The Working Class Foodies Cookbook
Eating well and wise while on a budget
Reviewed by Kate Thornberry, Fri., May 31, 2013
The Working Class Foodies Cookbookby Rebecca Lando
Gotham Books, 288 pp., $20
There has been a certain amount of backlash against the "eat local"/organic/Slow Food movement on the basis that regular, working-class stiffs just can't afford it, money-wise or time-wise. This cookbook is a rebuttal to that argument. The author, Rebecca Lando, graduated from college swearing to never eat cheap processed food again. She quickly learned, however, that her entry-level, post-crash paycheck would not even begin to cover groceries from Whole Foods or Trader Joe's. In desperation, she figured out how to make delicious, local, and organic meals very, very cheaply.
Initially, Lando intended to blog about her experiences, but, like many another would-be blogger, she found she didn't have time to write long, detailed posts. Instead, she videotaped herself making dinner, and the web series Working Class Foodies was born (www.wcfoodies.tumblr.com). This cookbook is a distillation of all those webcasts, and it is an awesome resource.
Each recipe is food-cost analyzed, with most clocking in at around $3 per person; none exceed $8 per person. Lando spells out with great clarity every shortcut and frugality possible to bring the grocery bill down while still enjoying fabulous meals. Though some of her directives are obvious (join a CSA, buy directly from growers, eat seasonally, utilize leftovers), many of the skills she teaches are fairly advanced (make your own condiments, simmer your own stock, bake your own bread, make your own ravioli). The techniques she teaches are frugal with time as well as money; every labor-saving and multitasking trick she knows is explained in detail.
The recipes are nutritious and inventive without being outlandish: Sweet Potato Gnocchi, Ricotta Ravioli With Brown Butter and Sage, Roasted Tomato Soup, New Potatoes in Herb Butter, Roasted Carrot Salad, Cheddar Shrimp and Grits, Maple Mustard Roasted Pork, Sweet Potato and Corn Empanadas, Sea Salt Honey Caramels. The Working Class Foodies Cookbook makes a strong case that, with frugal habits and intelligent shopping, anyone can enjoy "real food, for real people, real cheap."