Budget Survival
cheap food shopping

Five-A-Day – Getting Cheap Food

Five-A-Day as a project is the work I do trying to survive on a food budget of $5 a day while minimizing the time spent doing preparation work. This was what I budgeted for myself one Summer because of tight cash, so I needed ways to stretch that to get all the essential nutrients to live.

As a result, I ended up planning to consume 400 calories per $1 at a minimum. Whether or not this utilization of cheap food was a wise goal, I thought it was the bare minimum needed to survive, going by the 2,000 calorie standard.

What are the benefits of Five-A-Day?

Cheap Food

So far, I’ve discovered at least a couple power foods. These are raw ingredients and cheap raw foods that sometimes give as much as 100 calories per dime ($0.10). Granted, most of these are carbohydrates, with fats coming up second and proteins being fairly expensive.

Rawer Diet

Another thing I found happening was that I was getting a more diversified diet. For example, I rarely touched a tuna can (cheap healthy food) until I started this and seldom made eggs for breakfast. I had to resort to rawer foods, and I spent more time in the kitchen than in my car at a drive-thru (most fast food, if you can believe it, actually do not meet the Five-A-Day criteria).

That isn’t to say there aren’t still cheap junk foods that are star performers in Five-A-Day, but at least if I wanted something more than frozen pizza every night (yes frozen pizza is Five-A-Day, thank goodness), I’d have to dabble in foods previously seen as too bland in order to acquire some cheap food diversity in my diet.

Surprising Discoveries

Previous prejudices I had about certain foods were wrecked when I started Five-A-Day. For example, I thought frozen vegetables were cheap. Turns out, they usually barely make it up to 3/4 the requirements. This presented a problem: if I wanted to eat healthy cheap, I would have to bulk up the things I need to eat. It gave me a new appreciation for adding bulking toppings and sides like butter to vegetables, to help a meal reach the Five-A-Day mark.

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