My Frugal Bookshelf: inspiring frugal books to live a great life with what you have

I still love a paper book!

I am old fashioned and, despite the vast numbers of blogs and websites in existence now giving you advice on how to save money, I enjoy a book, preferably made of paper! For my Frugal Bookshelf I will add books I come across that typify the essence of frugality. Hopefully, they will inspire you and ignite your determination to save your pennies, to get out of debt and to live the best life that you can whilst  you do so. I will update this page from time to time so keep an eye for the best frugal books.

Many of these books can be obtained cheaply second-hand, some you will find new and others are only to be had as e-books. Whichever format you prefer, I have included a link to Amazon with each review. If you click through and purchase something, I will receive a very small commission.

My Frugal Bookshelf – frugal books that are worth the investment

Fast & Fresh: One Pound Meals

Fast and fresh book coverMy daughter bought Miguel Barclay’s FAST & FRESH One Pound Meals recently and it is fab. The food really is cheap, easy and uncomplicated to prepare. Above all, it is delicious.

It is actually Miguel Barclay’s second book on this theme. I haven’t read the first (One Pound Meals: Delicious Food for Less) but I will look out for it now.

It is a great looking book. Every recipe has its own beautiful photograph that makes you really want to eat the food! It is all the proof you need that frugal food doesn’t need to be dull. I like the fact that Miguel has designed the recipes for this very specific £1 budget. It gives me confidence in his frugal credentials. Full review here.

The Tightwad Gazette


the tightwad gazette book cover

The mother of all frugal books! The Complete Tightwad Gazette 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. Read how she did it here.

The Penny Pincher’s Book

penny pinchers book revisited book cover

I discovered the The Penny Pincher’s Book Revisited: Living Better for Less 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.  Full review here.

More-or-Less Cookbook

More with less book cover

Ages and ages ago, I bought the More-with-less Cook Book 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 as it is a classic amongst  frugal books and worthy of a place on the shelf!

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. Read more here.

The Money-Less Man: A year of freeconomic living

The moneyless man book cover

Written as a response to the author’s observation about how disconnected we are to what we consume, this is the extraordinary story of Mark Boyle’s  year living without money: Moneyless Man, The: A Year Of Freeconomic Living. 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’. Read more here.

The Goode Kitchen

The Goode Kitchen book  coverReader Rosemary reminded me of this one for my frugal bookshelf.  The Shirley Goode Kitchen (BBC) was written by the late Shirley Goode to accompany her BBC series of the same name in 1986. Another classic amongst the best frugal books.

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. Read more here.

Frugal Food

Delia's frugal food book cover

If anyone ever doubted the awesomeness that is Saint Delia (as I call her), think again. This book is a classic with good reason.

Delia’s Frugal Food was first published in 1976, at a time of inflation, rising prices and world food shortages. Sound familiar? Those problems persist,  but add to those our current issues around austerity, benefits cuts and  the uncertainty around Brexit and you realise that hard times and financial pressures are an increasingly common reality for many people.

This book, with its reliably cheap and tasty recipes, is still relevant. Read more here.

My Zero Waste Kitchen

My zero waste kitchen book cover

My Zero-Waste Kitchen: Easy Ways to Eat Waste Free (Dk) is a good one for my Frugal Bookshelf as it is very current. I have said before in this blog how much I dislike the pervading waste culture. We are a throw away society and no longer seem to value our possessions or how much they cost in financial and environmental terms. Easy come, easy go!

This also applies to food. I remember learning about wartime rationing at school. Food was scarce but nobody starved in the UK because nothing was wasted. Now we are guided more by use by and best before dates than common sense and a lot of perfectly edible food is thrown away with barely a thought.

I am generally careful to avoid waste like this, but I am not perfect and could definitely try harder, so I was delighted to receive a copy of My Zero Waste Kitchen from Dorling Kindersley. Read more here.

How I  lived on just a pound a day a for a year

I think How I Lived a Year on Just a Pound a Day by Kath Kelly ( 2008 ) is one of the best frugal books I have read.  It tells the story of an English teacher living in Bristol who made the drastic decision to live on a pound a day to save money for her brother’s wedding present. Her friends thought she was crazy and that she could only achieve this if she became a vegetarian, travelled nowhere and used old rags instead of tampons! She proved them wrong. Read more here.

Save with Jamie

When I first picked up this book I was sceptical about it saving any money. It is big and glossy with a lot of nice colour photos. But Save with Jamie is a useful addition to my Frugal Bookshelf, with some lovely recipes. Here is my Save With Jamie review.
I hope you enjoy the titles on My Frugal Bookshelf. Please feel free to suggest more!