Summary Amazon says, "In this practical cookbook, Shannon Stonger, author of Traditionally Fermented Foods and co-author of The Doable Off-Grid Homestead, invites you into her bustling homestead kitchen. She shares how she feeds her family of eight with delicious, nutritious meals for less. Based on the wisdom of traditional food diets, these recipes are focused on unprocessed ingredients, pastured animal products and frugal foods that people have thrived on for generations. The resulting meals are gluten-free, almost entirely dairy-free, picky eater–certified and, most importantly, deeply nourishing. "
About the Author Shannon Stonger is the creator of the blog Nourishing Days and has authored 100% Rye, Traditionally Fermented Foods and co-authored The Doable Off-Grid Homestead. Alongside her husband, Stewart, and their six children, she lives on an off-grid homestead in Texas.
Sounds good. I cook from scratch, not only because it saves money... but, I cannot buy the quality of food I cook, from scratch in any restaurant where I live. There was one chef who was all "farm to table"(also about the most expensive restaurant in the county).... saw Sysco delivering to his restaurant. I asked... he claimed that they were his "ketchup and plastic wrap supplier." So.... no.
"Them that don't know him won't like him and them that do sometimes won't know how to take him... he ain't wrong, he's just different and his pride won't let him do the things that make you think he's right"
For many people, the idea of moving towards a traditional foods way of eating can seem expensive and impossible. A visit to a health food shop these days shows shelves full of packaged bone broth, sprouted flours, ready-made ferments and more, but there are other approaches to traditional foods that are actually very budget-friendly, and Shannon Stronger has written a book that shares her approach to this, along with lots of affordable traditional foods recipes that are also gluten-free and dairy-free. In this book Shannon shares her strategies for making traditional foods affordable - I like that she emphasises how much money her family saves by growing their own food when they can and raising animals for milk and eggs. For anyone that isn’t in a place to grow food or raise animals, helpful tips are included for choosing affordable ingredients.
For anyone wondering what traditional foods is, Shannon says
One of the simplest ways to define traditional foods is to simply eat how our great great grandparents did, before the advent of the supermarket and industrial agriculture.
This way of eating is great for homesteaders and people who want to homestead, because foods back then were produced locally on small farms with basic kitchens - not in big factories.
Shannon provides a shopping list for the foods her family finds to be the best value, which is really helpful. I usually skip reading these lists in cookbooks, but I appreciated this one because it is focused on value. She breaks the list up into categories of different food groups, and lists foods in order of the best value, and also shares which foods she sources organically, and which foods she doesn’t. Shannon also shares tips on bulk buying, and where in the US to source the cheapest bulk foods.
The section on fitting dietary restrictions into the food budget is good to read, and makes the whole process seem a lot simpler and less stressful.
The recipes themselves are the biggest help:
The breakfast section is worth the price of the book alone - lots of creative allergy-friendly recipes including soaked granola, soaked pancakes made from rolled oats, sweet potato and greens breakfast skillet, grain-free pancakes, activated buckwheat cereal, soaked buckwheat breakfast cake, greek fauxgurt, cream of amaranth-chia porridge, soaked gluten-free, dairy-free pancakes (with an egg-free option) and fruit and seed soaked baked buckwheat. All of these look really family friendly and delicious.
Frugal broth & beans is the next chapter, and is very refreshing. Bone broth is a great frugal food to make, and it’s talked about a lot in traditional foods circles for good reason, but beans are often forgotten about, so it’s great to have some tasty recipes with properly-prepared legumes, and instructions are provided for anyone new to soaking and cooking with beans. Recipes include soaked grain-free garbanzo bean pizza crust, sprouted or soaked chickpea falafel, sweet potato and beet soup, kidney bean-potato patties, moroccan-spiced sprouted chickpea slaw, soaked mexican taco pizza bake, oven-baked rice and lentils, family favourite “white” soup, and real food copycat tomato soup.
The next chapter is all about frugal recipes for healthy animal proteins such as grass-fed ground beef, canned wild Alaskan salmon, pasture-raised whole chickens, and offal. Recipes include dutch oven whole roasted chicken cacciatore with brown rice, master stir-fry, kenyan pilau, creamy dairy-free salmon-stuffed potatoes, mediterranean hide-the-heart meatballs, chicken livers and gravy (that we actually like), tamale pie, crispy oven-baked salmon burgers, stretch-the-meat and bean loaf, salmon salad, and spiced thai coconut chicken.
I greatly appreciate that these recipes are created with the family in mind, so the salmon patties are baked (and look every bit as crispy and delicious as the pan-fried ones), and this makes the process a lot easier when cooking for a large family, quite a big amount of heart meat is hidden in the meatballs that she serves to picky eaters, and I know by looking at these recipes that my family will appreciate every one of them.
Next we have a chapter on sensible accompaniments. In the introduction to this Shannon shares how she usually serves vegetables and sides, which is similar to how I do - in such simple ways that you don’t need a recipe. I’m glad she’s written this in the book, it might encourage people who are new to traditional foods and feeling overwhelmed at cooking so much - side dishes really can be simple, and the previous two chapters on broth and beans and pastured proteins are recipes that only need simple side dishes. Recipes include soaked gluten-free artisan bread, whole olive hummus, stretched-out guacamole, sheet pan hash browns, curiously delicious cabbage salad, green herb sauce, spanish quinoa, szechuan vegetables, favourite roasted vegetables, and tomato rice. Information has also been given about choosing and preparing rice to reduce the arsenic content.
Prudent sweets and treats is the next chapter, full of tasty gluten-free, dairy-free, naturally-sweetened treats. Recipes include dairy-free secret ingredient chocolate pudding, chocolate-coconut cream pie with a grain-free crust, soaked chocolate chunk cookies, sweet potato chocolate cake (egg-free), ACV apple cider, salty-sweet soaked granola bars, spiced turmeric chai tea, real food frosty, creamy raspberry milk shake, raw or dairy-free mexican sipping chocolate.
The final chapter is about penny-pinching DIYs. Recipes include homemade cultured oatgurt, broth-based dairy-free cheese sauce, homemade coconut milk (for less), the best gluten-free bone broth gravy, better sunflower seed butter, sunflower sprouts, sprouted grains and beans, milk kefir, easy & traditional homemade corn tortillas, bone broth (with a rare tip), plus information about how to safely freeze bone broth, and how to get more of it into the family diet.
The book is filled with beautiful pictures of the finished dishes, and multiple measurements are given in all the recipes for metric and measuring cups. The recipes are all pretty gadget-free too, the only electric appliance being used sometimes is an immersion blender, so they’re great recipes for off-grid people and anyone looking to simplify their cooking.
Traditional Meals for the Frugal Family is a great introduction to traditional foods, and also a great book to have for experienced real foods cooks looking for new recipes. I’ll be recommending this especially to my gluten-free friends, and also to anyone looking for frugal recipes and an affordable approach to traditional foods, and just anyone that loves to cook delicious food.