17 Mar 2010
I'm relieved to find that becoming downshifters doesn't mean giving up good food. Let's face it, I like my food, and while we have cut out visits to expensive restaurants, we continue to eat very well at home.
The reason is that Trish is an excellent cook - not because she does fancy, show-off meals in that irritatingly foodie, "look at me I'm so clever" way: she cooks well because she has taken the time to understand food. That's surprisingly rare these days, when most people think that it isn't food unless it comes out of a packet (ie, people like me).
Trish covers 10 basic foods - carrots, cabbages, onions, potatoes, pulses, apples, eggs, bread, pasta and rice - and shows you how to use them to best effect. She tells you what to look for, the strengths of each food and how you can use it to create delicious salads, soups, main dishes and - where appropriate - deserts (and some of those will surprise you).
Although there's no meat in the above list, this isn't a vegetarian book (although there are veggie recipes). Meat is expensive, so Trish shows you how to use it sparingly, so you can enjoy the taste of meat without wasteful spending.
All of the above comes in the second part of the book. The first part lays the groundwork. Eating well on a budget may involve a change in how you approach food.
Trish offers tips on shopping (how price points work, when to spend and when to save, and how to spot bargains). She helps you plan your meals so that you can budget properly. She tells you what you should have in your store cupboard, and also what equipment you need (and what you don't). There's a chapter on economical cooking methods and another on stocks and soups, the basis of many tasty but cheap meals.
Many of the ideas and recipes in the book are based on peasant cuisines from around the world. These dishes are created from basic ingredients using simple cooking techniques. But as any fan of, say, Indian or Moroccan food will know, the end results are wonderfully delicious.
And because Make Do & Cook steers you away from packaged and processed foods towards real ingredients, the meals are also far more nutritious and healthy.
Make Do & Cook is available in both print and Kindle e-book editions (with other e-book versions due soon).
If you follow its advice, you'll save the cost of the book the first time you go shopping.
Armed with the knowledge of how to cut out waste and use basic foods to their fullest potential, you'll soon find you're spending much less on meals. But what you won't be giving up is delicious food.
Some of this information is available for free - in a downloadable e-book: Make Do & Cook: Savvy Shopping. This is adapted from the chapters on shopping, budgeting and menu planning in Make Do & Cook, and will help you start saving money even before you get into the kitchen.