Cookbook Review: BOSH! on a Budget makes cooking delicious vegan dishes achievable and affordable

Bosh! On A Budget

In the past, my cookbook shelf has been guilty of the ultimate home cooking sin: being purely inspirational and decorative. I find many cookbooks have insanely long ingredient lists packed with obscure and expensive items, so I often stick to my old favourites or Google specific ideas. But BOSH! on a Budget is different.

The renowned vegan cooking duo, Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, have created another plant-based cookbook; but this time they’re focusing on dispelling the myth that vegan cooking is expensive. Their cookbook is full of affordable recipes that don’t compromise on flavour or variety – like super quick Chocolate Ganache Pots and tasty Overnight Oats with multiple topping options.

The recipes in BOSH! on a Budget are simple and accessible, with ingredients you can find at the average supermarket chain. One of the recipes I tested was the “Kimchi Udon Noodles”, which seemed like it would be complicated and full of hard-to-find ingredients. But, I found everything at my local Woolworths, even the lesser known fermented rice paste ‘gochujang’.

Smoothie recipes often fall victim to over-the-top ingredient lists, which has always put me off joining the early morning blending craze. However, BOSH! has managed to convert me. Instead of demanding flax seeds, spirulina, and fifteen of your five-a-day, their smoothies are simple, yet still healthy and satisfying. The Summer smoothie has berries, oat milk, banana, and rolled oats – items almost everyone has in their fridge and pantry.

One of the reasons my stack of cookbooks remains unread is that most of the authors seem like they really want to be writing a novel. The lengthy paragraphs are probably intended as detailed instructions, but end up just overwhelming a nervous home cook. Thankfully, Firth and Theasby have avoided this by creating clear, easy-to-follow instructions which result in near-perfect results on the first go. For example: the “Take-A-Break Bakes” seemed difficult at a glance, with extensive ingredients and various elements, but everything came together easily and looked exactly like the pictures. The gravy in particular, with the additions of beer, soy sauce, and nutritional yeast, was so delicious you could almost eat it on its own.

Firth and Theasby didn’t just choose affordable ingredients for their recipes, they also delivered a fountain of useful money-saving tips. One of their more genius ideas was to prepare one dish in bulk and then use the leftovers to create other similar dishes – a nice change from eating the same pasta lunch for four days. I tried out the “Big Batch Bolognese Sauce” and turned it into a spaghetti bolognese on the first night and a lasagne on the second (as they suggested). The bolognese sauce was the stuff of dreams: rich, ‘meaty’, and yet still full of hidden nutrition. It also successfully transformed into part of the lasagne and made the cooking time much shorter for the second evening.

The “staples” section was the only part of the book I questioned. It features recipes for pasta, spreads, stock, and bread, and aims to help people save money by encouraging them to make these items from scratch. I understand the sentiment, but it feels like an endeavour for those with the luxury of time. Many people who need to watch their budget are also hard working and incredibly busy, so this advice seems a bit unrealistic. Perhaps if it had been approached with a ‘when you get some free time’ or ‘this is a great way to spend a quiet weekend’ attitude then it would’ve felt more relevant.

This cookbook is a great manual for the new vegan, making it an easier transition and providing useful information in the “nutrition” section – including a ready-made response to the question ‘where do you get your protein from?’. It also takes the stress out of long-term vegans’ lives with organisational tips like an ‘essentials’ shopping list, recommended kitchen equipment, and specific recipes for seasonal produce.

Making the dishes from BOSH! on a Budget filled me with new cooking confidence and renewed my hunger for discovering delicious recipes. Like the good fairies of vegan cooking, the BOSH! team has created a cookbook that makes the kitchen a calmer and more enjoyable place to be.

FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

BOSH! on a Budget by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby is available now from HarperCollins Australia. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.

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