It’s gourmet without the guilt.

“Poor Girl Gourmet: Eat in Style on a Bare-Bones Budget” (Andrews McMeel, $16.99) by Amy McCoy is just the ticket for cash-strapped food lovers pining for their fancy cheeses and expensive cuts of meat.

The author is a freelance producer of television promotional campaigns who watched most of her work disappear when the economy tanked. As her bank account dwindled, she could no longer afford to spend $160-$200 a week on groceries for two, as she was used to doing.

As McCoy changed her food spending habits and pared down the cost of her meals, she started sharing what she was learning on a blog. That blog became the basis for this cookbook.

The book shares ideas for meals that serve at least four people for $15 or less. Some of them even make use of leftover coffee and wine. (Leftover wine? What’s that?)

Many of McCoy’s tips seem obvious – buy store brands, plan meals for a week – but her recipes do seem to deliver on her promise of quality food at an affordable price. How does Butternut Squash Ravioli in a Maple Cream Sauce sound for dinner? (Estimated cost for four: $12.14.) Or Perfect Roasted Chicken With Spicy Orange Sauce? (Estimated cost for four: $7.91.)

The cheapest dish in the book is an espresso granita, which costs $1.57 for four.

A chapter on wines includes reviews of 25 “value wines” and suggests pairings.

– Meredith Goad, Staff Writer


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