I am currently conducting a 4-week experiment to see if I can eat 3200+ calories and 160g+ of protein from quality foods for under $7.50 per day. If you haven’t already read the introductory article for this experiment you can read it here. The week 1 review also has some pearls of wisdom that you can use to replicate this experiment in your own life.

Before we dive into how this week went- I have been sending out exclusive content to my Grocery Hackers email list.  You can join by clicking here to get notified about new posts, and to receive valuable tips that I am not publishing on my site.

The Week of Visitors

This week posed some interesting challenges which led to some very practical lessons.

Both my brother and my girlfriend’s mother stayed with us all week and through the weekend. Having visitors during the workweek meant that my time was either spent working or entertaining. There wasn’t much time for cooking so meal prep was very important.

Having family or friends visiting town is definitely a situation in which you will find yourself, so the challenges I faced and lessons I learned are applicable to everybody. I am glad this happened during my experiment!

The two biggest obstacles that I faced last week were:

  1. My brother loves to eat out, especially on vacation. I do too.
  2. I was running around from work meetings, to events, etc. and had just enough time to heat meals up but not cook them.

Below I detail the solutions and lessons I learned from the experience.

I also must note that my guests were incredibly generous, and fed me well a few times 🙂

Restaurant Budget

This week was the first week I dipped into my restaurant budget of $225. I am not including restaurant food in my calorie/protein counts or my daily grocery costs. In total I spent $122 out of $225 in my restaurant budget.

You will see below that, even with this restaurant cost factored in, my daily food costs are still far lower than they were before this experiment due to my low grocery costs.

Other Measurements

Eating out is the downfall of many of my clients. I see why. I weighed in at 192lbs this morning, up from 188 last week. You will see below that I ate close to my daily calories and sometimes above my protein targets before eating out.

I only generated 178 grams of food waste this week and all 4 items were recyclable! I recycled 2 cans of tomato sauce, a peanut butter container, and the plastic container my 4lbs of kiwis came in.

Here is what my daily food costs and calorie/protein intake looked like this week.

Monday: $6.63 (2650 cal, 180g Protein, ate grass-fed beef) + had at home Sushi date ($35)

Tuesday: $7.56 (3200 cal, 187g Protein, ate grass-fed beef)

Wednesday: $6.00(3150 cal, 116g Protein, ate 6oz. salmon) + Dinner with brother ($20)

Thursday: $3.59 (2300cal, 139g Protein) + Brother bought me dinner

Friday: $4.50 (2100cal, 150g Protein) + took brother & sister out to lunch ($52) and sister bought me dinner.

Saturday:$6.65 (2400cal, 172g Protein) + last lunch with siblings ($15)

Sunday:$6.46 (2800cal, 180g Protein, ate salmon) + pot luck!

Total grocery cost in week 2: $41.39

Average daily grocery cost in week 2: $5.91 

Average daily food cost in week 2 (includes restaurant food):$23.34

Below are some of my staple meals from this week, their cost, and protein content.

I kept it really simple this week, there is only one new staple to speak of!

  • Curried Lentils- I doubled this recipe. The first batch I made wasn’t great, a little too intense and slightly bitter so I added some honey to the second batch and it balanced the bitterness of the dish. Next time I will add more onion, too.
    • Total Cost=$3.69/Total Protein=120g Protein
    • Per Serving Cost=$0.615/Total Protein=20g

Below are my staple snacks:

Again, I kept it simple and only had one new snack.

  • Protein Peanut Butter- 4tbsp Peanut Butter, 20g Protein Powder (experiment with flavors, I like the chocolate banana flavor!), 1tsp Honey, 2tsp chia seed.
    • Total Cost=$1.08/Total Protein=33g

Some of the key lessons I learned this week:

  • If you are going to eat out at a restaurant you should get a meat/seafood and vegetable centric meal.
    • Meat & veggies have the highest cost per gram of protein and per calorie so if you’re going to pay for restaurant food you might as well get some bang for your buck!
    • Why eat a grain, bean, egg, etc. dish when you can make one so cheaply at home?!
    • Restaurant meals break the monotony of meal prep and should be both scheduled and budgeted for.
  • More sit down restaurant meals=significantly higher food & dining costs. This is obvious, you are paying a mark up on the food so the business can make a profit. But don’t forget that every time you eat at a restaurant vs. cooking at home you are paying sales tax (10% in LA) plus a tip (20%) which comes out to a minimum 32% mark up on the food that you buy.
    • Pre-game eat a snack before a restaurant to avoid ordering appetizers or a “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” situation.
  • Meal prep as extensively as you can when you have family and/or friends visiting, especially during the work week. You won’t have time to do more than heat things up.
  • Offer to cook meals for guests. Cooking a meal for a guest at home will cost you less than if you went out to eat and only paid for your own order. It might even cost you less than the tax and tip you would pay on the food at a restaurant.
    • Its a nice gesture, but if they want to enjoy the culinary culture your city has to offer…take them places!
    • As I mentioned in the above bullet, meal prepping ahead of time is key. Breakfast is a super easy meal to cook for a guest. Make sure you have the staple ingredients you need for a solid breakfast.
  • Lentils are unbelievably versatile and take about 10% as long to cook as black beans.
  • Food in plastic meal prep containers is subject to freezer burn.
    • Any freezer hacks that don’t involve plastic bags or single-use items is greatly appreciated! Comment below.

I’m looking forward to getting back into my normal routine this week! If you haven’t already, join the Grocery Hackers email list by clicking the button below to stay updated on my progress and receive exclusive content that I am not posting publicly!

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