Living well on a budget, without being truly cheap.

Save money by buying seeds instead of starter plants

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

The seed purchases I made through catalog and online orders back in December are starting to arrive in my mailbox.  Why such a delay?  Most seed companies don't ship until it gets close to planting time and they take starting seed indoors into consideration.

Starting plants from seed is a great way to not only save money vs. buying over-priced starter plants in the spring, but you get to customize what will be in your garden.  You get to choose what goes in your garden rather than having to settle for what a garden shop has in stock.

Every spring, you see all those pop-up garden centers being put up in parking lots, whether at the local grocery store or Walmart.  I still frequent those, but they are limited in plant variety and even bonafide garden centers might not have a particular plant variety you're looking for.  And again, you'll pay a premium for starter plants, it's spring time after all....

20180211_074647Enter seed packets.....

I received an order from Park Seed the other day.  My order included:

  1. Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
  2. Italian Large Leaf Basil
  3. Salad Bowl Mix Organic Greens
  4. Peppermint
  5. Radish Park Beauty Blend
  6. Dill
  7. Greek Oregano
  8. Chives
  9. Organic Arugula
  10. Organic Roma Tomato
  11. Cilantro Calypso

That total for that order cost me just $15.94 and that includes shipping costs.  I would have spent at least five times that amount for starter plants and I wouldn't have found all those varieties in just one garden center location, pop-up or otherwise.  In the past I've done the garden center hop thing...  Pick up a few plants at Walmart, go to Lowe's looking for what I couldn't find at Walmart, check out the plants at the pop-up garden center at the local grocery store, travel to the local garden center for a look/see....  The end result is always spending more than desired and still not finding everything I want to put in my garden.

20180211_083033Now, armed with a bag of dirt, some egg cartons, a few containers I've got on hand and some lighting, I can get a great head start on an herb and salad garden.

"But Mike," you say.....  "Won't you spend just as much on dirt and lights that you would on starter plants?"

That first time purchase that an avid-gardener-in-the-making makes, perhaps.  But lighting is really pretty cheap if starting plants is all you're doing, you don't need fancy plant lights.  A southern exposure window (east exposure if you don't have one) and a little fluorescent lamp will go far in starting seed.  And I would contend you can still spend less on starting seed in that first year than you would in the equivalent in starter plants and spending FAR LESS in years thereafter.

"How much space do I need?" You ask....

Not much, not much at all.  Have a window sill big enough to hold an egg carton?  Start some seed.  Have some space on your desk by that desk lamp?  Start some seed.  Heck, I've been known to pull some small appliances off my kitchen counter to make room for starting seed.  Being an avid gardener though, I've since bought some shelving dedicated for such a purpose.

After planting and caring for those seeds per the instructions that come with your seed order, you will have all the starter plants and then some you'll need for a custom garden in about six to eight weeks, perfect timing for spring planting!

Spend wisely my friends.....

 


Cereal Battle Part 2 - Cheerios vs. other toasted oats cereals

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

I always have some kind of cereal on hand.  Sometimes it's for breakfast, sometimes with a little fruit and a heavy dose of cream, it makes for an impromptu dessert.  And although Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries is my all time favorite cereal, that's not what I typically have on hand.  My pantry is routinely stocked with corn flakes and/or toasted oats. 

Do you pay the premium price for the name brand?

If you do, you might think twice about doing so after reading this article.

20180208_125913I recently did a piece on corn flakes, today I'm doing a similar review of toasted oats cereals.  In conducting this 'Cereal Battle, Part 2', I purchased THE name brand, General Mills Cheerios; a store brand version, in this case Kroger; and a discount brand called Millville, a.k.a., Aldi.

I compared price, weight, the look, taste (both dry and w/milk) and the 'sogginess' factor.

Cereal #1, the name brand - General Mills Cheerios:

This cereal has been a family favorite for over 70 years according to the General Mills website.  I have to agree, a box of Cheerios was always in my house as a kid.  

Price:  $2.79 for 12 ounces of cereal

That price is actually fairly low for a name brand cereal.  In the first cereal battle, Kellogg's Corn Flakes came in at $3.39 and in a non-battle purchase, Wheaties was priced at $4.47 (Ouch!, over $4 for a box of cereal?).   Also noted in that first battle, was how much taller the Kellogg's Corn Flakes box was even though the weight of the cereal was the same as for the store and discount brands.  Only a very slightly taller box, General Mills doesn't seem to be playing the 'bigger box' game here, a marketing gimmick. 

For the look, taste (both dry and w/milk) and the sogginess factor, I'll summarize all three cereals in a bit.

Cereal #2, store brand - Kroger:

Price:  $1.49 for 12 ounces of cereal

Look how much cheaper the store brand is, a savings of $1.30.  That's about 11 cents an ounce for the store brand vs. about 23 cents per ounce for the name brand.  

