One thing I love about running a site like Budget Smart Girl is I often find e-mails from people who want to share news about their money saving book or Web site. So imagine how great it was to find an e-mail about this book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Eating Well on a Budget by Lucy Beale and Jessica Partridge ($16.95). The e-mail read ‘did I want to see a review copy?’ Yes, I did and have to say it’s not only a cookbook but it’s also full of great advice about grocery shopping and budgeting. After reading it I knew I wanted to find out more about its authors and how the book came about. Here to share more money saving hints is Lucy Beale.
Budget Smart Girl (BSG)-Tell us about yourself and what you do?
Lucy Beale (LB)-I’m an author of 8 books for the Complete Idiots Guide series: Included are cookbooks: To Low-Carb Meals, To Terrific Diabetic Meals, To Glycemic Index Meals, and the Eating Well on a Budget. I’ve also written To Weight Loss, To Healthy Weight Loss, To Glycemic Index Weight Loss, and To Better Skin. In addition, I am a weight loss and wellness coach. And a watercolor artist. Jessica is in school at the University of Colorado, working on her Masters Degree in Food and Landscape Ecology. For years she’s worked in her mother’s catering business and is an avid gardener. She’s my daughter-in-law.
BSG-How did the book come about?
LB-Our editors at Alpha Books came up with the original idea – to help folks who were affected by the financial crisis. Rather than fill up on starches and junk foods to stretch their food dollars, we show them how to eat well on a limited budget. The book evolved into 2 parts: how to manage money and families for healthy eating and a cookbook of 150 recipes that provide delicious and varied meals.
BSG-The first half of Eating Well on a Budget focuses on things like being a well informed shopper and food preparation. Do you think people need to reeducate themselves about smart ways to use their food dollar?
LB-Today, eating take-out and pre-packaged meals is often more common than preparing foods at home and it costs more. It’s easy to spend thousands a year on fast food for a family of 4 without realizing the costs in terms of both dollars and health. As we wrote the book, we learned ways to save more money on food.
BSG-What are some tips you can offer?
LB-Prepare meals at home. Prepare more than enough for one meal so you can freeze the rest for meals later in the week or in the month. Shop grocery store sales, especially on vegetables, fruit, meats, and fish. Plan weekly menus, then prepare a shopping list before you go to the grocery store. Buy only what’s on the list. Dish food on plates from the cooking and stove area of the kitchen and take to the table to eat. Don’t serve family style, as then people are more likely to overeat. Make sure that you serve balanced meals: protein, vegetables, fats, and healthy starches at every meal. Serve food that offers taste satisfaction. We made sure our recipes included interesting flavors and seasonings.
BSG-The recipes all sound wonderful. So far, I’ve tried one, the Chile Egg Puff which I actually made for supper because I had a coupon for eggs and they were on sale. It was quick and easy to put together and we loved it. Did you create the recipes or were they dishes you’ve been making for years?
LB-The recipes came from many sources. Some were recipes we prepared often, others we created, some had been in the family for years. We also surveyed what foods people enjoyed eating at fast-food and eat-in restaurants and created recipes to give our readers a way to economically enjoy their favorite tastes.
BSG-What are some of your favorite budget friendly foods?
LB-Italian and Mexican Cuisines: lasagna, enchilada pie, meatloaf, spaghetti. The soups also save money, are filling, and give great taste satisfaction. Chili. Jessica loves the Asian-type recipes that give the reader lots of choices for ingredients.
BSG-Anything that seems to be a good buy but really isn’t?
LB-Diet sodas and high-fructose corn-syrup sweetened sodas no matter what the price. Sometimes fresh produce is reduced for a reason – the apples aren’t as crunchy, the corn is past its prime. Expensive exotic spices you’ll only use once.
BSG-While writing the book did you learn anything that surprised you about food and/or budgets?
LB-We were more extravagant than we needed to be without gaining enough pleasure from the indulgence. Fish and seafood – even here in the Rocky Mountains can be well-priced on sales. Jessica is producing and writing a short film clip of a family working as a team to save money on food.
BSG-Any plans for more budget focused cookbooks?
LB-Not at the moment.
BSG-Would you like to share one of your favorite budget recipes with us?
LB-Orange Spiced London Broil. This is a great recipe for spring and summer because it can be cooked on the outdoor grill and it’s easy. The recipe gives the mouth and taste satisfaction of steak but at a lower price and the recipe serves 10. Marinating the meat makes it succulent and tender. It’s on page 186 of our book.
1 cup orange juice
1 TB. minced garlic
4 TB. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. Black Pepper
2 LB. London broil-cut beef
Prepare marinade. Mix together first 4 ingredients in a large zip-lock bag. Add beef. Refrigerate overnight.
Broil or grill 5-7 minutes per side. Let meat rest about 10 minutes before slicing. Cut into thin slices and serve.
Serve with baked potatoes, roasted corn on the cob or a tossed green salad.
Jessica’s grandmother loves the Honey Mustard Glazed Meatloaf and swears she’ll never use ketchup to baste a meatloaf again, it’s on page 222.