“Save With Jamie” is a beautiful and tactile cookbook filled with plenty of food images where the recipes are written in an easy to read style. However, today I’m scratching beneath the surface to see if it measures up from a frugal food point of view.
The book centres around a number of “mothership” dishes which bear a close resemblance to the “tumbledown” recipes featured in another frugal cookbook published in recent years, “Economy Gastronomy”. The similarities are very noticeable and I would like to think that it’s because of the fact that cooking in this manner is something that generations of frugal families have done.
Normally when I’m reviewing a cookbook I take a look at it purely from a cookery point of view. This book is meant to be about saving and so I’m primarily reviewing it from an informed, budgeting perspective.
A typical store cupboard of 22 items in the UK will cost STG£20 but here in Ireland it rises to €36 so it’s difficult to compare this book in Euro based on the prices as published. However, what I have done is had a chat with my local butcher about a few of the suggested cuts of meat, taken a look at our store cupboard, my regular shopping list and equipment in order to assess the book.
Will this book save you money?
If you’re a family who have been spending €150+ a week on your meals or are overly dependent on take away meals then buy this book. It’s a great stepping stone between excessive consumption and cooking on a budget. For example, there is a recipe for “JFC” as opposed to a bucket of KFC which costs £16 to buy in the take away (as reported in the book). Here the sides are increased with better for you options, the meal looks fabulous and it should save about £3 on a bargain bucket meal.
If you are already cooking on a budget I’m confident that this is not the book for you. For example, the leg of pork for the “mothership” recipe alone will set you back €45 in my local butcher shop before you buy the vegetables/bits and bobs to go with the meal. That’s not even higher welfare meat. If I spent €45 on a piece of meat in 1 week, that’s over half of my food budget (€70 per week) blown before I even blink. I still need to feed the family for breakfast, lunch, other main meals and snacks. It is just not feasible to feed my family in this manner.
The vegetarian section at the start of the book is naturally cheaper cooking. In my experience though, that’s because cooking with meat and egg proteins is markedly more expensive than without. So actually if this were a full on vegetarian cookbook, it would in fact be more true to the brief of saving money!
Does it deal with food waste?
Throughout the book, and the TV series there are tips and tricks to deal with leftover waste. Jamie Oliver calls people who waste food “wasters” which I’m not sure is the best connotation! Anyway if you happen to have opened a bottle of wine and not quite finished it I’m sure these tips will come in very handy, likewise with an artisan loaf of bread. Mind you, I can’t remember the last time I opened a bottle of wine, let alone not quite finished one and artisan bread like ciabatta does make for fantastic leftovers, cheap as chips sliced pans do not, they only go mouldy I’m afraid.
Jamie Oliver’s new book, “Save With Jamie” was released a number of weeks ago to go with his TV series on Channel 4. I priced it on Amazon today (it was significantly cheaper than my local shop – €19.99 on discount in Dublin) where I would have been able to buy it for STG£9.99 plus a small delivery charge via Parcel Motel. Jamie and his publisher have donated a copy of this book to every library in the UK. Unfortunately that doesn’t include Ireland so it’s not available in my local library.
I’ve already written on attitudes towards food poverty and priorities on the blog in the past week. Mr Oliver if you do happen to chance upon this review, please click here.
Great cookery book, just not if you’re on a tight food budget.
I don’t say this lightly and it is with a heavy heart that I’ve reached this conclusion. Jamie Oliver has a massive reach and opportunity to reach out to people. The potential to make life easier for the hundreds of thousands, nay millions, of people who have found themselves thrust into eking life out on a budget.
I just wish this book did “what it said on the tin”.
Disclosure: As the furore surrounding the sentiments that Jamie Oliver expressed during the launch week of this book/series increased, a blogging friend suggested I contact his publisher and ask for a review copy. Let’s face it, I wouldn’t be able to afford this book otherwise. This book was provided to me for review purposes by Michael Joseph. My opinions are my own and I am not paid to give them.