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.
Last week for school I had to do a 5 day food stamp challenge. Our guidelines were to stick to four dollars a day and to try to follow dietary guidelines – calories, whole grains, proteins, and all the rest that entails. At first I was skeptical but I realized that a lot of the foods I make in bulk and prepare are actually great options for people eating well on a budget.
For example, a (these are costco prices…) banana, 1/2 cup oatmeal, 1/2 cup lf milk for breakfast cost about 30 cents a day. Making a big ol’ pot of quinoa cost about 15 cents a serving and a big pot of ratatouille to go on top was about 30 cents a serving. Plenty of veggies, fiber, protein and whole grains! Meat was tricky though! And any spontaneous, hunger driven eating could quickly drive up the days total.
There are also programs that give those on SNAP 2 extra dollars per five spent at farm stands here in NYC.
If you’re looking for some more ideas, the link below has some good ones!
Nutrition On a Budget – MSN
“That giant cylinder of plain oats is one of the simplest, most nutritious foods on the planet,” says registered dietician Lisa Andrews of Sound Bites Nutrition. “It’s a great source of complex carbohydrates and soluble fiber, and can be easily doctored up with cinnamon, vanilla or dried fruit.” Plus, at only about 13 cents a serving, it would be tough to find a better bargain for breakfast. (Just avoid those prepared packets, which are pricier and also loaded with sugar.)
1. Go orgo-generic: Major grocery store chains like Safeway and Kroger, and big box food retailers like Costco and even Wal-Mart, now carry their own organic foods. And all foods labeled “USDA organic” are created equal, no matter where you find them. No need to upscale your grocery store when Wal-Mart gets it done.
2. Buy frozen: Frozen foods (like strawberries and fish) are cheaper than those that are delivered fresh. So if the prices on fresh produce are eye-popping, cruise on over to the frozen food aisle for a discount.
3. Eat with the season: Retrain your taste buds to think like your grandmother did. She didn’t eat strawberries in the middle of winter. Locally grown foods are usually cheaper than those flown in from another hemisphere, so if you eat with the season, you’ll be eating more affordably.
In an effort to lower the amount of BPA I consume (and to NOT pay $4.29 per Amy’s Organic Lentil soup can, which still contains BPA. Thank you NYC for that price hike.) I made my first soup yesterday. It’s still bubbling along this morning and I have to say I’m sold!
Here’s why you should consider adding lentils to your diet too:
Low Cost: I bought a huge bag of green lentils for under ten dollars at Costco.
Protein: Lentils have the largest amount of protein per weight of any plant based food.
Easy: to both digest and cook. Because of their smaller size they cook faster than other legumes.
Fiber: They contain both soluble and insoluble types. (Which keeps you fuller, lowers cholesterol, … More on fiber to come soon.)
Nutrients: They’re a good source of Folate, Iron, Vitamin B and Potassium, among others.
Blood Sugar Stability: thanks to fiber they help to maintain balanced blood sugar levels
In a crock pot I added about 7 cups of water to two (soaked overnight) cups of lentils. I added a couple of stalks of celery, a couple of carrots, corn, some tomatoes, broccoli – really any veggies I had on hand. I also threw in some salt, pepper, olive oil, and basil and parsley from the garden. It’s been simmering away for about 8 hours. The recipe I found online said it should be done by now but I’ve noticed the lentils seem a bit too tough and the longer I’ve let it sit the yummier it gets.
Let me know if you try it or if there’s anything else you think I should add to it! About to help myself to another bowl.