Free Cookbook Teaches You How to Eat Well on $4 a Day

The grocery stores are full of really cheap junk foods and prepared foods, most of which aren’t really conducive to optimal health, but which might appeal to the frugal shopper, the penny pincher, and those on a limited income. And if you don’t have the skills or the recipes necessary to turn basic staple ingredients into healthy meals, eating poorly can turn into a self-sustaining habit that yields a diet low in nutrients and high in added sugars (and other subpar ingredients).

One big factor in maintaining a healthy lifestyle for yourself and your family is sticking to a good diet made from real foods, which is all well and good if you’ve got a decent food budget, but another thing entirely if you’re just scraping by every month. But thanks to the work of Leanne Brown, you can learn how to put healthy food on the table, without sacrificing taste or variety, even on a very limited budget of $4 a day.

For her final project for a master’s degree in food studies at New York University, Leanne Brown created a beautiful and practical cookbook, titledGood and Cheap, which includes over 130 pages of recipes that fit into a $4 a day food budget, along with enticing photos of the prepared dishes.

“It bothered me that so many ideas for fixing the food system leave out the poor: it seemed like they didn’t have a voice in the food movement. I wanted to create a resource that would promote the joy of cooking and show just how delicious and inspiring a cheap meal can be if you cook it yourself.” – Leanne Brown, Good and Cheap

While the book was originally written with the intent to help poor families, who may receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps) benefits, to eat better, learning how to eat healthy on a tight budget is something that many of us aspire to, especially families that are already trying to stretch their budgets thin enough to cover all of their expenses.

The good news is that you don’t have to go out and buy another cookbook in order to learn how to eat on as little as $4 a day, as Brown is giving away her cookbook as a free PDF download from her website. But because not everyone has access to a computer, especially in the kitchen, a print version of the book is in the works, and the crowdfunding campaign to finance its production is also helping to underwrite a ‘buy one, give one’ initiative that aims to put the cookbooks in front of those who could most benefit from them.

If you’d like to have a print copy ofGood and Cheap for yourself, and want to help get this cookbook in the hands of organizations that support low-income families, consider backingBrown’s Kickstarter campaign, where pledges of $25 and up will receive a copy, and will underwrite a donated copy for someone who needs it.

For those who would just like to learn how to eat well on $4 a day, grab yourfree download of Good and Cheap at Brown’s website, and take a look at her other free cookbook,From Scratch, while you’re at it. If it’s at all helpful to you, take a minute to say thanks to Brown via herGood and Cheap Facebook page oron Twitter.

By Derek Markham, TreeHugger
Image: screenshot from Good and Cheap video



Val M.
Val M3 years ago

Thank you - bookmarked

Elena T.
Elena Poensgen3 years ago

Thank you :)

Sandra I.
Sandra I3 years ago

thanks! i wanted to start making our tortillas since i noticed a lot of them have palm oil in them -- she has a very easy recipe!

Jana DiCarlo
Jana DiCarlo3 years ago

some nifty ideas. Just be careful to use quality ingredients , rather than just cheap ingredients!!

M.N. J3 years ago

Small steps can result in positive change.

A man in Los Angeles got the city council to suspend the fines they used to charge people for growing herbs and vegetables in the plot of land between sidewalk and street.

But first he was issued citations and arrest warrants. His story with pictures of his garden:

Here's another article (more pictures) and a short radio story about "the guerrilla gardener" from a local NPR station:

Even if you can't garden yourself, you want to live near people with these edible parkways, because it promotes a neighborly community, it looks beautiful, and every vegetable gardener knows that once the summer gets going the tomatoes and zucchini have to be given away in mass quantities to anyone nearby. Otherwise you'd suffocate under all the produce they ... um, produce.

.3 years ago

Sarah MacDonald
Sarah MacDonald3 years ago

I just downloaded the PDF, and I think this is great. It's got a lot of creative, delicious sounding recipes that make budget cooking (assuming you have the means to store and cook food properly) a lot less frustrating. In fact, I'm looking forward to trying out some of these recipes right away. I think some cornmeal crusted zucchini sound delicious for lunch... and I just happen to have some zucchini that need eating up.

Bob P.


John S.
Past Member 3 years ago

Did you actually read the recipes? I'm not sure using left-overs is a way to reduce cost because you first have to buy the ingredient. Otherwise, it seems like just another cookbook. You make it sound like it has recipes and meal plans so that the meals are healthy.

Ly T.
Ly T3 years ago

Nice, thanks!