When Leanne Brown moved to New York from Canada to earn a master's in food studies at New York University, she couldn't help noticing that Americans on a tight budget were eating a lot of processed foods heavy in carbs.
"It really bothered me," she says. "The 47 million people on food stamps — and that's a big chunk of the population — don't have the same choices everyone else does."
Brown guessed that she could help people in SNAP, the federal government's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, find ways to cook filling, nourishing and flavorful meals. So she set out to write a cookbook full of recipes anyone could make on a budget of just $4 a day.
The result is Good and Cheap, which is free online and has been downloaded over 200,000 times since she posted it on her website in early June. A July Kickstarter campaign also helped Brown raise $145,000 to print copies for people without computer access.
So what are Brown's secrets to eating well on $4 a day? It's about stocking the pantry with cheap basics to build meals from: things like garlic, canned vegetables, dried beans and butter.
She also emphasizes flexibility, and avoids prescribing strict meals and methods. That means lots of options for substitutions, especially when it comes to the produce aisle, where prices can fluctuate based on season and availability. Each meal is priced out by serving.