All About Good and Cheap

Good and Cheap, is a cookbook for people with very tight budgets, particularly those on SNAP/Food Stamps benefits. The PDF is free (ahora en Español!), and has been downloaded more than 15,000,000 times. It is also available in print, and for every copy sold we donate one to someone who can’t afford it. 

Good and Cheap has had an unusual journey into publishing. It started out as the thesis for my Masters degree in Food Studies at NYU. I made a digital version of the book, but didn’t have any kind of distribution or marketing plan. After some fruitless attempts at working with non-profits I had done research and work with I decided to simply offer it as free download on a simple website. 

A few weeks later someone posted it on reddit and I was astonished by the interest and website hits! The book was downloaded so many times that first day that it crashed my website!  Suddenly my inbox was full of kind advice, stories, gratitude and encouragement from strangers who wanted to get the book out there as much as I did! 

With that encouragement and proof that there was an interested audience I started a Kickstarter project to fund a print run of Good and Cheap to get it into the hands of those who can’t afford a copy. For every copy sold, we would give another away. For the summer of 2014 I worked night and day along with my now-husband Dan and many generous friends to make the project a reality. We were trying to raise $10k but ended up with a whopping $144k—the experience changed my life. This allowed us to print 40 000 copies of the book, giving away one for every copy sold to someone who couldn’t otherwise afford it. We also made 25 000 available for just $4/copy to organizations who work with target populations. It was amazing! Also completely wild and exhausting and unsustainable. But luckily we got help.

The next chapter of the Good and Cheap saga was that I found a wonderful publishing home in Workman Publishing. I never thought the book could be a commercial success, indeed that was why I did it as a master’s thesis, because I didn’t see how it could work commercially. I was so happy to be wrong. Workman was supportive of the buy one, give one model from the beginning and have been even more insatiable than I was about getting it into the hands of non-profits at deep deep discounts. In 2015 I got to go on a massive book tour, meet so many incredible people, share stories and generally bask in the glow of all the incredible work people are doing. In addition, Good and Cheap won the 2015 IACP Judge’s Choice Award, I made the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for Food and Drink, and Food & Wine and Fortune named me one of the Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink. Good grief!

Frequently asked questions about Good and Cheap

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 1st edition 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!

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?

The Spanish edition, Bueno y Barato, is now available above! As with the English version, for every copy you buy, Workman Publishing donates another copy to an organization that works with low-income families.

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 the 1st edition of 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!

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. However, many of the recipes from Good and Cheap are available as individual pages on this site and they print just fine. Take a look at the recipe index to find the ones you want to print.

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?

Yes! Please contact Ashley Cave-Himes at the Workman Speakers Bureau:

I’m Diabetic, can I use these recipes?

While I did not design Good and Cheap with any particular dietary needs in mind, many of the recipes work well for folks with Diabetes and other chronic illnesses. Since I’m not an expert, the book doesn’t say which recipe work for diabetic diets, nor is the glycemic load information available.

Leanne Brown

Hi! I'm Leanne Brown, a home cook in Brooklyn by way of Canada. I write cookbooks, like the ones below!

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Good Enough cover

COMING JANUARY 4! My newest creation, Good Enough, is a self-care cookbook that offers personal and vulnerable storytelling, delicious recipes, and encouraging advice to teach you how to accept yourself, love yourself, and find peace through the act of cooking. Please pre-order now!

Good and Cheap cover 2nd edition

Good and Cheap is a gorgeous cookbook for people with limited income, particularly on a $4/day food stamps budget. The PDF is free (ahora en Español!) and has been downloaded over 15,000,000 times. I have more cookbooks!

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