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A Day In The Life of my Supposedly Frugal Stomach

Kicking Ass with Money is much like healthy eating and joyful living. It’s a series of daily habits that get you ahead, rather than a one-time heroic effort that fixes all your problems so you can go back to whatever you were doing before.

Because of this parallel, the subject of food is one of the nicest examples of Mustachian living, and one of the most powerful and efficient things to master.

Your eating choices will drastically affect your budget (especially if you are raising a family), but they also affect your health, energy levels, productivity, and happiness. The path to a great life goes directly across your dinner plate, so it is important to take this shit seriously and not mess around with your nutrition.

I’ve written about food several times before, sometimes with a focus on recipes or costs or general principles. But people often don’t believe me – they think I am either lying about my family’s grocery spending, eating a diet that is poor in nutritional value, or at least spending an inordinate amount of time on meal planning and preparation.

The truth is none of these things, although the actual story may still surprise you. So I thought that instead of issuing vague commandments like the preacher I am, I could share my functional and (somewhat) affordable eating style, even though it’s unusual and surely not for everyone.

So I’ll lay out a single day’s nutrition strategy, and why I think it is a good one. And then you can choose whether to ridicule it on Reddit, or adopt any tricks from it that you like for your own family. Are you ready? Then let’s take a trip into the MMM kitchen!

Alongside the Table Saw, the Cutting Board is also a favorite tool.

The first bit of crazy is that when I’m home, I eat almost the same thing every day. My son eats exactly the same thing every day* for now, and Mrs. MM runs her own show, perhaps with a bit more variety than either of us. This is a unique situation in our family that is different from most, and it adds extra complexity but fortunately not extra cost. You play with the cards you are dealt.

Most Important is your Eating Philosophy

For most people, food is just an automatic routine. They eat whatever seems tasty whenever they are hungry. People with stronger passions (sometimes known as Foodies), spend a large part of their day and mental energy seeking out perfect ingredients and flavors and meals. And for many, eating is an addiction – food calls to them (especially desserts and snacks), and they fight this addiction with varying degrees of success. People with a busy urban social life like New Yorkers get most of their food from restaurants, which throws both the nutrition content and the monthly cost into a randomizing hat.

The problem with all of these philosophies is that each is a huge gamble, with your life as the stakes. Because depending on your body chemistry and the foods you choose, you can end up anywhere on the health scale – I have met sweating car bound 25 year-old office workers who could barely stroll from the parking lot to the building, and also know a ripped 65 year-old carpenter who can still frame a three-story house by himself. The difference in the diets of these two men is as stark as the contrast in their physiques.

So my eating philosophy has always been that of the Engineer/Robot. Design each meal and each day’s food intake, according to my body’s current needs. Since my activity level changes drastically (yesterday’s mountain hike requires several times more calories than today’s work on this blog article), the food intake has to change accordingly. And since I don’t always get things exactly right, the mirror tells me when it’s time to make adjustments.

And finally, I’m a big fan of high standards and not fooling yourself. Stay lean and keep your body in condition to work hard. Learn to use the mirror, the measuring tape, and the scale as allies rather than generators of guilt and fear. If you’re not there yet, keep yourself moving in the right direction rather than being complacent. For example, if my abs get paved over with fat, I’ll adjust the variables below to go into fat loss mode until the problem is corrected. On the other hand, if I’m getting too skinny and trying to put on strength and weight, I’ll add the extra meals back in.

The Weird MMM Meal Plan

Breakfast

I have come to think of Breakfast as the time of Breaking the Fast.. but by now we all know that fasting is good for you, right?  So the design of your breakfast presents an interesting life-boosting opportunity: When you wake up, you’re already in a nice low-blood-sugar state, which means your body is beginning to think about burning fats as a source of energy (ketosis). This means that you can just prolong the fast by skipping breakfast and just enjoying some coffee or water, or take a softer approach and at least have a breakfast that is very low in sugar. So I do this:

  • Espresso Coffee with Whole milk and Coconut oil
  • A handful of mixed nuts
  • A few squares of dark chocolate (85%)

Subjectively, I find this breakfast is satisfying and delicious, but also keeps my body in low-sugar mode so I can begin a day of physical labor without hunger – and potentially work as long as I want, even skipping lunch and running on stored bodyfat if desired. (Note, I make the espresso with this cheap but good espresso machine and heat/fluff the milk and coconut oil together to get the result in that picture).

The end result is this nutrition profile:

note: all nutrient weights are in grams

At this point, you may be asking, “Wait, does Mustache really weigh and analyze his food?” – and the answer is “sorta.” While I endeavor to lead a relaxed, hippy lifestyle, the Engineer/Robot side is always in the background running the numbers. If you have at least a rough idea of the nutrition content of what you are eating, you will have a far easier time getting the results you want.

