As a stuffy frugal person, I (unsurprisingly) read several frugal blogs. It’s usually safe to read the comments on thrifty sites as they’re rarely bananapants or abusive. They’re sometimes conservative, but even then they’re seldom political — just old-fashioned or churchy. Every once in a while, though, I come across a real doozy.
I’m not going to directly quote this person or call out which website the comment came from because it’s possible that this person needs professional help, and internet abuse isn’t helpful. But I’m going to post the gist of their comment, along with my analysis.
Basically, the commenter claimed to feed two adult humans for $15.00 a week. I assume they’re in America, as they mentioned they shop mainly in farmer’s markets as opposed to grocery stores, and specifically mentioned buying Penzeys spices when on special — so that’s USD 15.00. When another commenter asked how they possibly keep their food expenses so low, they allowed that they actually averaged $100 a month, including all food purchases.
However, they included a week’s typical grocery list, though without itemized prices. I’ve included the calories below, though I had to choose specifics in some cases.
- 1/2 pound beans ( unspecified, I chose black beans, 490 calories)
- 1/2 pound grains (rice or buckwheat, I chose buckwheat, 850 calories)
- 1/3 pound oats (rolled, 582 calories)
- 1 cabbage (large head, 218 calories)
- 3 peppers (green bell peppers, 99 calories)
- 1 eggplant (88 calories)
- 1 cauliflower (large head, 147 calories)
- Lettuce (1 head green leaf, 54 calories)
- Several onions (5 onions, 320 calories)
- 1 head of garlic (10 cloves, 40 calories)
- Meat or yogurt or cheese (I counted all three, which is probably not what they intended, and gave quantities: 2 servings chicken breast, 259 calories; 32 ounces plain yogurt, 553 calories; 8 ounces cheddar cheese, 913 calories)
- Cream (half pint every two weeks, or 412 calories a week)
- Eggs every three weeks (I assumed a dozen or 4 eggs a week, 284 calories)
- I added 2 TB olive oil per day, which they didn’t mention (1666 calories)
- I also gave a little margin for spices and daily coffee (140 calories)
This person specifies that they only eat two meals a day (which leads me to believe that they practice “intermittent fasting”) and that they generally eat no sugar. Even counting my fictional allowance for olive oil and counting meat, yogurt, and cheese instead of choosing only one, this gives a weekly total of 7115 calories or 508 calories per person per day.
There are a few different possibilities here. They may be supplementing this food with meals from other sources (which seems doubtful considering the commenter’s tone and disdain of sugars and processed foods), or they’re exaggerating their low spending. They may also be very, very mentally ill and think that this is both healthy and appropriate for two adults to eat so little. This total is, even with my modification, well below what is considered starvation level. This is pretty much exactly what an eating disorder looks like — an orthorexic form of anorexia, perhaps.
They could also simply be lying for entertainment purposes, as it’s pretty unlikely anyone would call them out directly. I didn’t even do that, as I preferred not to be confrontational in such a mellow comment stream.
There’s no real point to this analysis; I only did it to satisfy my own curiosity. My numbers may be off, and it’s possible that they simply underestimated their example list. But I’ve shopped farmer’s markets, and $25 a week doesn’t take you very far there. Something about the whole comment just didn’t pass the sniff test, so I had to add it up.
These numbers are pretty disturbing. Marion Nestle — who is the exact opposite of a fat liberation activist — admits that the daily 2000 calorie target most people think of as standard is only enough food to support a small child or an older woman. An average adult would find 508 calories a day woefully inadequate. I hope this commenter was lying or exaggerating — or that they can someday get the treatment they need.