Could I -- an $80-plus-per-week spender -- eat like a Thrifty millennial male? Is that budget even tenable at most grocery stores? To find out, I spent a month shopping at a different grocery store every week: my local grocery chain, Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and a natural foods co-op.
Each week, I bought the same simple baseline meal of chicken and shells. After that, I spent whatever I had left on the groceries that I needed to sustain myself for the week. No eating out unless it fit into my $42.60 (spoiler: it never did). And no accepting free meals or snacks.
I was worried: I teach yoga and typically run a few miles every day. I always shoot for the USDA five servings of fruits and vegetables. The rest of my diet generally consists of yogurt, eggs, and lean meats. Could I sustain myself on a little more than half my normal budget?
No matter the answer, I felt that the experiment would have strong repercussions. If it was possible to eat on the USDA Thrifty Plan, it'd mean that overspenders and under-spenders alike would have a more sustainable path toward a nutritionally dense future. And if it wasn't? Then our country needed a serious wake-up call about the affordability and accessibility of food.