Mid Morning Snack

After breakfast, I usually bike downtown to a mixture of construction and weight training in the back “prisonyard” of the MMM-HQ Coworking space. After a few hours of this, I am ready for a bit more nutrition:

  • A giant salad
  • Plenty of water, or even the indulgence of a second cup of coffee

These big salads are a big part of my daily food expenditure and effort, but probably an even bigger part of my health. So they are definitely worth it. I make it easier by making salad in bulk every few days, and starting with a base of a pre-made $2.28 Kale Salad Kit from Sam’s/Costco. This provides a bunch of greens and saves much chopping. But I discard the crappy sugary dressing that comes with the kit and use my own olive oil-based dressing, also made in bulk from high quality ingredients also bought in bulk, (like 3 Liter Jugs of olive oil!)

I may throw in a protein bar (30g protein, $1.00) to this snack, depending on the intensity of the work.

Lunch

After the midmorning snack, I am back out for quality time with the saws and ladders for a few more hours, which feels great on a relatively light load of food because the body is burning clean and lean. The low carbohydrate nature of everything I have eaten so far keeps the hunger level so low that I could even work right through and skip lunch if needed, or if I were trying to lose fat. But since I’m currently at roughly right fat level and not wanting to be any lighter than I am, I break at around 2PM for something like this:

I have been on a bit of a Tilapia binge in recent months, because they are almost too convenient and tasty and easy to prepare. So much so, that I jokingly refer to them as “marriage savers” – there is no need to fret over whose turn it is to prepare dinner, if something with such a good nutrition profile is always in the freezer and just 15 toaster oven minutes away from your tongue.

While the nutrition profile is good, they are still a bit of an expensive source of protein. $2.00 sounds like chump change, but the same protein can be had for under fifty cents from other sources like bean and rice combinations, eggs, or even whey protein supplements.

A cost difference of just $1.50 per person per meal, multiplied over a four-person family’s 372 meals per month makes a difference of $558 per month, or about $96,000 per decade after compounding.

Yes, that is a hundred grand, and this is just the difference between a semi-frugal $2.00 meal component and a fifty cent equivalent from, say, your crock pot.

Imagine, then, the effect that impulse grocery purchases like those little $7.49 packs of sushi would make, if you casually toss them in the cart on a regular basis? A decade of a family’s innocent-seeming Whole Foods indulgence could pay for a house outright, while leaving them no better nourished than wiser meal planning with bulk ingredients.

Put a crock pot and a Costco membership to good use, and just watch what happens to your bank account.

Now, I took that sushi picture on my own kitchen table, so we too are guilty of this indulgence. But we are long past financial independence, and even then it is a rare purchase. The overall lesson is just, again, to take this shit seriously – make sure you appreciate every food purchase above beans-and-rice level as a conscious luxury rather than just a habit. And if you are in debt, no sushi for you!

Dinner

Another typical dinner – main dish is based on potatoes/veggies plus fancy sausages baked into a cheese-laden casserole.

Around 3:30pm in the afternoon, I’ll walk or bike home from “work”, so I can be there when my son returns home from school – one of the biggest rewards of early retirement. One of us parents will cook him a homemade pizza at this point (I pre-make the personal size shells and keep them in stacks in the freezer), so he can recharge with about 480 calories from a delicious meal that costs only about 50 cents to make.

Then us Adults will usually collaborate to make something like pulled-pork tacos:

 

On the side, we might add chopped fresh vegetables, more salad, or something more substantial as the appetites require. Like the filets, it’s not the cheapest possible way to get a meal, but at least it is reasonable. Also, we are omnivores, which is a more expensive and polluting way to get protein – but if you’re not badass enough to eat vegetarian you can at least make a substantial dent in your eco footprint by making beef your last choice of meats.

Adding it All Up

Although it took me quite a few hours to collect all this data on what I eat and add it up in a spreadsheet, the results have been quite interesting because I had never done it before. With just the stuff described above, I arrived at this point:

 

And the numbers were a bit surprising to me, in the following ways:

  • I am spending a lot more on food than I thought. If all three of us ate the way I do, our annual grocery bill would be $8600, not counting additional indulgences or food for parties. Since our real bill is closer to $6000, you can see that I am doing more than my share of the spending. Then again, I do weigh more than both Little MM and his mother combined , so perhaps this is fair.
  • My base calorie level is about right for my age and height for a moderately active person, but on active days I need closer to 4000 calories (if you look up a 185 pound male “athlete” for the baseline)
  • My base protein level is also about right for moderate activity, but on highly physical or weight training days I like to boost that to one gram per pound of bodyweight.
  • So while everything in this article is detailed and accurate so far, I tend to eat a variable amount of additional food to meet hunger needs, scaling it all up and down depending on what the mirror says. I use one or more of the following boosts.

Boosts

  • Handfuls of Nuts (1 ounce worth, 160 calories)
  • Protein Smoothie (banana, peanut butter, plain yogurt, tiny bit of milk, ice, water, and vanilla protein mix – about 1000 calories and 40 grams protein)
  • 2-3 simple eggs cooked in olive oil with a bit of cheese: 500 calories, 20 grams of protein, 50 cents or so.
  • Avocado toast: 3 eggs, some shredded cheese, avocado, all on a piece of whole wheat toast with butter. A truly decadent weight gainer of a snack, although quite cheap. Leave out toast if you are not trying to maintain or gain weight. 1000 calories, plenty of nutrients about a buck.

