My Third Cookbook Is “On a Budget!”

100 Days of Real Food: On a Budget cookbook on a table surrounded with fruits and vegges.

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If you’ve ever thought to yourself “real food is too expensive,” this book is for you.

I am so excited to share that I’ve been working on a new cookbook for you … and this one is ON A BUDGET! It’s not due out until August (8/14/18 update: it’s now available!), but the cover was recently finalized and I couldn’t wait to share it with you. So HERE it is! (My 12-year-old was pretty proud that we chose a photo of her looking at the camera along with me on the front, sweet girl. :))

Take a Look Inside!

The Idea Behind the Cookbook

Here’s how my third book came about. During our first 100 Days of Real Food pledge, when we made the dramatic decision to cut out all highly processed food, one of the most common things we heard was, “Sounds great, but too expensive.”

So, as you may know, we took that feedback to heart and went on to take a second real food challenge by pledging again to eat real food, and real food only, without spending more than $125/week – less than the $167/week a family of four would receive on full SNAP (i.e. food stamp) benefits. While I would not describe this challenge as “easy”—especially at first!—we never went hungry or had to succumb to buying the dreaded processed stuff. And we never went over budget either.

The page on my blog that summarizes how we ate real food without breaking the bank has since been viewed more than 1½ million times, and I received a ton of helpful feedback from readers—so much that I knew an entire book dedicated to the topic of cost-saving tactics and budget-friendly (yet, delicious) real food recipes would be the perfect third cookbook in my bestselling 100 Days of Real Food series!

Behind the Scenes at Good Morning American with Lisa Leake holding her cookbook with the host.
On the set of Good Morning America

What You’ll Find Inside

$15 Recipes + Grocery Lists

My hope is to help you address one of the most common concerns—how to cut out processed food while sticking to your budget—so in this full-color hardback cookbook you’ll find 100 recipes (including breakfast, packed lunch, dinner, snacks, desserts and homemade staples) with shopping lists and prices for each recipe.

But, unlike other budget cookbooks that only calculate the cost per serving (have you ever tried to buy just ¼ cup of sour cream?), I’ve decided to give you the exact total cost for all the necessary ingredients for each dish, so that families even on the tightest budget can make the meals work. Because, if you don’t have the extra money for the rest of the sour cream container, you simply don’t have it!

New Recipes (whether you are on a budget or not!)

I developed these recipes just like I always do, aiming to keep them delicious, easy and REAL (of course), and then I took a look at them to figure out how to keep them within budget. So whether you are cost conscious or not, you get a whole new set of recipes with this book – 75 of which are new and have never before been published on my blog. None of the recipes have been featured in either of my previous cookbooks.

And I think you’ll agree, while they are easy on your wallet (all recipe shopping lists are $15 or under) there are certainly no sacrifices when it comes to flavor! Here is a little teaser of what’s to come, so you can see what I mean… 

Collage of different recipes that can be found in the 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget Cookbook.

Adaptive for special diets and allergies

Here is a summary of how all 100 recipes will stack up! And there is a chart in the back (pictured) to help you find what you need…

  • 75 recipes are (or can easily be) Gluten-Free
  • 49 recipes are (or can easily be) Dairy-Free
  • 67 recipes are (or can easily be) Vegetarian
  • 83 recipes are (or can easily be) Peanut- / Tree Nut-Free
100 Days of Real Food: On a Budget cookbook recipe chart by dietary need.

Supermarket Comparison Chart

I share all sorts of “on a budget” shopping tips including my personal favorite … a four-page comparison chart that shows how different real food staples compare in price across a variety of stores including everywhere from Whole Foods to Costco to Aldi to Walmart! I have to say the findings were VERY interesting on this one!

Supermarket comparison chart in 100 Days of Real Food: On a Budget.

General On a Budget Tips

Other budget tips included are how to set up a budget (and what online program we use personally), how to grow your own herbs to save money, ways you can use inexpensive frozen produce, and how to reduce food waste (which is like throwing money down the drain) – I’ve got you covered!

New Packed Lunch Ideas (for kids and adults!)

Always a popular section … my newest cookbook has 12 packed lunch ideas all pictured as complete meals in lunch containers!

$100 Weekly Dinner Plans (for a family of 4) 

Like my other cookbooks, this one has four seasonal dinner plans for a family of four, but the difference this time is that the shopping lists are shown with prices. The four plans range in total cost from $92 to $114 (all pricing in the book is based on a Publix grocery store in Charlotte, NC).

Summer meal plan in 100 Days of Real Food: On a Budget cookbook.

