Good and Cheap is a gorgeous cookbook for people with limited income, particularly those on a $4/day food stamps budget.

Twitter: @leelb | Facebook: eatgoodandcheap


My first cookbook! From Scratch is a vegetarian cookbook intended for people just becoming comfortable in their own kitchens.

What is Good and Cheap?

Good and Cheap is a free PDF cookbook for people with very tight budgets, particularly those on SNAP/Food Stamp benefits. It has been downloaded more than 500,000 times.

After the PDF went viral online, I launched a Kickstarter project to fund a print run, using a "get one, give one" system (like TOMS Shoes) so that people who bought a book for themselves could give another copy to a family in need.

The campaign was tremendously successful — I asked for $10,000 to print a small batch, but I ended up with 5,636 supporters who raised $144,681! That made it the #1 cookbook ever on Kickstarter.

So far, generous backers have donated almost 9,000 printed copies of Good and Cheap to people in need. I've distributed the free books through organizations across the US and Canada who work with low-income families.

After the Kickstarter ended, I continued selling the book to individuals, and I also opened up the store for non-profits to purchase full boxes of books at a massive discount. I will continue to do this until the books are sold out, which looks like it will happen by Christmas 2014.

If you want to see the original video, here it is! (But keep in mind that it's a bit out of date now.)

Is the PDF really free? Can I print some recipes?

Yes it's really free. Sharing the power of cooking is the whole point of the Good and Cheap project. Because the book is under a Creative Commons license, you are free to use the recipes however you like so long as you give me credit and you don't make money off my work. Enjoy it!

How does the Get One, Give One option work?

When you buy a copy of Good and Cheap for, say, $25 (the "Get One, Give One" price), I ship one copy to you and I donate the second copy on your behalf to one of hundreds of non-profits that I'm working with across the US and Canada. Once things calm down at the end of 2014, I'll release a list of all the organizations that have received copies. For a glimpse into that aspect of the project, see the Good and Cheap Facebook page, where we’ve shared some happy photos from those receiving the donated books.

Will you add meal plans?

In the early planning stages, I created weekly and bi-weekly meal plans for families of 1, 2, 3, and 4 people. But they left me feeling pretty unsatisfied — I had to make too many assumptions about people's tastes, seasonal availability of ingredients, and local prices. After a lot of thought, I chose not to include the meal plans.

The truth is that every family and every situation is unique. That's why you should be in charge of planning for your family — you'll do a much better job than I will!

Will you add nutritional information?

I chose not to include nutritional information for a number of reasons. For one, I encourage people to think of recipes as guidelines, not rules. This principle means substituting ingredients based on availability, season, and price. Nutritional information is only accurate if you make a recipe exactly as specified, which discourages substitution and undermines my message.

My other concern is more psychological. In my experience, many people turn away from a book as soon as they see nutritional information or labels like "vegetarian." If they aren't on a diet, or aren't vegetarian themselves, they think "this isn't for me." For this book, I wanted to encourage people to take joy in good, vegetable-centric food that just happens to be healthy.

I know nutritional information is very helpful for some folks, but I figure that most of the time, the people who need healthy food most are the ones who are most put off by talking about it! On balance, I think it's better to leave the nutritional info out.

Of course, if you want to figure out the nutrition information yourself, there are plenty of great tools online, like nutritiondata.self.com.

Will you be translating into other languages?

Yes, I've already recruited a bunch of volunteers for a Spanish translation, and I'll make the Spanish PDF available for free as well. However, I won’t have time to start the translation project until 2015.

As for other languages, I've heard plenty of interest in German, French, Portuguese, and Japanese versions of the book. I won’t be taking on those projects myself, but I’d be more than happy if someone else wanted to. Because Good and Cheap is under a Creative Commons license, you can translate the book yourself so long as you also make the translation free and credit me as the original author.

Can I send you a recipe to add?

I don’t have any plans to add anything to the book, but I am always interested in new recipes, so send 'em my way! Eventually, I'd like to add reader-submitted recipes to this website, so stay tuned for that.

I can't print the PDF easily. Can you help?

Sorry about that. The PDF is meant to look nice on a laptop or tablet screen, but it isn't easy to print. We’re working on a printer-friendly version (without pictures), but it isn't ready yet.

I can't download the PDF. Can you help?

If you're trying to view Good and Cheap on a smartphone but it isn't working, please try a computer. Some phones can't display such a large PDF (8 MB), so that could be the issue. If that still doesn't work for you, please let me know and I’ll try to fix the problem.

Can I save the PDF to my computer?

Yep! To save a copy of Good and Cheap on your computer, right-click this download link instead of left-clicking. You should see a menu with an option like "Save Link As..." or "Save File As...". If you select that option, you'll be able to save the PDF to your computer.

But please check back here from time to time to see if I’ve updated the PDF! If you want to see whether you have the current version, there's a version number on page 2 of the PDF.

Do you do workshops or public speaking?

I hope to be able to offer these services in the future, but right now, the success of the Good and Cheap project has me stretched too thin. Please check back here in the future or contact me if you have a specific query.