Reader Rosemary reminded me of this one for my frugal bookshelf. The Goode Kitchen was written by the late Shirley Goode to accompany her BBC series of the same name in 1986.
Shirley had a precise and logical approach to saving money in the kitchen, which has barely dated. In fact her approach to her kitchen decor (open shelves and a mix of charity shopped mixed crockery) seems positively on trend . Think shabby chic! She believed in spending more on the essentials, such as some quality knives and pans.
I first read the Goode Kitchen years ago and clearly absorbed this approach to cooking. Shirley can take a lot of the credit for much of my kitchen behaviour now – reusing yogurt pots and margarine pots to freeze soup or store leftovers, keeping old bread bags and making stock from bones and chicken carcasses.
She takes an interesting approach to budgeting that makes me think she was an influence on Jack Monroe, carefully costing her ingredients to easily calculate the price of any meal and adjusting ingredients to always get the best possible value.
The recipes are straightforward, nutritious and tasty. They use ingredients likely to be in most cook’s store cupboards or easy to find in a supermarket. For example, you will find recipes for fish chowder, Somerset rabbit casserole, poor man’s jugged hare (actually made with beef) and pauper’s pottage (a healthy vegetable stew) – great, no frills family food.
It is sadly out of print now but you can still find the odd copy secondhand on Amazon, as I did. If you see it at a reasonable price, grab it! There is a link below but you may have to go through and do a search.
Here is another excellent book for my frugal bookshelf – The Moneyless Man: a year of freeconomic living by Mark Boyle.
It was written as a response to the author’s observation about how disconnected we are to what we consume. We rarely stop to think about where the products we purchase come from, who produced them, what their social and environmental cost was or how destructive some of our shopping habits are. As he says, ‘If we all had to grow our own food, we wouldn’t waste a third of it…If we had to make our own tables and chairs, we wouldn’t throw them out the moment we changed the interior decor’.
He decided that for one year he would not receive or spend money. He lived off grid in a caravan he got from Freecycle. He parked it on a farm in return for his labour. He built a compost toilet and grew much of his own food. He also ate waste food rescued from supermarket skips and foraged wild food. He relied on a bicycle for transport and, since he couldn’t pay anyone when it needed repair, had to do himself. He made home-brew – the point wasn’t to be austere and joyless, and fun was allowed!
Although I couldn’t see myself living in this way, reading this book made me realise how much I could do without and still live a happy and comfortable life with less damage to the environment. The story of Mark Boyle’s year without money is extraordinary and hugely inspiring.
You can, of course, order it for free from the library, but if you choose to purchase it through my link I will receive a small commission.
Following my blog about the classic Mennonite cook book More-With-Less Cookbook (World Community Cookbooks), I have discovered a really interesting site called Mennonite Girls Can Cook. I am impressed with the recipes! Lots of delicious sounding, straightforward and frugal food such as apple slab pies, great northern beans with sausage, mushroom scrambled egg bake and cookie sheet chocolate bars. Lots of the recipes are ‘for a crowd’ so plenty of scope to batch cook and freeze if you are just feeding the family. I can see myself trying a lot of these out!
This is what they say:
We are a group of ten women who share recipes and our faith, with a purpose, inspiring hospitality while using our resources to help needy people around the world. Mennonite Girls Can Cook is more than just recipes. We encourage you to think about HOSPITALITY versus entertaining. Our hope is that you find the joy in BLESSING versus impressing. Our recipes are about taking God’s bounty, and co-creating the goodness from God’s creation into something that we can use to bless family, friends and those who need a caring meal. We take everyday ingredients to make recipes which will nourish, provide energy and delight our taste buds. No matter which way you look at it, wonderful things happen when we gather around the table. While sharing a meal, relationships are nurtured, encouragement and fellowship can be offered and a place of refuge is provided for those who have had a stressful day.
I am not religious, but I do appreciate their message – ‘think about BLESSING versus impressing’, and the simple pleasures to be found in sitting round a table and eating with others. If you prefer a cookbook rather than a website they have some that you can buy: Mennonite Girls Can Cook
and Bread for the Journey: Meditations and Recipes to Nourish the Soul, from the Authors of Mennonite Girls Can Cook being two of them. They donate all proceeds to the work their community does. So, using the cookery books make you feel good twice!
I won’t be trying the sweet recipes until I am eating sugar again. It has been easy to give up so far, but it is only day two :).
Ages and ages ago, I bought the More With Less cookbook by Doris Longacre. I read the introduction, loved the ethos of the book, but none of the recipes appealed to me much so I put it on my bookshelf and forgot about it. I thought it was time to revisit it!
