It isn’t very often that I give a book review that indicates that the book is mediocre at best or not worth even checking out of the library, but there is always a first time. Unfortunately, this book is Miserly Meals by Jonni McCoy, and it aims to provide “healthy, tasty recipes under 75 cents per serving,” something that we could probably all use.
Out of all of the recipes in the book, I choose three promising ones and went to work. On the positive side, McCoy does take advantage of low-cost ingredients and provides plenty of good information, such as the nutritional analysis and the cost per serving. The directions are clear and easy to follow. Each section is prefaced by a nice little introduction.
Now the bad news. A cookbook is only as good as its recipes, and frankly, the ones that we tried were not very tasty: mediocre at best and awful at worst. The attempts at making them healthy don’t always work, such as the Fried Rice recipe which substitutes 4 egg whites for 2 whole eggs which does reduce the cholesterol but ups the price. The inclusion of oil and soy sauce plus the absence of much protein might just negate some of the health benefits, anyway.
The Quesadilla recipe isn’t much of an actual recipe, basically instructing us to place grated cheese between tortillas and heat, something my neighbor’s son “invented” when he was four years old.
The Chewy Granola bars included whole wheat flour, and the lack of moisture in the recipe (zero) meant that the bars came out gritty and unappealing. I included chocolate chips as one of the options, which helped, but the sweetness contrasted not so pleasantly with the over-saltiness of the bars.
The Meatless Meatloaf uses TVP, which is an excellent source of really cheap protein. I cook with it often. TVP does not have much taste on its own, which means that it must be cooked with flavorful ingredients. Unfortunately, the Meatless Meatloaf recipe did not provide that, and no one in my family would eat it past the first bite. I did however enjoy the meatloaf the next day, cold and doctored up as a sandwich filling with mayonnaise and some additional seasoning.