cfg         Cheap. Fast. Good!

         By Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross

         Workman Publishing, 2005

This is my new favorite food book. Yes, there are tons of recipes in here but it’s so much fun to read that I won’t call it a cookbook. The basic premise of the author’s is that good food can be inexpensive without spending hours every night working from scratch. The authors come to the book with many years of home food preparation and years of writing a food column for various newspapers.

This is a big book (475 pages) with eleven chapters and an interesting appendix. The chapters range from “Super-Saver Soups and Stews” to “Delectable Desserts”. Beside those two subjects they also cover main dishes, sandwiches, side dishes, pasta, salads, breakfasts and sauces.

One other chapter is special to me because it covers the way I like to prepare food: batch cooking. Here’s an example of the concept: Buy a large quantity of a common food when it is on sale – like chicken. Cook the chicken all at once, cool, cut and put measured amounts (like 1 cup) in freezer bags. Then let’s say sometime in the next week or so you want to make Chicken Burritos or Chicken and Broccoli Lo Mein. You pull out your already cooked chicken and the rest of the ingredients and you have a great meal in short order.

By spending an hour or so to cook, cut, package and clean up only one time you’ve done your “from scratch” cooking which is what really cuts done on the cost of groceries. One of the bonus features of cooking chicken this way is that you now have some chicken broth left over and could be a great start for homemade chicken soup or whatever you normally buy canned chicken broth for.

Interspersed among the recipes in this book are lots of short essays about everything from “Eating Healthy” on a “Budget to Saving to Share” to “Inventing Your Own Rice Pilaf Recipe”. I’ve already given a copy of this book to my oldest daughter. With her busy life, it’s a good fit. The next time I’m invited to a bridal shower this is going to be one of my gifts. I ordered my two copies from Amazon.com for $6.49 each, a really good bargain. I just checked and it is now up to $10.17 a copy. Still a good bargain.

If you want to know more about the authors and their other books, go here www.desperationdinners.com. Their website has some of their old columns and recipes. Check them out.

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