Imaginative Meals For Low-Income Folks: Building A Cookbook

A low/limited income does not mean the dreary food bank staples of high-carb/salt/sugar pantry items have to dominate the table, or make meals merely routine.

There are plenty of alternative foods and methods that can make mealtime a happy and creative time, and one which is delightful to the palate and good for the body and mind.

Moreover, using basic ingredients that are cheaply and widely available – while time-consuming to cook – deliver three things: a mastery of basic and attentive cooking skills, sharing, and the pride to deliver to friends and loved ones lovely meals.

In this spirit, would it not be great to put on to paper a free cookbook and social resource for the poor, something that made a difference?

The daily food budget for the typical person on welfare or disability is in the area of $5 per day.

That is not a lot. But by adopting ideas like communal cooking and sharing, buying bulk, and learning in a cooperative environment, the drab and unhealthy food bank diet can be overcome.

Your publisher would like readers to submit recipes, concepts of collective shopping and cooking ideas, whereby poor folks can take joy in mealtime – where, with modest means and creativity, all can take part in the most fundamental aspect of human behaviour, which is gathering, cooking, eating, and caring for each other.

(Typical food bank ingredients that you might include in your ideas are: beans, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, breads, root vegetables (in Winter), potatoes, onions, lentils, dried peas, dried herbs and some spices, canned fruit, juices, ground beef, pork chops, tinned fish, peanut butter, apples, flour, sugar, yeast, vinegar, oil. The list changes from time to time, but those seem to be the basics.)

Please imagine.

Think about family joy around the laden table. Then, imagine you without it. Ever. Think how you, in the smallest way, can help.

Then, send your inspirations – in whatever way –  to Coast Independent via the Have Your Say link at the top of the page. We will collect what we receive, print what we get, and create a cook book, which will be printed and distributed (for free, of course, by your publisher) to the good people who need it.

This is important. It is a part of the social contract that we have with each other.




  1. I wonder what fruit and veg options are possible where you are. Community or even “Guerilla” gardening in public spaces seems like a support for your idea. Here papaya pops up wherever someone throws a seed. But even in northern cities fruit trees and veg can be incorporated into public space planting.
    My fav meal…believe it or not… Lima beans fried in oil with garlic and cilantro, simmered 20min in water and served up with plain yogurt and pita.

  2. Good idea, Hugh. That $5 daily amount you’ve calculated has to cover more than food, however. It’s for everything over and above the inadequate shelter allowance–toiletries, cleaning supplies, clothing, shorfalls in the shelter allowance items (rent and Hydro), etc., etc. not to mention transportation costs to get to things like job interviews. The $600/month for a single employable (which includes the shelter allowance) is impossible–it doesn’t even cover rent. If the person isn’t homeless they are in shared accommodation and can barely afford that (most shared accommodation is now more than the $375 shelter allowance. If many people are working under the table, this is why. No amount of innovative recipes using rice and beans is going to cure this problem. The rates need to be raised much more than the $100/month that the new government promises to raise them. Shelter costs are sky-high. Food costs have risen drastically. This is a problem for the working poor and low-income seniors as well.

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