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Menu planning on $21 a week

This shouldn’t be too hard for me; for one, I have a pretty good grasp on nutrition, know how to cook from raw ingredients very well, and have actually lived on less than this amount a week for food for extended periods of time. I remember a lot of weeks of eating only rice when I first went to college, and making vegan pancakes for my boyfriend, who is allergic to eggs and dairy, is no challenge because I know from experience that you can easily make pancakes without all the “expensive” ingredients like eggs and milk. I’ve lived on food stamps before, and it was, frankly, completely fun after not having any money for food at times.

It’s actually tempting to give myself a further handicap because of that experience, but I’m going to refrain. Instead, I’m going to do some extra work and see how healthful and appealing of a diet I can create for myself on that amount of money. I can do this in part because I have had the benefit of a $120,000 college education, and also because I am fortunate enough to have internet access, a couple of computers, Excel skills, and a bit of free time this weekend. I don’t have to look for childcare, stop by a payday loan store, or look for a third job–or even a second job.

To start out with, I’ve assembled the receipts for groceries I’ve bought these past couple of days and will want to use rather than letting them spoil. It doesn’t seem reasonable to throw them away, especially in this context. Once I deduct the cost of those foods I choose to eat this week from my $20 that remain, I’ll know how much I have left to work with. Time to plan.