This review was not paid for by Stay at Home Mum. However a copy of the book was supplied to Lucy for her open and honest review.
The $50 Weekly Shop by Jody Allen
It is said that we judge a book by its cover. And this is true. For me though, I judge a book by my first peek. When you pick it up, open a random page, and start reading.
I opened this book at the section about reducing portion sizes and read Jody’s words of advice ‘You’ll need to retrain your stomach (and brain) so that you stop eating when you feel satisfied – not when you’re going to chunder’. An extremely valid point, said with direct sincerity. It made me chuckle. I was going to like this book.
I am a single mother. I consider myself pretty frugal. Plus, I am never happier than when in my kitchen. I had my doubts about The $50 Weekly Shop in that I felt I already knew everything about being frugal. It turns out, I was quite wrong.
This is a book with at least one gem on every page. And I’m not just talking about the recipes, which I’ll get to later. Jody takes her frugality teachings much further than the kitchen. We learn how to meal plan, how to shop, how to avoid waste and even how to grow your own food.
But what I really love is that Jody provides an actionable starting point for her readers. She makes it surmountable. And she does this by just ‘being Jody’. Down-to-earth, real, one of us. She shares her own difficult experiences, talks us through her process one step at a time, whilst recognising that we are all different and what works for one may not work for another. For busy mothers this is exactly what we need. Ideas, a starting point and a plan which is flexible enough to fit in with our own personal circumstances.
Of course, then there are the recipes. Now, one of my favourite pastimes is flicking through a recipe book, I have a huge collection. Yet only a couple are well thumbed. As a working single mother of two little girls, I need simplicity, sustenance and something gentle on my purse strings. And Jody’s offering ticks all these boxes.
My favourite section is ‘Make Your Own Staples’. I always thought staples were the bits that it was ok to buy ready-made. Yet, they are all so easy (and cheap) to make. Using this book, I can now make my own tortillas (I’m sorry but the shop-bought ones have a funny smell), mayo, butter, and this is a biggy for me … crumpets. I was born to make my own crumpets.
Don’t be fooled into thinking frugal food means flavourless food. Jody’s recipe selection is wide-ranging and wonderful. I particular love the Tightwad Mushroom Risotto (usually such a pricey dish to make), Quiche In A Mug and Schmancy Macaroni Cheese. And I have to make mention of the Town Bike Slice which is ‘cheap, easy and everyone loves it’. Brilliant.
What I found utterly refreshing about this book is its down-to-earth accessibility. Not a fad diet or acai berry in sight. Jody takes dishes and tips from the Depression era, a time when families were forced to be frugal. What a perfect period to refer back to? Simple, wholesome, cheap food made from scratch, with love. How did we stray so far from this?
I often think if I take just one thing from a book and use it in my life, then it was worth the read. But The $50 Weekly Shop goes above and beyond.
There is no doubt this book will save me money, it will make us a healthier family and it will enhance our lives.. cutting onions in my daughter’s swimming goggles has already proved a great source of entertainment. Thanks for this and all the other fabulous tips Jody.