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Sunday, July 2, 2017

eat on $2 a day


EAT ON $2 A DAY

I know some of you can’t drink under $2 of coffee a day, and some of you can’t eat under $2 a snack let alone a meal, but it isn’t all that difficult to eat on $2 a day.  Including coffee.  I understand that not all of you are as crazy for wheat as I am.  But that is a third to a forth of your calories if you want to save serious money eating.  Hey, this isn’t like this is a test for unemployment that you’ll fail if you refuse to eat wheat.  Food Stamps are usually $130-$170 a month ( the higher amount if you don’t receive other government hand-outs ), so even if you triple the amount here you will still eat good.  You can’t eat well camping or homeless, granted, as this is dependent on a few basic tools.  It relies on a bit of hidden infrastructure you don’t normally count on as costs while living on grid.  You can do the same off grid as on, but it won’t be quite as cheap although darn skippy close ( we just talked about the thirty cents a pound meat canning amortized cost.  A fridge off grid would pencil out to $8 a month the first five years, then about $3 a month thereafter-not too dissimilar for an on-grid fridge which is actually probably higher.  If my $150 freezer lasts ten years, as does your $400 fridge, with yours twice the power used, your ten cent a kilowatt costs, mine with electric costs twice yours if a panel lasts thirty years and a battery five,  off grid is still a few cents cheaper.  Given that on grid power costs are rising and solar panels are getting cheaper, the only way on-grid refrigeration is cheaper is if you live in an area with subsidized power under a dime a kilowatt hour, or if you get anal retentive about the cost per square foot of storage ). 

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I’m not sure why you would go anywhere to buy your coffee.  If a cup costs $2, and your jar of grounds from Kroger is $6, and a jar delivers five weeks of a pot a day, you get a pot of coffee for a quarter verses $2 a cup.  Starbucks and similar is nothing more than a peacock feather dingus measuring pissing contests designed to demonstrate who makes more money.  As wise men have observed, there is always someone smarter than you, better looking than you, stronger than you or possessing a larger member.  Why are you even playing the game?  If you like to drink coffee out, treat yourself to a once a month restaurant meal with the coffee that will pencil out cheaper since you get refills.  Coffee and food outside the home is a wasteful luxury.  Enjoy, but in moderation.  I’m glad we got that straitened out.  Coffee, twenty cents a day.  Next up we get to the food you force yourself to eat to soak up the coffee so your acid reflux doesn’t kill you in short order ( I love my coffee black, but am forced to use milk and sugar because of the heartburn.  Should it get worse, the taste difference alone would probably make quitting altogether rather easy-but for now I soldier on ).

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An $11 sack of wheat contains about 75,000 calories.  800 calories a day in wheat ( four flatbreads of 200 calories from a half cup of flour each ) will last you three months for $3.60 a month or a dime a day ( you’ll probably get a higher cup count out of the sack as flour increases in volume from kernels-plus, if you stock up on coffee when it is $5 a can rather than $6, that will make up for the difference ).  So right there we are fifty cents for coffee, breakfast and lunch.  However, since we are still in a functioning society and are not yet barbarians, we have the option of putting butter on our bread.  Again, buying on sale with an on-grid freezer, you can still find butter at $2.50 a pound.  A half stick a day ( I can’t eat any other kinds of oil, not even Dorito’s curse the gods, to go along with my contaminated coffee.  Apple cider vinegar helps immensely, but never 100% ) is almost 400 calories and costs thirty cents.  1200 calories, plus coffee, is eighty cents.  Again, I don’t expect many of you to go all wheat two meals a day.  At least not yet.  Once finances force you into it, you’ll discover how cheap, filling and nutritious it is ( plus, you get to poop! ). 

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My main vegetables consist of potatoes and cabbage ( never COOKED cabbage, by all that is holy.  Cole slaw and a salad with cabbage rather than lettuce is how I enjoy ) and we can guesstimate that if you eat both every day you would probably spend no more than fifty cents, toppings included.  Coffee, breakfast, lunch and vegetables total up $1.30.  Call the potato your dinner starch and or a snack ( French fries in the Air Fryer, for instance ) but we’ll still add another twenty cents for another starch.  Rice, pasta, corn meal or beans.  That leaves you fifty cents for meat.  Which is not impossible.  I understand you enjoy a $10 steak on the BBQ.  You love a fat burger or several sausages.  Well, come crunch time it is time to say goodbye to all that.  For fifty cents you get a half pound of chicken ( not as exciting as it sounds as that includes the bones ) or a quarter pound to one third a pound of pork.  Beef will be rare, the occasional quarter pound of hamburger ( when craving burger, most of the time you’ll be forced to eat turkey burger.  $2 beef burger is usually only when the stuff is going to go bad and is on emergency sale.  It can be done, it just isn’t easy ).

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Now, I enjoy a big chunk of sizzling burnt animal flesh filling my plate just like the rest of you.  But if you are on a budget and you only get a quarter pound of meat, if you chop it up fine and add to your starch, you will get your animal protein cravings satisfied.  Due to my fast metabolism my body almost always Joneses after dead animal.  I can survive on that quarter pound.  If I don’t cut it up, just eating it by itself, it doesn’t seem to satisfy as well as when mixed with starch.  It won’t be but several hundred calories, but meat calories are superior to many other types, just as the “only” 400 calories of butter is extremely satisfying to your body.  Try that with the same calories amount of sugar.  All told, vegetables and dinner should give you 800-1k calories.  Added to bread that is 2k to 2200 calories a day.  Sufficient for a sedentary lifestyle.  I’ll wager however that you are actually able to do quite a bit on such a healthy and filling diet. 