Behind the Scenes of my Third Cookbook

Putting together a cookbook is no small task, and I could have never done it without lots of help! The pictures alone are an undertaking and for just the ones that my family are in, guess how many we took over a three-day period?? 10,000! Yes, 10 THOUSAND! Thank goodness my children don’t mind being in photos, although this quantity is a stretch even for them (and me, ha). :)

The whole process started with LOTS of planning. Since I am not the best when it comes to fashion I always turn to my stylish longtime friend Erin Rutherford (who is an accountant by day and food blogger by night) to pick out what we will wear. Just imagine family photos times ten! Making so many decisions can make me a little nuts so I’m happy to just do as I am told here. This is what my bedroom looked like once she was done with her magic (yikes!)…

Room full of clothes for styling layout for a  photo shoot for 100 Days of Real Food: On a Budget cookbook.

Once we knew we’d be presentable enough to be photographed I pulled in my wonderful lifestyle photographers (that I used in my last book), Dan and Candice Lanning with The Beautiful Mess, as well as two Food Stylists (Tami Hardeman and Heidi Billotto). Meanwhile, we had a food photographer, Lindsey Rose Johnson, in Idaho capturing all the finished recipe images (one for every recipe!) like the ones you see above. Oh and I most definitely knew I’d need help with hair and makeup so I pulled in Kymm McLean again for that. Here’s most of the crew (minus Lindsey and Kymm)…

The team for my 3rd cookbook
Featured from left to right: Dan, Candice, Erin, me, Heidi and Tami
Behind the Scenes 100 Days of Real Food Cookbook

And once we all knew what to do we got to work! Here are some of the behind-the-scenes photos to show how it all went down…

As you can see, even though Dan is fairly tall, he is not afraid of the ladder! We pretty much got used to being followed around by their cameras and even roped in some friends to join us on occasion (for dinner party and picnic photos). We were lucky enough to have some great backdrops to choose from including Renfrow Farms which is close by in Matthews, NC (where the flower field picture was taken).

Everything went off without a hitch except for the worst part, according to my 5th grader, which was when she saw someone she actually knew during our Farmers’ Market photos. You know how pretty much anything can be embarrassing at that age LOL … I can only imagine how she felt! We all survived the 10,000 photos in the end though, including her. :)

Get Your Copy Today!

Choose from one of the retailers below to get your copy, and, as always, thank you for your support! After receiving it, I’d appreciate you writing a review to help spread the word. I can’t wait to get this book in the hands of those that I wrote it for. :)

 buy the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook from Amazon
 buy the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook from Barnes & Noble
100 Days of Real Food on a Budget for iBooks
100 Days of Real Food on a Budget for iBooks
preorder my book from walmart
buy the 100 Days of Real Food cookbook from Books-a-Million

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24 thoughts on “My Third Cookbook Is “On a Budget!””

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  1. Does this book have all the same information at the front as the initial book- as to why real food in general, what is real food, reading labels etc. and then budget recipes? Or is it just the recipes? I will be ordering one for a friend and want her to have all the good information at the front, but she is on a budget for sure.

    1. This book is filled with tons of information on how to cook on a budget. The beginning of the book is set up like the first book, with resources, charts, etc. It’ll be perfect for your friend. – Nicole

  2. I’m wondering what else is in the school lunch you have pictured on pg. 91 where you are featuring the Simple Zucchini Soup. Willing to share?

  3. I’m so excited for you – what an accomplishment! Congratulations! Now I only have to wait until August….. perfect timing though with my second child’s due date that month – always looking for ways to save $$ ;)

  4. YAY!!! I love these cookbooks and recipes! I buy them up, often in both digital form AND printed. Just reserved my copy. (This time, just in digital because I’m starting to go completely digital for the flexibility.)

    Do a freezer and slow cooker one next! Please oh please oh please!!!

  5. Great news! I just wish I didn’t have to wait until August to get my hands on the book! So excited about it. All of your books are fantastic.

  6. Congrats on the 3rd cookbook! I can’t wait til August. I have your other 2 books and we (me & the Hubs, we’re empty nesters) really enjoy them!

  7. So fun to see your girls grow through each of your cookbooks!! Looking forward to another cookbook- yours are the only ones i use!

  8. I’m a practical girl who usually gets cookbooks from the library but yours are DEFINITELY ones I buy and add to my collection – so worth it! Can’t wait for the budget edition. Great photos – the girls are growing like weeds (well-fed weeds!).

  9. Hi Lisa, love your cookbooks and I can not wait to get this one. I have a suggestion, would you consider doing a cookbook for people on a budget that went with the seasons. So 4 cookbooks in all that worked with a budget but that featured meals for that season. I would totally buy all four!!!

  10. Very exciting! I started following you back when you were in the midst of your Real Food on a Budget challenge, so I’m excited to see the return of the budget-friendly real food! Congratulations on cookbook #3 and I”m looking forward to adding it to my collection! :)

  11. Lindsay Untherbergus

    I admire your dedication to getting more people to start eating real food! You are making the world a healthier place :)

  12. Congratulations Lisa! I look forward to the new book and sharing it with my two sons who are moving out to start their own lives. I encourage healthy eating and can now encourage thoughtful meal planning and budgeting as well with your book as a reference source for them! Thank you for all you do!