What would you eat on $30 a month?

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Truth be told, my food budget is for shite: I eat like someone with a tapeworm who makes $300,000 a year. Starbucks on my way in to work? Chiming in on the office Potbelly order? An appetizer with my dinner at the pricey restaurant? Don’t mind if I do. Of course this idiot budgeting affects other parts of my life—like my clothing budget, say, where I am now down to about three serviceable winter outfits that have enough holes in them that even Oliver Twist would say, “No thanks, I have my pride.”

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So I was intrigued when this Wide Open Eats article popped up on my Twitter feed, as a Reddit user asked people who how they would make a food budget stretch on $30 a month. As an asshole who sometimes eats that much in a day, I needed to read this. And there were some intriguing options here, that revolved around starches like rice, beans, potatoes and ramen, bringing me back to my college days. Some users suggested baking their own bread (seems like a stretch) or tacos every day (totally works for me).

Then I asked around the office: What would my illustrious colleagues, and myself, eat with that meager budget? Of course they came up with glam options like chili and jasmine rice, while I’m hoping that my love of peanut butter will keep me going through meager times and/or the impending apocalypse. The clothes are a done deal though.

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Kate Bernot

I’d stock up on canned beans, tomatoes, and corn for a meat-less chili. Chili is one of those meals that seems to last forever—one pot generates so many leftovers—plus if you don’t include any meat, it’s a pretty cheap but still hearty meal.

Gwen Ihnat

Fortunately, I’m a peanut butter fan, so I think I could make a jar of Skippy, a loaf of bread, and maybe a few bananas and the honey I already have in my pantry go a long way. I’m also a fan of rice and beans, so I would buy large bags dry, in bulk, and toss in the slow cooker with about every spice I have. Also potatoes aren’t even a hardship for me, I love them, so I would buy a bag of those and eat those first before they went bad. And I would give up my beloved LaCroix for tap water. That would probably halve my grocery budget right there.

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Kevin Pang

A five-pound bag of jasmine rice. That should last me for six months, actually. A jar of Better Than Bouillon’s no-chicken base, which would give me instant chicken-rice soup. Eight cans of sardines, which would give me a “treat” twice a week. Four cans of Great Northern beans for protein and fiber. Seasoning salt.

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Gwen Ihnat is the Editorial Coordinator for The A.V. Club.

Kevin Pang was the founding editor of The Takeout, and director of the documentary For Grace.

Kate Bernot is a freelance writer and a certified beer judge. She was previously managing editor at The Takeout.

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DISCUSSION

ryubot4000
Ryuthrowsstuff

at a certain point in my life $30 for a month’s food would have been a *good* month.

I mostly ate rice and beans. Pork shoulder or dark meat chicken which tend to be the cheapest meats. Potatoes. Carrots. Eggs. Whatever vegetables were cheapest. There was a lot of 1 meal a day weeks. And a lot of buy something in bulk and eat it for 12 days in a row.

It wasn’t pleasant. But one day the Korean grocery down the block marked down canned French escargot to like a fall a can. And my friends were pretty aggressive about taking me out to eat to make sure I was fed. So there were highlights.