Leanne Brown has a hit on her hands. Her cookbook, Good and Cheap, available via PDF, has been downloaded more than 90,000 times in the several weeks since she posted it on her website. But going viral isn’t the intent of this online effort, which Brown developed as the final project for her master’s degree in food studies at New York University. Plenty of people may want to cook good food on the cheap, but Brown’s target audience is the many Americans who rely on food stamps to get by—living on just $4 a day. That’s why she’s raising money on Kickstarter to produce a print version of Good and Cheap.
“I also want to make sure that it gets out to people who don’t have computers, or who wouldn’t otherwise end up seeing it,” she says in her video pitch for the crowdfunding drive. Already, the project has shot past its goal of $10,000, with more than $14,000 raised and 34 days to go.
Recipes like smoky and spicy roasted cauliflower and vegetable jambalaya sound delicious regardless of your budget, which is why Brown is pre-selling printed copies for a $25 backing—and for every book purchased, she will either donate or sell another to the kind of antihunger groups that can get Good and Cheap into the hands of people with a daily food budget that’s equivalent to the price of a few cups of fancy coffee.
“I strove to create recipes that use money carefully, without being purely slavish to the bottom line,” Brown writes in the book’s introduction. “For example, many recipes use butter rather than oil. Butter is not cheap, but it creates flavor, crunch, and richness in a way that cheap oils never can.” The idea is to eat well on a limited budget—there’s a sense of healthfulness that runs through the recipes, with plenty of fruits and vegetables throughout, but there’s pulled pork and roast chicken too. And butter.
“My dream is that everyone who could benefit from this book would be able to get a copy, at whatever price they can afford,” Brown writes on her Kickstarter page. “For many, that means keeping it free—even in printed form.” If the fund-raising campaign crosses the $15,000 threshold, 250 copies will be donated to organizations that will be able to put Good and Cheap into the hands of just such people.