Eating cash

So sometime yesterday I got lost in the maze of Macleans.ca. I think it started with a funny "how to keep your job" article... and somehow I ended up on this bit about how to cook "good" meals for about 50 dollars a week.

Heh. 50 dollars a week. I remember when I used to live on that. Granted I was living with three other people in Ottawa and we all probably contributed that much a week. We ate like kings. It was great.

Now I live alone, in Nunavut, and probably spend three times what I did back then. I'm cooking for one most of the time, which means more waste and fewer options. And it gets complicated when disaster strikes (like it did this week) and food mail is delayed by 2 or 3 days because the planes have gone mechanical. You end up with dregs in the fridge and no staples (I've been without margarine for days, but I have it coming on food mail... and I know the moment I buy margarine the flight will land in Rankin and I'll have doubles of all the things I spent way too much on at the Northern. Frustrating.

Then I came across this blog. Premise: three friends (Tracey, Jeff, Jennifer) started a challenge called "The Working Poor Diet." If you've heard of this idea before, I'm not surprised. I understand it's been done for fund raising purposes in other places. Basically, each of them had 80 dollars for the entire month of February for groceries/food.

The rules: No free food (that means office snacks and free samples are out). No skipping meals. You must start from scratch - - no cupboard stocks. And the meals should match daily recommendations by Canada's Food Guide.

Holy crow. Not easy.

Honestly, if I lived down south, I really think I could get by on 50 dollars a week no problem. I never really ate out much when I was a kid... and to date prefer to cook my own meals. If it were just me, I'd probably eat out maybe three times a month. And that includes fast food meals.

But 80 bucks for a month... without pantry buffer? I don't know if I could do it! Well, that's a lie, I could do it, but I probably never would because I would prefer to have more variety and I like to dazzle my tastebuds from time to time.

Anyways, while I don't think I'll be giving that one a try in the near future... especially when I live in the north (though it would be interesting to see how long 80 bucks would last up here. I'm thinking a week and half), but it would be interesting to try a food budget. We say that the costs are basically twice what you pay in the south... but that really varies according to item. Some things, like milk and bread (I know, I know, how many times am I going to whine about the price of milk?) are about three times the price of what you'd pay in the rest of Canada. And I tell you, I certainly don't get paid twice what I did in Quebec.

But maybe it's time to figure out exactly how much it costs me to eat up here. I'm thinking it's a pretty gross amount.


Matt, Kara and Hunter February 28, 2009 at 2:28 PM  

Groceries are a big part of our monthly budget. Even now that we are in the Yukon instead of Nunavut, we still spend $7-800 a month. But we buy any fruit or veggie we want, no matter the price.