At the same time as 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 referred to 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. Along with creating nutritious recipes that maximize each and 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.
The idea for Good and Cheap is already proving itself. The creator launched a Kickstarter campaign to self-publish and fund the buy one/give one model. Hundreds of thousands of viewers watched her video and donated $145,000, and national media are paying attention. Even high-profile chefs and food writers have taken note—like Mark Bittman, who retweeted the link to the campaign; Francis Lam, who known as it “Terrific!”; and Michael Pollan, who cited it as a “cool kickstarter.” In the same way that TOMS turned inexpensive, stylish shoes into a larger do-good movement, Good and Cheap is poised to turn out to be a cookbook that each and every food lover with a judgment of right and wrong will embrace.