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Following Gwyneth Paltrow’s failed SNAP challenge, we decided to challenge ourselves to create healthy, sustainable meals on a shoestring budget.
For the entire month of September, I will be eating on the ultra-low budget of $50 (That’s $1.67 a day!). This experiment ties in with many topics I’m deeply interested in, namely food insecurity, poverty, nutrition, personal finance, and recipe development).
We decided to conduct our experiment in New York for two reasons. One, because it is my home base, but also because New York (and Manhattan in particular) is consistently ranked as the most expensive city to live in in America. If I can make our tiny budget work here, there is a high likelihood that people elsewhere can follow my recipes while sticking to their budget.
- $50 are allotted to all consumption of food each month
- Groceries must be purchased in Manhattan or be accessible to Manhattanites (i.e. online delivery)
- There must be three meals a day
- Time is a consideration when it comes to our recipes. If a recipe is super cheap but requires you to visit 6 grocery stores and spend 5 hours of hands on time – then it is not actually economical.
- Restaurant condiments that everybody has access to may be pilfered and will not count toward the monthly budget
- Basic pantry staples (salt, sugar, and oil) are not included in the $50 monthly budget
- Social events over food are allowed, provided that the food fits into the $50 budget.
- To make it through the long hours at my job, I will take full advantage of the free office coffee.
I live close to my family, and we have dinner together once in a while. I will eat those dinners rather than explain to my grandmother why I cannot eat her lovingly-cooked food because I’m doing a project to raise awareness for food insecurity.
- I will not accept donations for free food unless it is available for all (i.e. Trader Joe’s food samples), but I will accept offers for free drinks from friends as a means to maintain a social life. (THANK YOU ALL AND DRINKS ON ME IN OCTOBER)
A Few Disclaimers:
We are not doctors, lawyers, or nutritionists. We are not experts in the laws and rules regarding the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), nor are we qualified to give medical and nutritional advice.
We ARE however, two people who worked very hard to make our recipes as nutritious and as sustainable on a tiny budget. All of our recipes are tried and tested, and we worked to create variety in our meals.
If you think what we are doing is interesting, impactful, or maybe kind of insane, please consider donating to our efforts here. 100% of the proceeds will go towards Rescuing Leftover Cuisine, a non-profit that works to eliminate food waste and redirect food waste into solving urban hunger.
Look out for our first post later this week!
Excited and slightly terrified,