Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review: Good and Cheap: Eat Well On $4/Day by Leanne Brown

Title: Good and Cheap: Eat Well On $4/Day
Author: Leanne Brown
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: July 14th 2015
Source: Workman Publishing Company

Book Description:

A perfect and irresistible idea: A cookbook filled with delicious, healthful recipes created for everyone on a tight budget—and a cookbook with a strong charitable component: With every copy of Good and Cheap purchased, a second copy will be given to a person or family in need.

While studying food policy as a master’s candidate at NYU, Leanne Brown asked a simple yet critical question: How well can a person eat on the $4 a day given by SNAP, the U.S. government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program informally known as food stamps? The answer is surprisingly well: Broiled Tilapia with Lime, Spicy Pulled Pork, Green Chile and Cheddar Quesadillas, Vegetable Jambalaya, Beet and Chickpea Salad—even desserts like Coconut Chocolate Cookies and Peach Coffee Cake. In addition to creating nutritious recipes that maximize every ingredient and use economical cooking methods, Ms. Brown gives tips on shopping; on creating pantry basics; on mastering certain staples—pizza dough, flour tortillas—and saucy extras that make everything taste better, like spice oil and tzatziki; and how to make fundamentally smart, healthful food choices.

Download a free PDF copy at



Two and a half stars.

First, I'd like to say that I appreciate that (at least as of the time that I'm writing this review) the author has placed this cookbook as a free PDF on her website. Since the point of the book is to eat on 4$ a day and is aimed at those on SNAP, I'm really happy to see that a lot of people will have access to this guide.

That's really how to take this book- as a guide, not so much as a recipe book. The book straight up says that there's a lot of room for variety, and to alter them. Which I would, because a lot of these recipes are vegetarian. There's nothing wrong with that, but it was a bit disappointing to me. I understand that meat is expensive, but I still expected more. A lot of the recipes are very boring and bland sounding.

This book also does start with a disclaimer, that the average of 4$ on SNAP (in the title of the book) isn't everywhere, that all of the ingredients aren't available everywhere, and things of that nature, which is another reason I'd use this as more of a guideline than a cookbook.

One of the issues with this book- through no real fault of the author- is that just because it costs $4 a day to make the dish, doesn't mean it actually costs $4 at the time when you're purchasing your groceries. Some ingredients, such as Dijon mustard and Romano cheese aren't necessarily the cheapest ingredients in the world. While the 1/4 of a cup I'm using for today's portion might only cost $.75 or however much, I'm still going to have to pay the full $6 at the grocery store, because unfortunately you can't just get a dollop of ingredients here and there as you need them. This makes it harder to budget, in my opinion.

On a similar note, I was really surprised that equipment such as food processors made an appearance. I don't have one of those, and I cook quite a bit. How are people who are in serious need expected to have one? Granted, the author does point out that not everyone has one, but the fact that it was entertained at all irks me.

I've been on SNAP. My family has never been rich, and I'm well used to having to shop within small means. Because of this fact, a lot of this cookbook was just common sense. There's a lot of recipes that use things such as hot dogs, eggs, oatmeal, and popcorn. It's pretty much common sense that things like this are cheap. I didn't learn it from looking at this book. I think a lot of people who have lived this way will already know this, but I guess it might be helpful to people who are new to SNAP?

Normally, this is where I'd highlight a few recipes that I'd like to try, but honestly there weren't any. I think the author is doing a great thing, and I genuinely hope that this helps some people who need it to make better food choices and to make the best out of their food stamps. However, as someone who isn't new to a budget, this wasn't anything I didn't already know, and the recipes either didn't sound that great to me or were basic enough that I don't need a recipe for it. I'd recommend it for those looking to cut down on spending and for vegetarians- it's a very veggie-centric book.

I received a copy in exchange for my honest review.

1 comment:

  1. While I'm bummed that you didn't get much from this book, I'm glad that it exists for those who will need a guide to making the best out of their food stamps.