Free cookbook makes inexpensive eating fun

Click here for free .pdf version of this cookbook

Click for a free .pdf version of this cookbook

Here’s a “feel-good” story that isn’t especially new, but deserves more attention. Specifically, a free cookbook designed to help anyone living on a tight budget enjoy food that’s healthful, delicious and very economical.

The item did appear on NCPR’s regional news page in early August, sort of buried away as something from NPR with a Canada tag. Having just stumbled across that, I want to call it out as a great story, produced by Molly Roberts, an intern at NPR’s Washington bureau.

Here’s the article: “Cheap Eats: Cookbook Shows How to Eat Well on a Food Stamp Budget”. (Yes, please go the original coverage.)

When Leanne Brown moved to New York from Canada to earn a master’s in food studies at New York University, she couldn’t help noticing that Americans on a tight budget were eating a lot of processed foods heavy in carbs.

“It really bothered me,” she says. “The 47 million people on food stamps — and that’s a big chunk of the population — don’t have the same choices everyone else does.”

Brown guessed that she could help people in SNAP, the federal government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, find ways to cook filling, nourishing and flavorful meals. So she set out to write a cookbook full of recipes anyone could make on a budget of just $4 a day.

The result is Good and Cheap, which is free online and has been downloaded over 200,000 times since she posted it on her website in early June. A July Kickstarter campaign also helped Brown raise $145,000 to print copies for people without computer access.

Download the book by clicking on the link in the paragraph quoted above. The Kickstarter page has more info too.

All sorts of people are interested in eating well on a budget, as explored by former NCPR interns Kelly Bartlett and Natalie Dignam in a “dorm chef” post from earlier this summer.

Even high-end foodies are told time and time again by gurus like Mark Bittman and Michael Pollan that the the first thing everyone should do more is cook real food at home. As Pollan told Bittman,

“Cooking is probably the most important thing you can do to improve your diet. What matters most is not any particular nutrient, or even any particular food: it’s the act of cooking itself. People who cook eat a healthier diet without giving it a thought. It’s the collapse of home cooking that led directly to the obesity epidemic.”

Good and Cheap author Leanne Brown shares that view:

I think everyone should eat great food every day. Eating well means learning to cook. It means banishing the mindset that preparing daily meals is a huge chore or takes tremendous skill.

Cooking is easy — you just have to practice.

The Kickstarter campaign produced 6,000 free physical copies of the book, but that supply has been exhausted. Brown says non-profits can order copies at $4 each through this link during the month of August. She is also working on a a Spanish edition and would welcome volunteer help making that happen.

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