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Good and Cheap Cooking Adventure!

Marbles the Chef Cat Helps!
This moment mind sound familiar... where you look in the fridge and you don't have quite all the fixings. Or, your budget is so tight you can't afford to go to the store to pick out ingredients for a special recipe. Or, like many SNAP users, your benefits only cover a grocery budget that comes down to $4 a day.

I decided to see if there was a recipe in Good & Cheap that helped me make a meal using what I had. I was happily surprised that there was indeed! And even though I didn't have quite all the right stuff, it was still a culinary adventure and I ended up cooking a meal for myself and my father for under $5.00.

Welcome to my kitchen! Hot plate, clean skillet and ingredients are ready to go...

Ingredients (also known as, Using What Ya Got!)
I realized I would have to majorly improvise. I didn't have the type of noodles the recipe called for, but I thought the Soba noodles would be a good substitute. I had a tomato that was very over-ripe, one small eggplant that desperately needed to be eaten and some fresh basil that my friend just happened to give me the other day. I had a small block of cheese that I figured I would grate, even though the recipe called for a Romano or Parmesan. I had on hand some garlic powder and red pepper flakes. I thought they would be a good substitute for actual garlic and the spice would be close enough to the red chilli flakes that the recipe called for.

I've had that salt for ages! It came in handy for this recipe.

I didn't have any measuring cups, so I was really winging it.

I wasn't sure how much 4 cloves of garlic would be in powder amount, so I just threw a dash in and hoped I knew my tastebuds well enough!

When you don't have a lid for the only cookpot in the house...

While the eggplant was simmering in the garlic, salt and red pepper flakes, I realized it would take a very long time to get the water to boil without a cover. So I used this metal bowl! It worked out pretty well.

I used up most of the basil plant. Even the bits that were going brown. I chopped it in very small pieces, and it tasted great!

Once the pasta was done, I drained it and threw it right in the skillet to mix. I grated the cheese, and threw a handful in at a time (I love cheese, so accurate measuring isn't a big deal!).

The heaping bowl I served up for my father


In conclusion... getting creative in the kitchen doesn't require fancy gadgets. Sometimes it's frustrating to not have exactly the right tool, but sometimes it's possible to wing it with what you do have, and still fill the belly.

That's why we're fundraising to purchase 500 copies of Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day to honor Hunger Action Month this September. These cookbooks will be distributed to food cupboards in and around Piscataquis County.

Leanne Brown designed this cookbook so that anyone facing financial difficulties might still be able to find recipes that are nutritious, creative and cheap.

Up to the challenge? We're asking all of our donors to get creative using what's available in the kitchen and making a meal for for two, for under $4. Send us your recipe, along with some photos and you could be entered to win a $25 grocery gift card as well as a free hardcopy of Leanne Brown's "Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4 a Day".

Submit your Good and Cheap Adventure content to:

And check out the free PDF version here.

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