Tag Archives: Leanne Brown

A Thanksgiving Menu for Under $50

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If you’re only cooking for a few this Thanksgiving, and you’re not keen to blow your whole grocery budget on a single meal, I have a few tips for you…

  1. Choose 2-3 of your favorite side dishes. You won’t be “doing it wrong” if you don’t have green bean casserole or stuffing…especially if  you don’t like those dishes anyways.
  2. Don’t waste valuable stomach-space (and cash) on a bunch of pre-dinner nibbles.
  3. Pick up one decadent dessert from a local bakery. Unless you bake on the regular, the ingredient list for your favorite pie may not be worth the hassle.
  4. Consider roasting a chicken instead of a turkey. I know, I know…super unorthodox suggestion but when cooking for less people it just makes sense.

With these nuggets of knowledge in mind, I turned to one of my favorite cook books to construct a menu. Good and Cheap by Leanne Brown is an amazing resource for anyone ballin’ on a budget (no matter the time of year). AND it’s available as a FREE PDF. Go check it out!

Here’s a Thanksgiving meal for 4 folks (or 2 with a healthy dose of leftovers). While it may not be the most traditional of menus; the recipes are easy, the costs are low, and waste is minimal. I love that the spotlight is on seasonal produce…a wonderful bounty to celebrate at any table, but it feels especially appropriate for a Thanksgiving feast! Switch the chicken out for turkey (or a turkey breast), if you like. Or nab a Tofurkey if you’re vegetarian. (Cost of each dish is indicated below.)

Appetizer

Classic Deviled Eggs (p.137) $3.60

Starter

Lightly Curried Butternut Squash Soup (p.26) $6

Main Course

Roast Chicken (p.78) $10

Cauliflower Cheese (p.93) $6.60

Roasted Vegetables (p.106) $5

Whole-Wheat Jalapeno Cheddar Scones (p.15) $4.50 *note – I would sub diced apple for the jalapeno in this recipe to make it a bit more autumnal. 

Dessert

Pumpkin Pie Rice Pudding (p.175) $2.40

Total cost of meal = $38.10 (which leaves you $11.90 to nab your favorite pie from some place local!).

Pick up a bottle of Cab and a bottle of Chardonnay and Bob’s your Uncle — budget-friendly Thanksgiving Day is a go!

What are YOUR top tips for saving money on Thanksgiving? Will you be hosting this year or enjoying dinner with friends and family? Would you ever consider CHICKEN on Turkey Day?! (Chet, a former butcher, swears up and down that no one actually likes turkey anyways. LOL! He prepared a delicious chicken last year and I gotta say…I’m now a fan of the Thanksgiving Chicken.) 

 

Eat well on $4 a day.

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Good and Cheap, the Kickstarter funded PDF which showcases how to eat well on ANY budget, is now available in book form! Leanne Brown created this collection of go-to recipes while pursuing a master’s in food studies and food policy from New York University. Brown believes, “everyone should eat great food every day. Eating well means learning to cook. It means banishing the mindset that preparing daily meals is a huge chore or takes tremendous skill.” Good and Cheap was created with many budget savvy folks in mind, but particularly those living on the U.S. food stamp budget of $4 a day. The book teaches you how to prepare dishes ranging from tomato soup to deconstructed cabbage rolls, gives handy tips for creative leftovers, and features gorgeous photography.

Kudos to Leanne for this amazing idea and for her  continued efforts to get a copy in the hands of those who may need it the most. I’m thrilled to have this reference handy! It’s become a favorite guide in my kitchen and a lovely book just to flip through for inspiration.

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Need even MORE of a reason to purchase?  For every copy bought, a free copy will be given to a person or family in need. Books are distributed through food charities and non-profits so that someone else can have a resource for making healthy and delicious food. Buy one. Give one. Pretty cool, right?

P.S. A meal plan I created using recipes from Good and Cheap and my thoughts on food culture.

mid-week round-up

zebraWhat are you up to this week, loves? We saw a Bluegrass band play Monday night at the weekly Southland Jamboree. It was nice to have an excuse to eat dinner outside and we even (accidentally) showed up matching.  It took my mom pointing it out for us to notice! Thanks for all your love on my barrage of social media activity about our recent trip to Savannah. I had such a wonderful time and can’t wait to go back. And shout out to the new Mr. and Mrs. Berger!