 

 

*and while I won’t explain this in detail here, parents of children with his personality type will understand without question. It is something people do tend to grow out of as they get older and gain confidence with new experiences.

 

  • Nice Joy May 21, 2018, 2:26 pm

    I have increased my protein and fat intake after listening Mark sisson. I just finished listening to Dr. Valter Longo ‘s book which promote low protein and low fat diet. Dr. Valter Longo’s work may be more reliable as it is based on research and looks like he is not doing this for profit. Mark sisson looks older than his age.

    Reply
  • saladman8283 May 21, 2018, 2:27 pm

    You don’t eat rolled oats anymore? I thought you said you used to eat oats all the time.

    Reply
  • Chase May 21, 2018, 4:53 pm

    Another great article. Thanks for helping people understand there is always another way to hack the system.

    – Readers need to understand that a fasting state will be affected by the net cards and not total carbs. So another column could be helpful that shows the fiber and any sugar alcohols in your food. If you buy any of the Costco low card protein bars you can see the amount of sugar alcohol. I think they are roughly 4 net carbs/bar but over 20 total carbs
    – LCHF diets don’t always work for everyone especially ones with the ApoE4. 23andme should help determine. Definitely a minority of people though.
    – Some studies show that having even a “well-formulated”( with supplements) vegan diet still lacks micronutrients found in meats. Iron, zinc, copper, vitamin D, B12 (only comes from animal meat)
    – Pegan or (paleo – vegan) is another diet that focuses on plants, stays away from sugar, low fruit/meat/dairy/grain. Anything to keep blood sugar low and in check. Low amount of meat consumption should help make the vegans happier right?

    A short list of really smart people to read/listen to – just search for any podcast with them. They run in the same circules as Tim Ferriss. All of these people focus on longevity and total life health span vs total performance.
    – Dom D’Agostino https://www.ketonutrition.org/blog/
    – Rhonda Patrick https://www.foundmyfitness.com/episodes
    – Petter Attia https://peterattiamd.com/

    Reply
  • Stacey May 22, 2018, 11:44 am

    I read an article a year or so ago regarding the evaluation of land and possible uses for different diets. Thought some readers here might find it interesting. Link: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/qkjzqb/we-can-feed-more-people-on-an-omnivore-diet-than-a-vegan-one-study-shows

    Basically it determined that when comparing Omnivore diets and Vegan diets, Omnivores are a “better” use of the land. Ultimately, the diet that could feed the most people (with just farm land in USA) was a dairy inclusive vegetarian diet. But anyway, the point is that an omnivore diet isn’t necessarily as bad for the environment as some other dietary lifestyles.

    Here’s the reasoning: “What’s key here is that not all farmland is suitable for every purpose. Some grazing areas used to raise livestock like cows simply wouldn’t be viable for growing crops, which means that it would be wasted in a vegan-only world.”

    Just thought this was interesting and would share.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 23, 2018, 6:51 am

      I enjoy big-picture looks like that, with some actual math in them rather than just ideology!

      The Tufts study they reference seems to focus mostly on land area rather than the environmental impact of each type of food. Plus they are excluding insects, and the benefits of alternate uses of that land (for example, much of Eastern Colorado is used for cows, when it is really a spectacular place for solar panels.)

      But still – keeping an open mind on what to eat is a good thing.

      Reply
  • The vintage Doc from the Tardis May 22, 2018, 1:22 pm

    Great post! I used to follow a similar diet high in protein and fat to try to set the ketosis process on. Unfortunately it did not quite work on my case and I would really appreciate some feedback on how I can improve what I have converged to now. The problem I found was that I cycle a fair distance everyday to commute to work and back (a 28 miles round trip) and my body has always been low in fat. So what was happening was that the ketosis started but the fat was all gone before the end of my daily cycling trip and I ended up burning protein. Apparently, to break down protein for energy is not very healthy as it generates loads of toxic by-products. On top, it makes you slim a lot. I could only solve this problem when I started eating a lot more carbohydrates to get plenty of calories. The other thing I have found is that I seem to perform better if I have very large breakfasts and lunches and small dinners and suppers. As Mr Money Mustache suggested, I also prolong the fast by having breakfast more than an hour after waking up. I would be very grateful to read any comments and/or suggestions on how to improve on this, and if someone knows another way of avoiding breaking down protein, please let me know.

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 23, 2018, 6:44 am

      Hey Doctor!

      I’d also like to hear from others, but in my view you have answered your own question: just eat more carbs – preferably good ones. Or at least pack in a higher amount of calories into your dinner or breakfast.

      If you are already as lean as you want to be, there is no need to push it any further, especially with a heavy cycling load like that (1500+ calories if you are relatively speedy).

