Saturday, July 24, 2010
I recently became acquainted with the blog, Early Retirement Extreme, which is written by a fellow named Jacob. Basically, by practicing intensive, smart frugality and careful investing, Jacob, who is in his early 30's like me, is retired.
One of Jacob's frequent topics is cooking, particularly the costs of feeding one's self. Somewhere in the dozens of articles of his that I've read, I came across an idea that I had not considered before: eat to fuel the body; don't use eating as a source of entertainment.
I'm guessing I saw this in conjunction with one of Jacob's posts on a simple, repetitive diet he maintained for quite some time (and maybe he still does). This is not the first place I've heard of such an idea, however. I've been listening to Dave Ramsey for some time now, and anyone who is familiar with his show no doubt is familiar with Dave's frugal dietary advice: eat beans and rice, and when you get bored switch to eating rice and beans.
I decided to take the plunge.
I started off with a crock pot full of black beans, a can of chili ready tomatoes, and a few spices. When it's time to eat, I put 1/4 of a cup of white rice on the stove and in about twenty minutes I've got my meal. So far I've also made up a batch of simple curried lentils, tried different types of beans (all dried beans, by the way), etc. At first I was concerned that I would get bored, but that doesn't seem to be happening. Once you get your head around the idea that you're eating to live, not living to eat, having the same thing again and again doesn't seem bad at all. (Besides, there are "treat" meals, like the sweet teriyaki marinated pork chops I made today that I'm going to throw on my grill once I'm done writing this).
Further inspired by Jacob's example, I bought a pressure cooker on eBay. It arrived yesterday and I tried making that lentil curry recipe I linked to above. It came out perfect, but inside of my pressure cooker it took only seven minutes to cook, not the forty minutes called for in that recipe.
I did the math and discovered that my beans and rice meals are costing me around thirty cents each. Just thirty cents! In a day, that's 90 cents spent on feeding myself. Over the course of a week, that's only $6.30! In the future the cost will become less per meal because so far I have been purchasing my ingredients in small amounts. Large bulk purchases of rice, beans, lentils, etc will further reduce my meal costs.
Think of the things that it could become possible for you to do if your weekly food budget dropped to less than $10.