Are old Cookbooks the Future?

There are so many cookbooks on the market these days and more often than not, they require scarcely available ingredients and gadgets galore to complete the recipes. Are old cookbooks the future? We’ve come up with some reasons why we think they are.

They Require Less Gadgets

Retro Scales When we talk about old cookbooks, we refer to books dating back to the 1980’s or earlier. Due to the fact that microwaves didn’t become popular household items until the mid 1970’s, older cookbooks will only have recipes that require cooking on the grill, oven, over a fire or a handmade stove. There won’t be need for any fancy gadgets, food processors or modern accessories as these things simply were not readily available going back 40 years. Older cookbooks make no assumptions about your kitchen and as long as you have the basics, a bowl, a spoon and an oven then you shouldn’t have any problems. In a modern recipe book, if you look up a recipe for Shortbread, the opening line will read “use an electric mixer to mix your butter and sugar together.” That same recipe in a book dating back to the 1960’s will read “knead together butter and sugar with your hands”. It’s these alternative ways of cooking that we are not used to nowadays because we rely on shortcuts and pricey gadgets to cut corners. You won’t need to spend money stocking up on these expensive electrical goods, so following older recipes will save you money.

They are Cheap

Old cookbooks can be picked up at bargain prices. This is the sort of thing you will find in charity shops, car boot sales and online auction sites. New cookbooks will cost you in excess of £10 in book stores and supermarkets, whereas an older cookbook can be bought for £1 meaning you can buy 10 older books for the price of one up-to-date one. You could even ask older family members if they have any old cookbooks and wouldn’t mind handing them down to you, or lending them to you in order for you to make notes.

More Recipes for Your Money

old cookbook and new cookbookIn comparison to modern cookbooks that only have 100-200 recipes, older cookbooks are completely packed with at least 3 times that amount. It was expensive to print in colour so you will find that most of the books contain pages and pages of recipes and not so many pictures. Old cookbooks will have up to 4 recipes per page; modern ones usually have one per page, opposite a glossy photo of the dish. The text in an older cookbook is more factual and processes are explained in detail. Not only do you get recipes in older books, there is often a foreword at the beginning of the book with tips for around the home, even DIY tips so you really do get more for your money - it’s like having 2 books in one!

Better Ingredients

Back in the day there was less processed foods and everything was made from scratch. The recipes use ingredients that you will have in your Fresh Ingredientsstore cupboards, not ones that you need to go out and get specifically for one recipe. Older cookbooks use more real food ingredients. They will require you to have the basics; flour, seasonings, sugar, butter, salt etc. but will not call for pre-mixed sauces or ready made produce. This means not only are the recipes better for you, they will be a lot cheaper to cook. A newer recipe book may encourage you to cut corners and buy a ready made bolognaise sauce. For 4 people from a supermarket this will cost you only £1 but will be filled with added sugars and contains 17% of your daily recommended salt intake. An older recipe book will require you to make this from scratch using fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, and small amounts of salt, pepper and perhaps some spices. You will probably have most of the ingredients in the cupboard already, and chopped tomatoes with nothing else added can be bought for 30p. Not only will you save money cooking from scratch, you will reap the health benefits. A lot of the recipes that are in older cookbooks are classic British dishes using British ingredients; this means there is no need for you to visit speciality or international shops for lesser-known products.

Making Things From Scratch

If you want to find a recipe to make something from scratch, then an older recipe book is the way to go. Back in the day, there was no other option. Ready made sauces were not readily available in supermarkets. There will be recipes for sauces, salad dressings and syrups. The older the cookbook, the more basic the ingredients used will be. Older recipes don't have endless lists of herbs and spices so you don’t need to stock your cupboards with ingredients you’ll only use once. The older recipes encourage you to focus on technique and season according to your own tastes. There are books that were published around the time of the war and when food was rationed so will contain some great recipes to make your ingredients go a lot further and reduce waste. These recipe books really show home cooks how to be thrifty in the kitchen. You’ll be able to get more meals for your money which will in turn reduce the cost of your food shop.


Old CookbooksClassic cookbooks will bring back memories of meals from your childhood with real homely ingredients. Having a look through an old cookbook will enable you to come across recipes that you remember from the past, your grandma’s kitchen and fun days out. Modern recipes contain ingredients that have only been introduced in the last decade such as quinoa, buckwheat and many more foods that you probably hadn’t heard of during your childhood that can be expensive and only available in health shops. Old cook books use well-known family favourites that you can guarantee all of the family will enjoy. The recipes will replicate many foods that we eat today, just cooked in a simpler way. Why spend extra money buying new cookbooks that replicate the same recipes?

What is the Verdict?

MoneySavingPigWhich classic cookbooks do you keep going back to? Will you keep an eye out for older books from now on? We love feedback so please use the comment section below.

Not a BB4BM Member Yet?  - Save yourself some money and join our facebook group of over 500,000 members, or get 6 of the best bargains emailed to you each day - they are free!

What Our Members Say

Doreen from Swanley says: "Fantastic site... I have saved a packet"

Helen from Norfolk says: "What a great community, thank you all"

Charlie from Leeds says: "Over £200 saved on the first day of being a member!"

[Read Testimonials From Recent Months]

We Value Your Feedback

If there is anything that you think we could improve on with the Facebook group, this site or our newsletter, we would love to hear from you.

Please use the contact us page and we guarantee to read and reply to every message.


Take Our Survey

Please vote and tell us what types of bargains you would like to see us promote more of on the site?