      I have the same problem: with intense construction and this low-carb diet, I can tend to lose both fat and muscle weight unless I consciously throw in some calorie boosts, AND take time off from carpentry to lift heavier weights. The effect is so strong that I shrank down to 165 pounds earlier in the life of this blog, and had to go on a lifting and eating binge to regain that twenty.

      Reply
  • SouthwestAnonymous May 22, 2018, 1:31 pm

    Ugh I wish I could be this disciplined about my food intake.

    Reply
  • Anonymous May 22, 2018, 6:58 pm

    I spent some time on a family farm as a kid. I’m not sure I agree with you on the beef issue. I would never condone the way cows are generally raised in the US, but that’s not how it is supposed to be done. Cows are supposed to eat grass. They hardly cost anything to feed if you do it right, but they provide food for a small family for months. They strike me as very moustachian…..

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache May 23, 2018, 7:38 pm

      Hi Anonymous. I think the main issue (even with wild pasture cows) is the amount of land required per cow, plus the methane emissions from the cows themselves.

      Reply
  • Dharma Bum May 23, 2018, 5:59 am

    Great article.
    I discovered a long time ago that it is way cheaper to eat healthy food than it is to eat pre-packaged, processed, and “fast-food”.
    Fresh produce, meats, fresh bread, and unprocessed foods, prepared at home, are healthier, tastier, and less expensive.
    Besides, preparing and cooking food is fun!

    Reply
    • Dunny June 24, 2018, 7:20 am

      Amen. Stay out of the grocery stores and most restaurants to save lots of money, eliminate cravings, and feel fabulous. Fresh whole produce, meat, fish, eggs, butter, cheese, from my corner store or farm stand in summer.

      Reply
  • frugalnewbie May 23, 2018, 9:18 am

    Mrmoneymustache I love your optimistic outlook on life!
    Is there an article about your daily routine or what a week in your life looked like before you retired? I’d love to know, how you designed your life before you reached sweet retirement.

    Reply
  • Cheesepare May 24, 2018, 2:50 pm

    I thought you ate a lot of eggs and rolled oats. How do these fit in?

    Reply
  • Mike May 27, 2018, 7:01 pm

    All this material wealth has made you soft. Take your new age diet and move back to canada, nancyboy.

    Reply
  • Catherine Holloway May 28, 2018, 6:40 pm

    I used to regularly get 8$ sushi rolls, but then I found that my local Vietnamese grocery store sells enough sticky rice and nori for over a year of homemade sushi for 8$, and it’s a lot fresher than the sushi at the grocery store.

    Reply
  • Tim May 29, 2018, 3:54 pm

    I’ve got to throw this out there MMM, since you’ve mentioned in the past that this blog is secretly a way to help the environment:

    Check out Cowspiracy if you care about the planet or What the Health if you care about your health. Both should be on Netflix. Then watch Earthlings on YouTube if you dare. Just some food for thought.

    Reply
  • Cashonda June 1, 2018, 5:48 pm

    This made me hungry. It also reminded me of the no nonsense style of Art DeVany. Are you are fan of his, MMM? He’s got the engineer/robot approach to health, nutrition and fitness too.

    Reply
  • Nice joy June 2, 2018, 5:09 pm

    Is there anybody who follows Joe Fuhrman’s Nutritarian diet and Dr. Valter Longo’s longevity diet. It makes sense to me. Looks like a lot of research supports their work. What you all think?

    Reply
  • Mrs. Pocketchange June 3, 2018, 4:38 pm

    I appreciate this post! It’s tricky to eat organic and healthy on a diet, but I find that I do SOoooo much better when I plan the meals out the beginning of the week. Then, if we switch them up during the week, we’re still ok. Still trying to get better on the not eating out as much part.:) I think if I get into better food-prep and freezer meal habits, that will help immensely when I’m feeling lazy!

    Reply
  • sciliz June 5, 2018, 1:49 pm

    I will have to try some of the kale salad kits and tilapia. I eat little meat, so if I spring for fish I’ve been aiming at salmon because of the good fats. But just as a protein source that my kids will eat, I bet I can find some savings with tilapia.
    The kale kits might be a bit more filling than spinach/arugula, or be more appreciated by my other half. I feel guilty getting pre-made food and then throwing out the dressing though, even if it’s crap- this is probably irrational.

    If you are going to consume 2 or more cups a day, you might consider making some of your coffee drip coffee (with a filter). The oils in espresso can be bad for heart health, even though it won’t show up in your cholesterol #s and so on (see e.g. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/25946046/?i=1&from=espresso%20and%20heart%20disease).
    Your fluffy milk looks amazingly delicious though- it would be hard to give that up. Still, if someone out there thinks of espresso machines as indulgences, they can at least feel smug that regular coffee is healthier.

