$21, 1 week: Success?

25 Sep

Overall, I ate pretty well, but I could have eaten better. That’s the point, really; it’s hard to survive on $21, let alone eat a varied and full selection of foods. I think this was a valuable experiment and I encourage you all to try it! Certainly encouraged me to lend a hand in my community more often than I do.

Here are the details of what I bought and how I made it work for me:


  • 1 kg each of onions, carrots, and beets (99c each kg bag)
  • 1.36kg bag of potatoes ($2.49)
  • 3 leeks ($2.49)
  • head of red lettuce ($1.49)
  • Kampaï tomatos ($2.49 for about 7)
  • 1 litre soy milk ($2.00, purchased bulk at Costco)
  • 1 block tofu ($1.50 in Chinatown)
  • grapes (1 lb @ 99c)
  • 4 bananas ($1.72)
  • rice, lentils, cereal, salad seasonings (on hand; approx $2.50 total)

TOTAL – $ 21.62

Le Menu!


Cereal & soymilk (with sliced banana on 4 mornings)

Lunch items:

Leek and potato soup

Carrot soup

Beet soup

Basic salad (lettuce, tomato, shredded carrot)




Fried tofu steaks (1 block over 5 days, sliced up as needed) with oven “fries”, or on brown rice.

Lentils (cooked with a couple of tomatos) on brown rice

Boiled beets (with white wine vinegar & oregano) as a side most days


I might have been able to buy more with the $21 if I’d made the trek to the farmer’s market, or if I knew where there was a discount grocery store near my home. Since I live downtown, places like Maxi & Super C aren’t accessible, especially since I don’t own a car, but Chinatown is usually fairly cheap.

In the end, this week was a bit difficult. I realized that I had started taking for granted my ability to enjoy a wide variety of food items, and that I have quite a few specialty items built into my daily diet. I feel very grateful that I am able to eat this way most of the time. Having lived on relatively little in the past, being able to buy whatever food I want (within reason) these days is a luxury I am incredibly thankful for and it is more important to me than being able to buy other material goods.

Once again, if the spirit moves you, give this a try! Or if you’d like to donate some of your time, I know that Santropol Roulant and various Missions around Montreal are always looking for volunteers to help prepare and serve food to the less fortunate. If you’re a student, Midnight Kitchen (McGill) and People’s Potato (Concordia) serve vegan meals daily with the help of volunteers cooks/prep-cooks/servers, although I don’t know if they take volunteers on an ongoing basis.

‘later peeps!


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