I love my Donna Hay, Marie Claire and Stephanie Alexander cook books (if you bought one for us for our wedding, thank you!). However, when it came to planning our regular family meals I found the recipes frustratingly impractical. Sure, there are nights when quail stuffed with fig, dark chocolate and truffles* seems like a fun challenge, but most of the time I don’t want to know how to cook classy food, I want to know how to cook meatloaf.
Enter The Thrifty Cook by Jacki Passmore! While this recipe book is aimed at those cooking on a budget, a lot of her tips and meals seem as though they’d be handy additions to any normal person’s/family’s weekly menu. Passmore’s recipes include ingredients that are likely to be found in the average pantry/freezer, calling for fewer trips to the supermarket and fewer moments while there wandering the aisles wondering where one would be likely to find crème fraiche (what is that?!). There are also fun hints for things to do with leftovers, such as wrapping up Tuesday night's curry in shortcrust pastry to make turnovers rather than redoing the same meal (yummmmmmmm).
One criticism I have of this book is the lack of vegetables in many of the main meals – one of our favourites, the Claypot Chicken Rice, contains only mushrooms and spring onions. We’ve had to be a little creative in working out what vegies to add to some of the dishes we now eat regularly, and it would be nice if these extra ingredients were typed in the funky orange font along with the rest of the recipe, rather than scrawled in my husband’s messy handwriting in purple pen (deep breath in... and breathe out.)
I highly recommend The Thrifty Cook as a gift idea (does anyone buy recipe books for themselves?) perfect for weddings, birthdays or Christmases, unless the giftee is likely to be offended by the title’s suggestion that they need to spend less money on their food.
* As far as I’m aware, this is not an actual dish. I have no idea if these ingredients actually taste any good together, I merely thought of four random foods I’d seen recently on MasterChef. I accept no responsibility for any culinary disasters caused by people experimenting with this combination as a result of this post.