This past month, I learned that over half of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 per day- a price that includes costs for their food, transportation, and bills of any kind. So I thought I’d challenge myself to a much easier test- surviving on $5 worth of food every day for a week.
Now let’s face it, most college students don’t have time to go to the store every day, so I just did my shopping at the beginning of the week. With a $35 budget, my list was tailored not only to price, but personal preferences. If you try this for yourself, feel free to mix it up.
- 7 Yoplait Yogurts ($0.75 each) = $5.25
- Harris Teeter Thin Sandwich Bread = $0.97
- Block of Cabot Vermont Yellow Cheddar = $3.19
- 5 Russet Potatoes (~$0.75 each) = $3.75
- 1 Box of Harris Teeter Spaghetti = $1.29
- Bertolli Tomato Sauce = $2.99
- 7 Macintosh Apples(~$0.63 each) = $4.41
- 1 Gallon of 2% Milk = $3.49
- 1 Package of Healthy Ones Turkey = $3.99
- 2 Totino’s Party Pizzas ($1.29 each) = $2.58
- Harris Teeter Dozen Eggs = $1.89
This gave me a purchase price of a little under $35, including tax. I was ready to take on the week!
Breakfast: Breakfast became a formula = 1 scrambled egg + a pinch of cheddar cheese + an apple on the side every other day.
Lunch: Lunch followed a similar pattern. With such a basic set of ingredients, repetition of meals was the easiest way to go, although it may not have been the most exciting. Every day I had a Yoplait yogurt, a piece of bread, and an apple every other day.
Dinner: Dinner was the meal I looked forward to the most each day, especially because it was both the largest and the most varied. Three nights I had turkey and cheese sandwiches with an egg on the side, two nights I had a pizza, and for the remaining two evenings, I kept myself full with spaghetti. I also baked potatoes for five out of the seven nights, which helped keep me full for some long nights in the library.
All in all, I found that while there was a definite sense of monotony in my diet and a lack of excitement for meals, grocery shopping for $5 per day wasn’t as bad as I thought. I was surprised by the wide variety of products that were available for such low prices. And the #1 lesson of this experiment? Show store brand items more love.