In The Man Who Ate Everything, Jeffrey Steingarten explored subsistence diets, from Gray’s Papaya to the USDA Thrifty Food Plan, finally settling on a meaty-grainy concoction from M.F.K. Fisher’s great tome on subsistence, How to Cook a Wolf. It set him back about $1.60 per day. The Hillbilly Housewife has invented a menu that she claims will feed a family of six for $45 per week.
These guys are eating like kings compared to Evan. A blogger who chooses a different project each month to write on, Evan decided to gain some insight into what it’s like to be poor by spending only $30 for food. For the entire month of November. That’s $1 per day, folks, not even enough to buy a seven-layer burrito at Taco Bell (which is sad, because Evan loves the Bell).
The results of that experiment, documented on Evan’s blog Hungry for a Month, are riveting. Not much of a cook, Evan ended up eating a lot of rice mixed with frozen veggies and mashed potato flakes, as well as that poverty staple, ramen. Like Morgan Spurlock, who was an inspiration, Evan saw his body go through some changes:
It hit me around 12:15pm today. I was on a conference call and my stomach started to hurt. It wasn’t too bad at first, but over the span of about 15 minutes, the pain turned from some dull rumblings to sharp pains. Sharp enough that it was hard to stand up. My arms started to feel heavy. For the first time, I wondered if my dollar-a-day-diet was simply going to give out on me.
In the comments section, people became alarmed at the sheer amount of carbs in Evan’s diet and began to offer plenty of unsolicited advice.
In the end, Evan lost 18 pounds, but gained insights on everything from the nature of comfort food to the hair-raising ease of slipping into anorexia. And what did he do with all the extra dollars he hadn’t spent at Taco Bell? At the end of the month he sent a check for more than $200 to the local food bank.
What’s your food budget? What would you cook if you had only $30 to spend for a month?