The most valuable lesson I learned on Chowhound is don’t settle ... demand deliciousness … no matter what your circumstances … how little or much money you have … despite time and health restrictions … seek out … be passionate about … eating the best in your situation.
So partly my month-long experiment to eat the best I could on $3 a day is an homage to that.
It really was two fold
- too many people … hounds and press … complain that the SF Ferry Plaza Market is too expensive and precious
- inept politicians and reporters who spend a week on a welfare budget … $3 a day … and report back they are forced to eat junk food.
Neither is true. I wanted to document that.
I was tired of the constant arguments … yes Ferry Plaza is too expensive … not it isn’t … well, here’s proof that one can eat deliciously and healthily for $3 a day … even at Ferry Plaza.
I’m not only eating what is allowed by the government food stamp program, only sticking to that $3 daily budget.
However, when grocery shopping I noted much of what I bought was food stamp approved. There are labels in California markets on what is approved by the local food stamp program, WIC. Also many farmers markets take food stamps. So I would guess 90 percent of what I bought was within food stamp guidelines.
I didn’t take advantage of food give-away programs like churches or food banks. I am not taking food out of the mouths of the needy, no matter how briefly, for my experiment.
Every circumstance is different.
Some neighborhoods have absolutely no decent markets. Some people don’t have a car. Some people have very little time, though I tried to address that. Some people don’t have the health to shop or cook. Some people don’t have enough food education to put together recipes.
It helped that I had internet access and could plug in ingredients into Google and search. Some people don’t have a computer or easy internet access.
However, I’m going with the 90 percent rule. This could be possible for most people given some food education.
And you know what? It was an education for me. I found I could cook deliciously despite limited skills. Also left to my own, my menus would have been a lot less varied and creative. I can live for months on oatmeal for breakfast and chicken soup for dinner.
That is fine, but then I look for something interesting to eat … baked goods, ice cream, snack foods.
I’ve always struggled with diet, yet this week I actually had trouble eating all this food. The variety satisfied my cravings and I was often full and satisfied. I actually dropped some planned items because it was just too much food for me.
So if nothing, I educated myself about eating better.
Also I tried to focus on fresh produce and healthy meat and fish. No salt-laden gloppy tuna casseroles with canned soup, cheap boxed mac & cheese, hot dogs, spaghetti, bologna sandwiches, bargain cookies.
I’ll post a weekly menu and ‘recipes’ (they are simple and hardly recipes). At the end of four weeks I’ll post the month’s grocery list with prices.
This is a bit about week one shopping as an example of strategy …
Raley's $2 organic chicken, 10 cent organic fennel at Giovanni's & other finds
Eating like a Chowhound on $3 a day – Week 1 menu and recipes