Sunday, August 14, 2016

Save with Jamie: Shop Smart, Cook Clever, Waste Less

Save with Jamie: Shop Smart, Cook Clever, Waste Less
We already own a lot of Jamie Oliver's other recipe books and so thought we would pre-order this one as the premise of the book "shop smart, cook clever, waste less" really appealed to us.

I am a competent cook, my wife and I both enjoy cooking and will always cook from scratch. We hoped this book would help us save money on food shopping and be more `savvy' with ingredients and get more from ingredients we might have normally let go to waste.

First impressions:

As with all his books, I really like the layout, pictures and fonts used etc (I have uploaded some photos on this product page as they will be a lot better than any description I can give).

The fonts and images help to break up a couple of fairly wordy pages that give advice on shopping smart and storing foods.

Every recipe has an accompanying picture which is a big thing for me, it's a big prompt as to whether I want to make a recipe or not.

Book contents:

The book starts with an intro as to why Jamie's done the book, not really necessary I think but nice none the less.

It then goes through the following titles:

The Big Freeze - Jamie goes through what he generally keeps in his freezer and a couple of basic rules to freezing, e.g. letting food cool before freezing and the importance of keeping things well wrapped. These are things I already knew but I can see how others may find this advice useful.

Chill Out - Again Jamie goes through what he keeps in his fridge rather than a prescriptive list of what you should or shouldn't have in there. The guidance here again isn't hugely useful for us I think, but if new to cooking at home it's perhaps a good set up to the recipes ahead. Interesting just to nosey in Jamie Oliver's fridge to be honest!

Store It - I think you get the picture, this is what he keeps in his store cupboard / pantry. Again not hugely useful for us but interesting to see that ours generally mirrored what he kept, e.g. rice, spices, flour and sugar etc.

Shop Smart - a double page of thifty tips... this is where I was hoping for some new advice. As shoppers we could be unusual but it made me realise we are already `smart'. A lot of the things Jamie suggests, such as using cash and carries for stocking up on basic ingredients and menu planning etc. This doesn't make me dissatisfied with the book (when perhaps it should?) but made me realise we are on the right tracks. The value for me in this book comes with the recipes and tips that lay ahead....

The recipes in the book are split by the following main ingredients:


I really do like the split as it makes it easy to find recipes you'd like to cook.

As mentioned all recipes have pictures (please see image uploads for pages I've uploaded - hope this helps?), and cookbooks with lovely photographs and text always score highly for me.

But thankfully as well as looking nice, there are also a lot of recipes that I would like to cook, as well as a couple of further hints and tips on how to shop smart smattered throughout the recipe pages e.g. in the vegetable section there's a page with tips on buying seasonally and another on what to do with leftover wine.

Something I also REALLY like (as my wife is a fan of counting calories), but each recipe has a calorie count assigned per portion.

Having used a different book the previous night to joint a chicken, leafing through the book this morning my wife commented that Jamie's instructions and pictures in this book were much clearer than the one she used last night (that book shall remain nameless!). Again have uploaded a couple of images so you can judge for yourself as to whether you would find this kind of breakdown useful for your skill level or needs.

I find that from owning a lot of his other books, Jamie Oliver's recipes are ones that I often actually cook (some recipe books I like to read but don't often cook from, sad but true). So if you are reading this and already enjoy cooking from one of this books, chances are you'll like the recipes in this book whether you are interested in shopping smart or not. I am now - rather geekily, quite excited about watching the accompanying channel 4 show in a couple of days!

So whilst the tips weren't especially ground-breaking for me and my wife, it's sound advice that some people will certainly find useful - and most importantly it turns out, has some great recipes within that I can't wait to cook.

I would say it would suit a range of skill levels from beginner to intermediate, but most suited to those that like Jamie Oliver's style of recipes and cooking in the first place, kind of "tasty and relaxed" in my opinion.

I hope to update this review in a couple of weeks once we've tried more than one recipe out (it was the British Carbonara... fairly basic but I liked the twist of using a sprig of fresh rosemary... and at 508 calories very tasty). Interestingly the book doesn't cost up the recipes, only includes calories. Anyway I shall update in a couple of weeks. Hope this review is of use to those contemplating buying it.


We have now gone through the book `proper' from cover to cover, and tested two recipes over the weekend.

I just wanted to point out a couple more features of the book that we didn't notice or use at first:

The nutrition section at the back of the book lists all nutritional values of every meal in the book, not just calories but fat, saturated fat, carbs and sugar. This level of detail may not be of interest to some but thought I would point it out (have uploaded more images including this page on customer images).

It turns out the book more about nutrition and health than we had initially realised. Hence all the calorie counts etc and why the vegetables section of the book is the largest (JO recommends aiming for two meat free days a week on the grounds of it being both healthier as well as cheaper).

The meat sections all have a `mothership' recipe, followed by a number of recipes (ranging from 4 - 7 recipes) that use leftovers from this `mothership'.

To test the logic of the book we did a `mothership' recipe followed by a left overs recipe from the beef section.

On Saturday we made "Sunday Roast Brisket" (crazy I know!). Jamie explains Brisket was chosen as it's a cheaper cut of meat (makes sense) so as the recipe stated we cooked it long and slow with some delicious veggies. As with all of Jamie's other books the steps were easy to follow and ingredients were easy to come by. The resulting dish was very tasty - even if I do say so myself.

Then on the Sunday we had the Spiced Beef Tagine. We liked this even more than the initial roast but then again we both like spice. For a recipe with left overs it was great, normally we would just make sandwiches or put it through a salad.

So the first valuable lesson the book has left me with is to be more inventive with leftovers. Even if you currently don't let them go to waste, are you making the most of them? Can't wait for Jamie's show now! I hope to do another update soon when we've really had a go at a variety of recipes but so far, so very good.

Update 2:

So it's been a couple of weeks now and we have done another four recipes from the book.

We cooked the chicken and chorizo paella, using chicken thighs as Jamie suggests. In the past we would have automatically shopped for chicken breast. Yes there was a little less meat on the thighs but this didn't impact the recipe and the chorizo really packed a punch of flavour into the dish. One thing we didn't include was the frozen prawns as my wife doesn't like prawns, and it was still delicious without.

With the same pack of chicken thighs, the following night we cooked the `Pukka Yellow Curry' (although the recipe calls for drumsticks instead of thighs). A really non labour intensive recipe, it tasted great again so we were really chuffed, with plenty for leftovers the following day.

After seeing it on the show we had to try the Sweet Pea Fish Pie, and the pea and potato topping was super tasty, I don't think we'll ever use plain potato on top of a fish pie ever again. The pie turned out great, we tweaked a few of the ingredients (removing the prawns and including some smoked haddock).

And last but not least, for a quick tea one night we had the carbonara of smoked mackerel. I had some reservations about this recipe but my wife loves mackerel so we had to try it. Whilst I generally prefer your traditional carbonara with smoked bacon, my wife preferred this mackerel version. My opinion is that it's ok, and if you have no bacon to hand but do have mackerel, it's a good substitute - and generally cheaper so fits with the premise of the book.

And one final small note the `total time' quoted on each recipe page has so far been fairly accurate.

So after trialling the book proper for me it still retains its five stars as the hints and tips are very welcome, and the recipes are easy to follow and so far have all turned out great. It would be great if Jamie could follow up with some `Save with Jamie Desserts!'.

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