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How about a few diner recipes?  Always save your fat from the pan and you’ll always have gravy available.  More calories and it goes a long way making boring delicious.  On this diet, animal fat and butter are good for you, not bad.  Without Little Debbies and McDonalds you are way ahead of the nutrition game.  And don’t use your total allotment of butter on your bread.  Save some for dinner.  You can Air Fry everything but a bit of butter in the skillet helps in the taste department.  You just ate breakfast and lunch with very boring and repetitious food, so diner should be your taste treat every day.  Meat in gravy over rice.  Meat and gravy over cube potatoes.  Meat and rice with butter and soy sauce.  Meat and pasta with butter.  Meat in gravy on pasta can be a bit like beef stroganoff.  Breaded meat chunks and French fries.  Corn meal mush with meat, left overnight in the fridge to harden, then sliced up and fried.  Regular cornbread with meat.  Mash potatoes with meat, with and without gravy.  Corn tortillas nuked in the microwave to make a platter for refried beans and meat, or not as long to make soft tacos.

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Now, speaking of tacos, who doesn’t prefer adding salsa, shredded cheese, sour cream and onions?  Those are extras, and not forbidden, obviously.  This $2 restriction is more a guideline than a set in stone ideal you’ll obviously never adopt until necessary.  Sometimes you’ll want cream cheese or peanut butter on your bread.  But you’ll always be in the ballpark financially.  I’ve been living on the above, within pretty close tolerances ( not quite as much bread, but close ), for months.  The NOL brings home factory whole wheat bread which stretches out my wheat kernel supply.  And I get free apples.  Free white bread for some dinners to add calories.  But that is about it.  Everything else is on the budget.  You’d probably get the same by trash picking or from a Food Bank, stretching your calorie count closer to 3k a day.  As an add-on note, the late morning after I wrote this I happened to luck upon a big packet of sirloins for $8, almost three pounds.  The mark-down meat bin is NEVER that generous.  Of course I had to get it.  Way out of budget but it was my first treat in over a month.  $2 for a half pound steak, and in the Air Flyer I’ve never had such a juicy sirloin ( they tend to be dry and tough no matter how I cook it, until now ).  Here is the thing.  Getting two days worth of meat just for lunch, I actually got that protein high you hear about from semi-vegetarians.  An occasional, like once every other month $2 treat really satisfies like a Big Mac and a Whopper can’t, on this diet.

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11 comments:

  1. Don’t know what it is about Starbucks, but it always gave me a bad case of the trots. You do have the free high speed wifi though, so if you’re off grid, and can work from your computer, you can sort of justify it.

    I do the same with the cabbage, and substitute it for lettuce. Not only does it taste better, but it seems to hold up longer, and is better for you. Sauerkraut is the best way to store cabbage long term.

    You can’t beat real butter, but one way to store a butter substitute long term is to have some Molly McButter, or similar on hand. A little sprinkled over a potato isn’t half bad.

    I love potatoes, but I’m not real fond of mashed potatoes. But the best form to store them in long term is with the dehydrated mashed potato’s from the store.

    I’ve haven’t tried this yet, but I’d like to try sinking a garbage can into the ground in an always shady area. Drop a few blocks of ice at the bottom, and have a drain hole at the bottom. You can have a basket to make retrieval of your food easier. Block ice lasts longer. Cover the top with something insulating. The old time ice houses kept ice all summer long.

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    1. The ice box is great, but not for meat. With solar fridge you can store meat for a bit-say all day raw and a day or two cooked. Depends on what you want it for I guess. I've covered making ice blocks before, from the book on making a cheap machine. It would be longer lasting than a battery powered. But battery+generator=spouse living off grid.

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  2. Bacon price is as evil as starbutts coffee, but for good reason. A slice of two fried up with little onion and cabbage is a complete different food group than most cooked cabbage. Course, I'm half vegetarian so I might be prejudice.

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    Replies
    1. I just can't get my mind around cooked veggies-a failing, I've been told.

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  3. A cheap source of protein right now is eggs. If you don't like cabbage, you can try napa cabbage. It has a mild favor and is like a mix between lettuce and cabbage. keeps for a long time in the refrigerator in a zip lock bag.

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    1. Eggs never seem to satisfy my craving, but that is just me. Don't know why.

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  4. Don't forget to save the bones for bone broth. It's very good for you (assuming the animal wasn't sick or pumped full of chemicals).
    Peace out

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    Replies
    1. "Sick" and "chemicals" leaves out store bought meat.

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  5. Here in WV - the most an adult gets for food stamps is $109 a month. Roughly $3 a day, so, not that we get food stamps, that's what we set our food/other grocery budget at. But I'm old, so I can cook, as can my husband and son, AND we had the 'not lean' financial years in which we garage saled and got cooking supplies. And, of course, we're on grid because we have a software business.

    Right now I'm pressure cooking beans in a pressure canner (see, I read you other posts, and I regularly pressure can all sorts of things) that I got at Goodwill cheap. I'll be baking bread in my $8 bread maker later. Dinner tonight will be half the beans made into taco filling with an equal amount of ground beef, and the rest of the beans will be made into soup for lunches the rest of the week.

    Now, I only work outside the house for 25 hours a week and my travel time is relatively tiny, so I have more time to work than idiots who travel far to 40 hour a week jobs. And the local store tends to order too much meat, and put it out for 'immediate sale' on its sell-by date, and I make a lot of use of that (back to using the canner!)

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    Replies
    1. The meat department is just as bad as the produce, following the "full shelf" philosophy. Idiots. At least we can benefit from THAT idiocy rather than be hurt by it ( granted, they might raise prices to compensate, but I think meat is more of a loss leader for most stores ).

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    2. FernWise,

      You should think about writing a guest article on beans--growing, canning, storing, recipes, etc. I'm always looking for new idea and love hearing about how others do things.

      Idaho Homesteader

      Delete

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