    Reply
  • Liesbet June 16, 2018, 12:14 pm

    That’s awesome that you can adjust your weight and habits when looking in the mirror, and deciding whether you need to gain weight or lose weight. I gauge that by my pants, and how they fit around my waist and belly. While I’m about your age, I find this “adjusting” of my weight getting harder and harder with the years. :-)

    In general, my husband and I exercise regularly (as in walking or biking most places), following a plant-based diet, cutting out sugar, and only eating the “healthier” oils. We pretty much remain the same weight that way. When really needing to lose some, I find that eating less – as simple as that – usually does the trick. While we are frugal people (and always have been in order to live our traveling lifestyle), we eat well and healthy. Our average monthly grocery budget (including toiletries, but not alcohol) is between $300 – $400 for two adults).

    Reply
    • Dunny June 24, 2018, 8:35 am

      I can maintain without monitoring it but for losing I have to up the exercise and salad/veg content of my diet, and cut the cheese and yogurt. Sort of fasting helps too, e.g. skipping a meal, eating only vegetables or fruit. I travel half the year too so I have to go by how tight my pants are and how much stomach fat I can pinch. I am carrying an extra 10 LB after a disasterous plant diet ordered 2-3 years ago to get my cholesterol down (had no effect on cholesterol whatsoever). All that oil beans grains nuts and seeds wreaked havoc. Gained 15 in the first month and have been working on it ever since. Back to moderate amounts of meat (with the fat and skin), fish, eggs, butter. Presto, cravings gone, easy to maintain weight under 25 BMI. My food budget at home is low and my recycling almost nil (no packages, bottles, cans).

      Reply
      • nice joy June 26, 2018, 10:14 am

        Try Vegan diet [ low oil, low processed sugar, lots of veg] It is so hard to go over 2000 calories eating this way. The high protein high fat diets may help you lose for some time but not sustainable and can damage your kidneys , heart and will make your body more acidic. Try reading the book Proteinaholic https://amzn.to/2Mn4Cga

        Reply
  • WanderingWhitehursts June 16, 2018, 12:57 pm

    Wait, where is the link to the next post? I started reading from post 1 in 2015 and felt like I could never make headway on the every growing number of posts. Now three years later, have I really made it to the end?? I’m going to go outside now. Three years of sitting on my phone reading this blog has left me pale and weak. Time to start applying some of the things I’ve learned. To the bicycle!

    Reply
  • veganomie June 19, 2018, 7:01 am

    I would have no problem cycling to work myself. I live about 9 minutes driving distance from work and work in a professional setting with professional attire. But at a small company where any different sort of person has their head on a chopping block (I work where they pray before meetings, talk about what church they go to, and openly support Trump), any sort of deviance from where I already am would seriously put my job in jeopardy. I mentioned once that I was liberal when it came to showing skin in art, and my boss’s wife told my boss and painted me as liberal in everything, which I’m not. From that day on, he treated me with utmost disrespect even though I denied being liberal.
    However, I save so much greenhouse gas emissions from being plant-based (animal agriculture accounts for about 50% of greenhouse gas emissions), pollution, and water; but much more than that, I save the planet by not having kids. I could drive a fleet of hummers back and forth to work everyday with styrofoam blowing out the back and still not even come close to the pollution that creating another human being creates.
    I mean, you have a kid, and you’re doing a good job raising him to be non-consumerist, but you have to admit, it would have been better for the planet if you’d adopted. For someone who claims to be rational and logical, you also have to admit that your sentiments and emotional attachment to the idea of passing along your genes went into your decision to create a kid.
    I’m saving up for a bike, have no debt, have made only about $60 in the VTSMX, and am saving for an emergency fund. I also save a lot of money never eating out and not buying meat and dairy, oh, and not having a kid. People should not have kids they can’t afford. That should not be a taboo thing to say, ever.

    Reply
    • Aaron June 19, 2018, 4:09 pm

      To each their own, and I’m sure there are several factors I’m not aware of from your short post, but that doesn’t sound like a very healthy working environment! Sounds like things either need to improve or you should consider moving on.

      Reply
  • Joey Graziano June 19, 2018, 7:10 am

    By tweaking my diet, I was able to save 11k per year. After the span of five years, this act heavily contributed towards paying cash for my home.

    Brew all my coffee at home: Saved me $585 per year. ($2.25 times 5 days a week equals $11.25. There are 52 weeks in a year, 11.25 x 52)

    Downgraded my car and got rid of the monthly payment. This saved me $200 per month. $2400 in annual savings.

    Because I downgraded the engine and obtained a car that received 40 mpg on the highway, I was able to save $40 per month on gas. $480 in annual savings.

    Auto Insurance: I lowered my auto insurance to minimum legal coverage. $200 in annual savings.
    Change cell phone plan to a pre-paid pay-per use plan. $960 in annual savings.
    Lowered my home internet speed to the lowest tier available. Annual Savings of $30 per month which is $360 per year.

    Brought my lunch to work. This saved me $8 per meal. which is a savings of $40 per week. (40 x 52 weeks in a year) is $2,080 in annual savings.

    Changed my diet to only eat meat on the weekends. I swapped Red Meat for Quinoa. Pound for pound Quinoa is roughly 1/4 of the cost of the organic ground beef at my grocery store. I pay $2.50 per pound of Quinoa and $9 per pound of ground beef. This saved me $32.50 per week, annual savings of $1,690. (If you have a family, your savings will be much higher.)

