on December 1, 2009
The premise of this book is great. The economy is tough and food prices seem determined to outpace unemployment numbers. However this book fails to deliver on several important points:
1.It's not really $3 a meal. It's $3 a serving and even then I'm not sure it really averages out to be that low in some cases.
2.The 'ways to save money' portions of the book are very general and superficial. The book 'hesitates' to recommend specific coupon websites for fear they might become defunct. God forbid we get a bad link! I mean, seriously? Further, aside from being told to use coupons, there is no specific insider advice beyond that. Nor any mention of Angel Food ministries. They are a non profit that offers meat at approximately a 50% savings. (Here's more info:[...])
Essentially,all the cost saving 'advice' is the same generic stuff you've already heard before. There's nothing new or fresh in this section of the book. We're even reminded to avoid grocery shopping while hungry. Like no one hasn't heard that one at least a dozen times!
3.I knew I was in trouble with this book when the basic roast chicken recipe calls for 3 different fresh herbs. If I were to purchase these at the store, it would easily be $6 in herbs alone. Ironically, I don't recall seeing any 'tips' about growing my own herbs as a way to save money.
4.There's big detour into 'knife skills' and other cooking expertise tidbits that I found kind of odd. This is meant to be an economizing cookbook. We don't go in depth on coupons, but chopping food gets a couple pages? Really?
5.There's no mention of cost on the recipes. I understand prices change, but it would be helpful to know if I'm looking at approximately $10 in ingredients or $20. Some barometer of recipe cost would have been helpful and made this cookbook more relevant.
Overall, this is a generic cookbook that falls short of delivering on its premise. However, the recipes seem competent and there's no question the author knows how to cook. I'm not sure they author really knows how to be frugal, though.
I didn't leaf through this out of interest but more of out curiosity. I thought it a brilliant idea in these economic times but expected lots of sloppy joe recipes and campbells soup and chicken. (you can sub veggie meats.) Typical bargain meals.
I was wrong. And, surprisingly, I thought it quite worthwhile to add to my cookbook collection upon doing so.
The meals, though admittedly inexpensive, are actually ones you WANT to eat in my opinion, regardless of cost, and offer a range of tastes from home cookin' to southwestern to Italian to Asian to Indian...honestly it's not only full of something to please any palette it seems, but surprisingly has recipes that easy appeal to MANY (family pleasers) and don't contain hard to find ingredients.
A few examples of the recipes we liked: Note: all can be used with soy meats for vegetarians....
panini sandwich ideas
peach skillet cake
ham and grits casserole with cheese
monte cristo sandwiches
mexican meatloaf muffins
thai beef salad
Asian chili with black beans
baked chicken with brocolli risotto
biscuit topped black eyed pea stew
Greek style baked fish and orzo
sweet potato pancakes
lots of pastas
several good quiches
that's a VERY small sampling of what's included.
You'd think to cut costs she'd have few meat dishes but she had every kind of meat, fish, and veggie dishes. Just very well rounded.
I find my family fortunate to not yet be hit hard by the economic crunch **crosses fingers** but that doesn't mean that we don't still look to save money at every turn and be prepared for any economic crunch, national or something that just hits our own family. I shop at the cheapest grocery store in town and I like to stretch my meals and dollars. Who doesn't? However, saving on meals doesn't have to mean Ramen noodles and artificial ingredients with a how-to go-to cookbook that is this well thought out. I love good food and I love to cook.
There is also a lot in the beginning that goes into coupon clipping and saving at the store...I kinda skipped over that as it's not of interest to me since I've been doing these things already for awhile but others may find it useful.
I really was impressed that most every recipe listed substitutions...not because of an unusual ingredient but in case you wanted to change up the recipe. This made the actual recipes even more than are listed because it gave you ideas to change a chicken dish to a pork one another time or use red currant jelly rather than apricot on a sauce for a different taste. The substitution suggestions are listed at the end of each recipe. This is also nice if you don't have all the ingredients handy and wonder what would taste equally good in the author's opinion. Quite a smart idea I hadn't seen.
Also, the dishes were quick and easy to prepare so it was a time saver as well
although I don't suspect anyone would think by "meals for $3" that she means the whole dish is $3, it probably still should be noted that each person's meal is this cost or under but not, say, 50 cents each for a family of four which might be quite hard to pull off.
Also I have found her costs to be pretty accurate even though costs of some things, like cheese, quadrupled since she wrote this cookbook.
on October 28, 2011
I like this book because the recipes use whole, unproccessed foods (no cream of mushroom soup etc)--except for buying bread for the sandwiches. :O) There is also a great selection of recipes divided into the following general categories: Salads, Sandwiches, Pasta, Stir-Fries and Sautees, Simmer and Skillet Suppers, Casseroles/Oven-baked dishes, and Desserts. The author also includes some basic recipes for roast chicken, homemade stock etc. I definitely think the book is worth the price. However, don't count on it saving you a lot of money. The meals are actually $3/serving and the money-saving tips are pretty standard as another reviewer said. If you seriously just need to slash your food bill, I'd look elsewhere.