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Kimberly Morales’ co-workers used to wonder how it was possible.
How could she whip up home cooked meals like creamy wild rice and broccoli soup while spending just a $1.05, when their pre-packaged lunches fell flat?
The answers started to come in August of 2008 when Morales founded her food blog, Poor Girl Eats Well, which is appropriately subtitled, “How to eat ridiculously well on a miniscule budget.” The site drew a following, accumulating more than 10,000 email newsletter subscribers, 15,000 Facebook likes and 3,500 Twitter followers.
Now, after she received funding via Kickstarter on May 12, the popular blog is about to become a book.
Morales, 35, will write a three-part book that includes at least 30 new recipes. The first section will be autobiographical and will explain how exactly she became a “poor girl.” The second section, which will be the majority of the book, will consist of her money-saving theory, tips and techniques, and the last section will be dedicated to recipes.
Morales has not taken the traditional route to being an author.
Though she never considered herself “well-off,” at one time she had a “gorgeous” apartment, car and plenty of spending money, she said. That changed in 2008 when her finances plummeted due to a series of mishaps including past-due student loan bills and a car accident that caused her to miss a significant amount of work. She sold her car, moved out of her apartment and curbed her spending.
According to Morales, after her monthly bills were paid, she had little money left over for food, so she improvised, and learned to cook well with what she could afford. Her co-workers and friends knew about her situation so when they saw her meals, they were impressed, she said. That initial positive feedback inspired Morales to launch the Poor Girl Eats Well blog.
Morales said that this book is not a cookbook, but a book that happens to have a lot of recipes.
“I want to make sure people have the tools and the knowledge first, before they go out and start making a whole bunch of dishes,” Morales said.
Those that do jump into it and get cooking will find the book has plenty to offer. There will be a Poor Girl Eats Well follower favorites section highlighting recipes that helped make the blog successful. Her Warm Brussels Sprouts Salad with Honey-Dijon Vinaigrette recipe, a Poor Girl Eats Well favorite, will be in the book. She plans to organize her recipe section similar to her Pinterest page. Her recipes will be divided into subsections based on meal types such as sandwiches, pastas and vegetarian. There will be a separate section for special sauces such as pestos, pizza sauce and pasta sauce.
(Image by: Kimberly Morales)
In addition to recipes like Baked Eggs, Ham & Asparagus in Tomato Cups and Spring Vegetable & Meyer Lemon Brown Rice Risotto, her book, like her Pinterest page, will have a special category for different price levels. “PGEW Splurges” recipes contain more expensive meals. She said she will have a fun foods section, which are meals that cater to adults and children alike.
For Morales, Poor Girl Eats Well is more than just a blog or book.
“It was basically the responses from my readers,” she said. “Once I realized that what I was writing wasn’t just more Internet babble but was something that was actually helping people, I couldn’t not write something. I couldn’t just leave it and not take it a step further.”
When Morales is not blogging, she is a program assistant at a local nonprofit organization. The San Jose transplant and self-proclaimed chocoholic grew up in a restaurant family. Both parents worked in the restaurant business, so cooking and dining became their family hobby.
Since its onset, her blog has caught the attention of many food enthusiasts.
She also receives many stories of how her blog has helped those facing financial challenges. She recalled one of her first emails from a reader.
The email was from a single mother of four who was denied food stamps that day, according to Morales. The mother came across a CNN.com article showcasing one of Morales’ recipes. She thanked Morales for her recipes because she could feed her kids for the next week. The recipes required ingredients that she already had.
Morales said messages such as these and specific requests to write a book motivated her to find a way to write and publish her own book.
That’s where a funding platform called Kickstarter came in. For the uninitiated, Kickstarter allows people to finance their creative projects through contributions from other people called “backers.” In return, backers receive Kickstarter rewards or funding incentives to pledge more money.
After launching her page in April, Morales clobbered her Kickstarter goal of $9,750, raising $11,855 in 40 days. The money will be used to fund the time required to write the book and to create and send Kickstarter rewards. It will also finance graphic design, printing, shipping and administrative expenses, Kickstarter fees and transaction fees. She used word of mouth, social media and her blog to market the project.
More than 1,100 people liked her Kickstarter video on Facebook, and her followers congratulated her.
Debbie Cunningham, Poor Girl Eats Well fan and Elk Grove resident, said she is proud of Morales’ success and helped contribute to her Kickstarter campaign.
“I think what she is doing is fabulous,” Cunningham said. “I think more people should have access to what she has to say.”
Her self-published book will come out by Dec. 1. She said she hopes to sell more than 10,000 copies and said that this is just the beginning for her.
Morales is writing an e-book as a a separate project which will be released in June and is called, “How to Have a Successful $25 Shopping Cart Trip.” The e-book will be aimed at those who want tips on how to spend less money at the grocery store without buying the more detailed book.
“I wouldn’t be opposed to writing another one,” she said. “I don’t think this is the end of my book writing. I think it will definitely be the beginning.”
For those interested in funding their own project, she recommends developing a specific goal, researching and evaluating options. For Kickstarter, she recommends a “short and sweet” video, creative incentives and a thank you.
“Never stop telling people how grateful you are, because these are the people that are funding your job, and they are putting their faith in you to make that dream come true,” Morales said.