Eating on $2 a Day: Days Two, Three, and Four
by Chris Holcomb —
Thus continues my foolishness! My serving-size blunder was something I wouldn’t realize until later in day two. This day then, revolved entirely around one mission: to eat a pizza. See, it turned out that my housemate and my girlfriend had unknowingly collaborated against me on day one. Unhindered by two dollar budgets, they had committed the crime of all crimes, eating pizza: the delicious, savory, delectable combination of all things that are both heavenly and Italian that is pizza. And not only that, but they made me aware of it! Therefore, I had to match them. I had to make my own pizza, regardless of budget restrictions.
So, for breakfast, I ate oatmeal, a past ripe banana that cost me 6 cents, and more of the good old bread and peanut butter. After this, I had the budget for: 2 cups of greens from the garden, two more super-cheap bananas, and another slice of bread with peanut butter. The total from these things? 60 cents.
The rest was pizza! I spent one dollar and 38 cents on a pizza that was, frankly, amazing. I made the crust myself and topped it with: pasta sauce, scant amounts of mozzarella, spinach, onion, and some chorizo sausage. And while the pasta sauce wasn’t ideal and I would have liked to use more cheese, it honestly was pretty good. Finally and most importantly, I felt incredibly accomplished. Eating on two dollars a day, not only did I prove that I didn’t have to go hungry, but I also proved that you can make things that look as good as this:
On a… possibly related note, Day 2 was the only day of the four that I ever really felt hungry. It turns out that a pizza is not as economical as bread and peanut butter. It also turns out that a pizza is totally worth it, at least once in awhile.
After my miscalculation, dessert eating, and pizza fest on days one and two, I faced a new challenge on day three. I was behind in my budgeting for the four days, with a total spent of $4.13 after two days. Additionally, while I had been going on half hour runs every morning, Saturday (day three) is the day I get together with people to play ultimate frisbee for two or three hours. So, instead of jogging for thirty minutes, on day three I needed to be able to sprint for the better part of one hundred and twenty minutes. Consequently, day three looked a lot like this:
In fact, my diet for day three consisted of only eight items: bread, peanut butter, bananas, milk, lettuce, snap peas, lentils, and spices for said lentils.
It worked marvelously. My total cost for the day was just one dollar and 61 cents. I was never hungry, and I was able to keep playing strong for nearly three hours. While the food on this day wasn’t quite as enjoyable as the other three, it was certainly still palatable. Think about this: with the aid of an oven, a local produce stand, and a few garden items, I was able to get all of the energy and nutrients I needed for a day of fairly vigorous physical exertion with just $1.61. How does that six dollar McDonalds “Value Meal” sound to you now?
Thanks to my epic savings spree on day three, I had more than made up for the over budget foolishness of days one and two. This left me with $2.26 to spend on day four. It was time to party.
For breakfast, I went all out and had eggs with some salsa and cheese. Still leaning on my inexpensive homemade bread (one loaf costs about 45 cents) as my main source of grain, I was able to divert money to other areas. For example, Sunday was the only day I got fruit from anything other than bananas, spending a little more money to get an apple.
For lunch, I went pretty light with a few slices of bread, a banana, and some peanut butter. I wanted to go out with a bang for dinner.
Here, the garden came in handy yet again. I waltzed outside, knife in hand, ready for the hunt. After
crouching in the thicket for two hours, knife readied, as a patient predator in search of prey walking ten feet, I secured my reward: a fresh bunch of cauliflower. Coupling this with more lettuce, the onions and chorizo leftover from the pizza, and a topping of cheese, I had a quite delicious meal. I was even able to use my last thirteen cents to celebrate with a bit more rice pudding. The meal looked like this:
Not bad, I’d say, for eating on two dollars a day.
Chris Holcomb is an intern this summer with Mustard Seed Associates. Hailing from from Elkhart, IN, Chris will be a senior this year at Purdue University majoring in Economics with a concentration in Statistics and minors in Sociology and Environmental Politics and Policy. This post is the second in a series he’s been doing on his experiments with simplicity and human needs. You can also follow along at his blog, The Llama and the Cow.