6 Cookbooks That Every Budget-Conscious Foodie Should Check Out

A plate of pasta with eggplant and tomatoes sits on a table next to a book named Good and Cheap: Eat Well On $4/Day. This book helps you eat on a budget.
Pasta with eggplant and tomato is one of many recipes featured in Good and Cheap: Eat Well On $4/Day by Leanne Brown. Chris Zuppa and Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

The grocery portion of a budget is one of the easiest places to overspend. Who can blame you? We all love food. Savory food, sweet food. It can be very hard to resist.

But thoughtless spending on ingredients — even for home-cooked meals — can add up to become a real stressor on the wallet. One of the most tried-and-true ways to keep food expenditures in check is by following a recipe or meal plan.

These six cookbooks offer healthy, affordable recipes that can be made to feed just you or an entire family.

1. Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day

Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown sought to change the narrative of accessible healthy eating by offering not only oodles of recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert, but also by taking steps to ensure families who can’t afford to buy the cookbook can still have access to the recipes.

With recipes like banana pancakes, homemade calzones, and peach coffee cake generally totalling less than $2.75 per serving, both your stomach and bank account will be satisfied. Each recipe covers the macronutrients needed – carbs, healthy fats, protein – to maintain a wellness-focused diet, too. Plus, many of these recipes can be doubled for a family-sized meal or to keep in the freezer for later.

The cookbook is available for free in its entirety on the author’s website and has been downloaded more than 1 million times. In addition, for every copy that’s purchased, another one will be donated to a family in need.

2. Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half

Anyone who identifies as a frugal foodie has likely stumbled across Budget Bytes in their searches. Beth Moncel, the founder of Budget Bytes, has a bachelor’s degree in nutritional science. She began her love of budget-biting more than a decade ago as a financially challenged young adult.

As one of the most popular eat-well-on-a-budget blogs, it was only a matter of time before Budget Bytes released its many recipes in a cookbook: Budget Bytes: Over 100 Easy, Delicious Recipes to Slash Your Grocery Bill in Half.

From Greek steak tacos to teriyaki salmon with sriracha mayonnaise, this book claims to fill the hunger and financial void of omnivores and herbivores alike.

3. Tasty Ultimate: How to Cook Basically Anything

Tasty started as a section of Buzzfeed dedicated to fun, high-speed cooking videos. It has since blossomed into its own food empire.

With hundreds of recipes displayed via social media, the team behind Tasty has compiled the key skills needed to be your own financially-conscious chef in Tasty Ultimate: How to Cook Basically Anything.

While this cookbook isn’t necessarily a budget-targeted recipe anthology, understanding the fundamentals of cooking, like poaching, frying, chopping and grilling, is necessary if you’re trying to be less wasteful in the kitchen.

4. College Cookbook: Healthy, Budget-Friendly Recipes for Every Student

Being a college student is hard enough financially without a big grocery bill adding to the stress. Tiffany Shelton’s College Cookbook: Healthy, Budget-Friendly Recipes for Every Student empowers young adults to take control of their cash and wellness through smart cooking.

With comfort food recipes like quick mac ‘n cheese and more wholesome dishes like homemade spaghetti and meatballs, the College Cookbook is diverse enough to keep things interesting while accessible enough to be a no-brainer after a long day of classes.

This recipe book also includes tips for budgeting, storing leftovers, and how to leverage the cooking tools a college student likely has access to – a microwave, slow cooker, and toaster oven – to still create healthy, crave-worthy meals.

A book called Frugal Vegan sits on a table with a fork, knife and spoon next to it. The book contains vegan recipes that are healthy and affordable.
Frugal Vegan by Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee is filled with affordable and healthy vegan recipes. Chris Zuppa/The Penny Hoarder

5. Frugal Vegan

Veganism sometimes has a reputation as being inaccessible and unaffordable due to the unique ingredients often used in vegan recipes. Frugal Vegan, by Katie Koteen and Kate Kasbee, takes those assumptions and tosses them out the window. Their cookbook is full of vegan recipes that are not only healthy, but affordable, too.

Beer battered avocado and black bean tacos top the list of recipes making our mouths water, but others like the crunchy Thai salad and mini key lime pies are also tantalizing. 

Frugal Vegan also aims to educate readers by offering sections on smart grocery shopping tips, batch cooking and freezing, and how to afford organic items on a small budget.

6. Good Cheap Eats

In another blog-turned-cookbook event, Good Cheap Eats focuses on both health and quality ingredients that won’t cost home chefs an arm and a leg.

Jessica Fisher, the founder of the Good Cheap Eats blog and the author of the cookbook by the same name, noted that she, too, used to waste both hard-earned cash and ingredients in the kitchen. Fisher has since gone on to create fiscally savvy recipes, meal plan worksheets, and even time management planners to keep your pennies where they belong – in your wallet.

The Good Cheap Eats cookbook features tantalizing recipes like garlic-herb soft pretzels, tortellini chickpea pasta salad, poblano chile enchiladas, and much more.

Kristin Jenny is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.