I am currently conducting a 4-week experiment ending September 1, 2016 to see if I can eat 3200+ calories and 160g+ of protein from quality foods for under $7.50 per day. So far so good!

If you haven’t already read the introductory article for this experiment you can read it here. The week 1 review and week 2 review also have 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.

You Reap What You Sow

This week I did not have to go to the grocery store, I spent less time on food prep than in weeks one and two, and I didn’t throw away or recycle any food packaging.

I pretty much pulled a few meals and foods out of my freezer to defrost the night before they were needed, made chia pudding, and a second batch of the curried lentils recipe I was working on last week.

In total I spent less than an hour food prepping this week and was well-fed without any stress about where my next meal was going to come from. Every day I had meals and snacks packed to bring to work which was liberating.

It wasn’t all perfect last week, though.

I had to play catch up on work after having family in town which made adding any variety to my diet hard.

Peanut butter has been my only go-to snack option as you’ve seen in the previous two weeks. In week 1 I mixed it with honey and chia. Last week and this week I mixed it with protein powders and honey. This week, even with the variations and my deep love of the peanut butter, it started to get old.

Although you could consider chia pudding a snack it was more of a meal accompaniment. I also made two water-based varieties that didn’t taste great and one that did. Not a great success rate, but I learned my lesson.

I really need a new snack option since fruit, jerky and bars don’t fit into this experiment’s budget!

My love affair with white rice has also lost some of the passion, but I’m not entirely sick of it. Its a chameleon food and I just have to start getting creative with it again instead of scooping a cup or two into a meal prep container plain with whatever meat, veggie, etc. is included with the meal.

Restaurant Budget

This week I dipped into my restaurant budget again, and bought a bottle of wine for a few friend’s birthday celebration in Malibu. We were a bunch of CrossFitters and apparently the party next to us could tell how hungry people like us get. They were eager to feed us from their massive spread of food which is why my Saturday food intake from groceries was low.

In total, I spent just under $100 of my restaurant budget if you count the wine bottle. I am already planning a Pho date for week 4 so I will likely go a bit over my restaurant budget set for the experiment, but not by much and I’ve only spent $4/$20 for misc food & dining costs on a coffee. Overall, I think it will balance out.

Other Measurements

Other than Saturday where I probably ate and drank 5000 calories due to wine, meats, fruit and nuts- I was pretty much right on the nose at 3200 calories every day this week and I weighed in at 188lbs which is exactly where I started this experiment. I will probably increase my caloric intake after week 4 of this experiment as my training volume picks up.

I generated no food packaging waste this week!

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

Monday: $6.62 (3240 cal, 160g Protein)

Tuesday: $8.05 (3215 cal, 182g Protein) those damn kiwis bust my budget!

Wednesday: $6.76 (3250 cal, 183g Protein)

Thursday: $7.92 (3400cal, 196g Protein) *It was max out day at Venice Barbell Club, I ate accordingly

Friday: $6.04 (2850cal, 150g Protein) + Dinner date where my girlfriend and I “pigged out”. Ribs, pork belly and veggies!

Saturday:$3.87 (2675cal, 130g Protein) + Wine tasting birthday party with friends, bought a bottle

Sunday:$4.30 (1800cal, 96g Protein) + Margot made a shrimp and octopus ceviche with tostones. I ate so much of it.

Total grocery cost in week 2: $43.56

Average daily grocery cost in week 2: $6.22

Average daily food cost in week 2 (includes restaurant food and wine):$20.50

Below are some of my staple meals from this week

I kept it really simple this week and mostly pulled from my frozen food cache in the freezer. I made some amazing breakfast potatoes though. I am sending out the recipe in my grocery hackers email, so sign up now!

I also included a screenshot of my MyFitnessPal Food Journal for a typical day of eating this week.

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Below are my staple snacks:

Again, I kept it simple and only had one new “snack” in the rotation:

  • Strawberry Protein Chia Pudding- 3/4 Cup Chia, 1 Cup Water, 1 scoop strawberry protein powder, 1/4lb frozen strawberries, 2tbsp maple syrup or honey, 1tsp vanilla extract
    • Total Cost=$1.94/60g protein
      • All you have to do is combine the ingredients and pulse in a blender, pour it into a container and leave it in the fridge overnight.
      • Join the grocery hackers email list to see other chia ideas and fails.

Some of the key lessons I learned this week:

  • Food prep pays dividends. I spent about 2 hours on food prep in week 1, 90 minutes week 2, and less than 1 hour in week 3.
    • Time savings happen when you cook in bulk and freeze what you won’t eat that week. After 2-3 weeks of freezing meals you create a cache of food to pull from in your freezer that also serves to provide variety.
  • Ordering in bulk means less time at the grocery store. I went to Whole Foods and bought more eggs last week. Thats it for groceries other than my initial Costco run and I was in and out.
    • I learned that for $4.99 per order, or an annual membership fee, I can get Google Express (not available nationwide yet) to hit Costco for me. With all this money I am saving I could completely cut grocery shopping out of my life for $5/month and spend that extra time on food prep!
  • Even though I love white rice, its time to start considering other grains. Himalayan red rice, barley, and oats will be making their way into my next bulk orders for some much needed variety.
    • Its hard to justify ordering a huge variety of beans, grains, seeds, etc. up front but adding a new option every month should keep things interesting
  • The Kiwi got me again! Its very hard to fit fruit into the budget. These kiwis were the cheapest fresh fruit I could buy and they still break the budget occasionally. Buy produce in season, and your produce costs should be low.

This week is the last official week of my experiment. I will update you on week 4 next week, and then I plan to review and select the 80/20 principles that will help me (and you) continue to keep food costs low while eating tasty and healthy meals. I will also release some expanded posts on the lessons I’ve learned over the 4 week experiment.

If you haven’t already, join the Grocery Hackers email list by clicking the button below to stay updated on my progress, receive exclusive content, and when the experiment is over learn about any tools, strategies or hacks that might not make their way onto the blog.

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