There are few things in this lifetime that bring you as much joy as eating. When you’re broke, though, it’s not as easy to enjoy every single second of it. Groceries can get really expensive really quickly, especially when you’re trying to buy organic food like all those cookbooks say you should.
Unfortunately, it often seems like the only way to eat cheaply is to go for the junk food. But there are so many more options out there that aren’t a Cup of Noodles. For those of us broke women who need some food inspo, there are actually a lot of cookbooks you can use that will give you brilliant ideas. Because one cannot live on the dollar menu alone.
Using cookbooks is a good way to stay on budget. When you know what you’re going to cook and do with the leftovers ahead of time, going grocery shopping is so much easier. Meal planning ahead is far from difficult once you get the hang of it, and it means that you won’t be wasting money on veggies and fruit that will get all mushy before you can devour them (it happens to the best of us).
1Good and Cheap, FREE or $7.99
This cookbook by Leanne Brown was originally created to help people on the SNAP benefits program put together meals that tasted good and were also healthy. You can download it here or buy a printed, bound version on Amazon. In addition to healthy dinner ideas, like the “Tofu Hot Pot,” or “Potato and Kale Rolls with Raita,” there are also recipes for your own staples, like peanut sauce and jarred tomato sauce. All for less than $4 a day.
2Budget Bytes, $12
This cookbook by Beth Moncel was written just after she graduated from college and during the 2008 recession—so she gets it. On Instagram she shares recipes and yummy pictures to inspire you, too.
Jack Monroe knows what’s up when it comes to getting busy in the kitchen, which is why we were so happy to see that she has an entire cookbook devoted to eating healthy and cheaply. Your wallet will be very happy. So will your tummy, come to think of it.
4Vegan on the Cheap, $12.75
Eating vegan can get expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing. But with the 135 recipes in this book, you can get around some of the higher priced dairy substitutes (which aren’t all that good anyway sometimes) and back to basics.
Being single is great, but it can get rough on the grocery budget, since it’s just impossible to eat ALL THAT KALE by yourself before it starts to wilt. This book helps you plan meals for one that are nutritious and cheap.
Anytime you’re working with a specific diet or food allergy, grocery shopping and brainstorming meals gets tough. This collection of gluten free recipes are delicious—and easy on your digestive system.
7Make-Ahead Meals Made Healthy: Exceptionally Delicious and Nutritious Freezer-Friendly Recipes You Can Prepare in Advance and Enjoy at a Moment’s Notice, $12
Meal planning sounds like a huge pain in the butt. But once you start doing it, you’ll notice that you’re eating better and cheaper. Get started if you want to save some money.
Just because you have the munchies doesn’t mean you have to eat total garbage. These vegan recipes, like “Aspara Guy Sushi” or simple corn chowder, are good for your and your credit score.
9The Eat Your Way Healthy at Trader Joe’s Cookbook: Over 75 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Every Meal, $14
Trader Joe’s really can be the cheapest place to shop sometimes and if you know how to do it the right way, it doesn’t have to be all defrosted gnocchi meals. (Although those frozen pastas can be delish, even if not so healthy.) This book helps you cook all kinds of different meals and you won’t even have to switch up your errand routine.
These are all good places to start eating healthy and cheap, but you’ll find that the more you cook at home, the healthier and cheaper it will be—with or without a guide. Bon appetit!