    Cut my food expenses to $250 per month. I created a budget line item for Food Essentials In this category is the bare minimum I need to sustain life. Prior to creating a budget, I was spending $400 per month on food for just myself. After much tweaking, I discovered that $250 is all I really need to spend on food and water. I cook 90% of my meals and eating out is not counted in this category since eating out is not an Essential expense but more of a luxury that I could do if my budget permitted it. I found that most cities in the US, $250 per month, per adult is an obtainable goal at this moment in time. Annual Savings $1,800.

    CUT Cable. I was spending $40 per month on television service that I never watched. Out of all the things I cut, I miss this one the least. Annual Savings $480.
    Savings per year = $11,035.00
    Over a six year span = $66,210

    Reply
    • Aaron June 19, 2018, 4:06 pm

      Great work! I applaud the diligence in identifying the savings benefits and enacting these changes! Only one that caught my eye was the quinoa for meat swap. This isn’t a health blog, and I’m not trying to debate whether that’s a healthy choice or not, but you can get high-quality 100% grass-fed ground beef from Trader Joe’s, Sam’s Club, or Costco from $6-7/pound. I’ve purchased the same ground beef from Sprouts on sale from $4-5/pound — loaded up and stored the extras in my chest freezer.

      All I’m trying to say is, if you could shave a few dollars off the $9/pound you had been paying previously, and value the high-quality meat more at $6-7/pound (or less), could be something to look into more!

      Reply
      • Dunny June 24, 2018, 9:13 am

        Good for you that you saw the light. The only question I have is why people pay out this money in the first place for things that mostly meant nothing to them, especially taking on commitements and payments and debts that are hard or expensive to get out of.

        As for the price of meat, there is Costco which can save a lot if you buy in bulk (chicken thighs, sirloin). Get a freezer and save a lot. I buy 3 months worth, repackage into one meal packages, and eat it all before restocking. A lot of money is wasted not using what you already have in the freezer or buying sales and not using the meat.. You can also seek out a butcher or farmer who will sell you pork and beef and chicken at a good price. The meat will be far superior, probably healthier, and you don’t have to go near the grocery store for months, just stock up on fresh produce at the corner store.

        Reply
    • Liesbet June 21, 2018, 9:11 am

      That’s awesome. Well done! I find that $250 per month per person on food from grocery stores is plenty to eat a healthy “plant-based” diet. We usually spend between $400 and $500 a month for two adults without feeling deprived. Eating out is a treat and a luxury we might do once a month. We do still buy alcohol, but that’s around $50 a month.

      Only other big expense is repairs, maintenance and diesel for our camper van. Our goal is to keep our expense within $1000 a month for the two of us. I create a monthly expense report on mu blog.

      Reply
    • WanderingWhitehursts June 23, 2018, 6:51 pm

      What I love about this comment is that so many people (myself included), dismiss such changes in life because of their relative insignificance. For example, by reducing your internet speed to the slowest possible, you save “only” $30 per month. Many people would thing, “$1 a day?! I’d rather have the fast internet. I hate it when my streaming video buffers…” or whatever other lame excuse. And on some level, they are right. $1 per day doesn’t in and of it self make you rich. Even MMM himself says it take $10 a pop to make a millionaire*. But when you consider nearly every decision you make in life is an opportunity to spend more or save more, and add up each of these decisions, the impact can be tremendous. $11,000 per year would (https://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/08/01/a-millionaire-is-made-ten-bucks-at-a-time/) provide you some $500,000 additional nest egg after a relatively short 20 year career when invested properly. And while I know MMM (and many impressive others) retired close to age 30, doing so a decade later is absolutely still EARLY Retirement, and impressive in it’s own right. That $500,000 would most certainly be a game changer for just about anyone that reads this blog with regards to how early they could retire. Better yet, Joey, I get the impression none of the recent changes you’ve made have negatively affected your current happiness (perhaps the opposite!). Nice work and thanks for showing us how easy it can be if we just take action and think through each financial choice, big or small.

      Reply
  • Dylan June 24, 2018, 2:59 pm

    I have a similar smoothie, except for breakfast. My recipe changes slowly but surely. Recently I’ve been using yogurt, frozen bananas, frozen mixed berries, coconut water, OJ, and oats. Goes great with a black coffee :)

    Only takes about 5 minutes to make and I can drink it on my way to work. I added up the costs per person and it came out to about $2.00

    Reply
  • Christina June 25, 2018, 11:24 am

    You’re probably ditto’ed out, but ditto on the Instant Pot. Best kitchen invention ever, after the stovetop. No more need to own a separate rice cooker/ crockpot. Makes delicious and super-moist pork loin in 20 minutes (not including pre-searing the outside, which you can also do in the instant pot if that’s your bag). Even though we had to use the instant pot to make rice and pork loin last night consecutively, we were still done in 40 minutes flat (I sauteed spinach in a separate cast iron pan).