OH, and speaking of Savannah, thanks to the million hour car ride I’m now obsessed with Snapchat. So…follow me at bberg1012 if you’re into Snappin’! Now onto the links…

America falls behind on language learning.

These new homes offer a (submerged) sea view.

A true icon of dance.

Your yoga flow with x-ray vision.

Illustrator says, “…animals lives are so sad and so weird.”

The shape of a healthy spine may surprise you.

Many women’s prisons use periods to punish inmates.

What to do on a short stay in Savannah.

A podcast featuring an interview with one of my ballin’ on a budget muses, Leanne Brown.

Absurdly unequal use of the term terrorism.

To Kill a Mockingbird tank for the literary lady.

Where my speech folks at? #ballotshame

“Good and Cheap”-How to eat on a shoestring budget. Pt. 2!

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As I mentioned yesterday, I’m a huge fan of Leanne Brown’s cookbook Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day. I’ve been trying out some of Brown’s recipes and I have to say my tastebuds are pleased! The Spicy Green Bean dish satisfied my craving for Chinese take-out…spicy and gingery, I served it over brown rice with a poached egg on top and it transformed from a side dish into a hearty meal (an idea Brown suggests). I repurposed the leftovers into lunch by mixing with scrambled eggs. The Creamy Zucchini Fettucine was off the charts! I batch cooked this to have several servings on hand for take-to-work meals and it was the perfect way to use up some garden bounty. And of course I love pretty much anything on toast.

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fettuccine

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While my food budget isn’t as stringent as those receiving food stamps, it’s nice to have a resource for eating REAL foods on the cheap. And perhaps some of y’all would agree! For some added help, I’ve devised a really simple meal plan utilizing recipes found with in Good and Cheap. I created it with a few things in mind:

– This meal plan is perfect if you’re cooking for a household of 1-2. The meals have been chosen with simplicity and speed in mind so as to be suitable for individuals who work full-time or are in school.

– This meal plan is by no means the CHEAPEST way to eat for a week using Brown’s cookbook and would not be a good resource if you’re “emergency eating”.

– I have included 3 meals to be eaten “out” because that is feasible for my budget. Setting limits is key! Total restriction will just set yourself up for failure. If eating out is important to your social life and you ENJOY it, find a way to make it work for you. For example, grabbing a scone and a mocha with a friend for breakfast instead of dinner and drinks at a downtown restaurant.

– I’m working under the assumption that shopping would occur once, at the beginning of the week (perhaps Sunday right after brunch). This is why the fresher ingredients are incorporated earlier, like salads and yogurt, while things like canned tomatoes and dried chickpeas can wait until the end.

– The recipes I chose reflect what’s in season for me (early August in Kentucky) and therefore, I know I can get cheaply (summer squash, green beans, peaches). I also chose recipes based on what I have built up in my own pantry (noodles and oatmeal). Other ingredients I either know I can get from bulk bins, meaning I can get the exact amount the recipe calls for (chickpeas and shredded coconut), OR are just always cheap options (eggs, bread, onions, bananas and sweet potatoes).

– This meal plan doesn’t include snacks. If you’re especially active (ie. bike or walk to commute, work out frequently or play a sport) you might need a little extra fuel. I would purchase a big bunch of bananas to have on hand and freeze half. Snack on the bananas and mix the frozen ones with almond milk and protein powder (add other frozen fruit, cocoa powder, greens, etc. if you’ve got ‘em) for a smoothie. Hard-boil a few of your eggs and keep them in the fridge for a quick shot of protein. Or, like me, you could just shove a spoonful of peanut butter in your mouth. No judgement.

– This meal plan is vegetarian. If you have a freezer full of meat I would say throw some chicken in the pasta or quesadillas, some sausage with the green beans, have bacon when you scramble eggs…it’s really up to you.

So, here ya go…

How to eat Good and Cheap for a week:


Sunday

B- Brunch out- Who doesn’t love brunch on Sunday morning? Make it an AFFAIR–read the Sunday New York Times or a few chapters of your current novel, order a fancy coffee drink, invite your friends–and it will be well worth using up one of your allotted 3 trips to eat out. Personally, I would go for a bagel sandwich and iced coffee from somewhere local or a GIANT pastry and espresso from my trusty Starbucks.

