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It’s August and for lots of people that means back to school. To many people that might mean getting new clothes, buying new books, and getting back into the habit of getting in bed early after a summer of late, fun-filled nights. For some it even means going off to college and living on your own for the first time. For those of you that find yourself in this new situation, I’ll offer a few words of warning: what may not be obvious on that first foray into adulthood, is that with your newfound freedom, gone are the days of all-you-can eat buffets courtesy of Mom and Dad’s kitchen. Your first real apartment has come complete with an empty pantry and suddenly it seems that you’ve found yourself on the “no money, no food” diet.
Well if you’re down to those last few pennies after dropping a thousand dollars on textbooks and you’re having trouble finding something that fits your budget other than ramen, never fear. We at the library have plenty of books for the budget gourmet.
Written by food blogger Emily Wight, Well Fed, Flat Broke starts off with tips about what sorts of things to stock in your pantry (along with a few tips on grocery shopping), and then moves on to many recipes for cooks on a budget. The chapters all begin with food related anecdotes (the chapter on chicken tells the story of when the author, in attempt to impress her parents, combined every chicken recipe she knew and ended up accidentally serving them raw chicken. She’s learned her lesson since then, though) and end with some very interesting recipes.
Eat Vegan on $4 a Day by Ellen Jaffe Jones
If you’re struggling with living a cash-strapped lifestyle while trying to maintain a cruelty-free diet, check out Eat Vegan on $4 a Day. This vegan cookbook contains recipes for all sorts of low budget items, many with clever names like the Portobello poor boy sandwich, penny pincher pitas, and penne for pennies. Each meal includes the average cost per serving.
This colorful cookbook contains 154 recipes for home cooks on a budget. Each recipe is accompanied by a picture of the finished product for those that prefer to see what their meal is supposed to look like when it’s done, and each recipe contains “kitchen tips” for that specific recipe. Like Eat Vegan on $4 a Day, each recipe also contains a breakdown of the cost per serving.
If you’re looking to convert those pennies into a bit more of a fancy meal, look no further than The Frugal Foodie Cookbook. While some recipes may be a little more expensive than in some of the other books featured here, recipes like Gruyere Cheese Steak for a party of four at a total of $16 still doesn’t quite break the bank. In fact, most costs per serving fall in the $4 to $5 range. And that date you’re trying to impress will never know that they were wowed by $2 worth of dessert!
Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories from Behind Bars by Clifton Collins Jr. and Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez
While the other books on this list do have some great recipes, sometimes you really don’t feel like making much more than pre-packaged noodles. So if you actually do just want to sit down and have a bowl of ramen, you might try to spruce it up a bit with a recipe from this book. Written by actor Clifton Collins Jr. (Capote) and former inmate Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez, Prison Ramen is a collection of stories from both inmates and celebrities (many of them actors and filmmakers that have famously played inmates) followed by, you guessed it, ramen recipes.
The $7 A Meal Mediterranean Cookbook by Dawn Altomari-Rathjen, Jennifer M. Bendelius, and Lea Traverse
Looking for something a little more international for dinner? The $7 a Meal Mediterranean Cookbook is full of Mediterranean favorites like stuffed grape leaves, Souvlaki, and Shish Kabobs. Also includes average cost to make each dish (like the calzone for only $2.41!).
Wildly Affordable Organic by Linda Watson
Finally, if you’re one of those people that makes an effort to be a bit more conscious of what goes into the food that goes into your body you probably already know that eating organic food on a budget can be a bit of a challenge. Not just a traditional cookbook, Wildly Affordable Organic also includes tips on shopping, cleaning, and meal planning, and includes not only recipes but also sample meal plans for up to three weeks at a time and even menus specific to the season.