Millions of Americans live on SNAP, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — what used to be called food stamps — with allocations being about $4 a day for food. That’s a sobering thought. Leanne Brown offers some assistance for people with limited incomes with her cookbook “Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day.”
Even the cookbook is a deal; she offers free downloads (but you’re welcome to tip as well) of the book as a PDF from her web site at www.leannebrown.com. So far, the book has been downloaded 800,000 times.
“Eating on a limited budget is not easy, and there are times when a tough week can turn mealtime into a chore,” she writes in the book’s introduction. “As one woman told me, ‘I’m weary of the ‘what’s for dinner?’ game.’ I hope the recipes and techniques in this book can help make those times rare and the tough choices a little more bearable.”
Since the PDF went viral, Brown launched a Kickstarter project to create a print version of the book and ended up raising way more than the original asking price, making it the No. 1 cookbook on Kickstarter. The project offered a “get one, give one” system. For those who purchased a book, Brown gave one to someone in need.
The cookbook is full of recipes — complemented by beautiful photos — that contain tasty ingredients that won’t break the bank, but taste is the key word here. Brown insists that focusing on fruits and vegetables gets you farther in life and certain ingredients make for better eating.
“My intent was to create satisfying food that doesn’t require you to supplement your meals with cheap carbohydrates to stave off hunger,” she writes. “I strove to create recipes that use money carefully, without being purely slavish to the bottom line. For example, many recipes use butter rather than oil. Butter is not cheap, but it creates flavor, crunch, and richness in a way that cheap oils never can.”
Brown also includes tips for shopping, building a pantry and nutrition.
Want to know more about Brown and her book? Here’s an interview she had with National Public Radio.
The following is a recipe Brown loves to create on hot days. “Cold but spicy food is refreshing and delicious in the summer,” she writes.
Cold (and Spicy?) Asian Noodles
From “Good and Cheap”
12 ounces dried spaghetti, soba, or any Asian noodles
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 cucumber, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Directions: Prepare the noodles according to the package instructions. Rinse them under cold water and put them in a colander to drain. Put the noodles in a bowl and add the soy sauce, spice oil if you have it, scallions, and cucumber (and any other additions). Mix it all together with a fork or tongs. Taste it and add salt and pepper or more spice oil as needed. Let the noodles sit in the fridge for about an hour if you can. The flavors will mingle and become more intense. Think of this as a recipe that you can really make your own. Use whatever sauce or dressing you like and whatever vegetables you have around, or just a few scallions.
Brown suggests additions such as spice oil and peanut sauce, many of which are recipes in the book.
Cheré Dastugue Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She also writes Louisiana romances under the pen name of Cherie Claire, “A Cajun Dream” and “The Letter.” Write her at firstname.lastname@example.org.