General Discussion

Conclusion - Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day


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General Discussion

Conclusion - Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day

rworange | | Aug 8, 2007 05:32 PM

If reporters and politicians who chose to spend $3 a day on canned beans are on one end of the curve, I’m the other end.

Somewhere in the middle is the reality.

This was NOT meant to cover EVERY person or imply EVERYONE can do this. Only to show it could be done and done even when shopping at Ferry Plaza.

I have a car, flexible time, really great local markets, no significant family, easy access to a computer, good search skills for recipes, Chowhound input and a passion for food.

There are people who rely on public transportation, have small children, work multiple jobs, are ill, have terrible stores, are not Chowhounds etc, etc, etc.

This was just meant as a view of other possibilities. Some people could take advantage of that. Some can't ... not don't want to ... can't.

Yet still, I believe there are pieces of this that could be used by everyone to eat less expensively and better.

Yes, there are times when life interferes. Even living on the edge and planning well there is that month where there's an emergency or illness and it throws off your life for months. If lucky, you get back on track.

This doesn't work for everything and everyone. But why not explore how it can be done rather than finding all the obstacles. Better to see how to get around the barriers, no?

My cooking skills are horrid. So a more knowledgeable cook would have done much better.

I was going for as fresh, easy and healthy as possible. So, I could have stretched things more by making muffins and other baked goods. Nothing is wrong with frozen or canned fruit and veggies. I just wanted to point out that even using fresh produce it could be done.

I think this may be the first time I ate 31/3 …all three meals made by me at home for 31 almost consecutive days. Definitely the first time a chocolate bar lasted me a month.

I had to take a day off the plan three days before the finish because a friend needed a sympathetic ear and invited me out to lunch. So I didn’t eat my $3 food on that day and just moved the finish date off one day. One day I did a thank you happy hour for another friend and added 2 oysters, fava beans, 1/2 sandwich and a beer to my 3 meals.

However, I was more faithful to this than any eating plan or diet in my life.

Otherwise it would not have been possible to easily track what I ate. What I reported is what I actually ate.

Portions were average size ... a whole chicken breast, or leg. Soup is a large bowl … at least 2 cups and more than a whole can of Progresso soup from the market. Salads have been rather large so a good deal of bulk comes from veggies.

Some dishes stretched a chicken breast or a piece of meat. The Swiss chard chicken made two LARGE meals out of a single chicken breast. It is surprising how little meat is needed to fill a taco, so one chicken breast or piece of steak equaled two taco meals. I got five meals out of that stupid salmon head.

As far as the hot portions of the meals go they are certainly a lot more than you'd get in a frozen dinner ... especially the veggie part

BTW … I have a really sucky metabolism … I didn’t lose an ounce. You would think I would have lost SOMETHING … sigh … time to reconsider exercise again.

The salads for me were hard. It was … sheesh … gotta make another salad. Yet, they were great fillers. In my leftover list, I blocked the fact that I still have Romaine lettuce left ... lots of it.

I wasn’t only buying food that is restricted to the food stamp program, since I’m not clear on that. However, probably 90 per cent of what I ate would have qualified from the little I know.

I’ve been broke in the past. So the reality is that some less than healthy food like chicken bologna, peanut butter, mystery meat chicken franks, more eggs, canned veggies and cheapo bread would be closer to reality.

So my menus weren’t meant to be a template on what to eat, only how to think differently about what is possible for $3, adjusting for circumstances. You may not like chard. I now know I’m not so crazy about fish heads. It is a matter of accommodating your own taste and adjusting to that. Look for bargains that line up with your tastes and try to make them as interesting as possible.

Eating on $3 a day is hardly easy. Without some food smarts, there is the fallback to the cheapest and worst food. Even highly educated politicians and reporters had no clue what to buy.

Three dollars a day is not adequate for the majority if people.

The first reply is about tips … the long-winded blah, blah, blah version of these tips …

- be flexible
- Take time to store things correctly and keep an eye on them
- Check out ethnic and small local markets
- Get to know the bargain markets
- Shop at farmers markets if possible
- Either buy little or buy big
- Reserve and reuse
- take advantage of coupons
- buy items on sale and pay attention to ads
- try a new item or recipe once a month
- have back up
- seek out and ask about bargains
- if a mistake is made, think of alternatives.
- misc


Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day – overview

Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day – Week 1 menu and recipes

Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day – Week 2 menu and recipes

Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day – Week 3 menu and recipes

Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day – Final 10 days

Shopping at Ferry Plaza on $3 a day … and other observations – bombolini?

Ferry Plaza vs. Albertson's (or any supermarket) prices

Raley's $2 organic chicken, 10 cent organic fennel at Giovanni's & other finds

Budget - Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day … well, $3.35 … actually $2.85