Saturday, 7 May 2011

Review: Beyond Baked Beans: Budget

Feeding yourself, and others, on a budget can be tricky. With the rising cost of food, many people are having to cut back on their weekly expenditures. I don't think that you need a lot of money to eat healthily. In fact, I'm quite proud of how little we spend in the supermarket considering how well we eat.

Fiona Beckett's Beyond Baked Beans series has been popular with students and home cooks alike for their simpler, tasty recipes. Friends of mine have found it to be a great starting point when they're at uni or when they've just flown the nest. I'm always looking for new ways to save money so when I spotted Beckett's Beyond Baked Beans: Budget during my latest library trawl, I thought I'd give it a try.

The book starts by giving some money-saving eating tips and setting out suggested shopping lists. After that, there are recipes using ingredients from your budget basket, which are split into three sections - recipes for one, meals to share and indulgent treats for when you're in need of some luxury on the cheap. It really shows that eating cheap is versatile and not just baked beans on toast (as the name suggests!).

I like the fact that Beckett suggests eating more vegetarian meals as a way to cut food costs; it's one of our tried and tested methods for saving money at the checkouts too. She doesn't cut out meat all together (though she has a specific shopping list for vegetarians and adapts recipes to suit) but encourages the reader to try more meals that are centred around fresh vegetables. The recipes themselves are straight forward and easy to follow - a great starting point for someone who's new to shopping for themselves and cooking from scratch.

I found some of the recipes a little basic and, for that reason, I probably wouldn't buy the book myself but I will certainly be considering it for my brother when he leaves home. It's a shame that the book doesn't have any photo's to really inspire the reader and get them interested in cooking. I have tried the Carrot Dhal recipe which is a winner with any curry. The lentil, spinach and cumin soup and Bang Bang Chicken Salad will, no doubt, be making it into my lunchbox sometimes very soon too.

Beyond Baked Beans: Budget is one of the three strong Beyond Baked Beans series of cookbooks by Fiona Beckett. The website is a great source of inspiration and recipes as is Fiona's blog.

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