Okay, the title of this post is a little misleading. I really do like to cook. But I mostly want to wander into my kitchen when the mood strikes me, whip up a little something delicious, and then not cook again for days or months or whatever.

It’s the daily drudgery that gets to me, you know? Why do these people insist on eating every day?

Not to mention our ongoing gluten-free needs, which makes it more complicated and expensive; the cost of groceries in general is, quite simply, out of control. We are coming perilously close to the brink of spending more each month on groceries than we do on our mortgage. Yikes.

I eye all the new cookbooks at the library with suspicion and low expectations. I want recipes to be delicious, cheap, and easy in equal measure. I do not want to wander around Meijer, hunting for cranberries grown in a moonlit bog and harvested by elves.

Got it, cookbook writers of the free world? Cheap, simple ingredients, easy, and delicious. Dial back on the imaginative recipes for us, pretty please.

budget bytes cover art

Beth Moncel, author of Budget Bytes, gets it. She really does. Pushed into frugal eating by her own economic needs, she has written a cookbook that checks all my boxes. She was even considerate enough to rate her recipes from $ to $$$, indicating the really cheap options. Bless her. She has an entire chapter on rice, beans, and lentils, and how to make them edible. (Don’t pretend you like lentils all on their own. I can see you shaking your head at me.)

Right now, at this very moment, I’m flipping through the book and I’m seeing ingredients like black beans, vegetable oil, basil, and carrots. I know what these things are. I even already have these things! (Okay, not the carrots.) Yes, occasionally she throws in a hot sauce I don’t have or a spice I can ignore, but no cookbook is perfect.

This one comes pretty close. Tonight we’re having Garlic Herb Pasta (page 108) with some leftover chicken thrown in for good measure. As soon as I close this post I’m headed over to Amazon to buy a copy of this book, because I’m pretty sure the library doesn’t want their book returned covered in food stains. (Here’s the link to get your own!)

Any other suggestions? What cookbook do you love?


13 Comments on Well, I Still Hate to Cook, but This Cookbook Is Pretty Dang Fabulous.

  1. David
    September 3, 2014 at 4:26 pm (3 years ago)

    Well we had leftovers today – but there are only three of us now! But I had a look on Amazon and then at the Budget Bytes website and got as far as the eggs baked with spinach and tomatoes, which really got my attention.

    We have a shelf full of cookery books, with quite a few Jamie Oliver books. Marilyn’s favourite cook book is not Jamie, but an Italian cook book. Having said that we also have many hand written recipes passed on by friends and family.

  2. Jessie Clemence
    September 3, 2014 at 4:46 pm (3 years ago)

    What’s Marilyn’s favorite meal out of the Italian book?

  3. Jennifer VanderHart
    September 3, 2014 at 5:30 pm (3 years ago)

    I hear you, Jessie! I’m so tired of reading recipes billed as fast and family friendly only to find the ingredient list to be long and strange. I think, “Really? Seriously? On what planet does the average American family have prosciutto and goat cheese?” And a half hour for a quick, on-the-go breakfast? Forgetta bout it!

  4. Jessie Clemence
    September 3, 2014 at 5:32 pm (3 years ago)

    This is what we have for breakfast options: eggs, milk (maybe–it goes bad before we can drink it), and bread. Maybe cereal if you haven’t eaten it all.

    There will be no rustic apple tart baked at 5:30am, thankyouverymuch.

  5. Luanne
    September 3, 2014 at 9:00 pm (3 years ago)

    I totally agree with Jennifer. While I am, admittedly, interested in occasionally trying a recipe with prosciutto and goat cheese, a quick trip to a local civilian grocery store quickly squashes that idea..oh my goodness…! We would probably eat a whole lot more lentils and rice if we had to pay regular prices for our groceries…definitely prices are out of control. Jace is currently in love with frozen burritos (no, there is no accounting for taste). So we have a stock of those handy at all time. Even on occasion for breakfast, if he wants!

  6. Gail
    September 4, 2014 at 7:55 am (3 years ago)

    I am curious what you eat on the days (and months) you don’t cook, because I cook most days, and if I didn’t I guess I’d just be eating salads and fruit and nuts and bread and cheese. But I like to have cooked food too. I cook most days, but very simply, so I don’t really think about it. Also, I just cook for myself, so it’s easier than for someone cooking for a family. I’ll just put something on the hob or in the oven, and add whatever I have in the fridge, if I think it would make a nice combination. I don’t use recipes, because then it gets too complicated, and I rarely have all the ingredients. I just buy whatever is on special offer or in the reduced aisle at the supermarket and make meals out of it. Now I think about it, my diet is pretty much gluten-free other than bread, because the basics I use – fruit, veg, rice, pulses, meat, fish, cheese, eggs, yogurt, oil – don’t contain gluten. Maybe I shall put some simple cheap meal ideas in my blog sometime.

    Incidentally, I love prosciutto and goat cheese, and can get them easily at my local supermarket, but I am in the UK, so maybe it’s different – I wouldn’t consider those such an unusual buy. They’re nice to eat with a crusty baguette and some olives (and also don’t require any cooking!).

  7. bluestempond
    September 4, 2014 at 8:19 am (3 years ago)

    Thanks for passing that on. I’m pointing it to my daughter to see if it appeals to her.

  8. Jessie Clemence
    September 4, 2014 at 8:40 am (3 years ago)

    Great! I hope she likes it. šŸ™‚

  9. Jessie Clemence
    September 4, 2014 at 8:45 am (3 years ago)

    Hello, Gail! Thanks for your thoughts!

    We can get prosciutto and goat cheese here at the bigger supermarkets, but they tend to be far more expensive than most family budgets allow.

    And I cook all the days, whether I feel like it or not. Bummer.

  10. Jessie Clemence
    September 4, 2014 at 8:47 am (3 years ago)

    Jace likes frozen burritos? Holy cow. I don’t know of anyone under the age of 18/college poverty level who eats those.

    I guess they have a lot of beans in them, and beans are healthy, right?

  11. memyselfandkids.com
    September 4, 2014 at 9:11 pm (3 years ago)

    No love for cookbooks here. Sorry.
    I hope this one eases your disinterest in daily attendance in the kitchen.

  12. Gail
    September 6, 2014 at 9:03 am (3 years ago)

    Ah, I misunderstood your first paragraph. I thought you were only cooking when you felt like it, and wondered what your secret was for being able to not cook for months! šŸ™‚