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, Footnote Frivolity***

Cheap meats

Blade, chuck, and brisket. Overlooked by most Australians, these tend to be the cheaper cuts. Unfortunately, even blade and chuck is approaching the $10/kg mark nowadays.

‘Food writers…are partly to blame,’ British foodie and historian Bee Wilson writes, ‘We bang on about a particular cut of meat – how undervalued it is etc, etc. This drives up demand, which drives up the price. Before you know it something that used to be dirt cheap – practically given away like sacks of stock bones* – turns into a premium delicacy’ (via The Telegraph).

So when my friend Sarah asked if I could do a post on thrifty cuts of meat, I didn’t know what to write. 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