Todd Davis

Program: Eat Well for $4 Per Day

A project that started as a way to help people on food stamps is catching on with frugal people across the country.

The program, called Good and Cheap, promises to help you eat on just $4 per day. That is the average benefit per person per day for someone who receives the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP.

Author Leanne Brown, who created the program to help people on SNAP, found out she has fans across the country.

"It started out as my thesis project for my masters degree in food studies at NYU," she said.

Brown put her thesis on the web and, within weeks, had about 100,000 downloads. Her now-published book version has tips anyone can use.

First, buy seasonally. Berries and squash in the summer. Apples and root veggies in the fall.

"These are always going to be what's most delicious and then what's generally on sale," Brown said.

Next, buy in bulk and get ingredients that go in multiple meals. Cooking simply and from scratch is a constant. Pre-made convenience foods are a no-no because they cost more and don't taste as good.

"If you get a box of pancake mix, you can only ever have pancakes," Brown said. "But if you get flour and some baking powder, you have eggs, all the things you need to make pancakes, you can make muffins, you can make bread, you can make 1 million other things."

Other advise: Do buy expensive flavoring items like soy sauce, spices and olive oil. Just limit them to one per week and eventually build your pantry.

Skip soda and store-bought broth, as scraps from veggies can be used to make broth. Brown suggests saving a couple cups in the freezer and then slow cooking them over a few hours to make your own broth.

Brown also says work the freezer. If you're going to make something time consuming, freeze half or more and use the rest later.

Brown said canned tomatoes and frozen fruits and veggies can be a good buy.

She's also big on limiting waste. Wilted veggies can go in scrambles and stir-fries. Leftovers can go into wraps.

"I want people to sort of say open up the fridge look at what's in there and maybe there's half a tomato that you're not really sure what to do with," Brown said. She said throw that into a quiche and you've got dinner.

Gabrielle Miller is a mom of three who spends about $150 a week on groceries. She's intrigued by Brown's plan.

"I think it's great," Miller said. "Food is expensive. It's expensive if you go out or if fix it at home."

Miller plans to give it a shot. If you want to check it out, that PDF is still on Brown's website, You can download it free or buy the expanded version in a book.

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