The Cottage Smallholder

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How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet, with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time by Gill Holcombe: a review


Photo: How to feed your whole family a healthy balanced diet

Photo: How to feed your whole family a healthy balanced diet

I woke this morning feeling low and dispirited. I haven’t felt inspired in the kitchen for days. After a large mug of tea I reached for Gill Holcombe’s book – How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet, with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time. I was looking for inspiration and a much needed lift. We don’t have a family but Danny has a huge appetite. So I follow family recipes.

I got this book a few months ago. After a brief enjoyable scan it has lain on the bed, waiting for the intense treatment that it deserved. This morning I spent a happy two hours pottering on its pages. If you want to save money on your weekly shop and still enjoy eating great food this is the book for you. In fact, this blog’s motto is “Eat like kings on a pauper’s budget”, so a perfect match.

Having been a “spend to mend” freak for years I am still coming to terms with spending less and living better. Gill Holcombe’s recipes and tips brought a warmth to my heart. If you want to cut costs you needn’t suffer. There’s no need to just grit your teeth before tucking into yet another lentil pie.

This is a great book – absolutely up my street. Her recipes are easy and the ingredients are cheap. Forget the Saturday morning TV chefs promoting an easy lobster soup. My brief sojurn had me planning tonight’s menu with glee. It’s a toss up between fishcakes or fish pie. But the idea of a meat pie topped with a cheese crumble topping also has my mouth watering – perhaps this would also be good on a fish pie? And then there are the devilled kidneys and Spotted Dick. I’d love to make these for Danny at the weekend.

Gill’s book has a comprehensive range of recipes covering everything from breakfast dishes to suppers and packed lunches. There is a vegetarian section and recipes for preserves. I particularly liked the Quick Fixes section – meals that are really quick to prepare.

At the back of the book is a five week meal plan for a family of four. She shoped at a different supermarket each week spending between £22 and £31 for the week’s main meals. You can even study the till receipts!

Gill’s recipes are simple and straightforward but they all sound delicious and tempting. Check this book out – it could be a lifesaver.

Very Highly Recommended. Five stars.

  Leave a reply


  1. A little bit of a late comment on this post but I spotted this in my local branch of ‘The Works’ at the weekend, reduced to £2.99 if that helps anyone who is looking for it. I had a flick through after remembering it from this post and ended up buying a copy, thanks Fiona!

  2. I have just received my book this morning and after a quick glance, I think it will be well used. I did have to laugh at the ‘slug and celery soup’!! Also love the little quotes at the beginning of sections. I adore a cookbook that is a good read too. Thanks FIona.

  3. You bet that crumble topping on fish pie is a treat personaly I think your fish pie recipe was tops. I have a little fish stash in the freezer right now I have a mushroom glut and need inspiration for that.

  4. hi fiona received my copy of this book today its great just up my street will be cooking from it asap.carole

  5. Me too

  6. Bilbo you sound just like me; i love cooking but hate weeknight meals. I will be ordering this from amazon soon

  7. Captain Shagrat

    Hehe you seem to have the power of Delia :-), sounds like my kinda book too though.

  8. Thanks for sharing this, at only £5.93 from Aamzon I figured I have very little to lose and have just ordered a copy.

    I don’t mind cooking but I find “thinking of what to have tonight” when family make no contribution whatsoever incredibly difficult. Maybe this will be the book that helps ….

  9. Elizabeth

    Thanks for reviewing this book – it sounds excellent. I’ll have to see if they have it at our local library.

  10. brightspark

    Aha – Fiona – I see you are resurrecting Mr Ted Dick with his dog Spot 🙂

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