In keeping with last week’s blog post about the SNAP Challenge, I want to write about a cookbook I bought earlier this summer. It is called Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown. This cookbook grew out of a capstone project for Ms. Brown’s master’s degree in food studies at New York University. She calls this cookbook a “book of ideas” and a “strategy guide” rather than just a book of recipes. Each recipe has only a few essential ingredients, but most include a list of additional ingredients that could be used to enhance the dish, if one’s budget allowed. Additionally, each recipe includes a beautiful color photo of the dish and a note, providing preparation hints, information about an ingredient in the dish or other helpful information about the dish. Some of the recipes also contain a paragraph set apart by a dotted line with further helpful cooking tips that would pertain to that recipe, making the cookbook very user friendly for the novice cook.
Recipes aren’t the only things you will find in this cookbook, however. It begins with a history of the book and states the author’s philosophy regarding eating, both well and inexpensively (the key is fruits and vegetables). Brown then spends several pages discussing tips for eating well and shopping economically, including supermarket strategies and a list of items she feels are worth the expense. There is a section on what to do with leftovers, so that they are more enticing to eat and a page showing a seasonal growing chart for fruits and vegetables, so that you can purchase produce in season when it tastes best and is the cheapest. Toward the back of the book are sections on flavoring your food, cooking in bulk and other cooking techniques.
The recipes are easy to follow and each dish is nicely displayed. I have only made one recipe out of the book, but it was quite tasty and I will make it again, as well as look for others to try. I love that she offers so many ideas about altering the recipes that the cookbook becomes more of a springboard to countless other creations. I think it is a valuable resource for the cook, especially the novice one, looking to eat well, yet frugally. In addition to assisting those receiving SNAP benefits, it would be a great resource for a college student or someone living on a fixed income. The last thing I really like about this cookbook is the pledge that for every copy bought, a copy will be donated to someone who needs it, but can not afford to purchase it. Furthermore, Brown offers a free downloadable copy of the cookbook on her website for those who either can’t afford a copy or just want to try a recipe or two before purchasing. I encourage you to go to her website and check out this cookbook. The link is provided below.