Eat on $3 a Day

Back in October I was being introduced to just how made the American diet is when I viewed Forks Over Knives, Food Inc. and Food Matters. This led me to learn about a plant-based, whole food lifestyle, Dr. John McDougall and others leading the way when it comes to taking your health into your own hands. Since October I have lost 27 pounds and improved my blood work numbers, namely my total cholesterol by 64 points!

Since mid January I have become reacquainted with exercise and the added benefits to my healthy, now that I have my diet under control. Weekly exercise consists of 30-45 minutes of walking, daily. When I get home it’s been either weight lifting on our Bowflex Revolution or doing Beachbody’s Power 90 (yes, the original). Unlike seeing quick results with the diet portion of a healthy lifestyle, I figure it will be 6 weeks before I start to see physical changes in my appearance, outside of shedding pounds and looking thinner.

About 10 days ago I started keep track of my daily food intake. Back in 2003, when I first started Power 90, there was a recommendation to purchase the program, Fit Day, which allows you to track food, nutritional information, exercise, set goals such as activity and weight and track your progress.

I have taken it a step further. Using the online site, Spark Recipes, I can now entire all ingredients to any meal I plan and break that meal down into a ‘per serving’ size. For example, the Fit Day database, as extensive as it is doesn’t have my Potato Enchiladas. I built the recipe and I can now enter the nutritional data into Fit Day and see just how much I eat a day. A great little program that allows me to track all things food/exercise related to improve my health.

The next step…why…I don’t know is to start tracking the amount of money my wife and I spend a month on food. I can tell you right now it is down in the past few months since we have not spent a penny on any meat. Last time I opened our freezer in the garage there was a plethora of chicken, turkey, pork, beef and fish just waiting to be cook. Outside of the fish, I can’t see me preparing any of the other meat in the freezer.

Dr. McDougall, in his March, 2008 Newsletter discussed Cutting Food Costs in These Times of Economic Downturn. “On average women consume about 2000 calories daily and men 2500 calories…The cost of animal-food centered meals cooked at home for one person could easily be $10 a day or more,” says Dr. McDougall. For those individuals who favor dining out as opposed to eating in, “spending $14 for a full day’s worth of fast food meals would not be unusual.”

For those not following a plant-based, whole food lifestyle buying 20 pounds of brown rice or 25 pounds of pinto beans might seem extreme. When the numbers are broken down by unit cost and compared to the cost for 2500 calories you can see the extensive savings. For example, a Taco Bell Taco costs $.99 and for a man to get 2500 calories would require $14.56. By comparison 2o pounds of potatoes cost $6.99 and for a man to get 2500 calories would cost $1.75! Savings you can see and taste!

Being able to eat or feeding a family for $3 a day per person is possible, but will require a larger up front cost. That is a cost I am willing to make since I know I will use 25 pounds of brown rice or 20 pounds of potatoes. Dr. McDougall’s wife, Mary has recipes for her “Stove Top Stew cost $1.40 (fills up four adults) and the Pea Soup ingredients cost $1.80 (fills up 6 adults).” These days when money does matter and you are trying to better your budget, you might consider this as an option.

As Dr. McDougall sums it up, “A person spending $14 a day eating at fast food restaurants could be spending $3 by eating a starch-based diet at home. This translates into $11 per day savings. (This means $330 a month and $4015 per year saved, which happens to be enough to attend the McDougall 10-day live-in Program in Santa Rosa, CA—so you might consider the McDougall Program as a free program.)” Then again, a starch based diet is not widely accepted, but even minor changes can be positive.