Whether you see it as a beautiful irony or more of a scrappy “making lemonade from lemons” kind of success story, Beth Moncel’s path to the top is a tale worth telling — and retelling.
It all started in Louisiana, almost a decade ago. Beth had hardly any money, but, as humans do, she still had to eat.
“I was really, really broke, and I had already cut out all the extras in my budget, so the only thing left that had any malleability was my food budget,” Beth says, “so I started trying to make meals for as little money as possible.”
Since she was putting together all of these low-cost recipes anyway, she decided to jump on the latest trend at the time — blogging — and posted her culinary creations online on a little site she named Budget Bytes.
“I never thought I’d be blogging full-time. I started this as a hobby, and I didn’t think anyone would see it,” she says, “and then some people did, and then more people did, and then I started getting that positive feedback, and I’m like, ‘Well, I have to keep going now, because this is really helpful.'”
The Ka-ching in the kitchen
Beth is super low-key about her success, but when she says “a lot of people,” she’s not exaggerating.
More than two and a half million people visit her blog each month, all in search of recipes that aren’t just healthy and satisfying, but also that show the total cost of each serving and the price of each ingredient. (For instance, you can make her Blueberry Buttermilk Coffee Cake for just $3.30 per loaf — and that includes 16 cents’ worth of brown sugar.)
Now based in Nashville, Tennessee, her fascination with affordable food stretches beyond her own business, and makes time to regularly work with Feeding America, one of her favorite charities.
“They are awesome. They’re a network of food banks throughout the country, and so they really help bridge the gap in people’s lives when they’re having a hard time putting food on the table,” she says. “They also do a lot of work with reducing food waste on the commercial level and through farming — food that is oftentimes good, but ends up in the landfill — and getting it to a place where people can access it.”
Helping other people eat well without spending big has become much more than a hobby. It’s turned into an actual career — and a calling.
“I would encourage anyone to start a blog, food or otherwise, because it’s an incredible experience and exercise,” she writes. “Even if you make your blog just for you and no one else on the planet ever sees it, blogging can be a rewarding experience.”
Taking a chance
For Beth, the fact that her site is actually benefiting other people is more than just the icing on the cake (and worth a lot more than the $1.64 a can of frosting would cost).
Her favorite thing of all is the feedback she gets from readers. “When I get those emails saying ‘Thank you, you’ve really changed my life,’ or ‘You’ve made things so easy,’ it’s the best feeling in the whole world,” she says. “And so I just keep going. Even if I’m dead tired, and I’ve been working, you know, eighty hours that week.”
Loving the love
With so much going on each and every day now, what one thing is she most grateful for?
“So much… How can I even list one thing?” Beth asks.
She still marvels at the cause and effect that has brought her so far. “How many people are that lucky that they get to impact people’s lives like that?” She adds, “Life has become so much more than I ever expected — ever even thought was possible.”
Of what she calls an enriching and fulfilling experience, she says, “I took a chance on something that I love, and it turns out that what I like doing is helpful to other people.”
While we see it more as the kind of thing that makes each day a little bit easier and a little bit sunnier for millions of people around the globe, Beth is more than happy with “helpful.”
“I really don’t think you could ask for anything more in life than that.”
WATCH: Get budget-friendly cooking tips from Beth at Grateful.co