Monday, November 18, 2013

Living on $4.50 per day



I was just reading an article on another blog about how Ron Shaich, CEO of Panera Bread, has set the goal of living on $4.50 a day. The article states: ‘“I’ve been eating a lot of carbs and drinking a lot of water,” says Mr. Shaich, who started his SNAP diet last Thursday. “I drive by these restaurants I go to all the time and I can’t go in. I can’t even go into a Panera.”’

I couldn’t help thinking to myself, He's having a problem with that? I guess being raised in a poor family is a good thing in that it has made me not require a lot to be content. Here are my worthless two cents on how to make it on $4.50 a day.

Breakfast
2 scrambled or fried eggs - $0.40 (Based on a dozen eggs for $2.50.)
2 slices of bacon - $0.50 (Based on a pack of Gwaltney or store brand bacon for $3.00 with about 12 slices.)

Lunch
Big bowl of grits - $0.25 (Based on a $2.00 bag of grits that can serve 8 servings. I believe in reality the price may actually be cheaper. Can be sweet, with salt and butter, or however you enjoy grits.)

Dinner
Maruchen noodles - $0.20 (Nissin Top Ramen is $0.30 per pack while Maruchen is only $0.20 per pack. If you go to Wal-Mart they have the most flavors of Maruchen noodles.)
Chicken thighs - $0.50 (Based on a store brand eight pack for $4.00.)
Raw baked broccoli - $0.50 (Based on broccoli that is $1.00 per pound.)

The above plan only comes to $2.35. That still leaves $2.15! Also, notice that no liquids were mentioned. That's because water is sufficient when you're living on a strict budget. But with the remaining $2.15 you can go ahead and splurge on some Tang, Kool-Aid, or store brand soda or juice. But if you're trying to be healthy, just stick to water. It's the only thing that will truly quench your thirst, anyway.

If this plan doesn’t have enough fiber for your tastes, replace the starch with a bag of dried beans or raw inexpensive veggies like green beans, but I personally wouldn't recommend romaine lettuce since they disappear too quickly for me, usually within 3 days. Also, sausage is about the same price as bacon if you buy the hot dog-sized 6-pack and eat only one with breakfast.

It's not difficult to eat on a few dollars a day. The hardest part is changing one's disposition toward food. Not every meal has to have a non-water beverage, two sides, a bread option, and dessert. Portion control is also important. That's why I said to scramble or fry the eggs so it looks larger on the plate and make you think you are eating more than, say, if you ate 2 boiled eggs. Also, a traditional side item can be fine by itself, like having a bowl of grits for lunch.

It's cheaper to make meals than to buy them. If you need to stretch a meal, starches can work a miracle (but not really since they are bad for you in the long run), like rice, potatoes, and pasta. And different sauces may be the saving grace for the ultimate poor person's food - chicken and rice. Furthermore, buying as much marked down food as you can and freeze it in a freezer bag or aluminum foil, especially bread and meat. That is key to saving even more money. Also, know which meat to buy. Thighs is the cheapest meat on the chicken. Other than that, the only other options are bone steak, cube steak, and pork chops. Perhaps there are other meats out there as cheap as these, but I haven't seen them yet. Seafood is a luxury to be had every few months because practically all seafood is expensive. Since meat doesn’t last very long on its own when served whole, cut it up and distribute it evenly in your favorite rice dish to stretch it out a little longer.When you take this basic information and jazz it up, you'll see just how easy it is to eat on very little.

How do you make it on very little?


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