Clever Cooks, Glut(tony), Thrifty Asian

Kongnamul banchan (soybean-sprout side dish from Korea)

My mother uses bean sprouts in her rice paper rolls, salads, noodle broths, stir fries and savoury crepes. Like Metamucil, it keeps her regular and she’ll happily crunch through kilos of the stuff.

Unfortunately, I’m not so keen on bean sprouts, which means that a packet from the supermarket usually goes slimy before I have the chance to finish it off.

Bean-sprout shelf-life can be extended by blanching them (yuck)* or turning them into Korean kongnamul banchan (nom). Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Reviews

It’s not about the limitations: The $120 Food Challenge

In February 2010 I found myself without a job. With no replacement job forthcoming, I signed up for unemployment benefits and reined in as much expenditure as I could. Faced with the option of either paying an electricity bill or buying groceries that week, I approached the Salvation Army who gave me two $60 food vouchers to use for the fortnight. (Sandra Reynolds)

Two years, a blog and a book deal later, Sandra Reynolds has increased her food budget to a modest $120 per week. However, unlike the Australian Women’s Weekly, she isn’t cowed by her limitations – ‘Just because you are on a budget doesn’t mean you have to eat a restricted diet’ – and her recipes from both blog and book are a testament to this philosophy. Continue reading

Clever Cooks, Gardening on a Budget


‘Herbs are absolutely at the cornerstone of all genius cooking,’ says Jamie Oliver on one of his 30-Minute Meals videos. ‘If you have herbs in your cooking, you have more flavours and sensations and dynamism in your cooking.’

Delia Smith agrees: ‘One way to prevent life getting dull when you’re saving money on cooking is to stock up with a few herbs and spices…It is the subtle addition that gives a touch of luxury to the simplest dishes’ (via Delia’s Frugal Food).

And it’s true. Herbs can transport your chicken thighs and watery tomatoes to Morocco (cumin, tumeric, ginger and cinnamon), Italy (parsley or basil), or Mexico (coriander and chilli) without subtracting $$$ from your wallet or adding to your waistline. Continue reading

Clever Cooks

Wanting wontons

Once, on a cold July night, the thought of wonton soup was enough to make the hungry mortgager wanton and weak-willed enough to stop by at a noodle shop on the way home from work. After perusing a laminated menu decorated with spelling mistakes such as ‘pettitoes’ and ‘vagetables’, the mortgager ordered the much-anticipated wontons and parted with their precious $9.50. Fifteen minutes later, they were confronted by this:

Continue reading