Saturday, September 17, 2011

The $5 Challenge

Today is the day that tons of people have signed on to taking the challenge of eating a slow food meal for $5 or less. The idea is that we can eat fresh and healthy meals and it can cost the same or less than fast food. I think this is based on the cost of a value meal, but the truth is that I haven't been in a fast food restaurant (except for going to the bathroom at rest stops when we travel) in probably 15 or more years. My kids like to tell the story of when they once had to go to the bathroom when we were at some kind of festival in a small town in Connecticut, and the only place to go to the bathroom was a McD0nalds. They always say "yeah, we went to a McD0nalds once" and then they pause just long enough to get a reaction and then they laugh... "yeah, to go to the bathroom. It was gross."

So as you can see, I'm just going have to trust that a value meal or the like costs about $5, and that is what this challenge is based on.

The truth is, it is not hard to spend $5 or less per person in my family for a meal, due to the way I shop. If you think about it, you can choose foods that don't cost much, and then spruce them up with a little something special. If you consider the overall cost, this can be easy. It is certainly the reason that we rarely eat out at restaurants... as much as I want to support the local restaurants around here (especially some of my friends that own places), it is just so much more economical for us to eat at home.

Needless to say, it was easy enough for me to make a cheap dinner. But I do have to say that I kept it really simple, so in theory it might not be be all that interesting to someone who likes to eat value meals at fast food restaurants.

White sushi rice (we call it candy rice), fresh broccoli and carrots and fresh baked spelt bread. I'm sort of sorry that I didn't make anything more interesting to document here but oh well. It was a simple dinner tonight because we all ate a pizza and fries kind of dinner last night. We often balance like this to stay in check.

Total meal cost (this is my best guess if I had bought all of this food at full price):

-Organic white sushi rice probably cost about $.50 per person (there was also plenty left over for tomorrow's lunch)
-Organic broccoli probably cost about $1.00 per person
-Organic carrots probably cost about $.50 per person
-Freshly baked organic spelt bread (my first attempt at fresh baked non-wheat bread!) cost about $.50 per person for this loaf (but I got two loaves out of the batch)
-Homemade organic raw butter to go with the bread probably cost about less than $.25 per person.
We also used tamari on our rice, which we buy in bulk and cost probably pennies per person. And I put some tahini sauce that I made on my veggies, that also cost too little to figure out.

So all in all, this meal was easily less than $3 per person. AND there was zero packaging involved.


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