L- Taco Salad- I call these Haystacks and they’re the perfect way to use up stuff you have from the week before (leftover black beans, the bottom bits in a bag of tortilla chips, salsa) OR if you don’t have leftovers add some toppings to your grocery list and then use them again tomorrow to dress your sweet potatoes.

D- Creamy Zucchini Fettucine- Go ahead and make plenty so you’ll have leftovers for lunches! I can say from experience that this dish reheats quite nicely, just reserve some of the cheese to sprinkle on top with a few cracks of black pepper.

Monday-

B- Yogurt Smash- This is an example of one of Brown’s “ideas” sections. She encourages you to buy a big container of plain yogurt and mix-in whatever you like with each serving you scoop out. The skies the limit! I usually do half a banana and some nuts or granola. Maybe a spoonful of jam. If i’m feeling really crazy, I mix in peanut butter and chocolate chips. : )

L- leftover fettuccine and side salad

D- Jacket Sweet Potatoes- Remember, you can use the sour cream and cheese from your taco salad or whatever else you have on hand–corn, salsa, beans, etc.

Tuesday-

B- Yogurt Smash

L- leftover fettuccine and baby carrots- I’m addicted to baby carrots. Nary a week goes by without me purchasing them.

D- caramelized onions and cheddar on toast w/ a simple green salad (chickpeas on top)- This is a fool-proof fast-food meal without the drive through. You’ll literally be in and out of the kitchen in minutes. Perfect for those nights when you have extra things to do in the evening after you’ve ALREADY put in an 8-hour day at work.

Wednesday-

B- Yogurt Smash

L- lunch out- Middle of the week, didn’t feel like packing your lunch, don’t worry you’re covered.

D- Spicy green beans over brown rice with a poached or fried egg on top- Like I said before, this meal will definitely satisfy any take-out craving you may be harboring. Slather on the sriracha and get those sinuses all cleared out.

Thursday-

B- Yogurt Smash

L- last of the fettuccine with a peach- Hopefully with the break on Wednesday you’re ready to give this fettuccine one last spin. The juicy peach is a great lunchbox treat. I prefer to eat my peaches in private so it can be a full on, juice-slurping, dripping down my arm EXPERIENCE.

D- Spicy green beans in a 3 egg scramble with whole wheat toast- I’m a big believer in eating breakfast for dinner one night a week. Here’s a great way to do it while also utilizing leftovers. Win-win.

Friday-

B- Lime and Coconut oatmeal- The yogurt is gone and it’s time to hit up the pantry stock. I always have oats on hand and Brown offers 6 ways to dress them up. This one seemed the most summery to me! You could get a tiny bag of shredded coconut from the bulk bin and use one of the limes you have on hand because gin and tonics. ; ) 

L- Chana Masala- Because dinner came together so quickly last night (scramble some eggs, throw in leftovers, toast the toast, DONE), I would prepare this the night before. Dishes like these always taste better the next day anyways, after the spices have had ample time to soak in.

D- Green Chili and Cheddar Quesadillas- While I’m partial to pizza for my Friday nights, I think the idea here is similar–something you can eat with your hands (cut into triangles lol) while sitting on the couch marathoning a new show on Netflix and basking in newly acquired weekend laziness.

Movie Night Snack- POPCORN- And if you REALLY wanted to get comfortable on that couch, Brown gives you 8 different suggestions for creative toppings to kick stovetop popcorn up a notch! Dare I say, even a bit gourmet.

Saturday-

B- Tomato scramble and fruit salad (peach and banana w/ shredded coconut)- If you still have some bread left throw the scramble on top of a thick slice of toast. Slice the rest of your bananas, chop up a peach into bite-size pieces and throw the rest of your coconut on top for a fruit salad with a tropical flair. Perfect for a lazy weekend breakfast at home. If you are lucky enough to have a porch, eat outside. Have a second cup of coffee. No rush.

L- Chana Masala wrap w/ baby carrots- I love that Brown discusses cool ways to repurpose leftovers. This is one of her ideas! Use the tortillas that you got for the quesadillas, spread with some spiced mayo and throw the rest of your chana masala in and wrap it up.

