More with less

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?

7 thoughts on “More with less

  1. I’ve not heard of this book but am intrigued to know more. Do let us know when you have tried out a recipe or two. One of my oldest and much used cookery books is the 1978 “Good Housekeeping best of vegetable cookery” book. At the time I had never even heard of, let alone tasted, some of the vegetables in there!
    Your post has reminded me – a couple of months ago I purchased a packet of dried mixed grains consisting of spelt, quinoa and something else that I can’t recall. I use cous cous quite a bit and the usual grains like barley but have only ever eaten quinoa in a restaurant. I usually shop during the day but yesterday evening I was in Tesco and bought a few yellow-sticker bargains including two pots of “spicy roasted cauliflower” (reduced to 10p each – I can’t imagine that I’d have bought them otherwise) and I planned to use them in some kind of warm salad this evening. Now I’ve remembered the packet of grains, I’m quite excited at the prospect of doing something completely different!

  2. I have the More with Less Cookbook and also do not use the recipes much, mostly because they are basic and similar to recipes I have used for years when things have been tough. I also have Extending the Table which is another book comissioned by the Mennonite Committee, for me the stories of the folk who live in other countries and manage so cheerfully with so little, sometimes under dreadful circumstances sre a reminder of just how fortunate we are. I quite frequently do need that reminder when I see the latest and shiniest whatever, however it is easier to do without a dishwasher when you see that others have nothing but a dish pan and have to carry the water to fill that.

  3. She also has a book Living More with Less, copyright 1980. It has suggestions from Mennonites all over the world on how to use less in hundreds of circumstances. I highly recommend it!

  4. I got a copy of More with Less over 20 years ago. Love, love, love it! I especially like the way of thinking behind the book, and the sections called “Gather up the Fragments”. That is a list of ideas using up bits and pieces or leftovers, taken from the example of Jesus in the Bible, where He gathered up all the leftovers after He fed five thousand people with a small boy’s lunch. I have tried several of the recipes, as they are good simple food that can be had on a budget. A family favourite all these years later is “Sweet and Sour Soybeans.” I never have soybeans, but have found that just about anything can be added to this recipe, and it turns out great. Try small bits of meat, other beans or just extra veggies in place of the soybeans. serve it over rice, and dinner is ready. Also, it freezes well for another day.

  5. P.S. I regularly search out Mennonite cookbooks, as Mennonite cooks are very good at what they do.

  6. I love that book! It was even part of the inspiration behind my blog name. In fact, I’d rather have been More with Less, as less grandiose, but that name was already in use. I bought the book years ago when money was very tight, and was almost more interested in the preamble and discussion of Mennonite beliefs than the recipes themselves. Only thing I regret is the lack of food photography – I’m so used to glossy pictures in other cook books.

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