Apr 30 2008

Book review: The 99 Cent Only Store Cookbook

If you’re following the Dave Ramsey plan to get out of debt, then you might be dining on “beans ‘n rice, rice n’ beans” to keep grocery costs down.

Instead of eating the same humdrum things in the name of frugality, you can prepare some fairly gourmet dishes without it costing a fortune.

I recently received a promotional copy of The 99 Cent Only Store Cookbook written by Christiane Jory. While on the way to visit me, my friend Michelle saw a story about it and shared it with me.

There’s about 100 recipes made entirely with ingredients that can be purchased at The 99 Cent Only stores.

There isn’t a specific 99 Cent Only Store in Pittsburgh, as it’s a chain found out West, but we do have a Dollar Tree and a Dollar General.

Eat gourmet without taking out a loan

In the introduction, author Christiane Jory lets us know that in the beginning, she was skeptical of goods at dollar and dime stores. Even when she became a frequented a 99 Cent Only store near her home in Los Angeles, she was still a “snob” toward the food in the store–for no reason other than it was cheap (so of course it must be inferior, right?).

Food prices are climbing so much, that really, who in the world can afford to be a food snob anymore? Rather than turn your nose up at the thought of buying food from a dollar store or from a discount grocer, consider giving it a try! You might be pleasantly surprised.

She encourages you to use her cookbook to help you craft delicious, inexpensive foods. Even more, Jory wants to inspire you to create frugal but gourmet recipes of your own, and has included a few pages at the end of the book for you to write some in, if you choose.

If you’re stuck in a cooking rut and trying to save money, this could be a great cookbook for you to pick up!

The recipes

You’ll find appetizers, soups & sides, main courses, and baked goods & desserts within these pages.

She includes the estimated cost of each recipe (assuming you got those ingredients at the 99 Cent Only store, of course). You know I love recipe cost break-downs! Near the beginning of the book, Jory has created a dozen sample menus for you to consider.

Each recipe also comes with a bit of commentary from the author, including “Don’t freak out when you open the cans of calamari!…” and serving suggestions and helpful hints.

Some recipes I’d love to try soon:

  • One-bite ham and cheese pies ($1.99 for 12. Page 19)
  • Herbed pita chips ($1.99 for 8 dozen chips…whoa! Page 37)
  • Corn pudding ($2.99 for six servings. Page 43)
  • Spinach souffle with Bechamel sauce ($2.99 for 6 servings. Page 60)
  • Banana bread pudding with dulce de leche ($3.99 for 6-8 servings. Page 126)

A beef

My one beef with this book is you won’t find pictures of the prepared recipes. I really like to see how a dish might look, and appreciate when cookbooks have colorful photos. I guess I’ll have to use my imagination!

Final words

There’s more than a few delicious-sounding recipes that I want to try. Unfortunately, I haven’t yet had the chance to test a recipe in the book. Take Jory’s book as more than just a cookbook, though. Use it to stretch your budget and expand your cooking possibilities.

For more information, visit The 99 Cent Only Store Cookbook web site. It retails for $12.99 and is going several dollars cheaper on Amazon.com right now.



4 Responses to “Book review: The 99 Cent Only Store Cookbook”

  1. My “fears” about dollar store foods really have less to do with the fact that they’re sketchy, and more with the fact that canned things have lower nutritional value. HOWEVER, I know all to well that beggers can’t be choosers and sometimes a cheap, delicious meal made from canned products can be a real blessing. Does she have recipes that use fresh ingredients?

  2. Maria–

    I think you make a great point about the perils of some canned goods. I like the convenience of canned and jarred foods, and try to get lower sodium varieties, but those aren’t always available.

    After a quick flip-through, I see dairy ingredients, frozen ones, dried beans (I think?), but mostly canned goods.

    Fresh foods seem to be hit-or-miss in the book, but I haven’t checked each recipe.

    Of course, you can make fresh substitutions, if you choose, though the price may be different.

  3. If you are not in a desperate state of finances, just try substituting one of these recipes a few times a week instead of looking at it as a daily thing. I have not seen it, but it sounds interesting. We don’t do alot of canned foods either, but I would be willing to do it a few times a week if I could save money to pay down debts.

  4. Darn! Someone stole my cookbook idea. I always thought someone should write a frugal cookbook. So often recipes have tons of expensive ingredients that you probably wont use again and end up throwing out, making it cheaper to go out to eat that cook at home.

    When I have writers block, I search YouTube for videos to post. You can tell from my blog that I often have writer’s block ; )

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Hey! I'm Kacie, wife to Shane and mother to Jonathan (7), Vivienne (5) and Amelia (2) . I write about my family's finance: how we save money, improve our spending, and plan for the future.

I hope I can inspire and encourage you to improve your situation. See disclosure.

I'm adopting a much slower-paced posting schedule, and treating this as a hobby blog now.

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