    For people like us who aren’t super-planners and NOT morning people, it’s great not having to get something in the crockpot in the morning for dinner later, especially if it involves lots of prep like a meat spice rub.

    Reply
  • Philip Stanfield June 25, 2018, 2:10 pm

    I love this article. It’s awesome to see the potential of a couple dollars saved per meal. One of extremely cheap go-to breakfasts is hard boiled eggs. We get the 5 dozen pack from costco for 7 bucks and it lasts weeks. We also get their 5 dollar rotisserie chicken and can use that between my wife and I for a couple of meals as well.

    Reply
  • nice joy June 26, 2018, 10:25 am

    Hi MMM
    You may be killing your kidneys and heart and brain and triggering cancer cells to go for a run by eating this high protein animal based diet. It is good to read just opposite of what marks daily apple promotes.
    It is also interesting to learn that Dr. Atkins had a heart attack. Try reading this book.
    https://amzn.to/2Mn4Cga

    Reply
    • Stephen June 26, 2018, 2:28 pm

      “It is also interesting to learn that Dr. Atkins had a heart attack”

      Why is that interesting, when it is generally accepted that it had nothing to do with his diet?

      Reply
      • nice joy June 26, 2018, 5:11 pm

        Because High protein and high fat diet cause plaque formation leading to heart attack. Plant based whole food is the one that promotes long term health benefit. Look up China study.

        Reply
        • Phil June 27, 2018, 6:11 am

          Look up Denise Minger.

          The China Study (i.e. Campbell’s conclusions) is dead.

          Reply
          • Nice Joy June 30, 2018, 1:02 pm

            Loos like she has a lot of information together. How accurate they are, i am not so sure. It will take months of my time to find the truth, i am leaving that heavy lifting to the experts. I am leaning towards The physicians committee for responsible medicine. Looks like they are not for profit nor selling anything. I understand they did not had any nutritional education from medical schools but they can connect the dots easily when they work on their nutritional stuff for years. I work in the medical field and see the failed system everyday.

            Reply
          • Nice joy June 30, 2018, 4:28 pm

            Here is Dr. Campbell’s reply to Minger.
            https://nutritionstudies.org/minger-critique/

            Reply
        • Stephen June 27, 2018, 7:38 am

          The China study is flawed in a number of ways, but probably not in enough ways that we’re going to agree on a conclusion. But I’m familiar with the report.

          Atkins was more high fat/low carb, not necessarily high protein. The Atkins “side” contends that he developed cardiomyopathy which led to his heart issues. That he had no buildup in his coronary arteries in previous check ups. The vegan/Dr. Fleming side of course contends the diet was the issue.

          You’re free to believe who you choose. His family and followers are predisposed to believing one thing and those pushing a vegan lifestyle another. There was definitely misleading information given out by the other side, who should not have had his medical reports in the first place.

          My own opinion is that atkins, keto, paleo, veganism, whole 30 and any other diet/lifestyle you can name are all beneficial because they’re not the Standard American Diet. You’re going to have a tough time convincing me that someone that only shops the outside of a grocery store, so to speak, is being unhealthy, even if that includes animal products.

          Yes, vegans as a whole are much healthier than meat eaters, but that’s a very simplistic and flawed way of looking at it.

          Reply
          • Nice Joy June 30, 2018, 1:10 pm

            “Yes, vegans as a whole are much healthier than meat eaters” It is so hard to prove all the facts behind it. Should we try to be more like a vegan since it is more likely to be a the better way?

            Reply
  • Chris June 26, 2018, 8:17 pm

    MMM or anyone else – Where are you finding mixed nuts for $0.30 an ounce?

    Reply
    • Mr. Money Mustache June 29, 2018, 8:29 am

      Costco and Sam’s club (note that these prices are in the US where food is rather cheap so you may need to adjust accordingly).

      Reply
  • LuLu June 28, 2018, 8:01 am

    I struggle with finding the a substitute for fish, seafood allergies keep me from one of the healthiest food groups. Any suggestions for alternatives?

    Reply
    • DLcygnet June 29, 2018, 9:13 am

      Any lean protein, nuts, legumes, or even soy products would work. Heck, even spinach, brussels sprouts, and eggs have omega 3 in them too. Have you tried Madras Lentils? 1 minute in the microwave and you’ve got an easy, portioned chili substitute for a meal – Costco has them by the box now.

      Reply
    • Rebekah June 29, 2018, 11:51 pm

      Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, flaxseeds, hemp seeds, and chia seeds.

      Reply
  • Devin June 29, 2018, 3:49 pm

    Cutting meat and dairy from our diet has saved a ton on the grocery bill. Even when we splurge and get specialty vegan items, our bill is considerably smaller on average than when we consumed meat. Great win cutting it out. For the wallet, the animals, and the environment.

    It’s the ultimate discipline and I have been enjoying it!

    Reply
    • Nice Joy September 4, 2018, 11:02 am

      I joined vegan team after this post.

