When I originally wrote this, I forgot about cheese. While Wegmans has a huge selection of cheeses including some very expensive ones, they also have 5 lb bags of shredded cheddar or mozzarella for $11.99. Again, not the highest quality stuff available, but it'll do in a pinch; I've certainly bought them when broke and no one here died.I did this calculation a while back, but never sat down and posted it. Basically, I wanted to see if you could do ELAB on food stamps. Amanda had mentioned that the county she lives in is the poorest in CA and also sadly has the highest obesity and diabetes rates; the most poverty-stricken need this way of eating the most. And frankly, I've been very poor at certain times of my life, and while I'd say I'm only semi-poor now, I wanted to see if this could be done on an actual food stamp budget.
For those not in the US, food stamps is a program which gives "credits" rather than actual cash to people with low income; the credits can only be used to purchase food. The maximum amount per person per month is $194, which is what I'm assuming as a budget here.
Each month, the government reports on what people spend on groceries, not including eating out. For September 2019, the amount for a female between the ages of 51-70 was $167.40 (thrifty plan), $206.10 (low-cost plan), $249.60 (moderate cost plan) or $304.70 (liberal plan). This is just to provide some context to what $194/month means for those with different currencies; it's not much at all. Data is here: https://fns-prod.azureedge.net/.../Cost ... ep2019.pdf
Some caveats: you have different stores than I do. Also, when I have been flat broke, I was not buying pastured meat and organic produce. ELAB doesn't require that, nor does it require drugs, supplements, or keto "products." And though everyone doesn't do it, I assumed the RBS to have a simple diet to calculate costs for.
Of course, though local costs vary, this wasn't even trying to search out the cheapest stuff here in central PA, just picked two stores and didn't look at sales, didn't count gardening, or bulk buys from farmers, or use of food banks or anything.
My local Karns has what they call "meat bundles," the specifics vary each month, but it's 25 pounds meat for $59. I eat around 6 oz meat in each RBS, so that's over 2 months worth of meat at under $30/month.
Karns doesn't have all their prices online, so I can't check prices for everything else. I do my big grocery shopping at Wegman's, and they have an online app, so I made a shopping list for a month's worth of RBSs.
I shopped for a half iceberg lettuce or whole romaine heart daily, 3 dozen eggs, 4 quarts generic Greek yogurt and 4 jars generic mayo for homemade salad dressing, and a package or two of herbs and spices, lemon juice, salt and pepper, and Lite salt for the electrolyte drink. None of these products were on sale or had coupons and it came to under $63.
So that's $93/month for the basic RBS, leaving $101 for coffee, heavy cream, stevia, extra veggies like cucumbers, avocado, onions and tomatoes, upgraded lettuce, vinegar, olive oil, additional spices, tuna and sardines, bacon, etc.
And it's better nutrition that the vast majority of food stamp recipients, or Americans in general, are getting.
I don't do it this cheaply, but it's actually not far off from what I do spend. I buy higher quality food, but only eat 4 days/week, so it sort of balances out. There's *nothing* more frugal than fasting!
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