From the pages of Eatstreets

Author: Jackie Passmore

Publisher: Penguin

RRP: $29.95 (paperback)

The Thrifty Cook

13 May 2010.
Reviewed by Stephanie Clifford-Smith

Australia might not have suffered quite as intensely as other countries with the global financial crisis, but the crash did have enough of an impact to trigger a flurry of money-saving cookbooks. This latest one from experienced restaurant chef and home cook, Jackie Passmore, is worth a look.

Her background growing up on a farm followed by a spell living in Hong Kong left her with an appreciation of homegrown food, multi-tasking to maximise fuel efficiency and the Chinese understanding of getting the best from cheap cuts of meat and vegetables.

If you just read her intro, marvelling at her impressive three-part shopping list approach (essentials, pantry staples, indulgences) you’d probably end up saving a fortune. Even if managing one list and a calculator seems a stretch, there’s sensible advice on bulk buying, storage, freezing and farmers’ market shopping.

At first glance, the recipes don’t scream “budget cooking”, especially those for dishes such as crumbed schnitzel, but the savings lie in making one thin piece of meat serve two or three people. Indeed, this is how much of the book works: eat less meat (how wise), use cheaper fish such as mackerel and make things go further with vegetables. It sounds like a prescription for better health as well, but it’s not a crank’s book — there are plenty of recipes involving mince (of course) as well as coconut milk, grilled cheese and bacon.

Supplementing the full recipes, of which there are around 200, are breakout boxes full of ideas for pasta sauces, making the most of a roast chicken, sausages, leftover bread and more that run to no more than a few sentences.

Glossy hardback bound pages would fly in the face of the book’s budget brief so this is a sturdy paperback with a clear layout and a few minimally styled photos. Spot on.

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