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rice and spaghetti. My bill was for $49.99. I then added additional charges for eggs, milk, nuts, strawberries, and raisins; a friend dropped by some corn so I adjusted for that. The cost for the month was under $100.00. I first made stew in the slow cooker with lots of potatoes and frozen vegetables, then froze about half of it and put the rest in the fridge. I took about one pound of hamburger and made spaghetti sauce, then froze five small patties for hamburgers. I then made a large batch of red beans and rice (I grew up in New Orleans and hated the traditional Monday public school lunch alleged to have been red beans and rice, but this was much better). The plan was to also make a chicken and rice casserole (or a chicken and vegetable curry stew), but we never got around to it, so the chicken remained in the freezer. Although my purchases were to be for my food, I was able to feed my wife as well. She actually liked it and ate with me. Breakfasts always included orange juice. Then I usually alternated days between a couple of pieces of toast and granola with some strawberries purchased from the local growers (they are so much tastier than the unripe ones we get at the store). I would have an egg once or twice a week. Lunches were often food left over from the night before which I took to work and warmed in the microwave. I would occasionally bring a PB&J or cheese sandwich to work.

Options I didn’t end up using: Fast Food Establishments: I did explore some fast food restaurants in an effort to see if someone could survive on $5 per day using these establishments. I tried a Panda Express, but could not find any combination for less than $5. At KFC, I could purchase a BBQ sandwich for $1.39; a chicken pot pie or a mashed potato bowl would cost $2.99. At Del Taco, I could have purchased a veggie or spicy chicken burrito for $2.49 or 12 tacos for $5.88. McDonald’s offered a double cheeseburger for $1.19, a chicken sandwich for $1.59 or a McRib sandwich for $2.99.

Coupons: I did not use coupons, but many foods are available at decreased cost by going online and printing out coupons. (If a person does not have a computer, the various local libraries provide this capability). I have been interested in reviewing the success some people have while using coupons. There was an interesting article in one of the October 2011 Time magazines about extreme couponing. The subject of the article cut the weekly shopping budget of her family from $250 to $50. In one shopping adventure, the subject bought 92 items, used 76 coupons, spent 2.5 hours in the store, fought with management twice, but was able to purchase $293.82 retail value food purchases for $38.04. Many heavy couponers need an extra room to store the volume of purchases they acquire. One online site mentioned in the article is “For the Mommas” (www.forthemommas.com). The Sacramento Bee has been inviting its customers to couponing classes. I found the following coupon apps in Consumer Reports: The Coupons App; Cellfire; Foursquare; Grocery IQ; Pushpins; and Where. The Dollar Store: I also made a run through the Dollar Store. On the shelves, I found lots of cans of soups, some with well-known brands, for $1. I could also have purchased pre-packaged Chow Mein, tuna, cans of fruit, and cookies for $1. Then there is always Ramen. To summarize, I think it is possible to eat on $5 a day if a kitchen, slow cooker, and fridge with freezer are available. Costs can be minimized by using coupons. Clearly, alcohol and tobacco do not fit into this program. Cooking in volume, freezing part of the meal, and filling up on complex carbohydrates such as potatoes, rice, and pasta, were key to making the GWMeyer plan work. Other than a bit of monotony, the food wasn’t half bad, and I neither gained nor lost weight during this trial!

Although my purchases were to be for my food, I was able to feed my wife as well. She actually liked it and ate with me.

geowmeyer1@earthlink.net

March/April 2012

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2012-Mar/Apr - SSV Medicine  

Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine is the official journal of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society (SSVMS) and promotes the history,...

2012-Mar/Apr - SSV Medicine  

Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine is the official journal of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society (SSVMS) and promotes the history,...