Here’s a guy who decided to experience for himself one aspect of being poor: living on $30 for a month for food ($US I hasten to add) Read from the bottom up for proper chronology.
Hungry for a month
My background lends well to being frugal to start with – both of my parents went through WWII in Berlin, where there was next to nothing to eat in the waning days of the war and the early years following. Consequently, my upbringing always re-enforced the idea of never wasting food and being a glutenous pig. Even though money was never that tight, at home food was never splurged on – a steak was a treat, with stew and meatloaf being more typical staple food.
Once on my own, I never was that tight for money that I had to do the Ramen noodle diet to get by to the next pay cheque. I certainly know people who have done it, especially to get to the end of a semester of school. Compared to some of those stories, this guy had it good. I recall stories like having $10 left over for food for the month after covering rent, and a bus pass. Try living on that – it’s all Ramen noodle and rice then.
Oh yeah, you’re going to school too, and have finals to deal with, so you have to actually use your brain to it’s max despite the total lack of anything nutrients being eaten. But there is always someone who has it harder than you.
I do have to comment after reading what he did that his primary complaint was lack of spice. Well, if you had to do your $30 a month long term, spice can be added quite easily. He figured he was spending closer to $25/month, accounting for leftover food and $, that would cover 1-2 spice items a month, easily. He also was less that creative on what cheap food he bought – but to his credit, he didn’t plan things out and didn’t have any previous experience – so what he did would be typical of what a first time kid on a budget might do.
If you know what you’re doing cooking-wise, you can make some pretty decent tasting food for next to nothing budget wize. Budgeting to add a few flavor items can do much to make crap food at least taste palatable – things like chicken stock soup cubes – cheap, last a long time and gets you “chicken soup” noodles rather than crap Ramen flavors. Eating nutritious on the other hand – that’s much tougher. Yeah, you can buy ground beef and cheap meat deal of the week to get protein, but you just can’t buy much in terms of vegetables and live cheap, especially in the middle of winter in these parts when vegetables get darn expensive.
I found it interesting that the guy had no idea that you can live on $30/month, indefinitely if you have to. Interesting, in that he had no idea of what he needed for food, what he *needed* to survive, rather than what he wanted. Pretty typical side effect of living with fat in the budget I guess. I went though the exercise of figuring out my minimum last year – I had a good idea but I hadn’t crunched the numbers out for a reasonably precise value. I wonder how many people know how much money they need to survive a month – not that many I’d guess.