D- Dinner out- You’ve cooked a LOT this week. You deserve it.

Dessert- Peach Coffee Cake and hot tea- You can make this beforehand but eating it at the end of the day will feel like such a treat! Eat one slice now as your dessert and save the rest for next week as lunch box treats or to crumble on top of your Yogurt Smash. Isn’t repurposing fun? : )

For further reading on Leanne Brown’s cookbook click here and here.

And for the cookbook itself CLICK HERE.

I highly recommend it. xoxo

 

“Good and Cheap”–How to eat on a shoestring budget.

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Working with and around food, farmers and vendors, I have an ever-growing interest in food security, food access and the general public’s ability to make healthy and sustainable meals to nourish themselves. I’m also a gal who works full-time, is on a budget myself and wants to eat smart. Which is why, when I found out about a new (free!) cookbook marketed towards those trying to cook healthy, delicious meals on a shoestring budget I knew I had to check it out. Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day aims to help the 40 million families enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP) but it’s a wealth of information for any individual trying to do more with less. Families enrolled in SNAP receive, on average, $133 per person, per month for food. Which, according to a recent article in National Geographic, “To eat well on that tiny amount, you have to be canny and creative. Most of all, though, you have to know how to cook—not showily, Food Network style, but thriftily, from dried beans and root vegetables and the bony bits of meat. It’s the sort of thing that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers knew, but that most of us never had to learn.”

Creator of this new cookbook masterpiece, Leanne Brown, moved from Canada to New York City to study food policy. She volunteered with food access programs to understand the very real struggles of food insecurity and devise a solution–a collection of recipes, ideas and methods that would help mold $4 a day into a nourishing, sustainable way of eating.

I LOVE her cookbook for several reasons. Most notably, her focus on produce. With a couple of bucks in hand to spend on food, it’s easy to look at your choices in the supermarket and settle on a few packaged boxes. Those seem to be the cheapest options. This just isn’t the case. Fruits and vegetables, in season, actually give you far more bang for your buck. Combine this produce with eggs, whole grains, beans and an assortment of spices and you’re well on your way to a multitude of meals. Many of Brown’s recipes are vegetarian which I also think is refreshing. Too often, resources geared towards individuals on food stamps or a strict budget offer plans that try to squeeze meat into most meals. Purchasing that much meat just isn’t feasible for many and trying to work it in can drain your funds quickly, forcing you to make sacrifices with other ingredients–canned instead of fresh, processed instead of whole-grain. The recipes in Good and Cheap are adaptable. Add in the meat when you can spend more, when you can’t–they’ll still be delicious and contain plenty of protein. And it’s this idea, that Brown is teaching you the tricks to cooking from scratch (literally and figuratively), which is another great thing about this resource. Instead of giving individuals who are financially struggling a sermon about how they should be using their limited resources, she writes whole sections of “ideas” and “methods” not hard and fast RULES. Her tone is gentle and encouraging not condescending and preachy.

Not to mention, Brown addresses several of my own go-to tricks I’ve learned during summers spent scrappily trying to squeak by on a 9 month contract or weeks when unexpected expenses left the piggy bank a little bare– 1) Oatmeal and yogurt for breakfast–they’re basically just vehicles for other odds and ends you have in your kitchen, ie. they’ll taste like anything you put in them. Plus, super cheap to buy a whole bunch of ‘em. 2) Need protein? Add an egg. 3) PUT SHIT ON TOAST–BAM! Now it’s a meal. 4) Just drink water. 5) Seasonal produce can be your best friend. Even better? Grow your own. 6) Spend a few bucks each time you shop to build up your pantry. Think spices, olive oil, bulk dry goods.

If you haven’t yet, go check out this fantastic resource. Brown is doing amazing work and her cookbook is a far cry from the government issued pamphlets usually doled out to those receiving food assistance. Her produce-driven plan for eating sustainably makes shopping local seem affordable and attainable for those on a budget. Offering the added benefit of a supported local economy and more farmers staying on the farm. All in all, Brown’s book gets a HUGE thumbs up from this girl!

Oh, and check back tomorrow! I’ll be sharing my own experiences with some of the recipes from Good and Cheap along with… a SURPRISE!