It’s expensive to be a foodie. A carton of heirloom tomatoes alone can set you back $5. Last night my friend Thomas ate out at Gjelina, the most-talked about place on the west side of L.A. right now. Dinner for two? $200. If you follow the food trends, you’re going to want that $35 bottle of olive oil that can only be used for drizzling on top your bread. If you have expensive taste, you are going to want truffle salt in your pantry.
While writing my Seacookery blog, my most popular post was the one I wrote in response to the question: How do you do this on six dollars a day? When I got off the boat, a lot of people asked me if I thought I could keep my costs that low while just cooking for myself. I wondered the same thing.
Something to be said for thrift
This project shows how, with a little forward thinking and a lot of thrift, you can eat fabulous gourmet meals with very little money. If you follow along with me you will slowly build your pantry, allowing for those big-ticket purchases down the line. If you are cooking for more than one, you need to increase your volume, but you should not need $20 a day to feed a family of four. In fact, I had so much food left over after the first week, I could have fed two people.
I have not included breakfast or lunch in my meal planning, but you will have enough extra food to eat leftovers for lunch and I will suggest ways to use the ingredients you have to quickly make a salad or sandwich. If you have ideas, please post them! I’m not posting anything about breakfast because I eat the same thing almost every day: yoghurt with toasted walnuts. If you want to eat breakfast on that $5 a day, by the end of a month you will have all the ingredients to make something gourmet every morning if you want.
Yes, I did it, I cooked all my meals this week for $35. I even managed to squeeze an extra five-course meal out of the leftovers. But would I do it again?
The lesson here is: you can take the mix out of the package but you can’t take the package out of the mix.
Why have I called these tacos cheesy when there was no room for cheese in my budget? Recalling a Swedish dish which uses an egg yolk to bind the potatoes and the meat and the horseradish, I was able to create a very cheese-like sauce for these potato-chile tacos.
A few days ago as I was working on the meals for this blog, I asked Chef, who lives upstairs, to come down and give me some advice on making a Mexican dish that would incorporate chicken liver pate. His advice? Don’t over-think it.
Who needs lunchmeat when homemade pate is this easy and a fraction of the cost?
Remember that warm wilted spinach salad with bacon? Well, think of this as that salad after it went backpacking through India and on a boat trip through the Thousand Islands.
Believe me when I tell you that your grandchildren will be talking about this sandwich.
I put it together it one day out of necessity when I was living in my friend’s empty apartment on the upper west side of Manhattan. Today I revamped it and made it more affordable – without sacrificing how delicious it is.
If you’re following along on the first week of eating gourmet on $5 a day, this is the meal for Day 1. But you’ll want to check out the previous post (The Approach) for the full week’s menu as well as shopping and planning tips.
Eating on $5 a day requires a flexible approach. This post contains the week’s menu and explains how I shopped for it and how everything came together.
I also provide a few condiment recipes you can make on the weekend to jazz up your meals the rest of the week.
When I finished my last boat cooking contract, a lot of people asked me if I thought I could still cook on $6 a day. Today I am starting that challenge. Okay, really I started it on January 2nd, but I needed to make sure that what I was doing was: 1. feasible and 2. yummy.
If you want to cook along with me, here’s what you need to buy.