude of recipes in here I would still love to take the time to try; Iced Ginger Cream, Chunky Ham Pie, Ham and Pepper Tart and Chicken with Sweet Onions being a small list to get started with.
I really enjoy this book. It has been a source of inspiration when I have felt low about not being able to afford the best cooking ingredients, and reminds me that even when that is the case, you don't have to sacrifice healthiness or taste if you are prepared to keep a store cupboard that is well stocked.
I love the layout of all of these books and this one is no exception - the chapters are all well-sourced, with plenty of variety, and even if you made any of these dishes knowing you were on a budget I don't see any reason why you shouldn't hold your head up high and know that you are serving your guests with good food.
If I would have one note of warning, I would say that, as this book's primary aim is to provide affordable recipes, whilst they are all based on natural and healthy ingredients, this book does not prioritise calories over cost - so for those of you enjoying a dalliance with the Atkins diet, you may find that the prevalence of pasta-based dishes or pastry meals such as pies and tarts will not be to your diet's liking unless you're enjoying a special occasion. But rest assured, whilst these recipes may be more carb-heavy than your average dieter might prefer (and we all know how to make a stir fry instead if these are strictly on the no-go list!) then the recipes are still created with good, nutritious ingredients and no deplorable e-numbers or worse.
So I recommend this wholeheartedly. I would imagine if you had kids it would also be a helpful book as it would help you feed a family on a budget and still cover all nutritional requirements and hopefully also offer more than enough variety to keep everyone happy week after week. Happy cooking!
Summary: Lovely little book, good for inspiration
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