$5 a Day Challenge: Things are getting plain — and burnt

This is the fourth post in a week-long web series that documents Kevin Rey’s experiences living off of $5 worth of food a day. Check back daily for another post.

So maybe eating the exact same thing for lunch every day isn’t quite as fun as I imagined.

I mean, it’s reasonably nourishing and filling, but after eating those beans for the past while, I’ve started to notice that they’re just slightly burnt. You just can’t un-taste that.

I’m also sorely regretting the fact that I didn’t buy fruit or vegetables. Alternating between pasta and beans isn’t exactly a refreshing diet. I think basically anyone would have made some better shopping choices than me, but hey, I’m still getting used to this whole “planning ahead” thing.

Not being able to snack on things is also strange to deal with. Normally I’d be munching on something between meals, but because I didn’t plan out my spending very well, I’ve just had to go without. Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing just fine without the usual granola bars or chips, but not being able to forage for food in my pantry is an odd feeling. A few times now I’ve gone over to my shelves by force of habit, only to stare longingly at all of the food I’m cut-off from.

Takeout is also obviously out of the question. Depending on the restaurant, I could eat for a few days or a week with the money that I would spend. I wonder if I did this challenge long term whether I’d be able to scrape up enough money to go out with friends. Buying alcohol seems completely impossible.

Yeesh. Let’s try to ignore just how much of my privilege is showing and move on, shall we?

So, in the grand scheme of things, this exercise has been going well, and has changed the way I think about my food.

The strangest example is that I look forward to having my toast and jam in the morning. Which is kind of sad, let’s be real.

Like, if I rush out the door without eating breakfast, I remember that I haven’t had my toast yet that day, and I look forward to having it when I get home. I think it might be due to the fact that the jam is the only thing I bought that has sugar in it.

Actually, it’s genuinely concerning that my sweet tooth is so strong. That, or the lady at the market straight up laced the jam with something.

But otherwise, so far so good.