      Reply
  • Mitch July 16, 2018, 1:49 pm

    I’m curious what protein bar you’ve found that contains 30g of protein for $1.00? Thanks!!

    Reply
  • Nice Joy September 4, 2018, 11:01 am

    This post made me a vegan. Thanks for all the comments.

    Reply
  • TheKuboKing December 12, 2018, 11:55 pm

    I love how you eat little sugars and carbohydrates. I limit them myself, and I feel great doing so. I also only eat two meals a day — lunch and dinner. And it gives me enough energy for my work and Judo sessions at night.

    Reply
  • Marie April 9, 2019, 7:46 pm

    Here’s my knowledge download after 15+ years of diet experiments. Hopefully you all can experiment with the following methods and report back on any change in energy and feelings of wellness

    Substitute dairy milk with almond milk, eventually reduce, lose the desire for “milk”
    Reduce caffeine, eventually limiting it to 1 small mug per week. Caffeine burns your adrenals and the result is a series of incredibly debilitating energy deficits in the last few years of life. If you need a lot of caffeine, try taking a “no call” weekend – shut off your phone, cancel your plans, and spend the weeking lounging in bed and eating freezer food. Aka, rest. Also, sleep in blackout rooms. Easy to add blackout curtains to your bedroom to increase the quality of your sleep. Refrain from eating past 7pm to increase the quality of your sleep!

    Maintain your coconut oil intake, 1+ tbs per day is a great baseline for healthy brain fats – most of your brain requires healthy fats to run off, and unrefined coconut oil is the best fat for this.

    Myth: Food combining is bunk
    Truth: Food combining is real, and it particularly applies to combining fruit with anything (no!) and combining protein foods with starches (no nut butters with grains, no meat sandwiches, only eat meat with non starchy vegetables, cheese counts as a protein, nuts counts as protein. grains count as starches, potatoes count as starches). This is a fantastic experiment to implement in conjunction with reducing dairy milk and cheese (butter is okay in moderation because it is mostly fat and contains no cow protein).

    Cheese: Avoid this if you are attempting to lose weight or feel healthy, cheese bloats you, increases weight, and over time clogs up your lymph system and arteries. Eating cheese was something humans did in cold climates to survive. Americans have plenty of access to better foods – keep cheese as a tasty treat, not a main source of protein or “calcium” (the calcium in cheese and milk products is bound to phosphorus because its cows milk, this form of calcium does not get absorbed by human mammals). Calcium in milk and cheese is a myth promoted by the American Dairy Industry, and cow milk consumption is incredibly bad for American children’s health. Almond milk found at Costco is a safe milk alternative.

    Best of luck on your dietary adventures!

    Reply
  • CB FI June 30, 2019, 4:56 pm

    Buying sushi rolls from a store!!! What happened to MMM being frugal??? A facepunch may be in order. The link is a bit of self-promotion, but you definitely could be making your own sushi rolls at home for a fraction of the cost. We worked it all out, with lots of photos and tips. Learn from all our failures. https://crossborderfi.com/homemade-sushi-rolls-cheap-and-delicious/

    Reply
  • Lama1331 August 12, 2019, 6:57 am

    Since recently quitting my job (to help with our kids while my husband slaves away still) I bought your espresso machine ( no more Starbucks for me :( and I made your exact coffee. I was hoping for “passable” from my husband and I got an “excellent”. He said I can make it for him every day. I may have added too much coconut oil but it was tasty. We have cut out processed coffee creamer and are trying to be more fit. Thanks for this post!

    Reply
  • Elle August 26, 2019, 2:31 pm

    Super interesting. Cool to know there’s other people out there like me!

    Just came into this and found out I’ve been following the FIRE movement without knowing it. Own 4 properties and “Retired” at 29 to only do fun jobs I’d do for free, like running my own business and another job finding start ups to invest in (I wouldn’t ever be able to do nothing, unless I had kids that would get boring pretty fast).

    Re food, me and my partner spend less than $50 usd per week for 2 people (it was even less when I lived in the US, food is a lot more expensive in NZ but better quality.) I only buy vegetables that are in season and eat meat for maybe 1-2 cooked meals in a week. I also make certain tasty things in bulk (like chicken and leek pies) and put them in the oven when I can’t be bothered cooking.

    And I love to eat out too, maybe 2-3 times per week, we’ve got Zomato gold which gives you one free main for every main you order, so that works out to about $10-20 whenever we go out for dinner. Maybe once a month splash on a $100 meal. But that’s cause I get so much enjoyment from it, I’m sure the blogger has things he splashed out on, like electric cars or something.

    Re other things, I think the trick is buying good quality second-hand stuff. Especially for big ticket items (houses, fridges, cars, even all my clothing is branded/high quality and only natural materials like cotton and silk but usually less than $10-20 second hand).

    Good luck everyone!

    Reply
  • Paul October 8, 2019, 3:58 pm

    MMM, in case you check old threads, I’d love the recipe for the potato/veggie/sausage/cheese casserole!

    Thanks :-)

    Reply

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