Good & Cheap: Eating Well on a Limited Budget

Eating a healthy, nutritious meal can have many obstacles for people, but money should not be one of them. As recently as 2014, 46 million people were on SNAP benefits (formerly known as food stamps) and millions more live on limited grocery budgets.

To help with this daily challenge, The Community Market Co-op co-hosted “Good & Cheap: Eating Well on a Limited Budget”, a free community event, with the Fuquay-Varina Parks & Recreation Department on Saturday, May 30, 2015 at the Fuquay-Varina Community Center. Funded by a grant received through the John Rex Endowment Fund, the event was based on the cookbook Good & Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown.  It showcased how to cook simple, nutritious and good-tasting food for just a few dollars a day, how to shop seasonally  and which pantry staples to stock in the kitchen.


“My love of food goes back to when you could only watch cooking shows on public television!” – Cherisse Byers

Professional Chef, Cherisse Byers of provided a cooking demo for the event. Cherisse is a native North Carolinian, born and raised in Durham where her love of cooking began. She is a graduate of both the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham. Cherisse has taught cooking classes for Williams Sonoma, Wake Technical Community College Continuing Education, Whisk Quality Kitchenware of Cary, Wake County Public School System Lifelong Learning Division and UNC Wellness.  

For this event, Cherisse expertly demonstrated how to prepare Filipino Chicken Adobo, Coconut Ginger Rice and Agua Fresca. Attendees enjoyed a tasting of each during the demonstration and sampled Chocolate Zucchini Muffins, all recipes from Good & Cheap by Leanne Brown or from Cherisse Byers. A lively session on  how to stock a practical pantry was also presented by Robin Gray, co-op owner and volunteer.

Various door prizes were given away at the event including  copies of the Good & Cheap cookbook, gift baskets of cooking supplies donated by volunteers and supporters of The Community Market Co-op, and $50 in tokens from the Fuquay Varina Grower’s Market.

This successful event was made possible by the tremendous effort of all our volunteers. Thank you to our TAG Teams, Board Members and the many donations provided by them. A big thank you as well to the Town of Fuquay-Varina and the Parks & Recreation Department for helping us present this informative and fun community event!

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e69c7b74-4c86-4439-b967-03123ae54c71_zpsgn37zfa7Chocolate Zucchini Muffins (makes 24 small muffins)

2 cups grated zucchini
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups oats
½ cup cocoa powder
1½ cups sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon (optional)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup dark chocolate chips (optional)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 °F.
  2. Cut off the round end of the zucchini (which is a little tough), but keep the stem to use as a handhold. Shred the zucchini with a box grater, stopping when you get to the stem.
  3. Butter or oil 24 muffin tins, or just line them with muffin cups.
  4. Measure the dry ingredients (flour, oats, cocoa powder, sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt) into a medium bowl.
  5. Mix the zucchini, eggs, and yogurt in a larger bowl. Add the dry ingredients, then mix until everything is just combined. Add the chocolate chips if you’re using them, then stir once.
  6. With a spoon, dollop the batter into the muffin tins until each cup is about ¾ full and bake for 20 minutes.
  7. Pull the muffins out and poke with a toothpick or knife. If it comes out wet, bake the muffins for 5 more minutes.
  8. Let the muffins cool in their tins for 20 to 30 minutes, then eat them warm!

Filipino Adobo Chicken (serves 8)11234965_694846403978530_2879791460701664728_n

¾ cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves 
8 chicken thighs, fat trimmed
2 tbsp vegetable oil
3/4 cup Water
2 medium potatoes, chopped
4 medium carrots, sliced
2 cups white rice salt
2 tsp cornstarch

4 jalapeños
ginger root, grated

1½ lb pork shoulder or butt, cubed, instead of chicken
1 can coconut milk instead of water
chicken schmaltz instead of vegetable oil


  1. In a large, non-aluminum pan, stir together the vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, pepper, and bay leaves. Add the chicken, coating each piece thoroughly. Cover and let marinate for at least 30 minutes, but overnight is great.
  2. Pull the chicken out of the marinade and pat each piece dry.
  3. Pour the oil into a large pot on medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add enough chicken to fill the bottom of the pot. Let it cook for a few minutes, until one side of the chicken is browned, then flip it over. When the first batch of chicken is done, remove it from the pot and repeat with the remainder.
  4. After all the chicken is browned, put it back in the pot along with the marinade, water, potatoes, and carrots. Turn the heat up until the liquid comes to a boil, then reduce to low heat and simmer for 45 minutes, or until the meat near the bone is no longer pink and the carrots and potatoes are cooked through.
  5. About 20 minutes before the adobo is ready, pour the rice into a medium pot with 4 cups of water. Add two pinches of salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat with the lid off. Turn the heat down and cover with a lid that is slightly askew to let the steam escape. Cook about 20 minutes, until the water is all gone.
  6. Remove the bay leaves from the adobo. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with a tablespoon of water, then stir it into the sauce. Let the sauce boil and thicken until the chicken and vegetables are well glazed.
  7. Serve over the rice.

Coconut Ginger Rice (serves 8)
(recipe from Cherisse Byers)

2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon ginger, minced
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 cups jasmine rice
1 (13 to 14 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 1/2 cup chicken stock
1 (3-inch) piece of cinnamon stick
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 scallions, thinly sliced


  1. Rinse rice in a sieve under cold water 2 to 3 minutes, drain well.
  2. Melt butter in a 2– to 3–quart sauces pan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger. Saute for a few seconds.
  3. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes opaque, about 3 minutes
  4. Stir in coconut milk, chicken stock, cinnamon and salt and bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, uncover, discard cinnamon stick and fluff rice with a fork. Garnish with scallions while warm.

11295885_694862067310297_3056270839716101556_nAgua Fresca (serves 4-6)

2 cups fruit, chopped
4 cups water

1 tsp vanilla
squeeze of lemon or lime juice
mint leaves
other herb leaves

blueberry and lemon
cucumber and lemon
mango and lime
peach and vanilla
strawberry and mint


  1. Mix fruit and water together for a lightly flavored agua fresca. If you want more fruit flavor, use less water; if you want less flavor, use more water.
  2. For a stronger flavor, run the mixture through the blender. If you want the drink to be clear, strain the pulpy leftovers of the fruit after blending. If you’re using blueberries or oranges or other fruit with a skin, you’ll almost certainly want to strain it. For some fruits, you can also choose to leave the pulp: it’s particularly great when making a melon agua fresca since it mostly disappears. Serve over ice.

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