It was commissioned by the Mennonite Central committee in America as a reaction to the extreme overconsumption of food and an obesity epidemic at a time when people in other parts of the globe were going hungry.
It preaches a more simple approach: eating more fruits and vegetables and less meat and processed foods. It was first published in 1976 and my copy is the 25th anniversary edition. The current popularity of veganism might suggest some of the rest of the world is finally catching up with the health message, but the obesity epidemic is even worse and people still go hungry.
So, the message is still relevant, but what about the recipes?
There is nothing fancy in the presentation or the content. Many are vegetarian or use just small amounts of meat. Many of them will seem quite alien to the UK or European reader, but others are quite international. The measurements are in US cups – I invested in a set of these some time ago from Lakeland, and they have proved their worth. You will need them if you follow the recipes in this book.
It is a classic text and I am making a resolution to try some of the food in this book. It totally fits with my frugal approach to eating!
Has anybody else got this book? What do you think of it?
I discovered the Penny Pincher’s Book at about the same time as the Tightwad Gazette. I would say it is the UK equivalent. Like the Gazette, it was born from a newsletter, the Penny Pincher Paper.
John and Irma Mustoe are not preaching an austere and joyless existence. Rather they are saying that saving money gives you more choices and more control. ‘Spending money must be a skill at least as important as earning it’ – a great quote and one I agree with.
It is full of tips to save money, some to save pounds and others that will make a few pennies difference. Making do, mending, reusing and repurposing in creative ways form the basis of much of the advice. There are many suggestions for wringing every last drop of value out of all your purchases. Some may not be worth the effort (reuse the free envelopes in junk mailings by turning them inside out and carefully regluing it is one I wouldn’t bother with -I’d sooner stick a label on top of the address) but others are genius. For example, bicarbonate of soda can be sprinkled on a flannel and wiped under the arms as a deodorant. I know this works as my long lasting Lush one is basically bicarbonate of soda with some essential oils. Dilute shampoo by a third and it will last longer and lather better. Turn down your heating by one degree to save around 8% on your heating bill. Take care of what you have – ‘maintenance works’!
Just because you cannot do all of a job it doesn’t mean you can’t do any of it. This is Mr S’s philosophy for sure. He is currently fitting our new wood burner. He has removed the old fireplace and laid the hearth, fitted a mantle shelf and plans to clean the chimney. Once we have paid a professional to line the chimney he will fit the burner.
It’s a great book that you can pick up and read a few pages of every now and again to get some inspiration, but you will easily read it through as it’s an interesting and absorbing read. I have the original book from 1995, which you can still pick up secondhand, but I notice that Amazon is selling an updated version, the Penny Pincher’s Book Revisited, published in 2007.
So, another classic on my frugal bookshelf. More to follow!
Recently reader Sam commented that my blog reminded her of the old Tightwad Gazette from the 90’s. She said it was a compliment and I definitely took it as one because I love that book. It is an absolute classic. When I first came across it about ten years ago I consumed it from cover to cover, and have read it several times since. I often take a look through if I need some frugal inspiration.
It is a fantastically inspiring text totally packed with money saving ideas, with great drawings throughout. The author, Amy Dacyczyn, was a graphic designer who had always wanted to live in a historic New England farmhouse and have lots of children. She didn’t want to go out to work and leave her kids with a nanny to pay for her dream and set about proving she didn’t need to.
Amy decided that by saving money on every single thing she purchased, by making things last and by only buying what she really needed her family didn’t need two incomes. She became a ‘student of thrift’, buying clothes from yard sales, carefully costing food purchases to work out the cheapest way to eat healthily, learning to make and repair rather than buying new, and planning ahead and saving for big purchases rather than buying them on credit.
She shared what she had learned in a newsletter, and the first edition of the Tightwad Gazette book was born from that. As well as her own sensible advice, it contains correspondence and moneysaving tips from the readers of the newsletters. It is aimed at an American audience and somewhat dated in places (how to make typewriter ribbons last longer by spraying them with hairspray 😄) but is still a fantastic course for those who want to find ideas and inspiration to help them save money. It is a real game changer and I really recommend it. Mine is well thumbed and rather dog eared now so it really was worth every penny.
I wish Amy would come out of retirement and write her own blog. I think we need her common sense approach to life more than ever!
I have signed up to the Amazon affiliates scheme so if you choose to click through and buy this book on my recommendation I will earn a small commission.