Economy Gastronomy by Allegra McEvedy and Paul Merrett
I discovered this book at the height of the last recession hoping to find something that would make my food budget go further. I got so much more than that. While there are some standalone recipes, the main concept of this book is to make the most of your leftovers. There’s a comprehensive section on base meals that you eat one day and then repurpose the leftovers for later in the week, or the freezer. Basically, it’s next level batch cooking.
Thanks to this book I can now stretch a kilo of beef mince to twelve servings over spag bol, cottage pie and chilli (my personal favourite). I’m also rather partial to the shoulder of pork with tomato sauce. It’s a good alternative to a Sunday roast and the leftover recipes are SO GOOD (pork lasagne with all the cheese *drools*).
It may seem that the recipes are more expensive than the book’s title implies, but they do make wide use of store cupboard staples and vegetables to pad out cuts of meat. The idea is to buy the best you can afford and make it go as far as you can, right down to making stock with a chicken carcass and old vegetables.
The Little Book of Lunch by Caroline Craig and Sophie Messing
If you’re like me you’ll often find your lunches lacking in inspiration. Cheese on toast, while delicious, can get a bit dull after a while. This book changed all that for me, providing a wealth of ideas that make my midday meal a bit more interesting.
The book is split into different sections, so if you’re trying to be a bit healthier, or you fancy something more indulgent, or you’re just chained to the desk, there’s something in there for you.
I’m a particular fan of the guacamole, and the Moroccan spinach with chickpeas is delicious on toast. I also really appreciate the section on sandwich fillings. It sounds daft, but sometimes I just lack the imagination to go further than a BLT!
The BBC Good Food website (or magazine!)
I know this isn’t a book, but the BBC Good Food website has been an absolute lifesaver since we’ve been in the US. I only brought the two books above with us and life would get very boring if you ate exclusively from them. The site has thousands and thousands of recipes from the magazine’s back issues from the early 2000s onwards, and the search function is pretty good so you’ll always find something good for dinner.
Since getting here I’ve been pinning Good Food recipes like crazy. Current favourites include gnocchi and tomato bake, chicken and chorizo paella (great for those who don’t like fish) and quick chicken chasseur. I like food that’s quick, easy and delicious, but there’s plenty of recipes on the site to challenge more adventurous cooks.
As a repository for recipes this one’s hard to beat. There’s articles on health, nutrition and techniques (though I’ve never used them), but if you prefer a recipe book you can hold there’s always the Good Food magazine which is available throughout the UK.