Cereal #3, discount brand - Millville, a.k.a., Aldi:

20180210_071239Price:  $1.49 for 14 ounces of cereal

This is the cheapest cereal of the group because you get more cereal in the box.  Per ounce, Millville costs 10.6 cents.  And just an interesting note and Millville does this with all their packaging it seems, check out how 'Millville' tries to closely mimic the name brand with the look of the box, but the store brand, Kroger, does not..... The question becomes, how closely does Millville mimic Cheerios, the look, the taste?

When it came to the look, there are a few notable differences.  Cheerios appears to be smoother, then Millville - a little less of a smoothness factor and the store brand, Kroger, looking to be the drier oat, the more porous of the bunch.   All the 'O's' look to be about the same in size.  In the taste test, they all tasted the same, sampled dry and with milk, none more sweeter than the other.  But the crucial part of the test, the sogginess factor......  Cheerios comes out on top on this one, I got through most of the bowl before sogginess set in.  Millville came in second in this factor and the store brand, Kroger came in last - about 3/4 through the bowl.  Hmmm, there's something about that smoothness factor......

Cheerios gets top nod when it comes to marketing and the sogginess factor, but that's not worth the premium price.  For my money, I'll take the Millville version of Cheerios.  If you have been a buyer of the name brand, there's really no reason to continue doing so.  Save yourself some money with the discount brand from Aldi.

Other uses for toasted oats.....

Cheerios and the like aren't just for the breakfast bowl.  These things are versatile.  Toasted oats are a great addition to granolas, cookies and as a topping for dessert crisps.  My mom used to include them in home made party mix, I loved how the O's would soak up the Worcestershire.     Toasted oats are also a great base for home made cereal bars. 

Observation:  Did you know there is no faux Wheaties?  What is up with that?  I didn't realize there wasn't a knock off version until doing this cereal comparison.  You can find every other kind of cereal in a store brand or discount version, but NOT Wheaties.  I hate paying the premium price for a box of cereal, but since there is no other option, I have to, it is the Breakfast of Champions after all.....

Spend Wisely My Friends.....

 


Gambinos 'Out pizzas' The Hut, Better Ingredients, Better Pizza.... Yes, Better Than Papa John's too!

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Today is National Pizza Day and being the Foodie that I am, it is my honor, no, my 'duty' to celebrate this day......

Pepperoni and mushroom pizza is my favorite and I'm a thin crust kind of guy.  I don't want to chew on a bunch of bread when I eat pizza.  I want to enjoy that savory sauce, the spice of the pepperoni, the heartiness of the mushrooms, with all of that goodness served on top of a crispy, flaky crust.  

But I have a dilemma, I'm not a fan of Pizza Hut (they are inconsistent with delivery AND product), Domino's sucks and Papa John's is so-so.  I'm in need of a pizza joint that can provide consistently great pizza and I haven't found that place in Wichita yet.

20180209_150225Until now.  A friend of mine recommended Gambino's, a regional chain that recently moved into the Wichita market - about six months ago.

I ordered my favorite for carry-out.  How else to better evaluate a pizza joint I've never frequented before, then by ordering what I know right?  I need a baseline, ordering a specialty pizza on a first visit wouldn't be a proper assessment.

The order was ready in just 20 minutes and my timing was perfect, with the pizza guy placing a box in the warming bin just as I was walking in the door and it had my name on it.   The price was $20.40 for a large - a 14 inch pie - and I got what they call the "Pepperoni Cravers" which comes with extra pepperoni, extra mozzarella and I built on that by adding the mushroom.  That price is high, especially when considering what competitors in the area are offering, but I'll let the taste be the final judge.

I took a peek under the lid before leaving the restaurant, the pizza looked fantastic and smelled even better!  With the aroma tempting me something fierce (eat a slice, eat a slice, eat a slice.....) during the drive home, I somehow managed to behave myself, parked my truck without incident and opened up the apartment door with the pizza box still intact, all slices accounted for.

20180209_150622After pouring myself a soda and grabbing a plate, it was time to enjoy the great looking pie.  That first bite and every bite thereafter delivered!  The sauce Gambino's puts together is awesome, packing great flavor with the pizza not being over or under sauced, it was sauced just right.  The pepperoni portion was huge, as was the amount of mushrooms and I could have taken a couple of stretchy-mozzarella-strings-in-that-bite selfies but I've got a face made for radio.  The crust was perfectly done, a nice crispy, flaky bite, without being dry.  Everything was complimented nicely with a dusting of oregano and other spices.

Overall, this was a great pizza experience.  My pizza was ready for pickup quickly, I was in and out of the restaurant in just a couple minutes and I thoroughly enjoyed the pie.  The only hangup I've got is the price, it's a bit high.  Without coupon deals or promotions - available on their website - I'm not sure enough people will come to learn how good this restaurant's pizza is.

Gambino's in Wichita is located at 1520 S. Webb Road, Unit 120, and yes, they offer delivery.

Gambino's gets 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.

4 stars 


Prevent scratches on non-stick cookware

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

20180209_130221Not many people have enough headroom or space in their kitchen to hang skillets and pots from hanging pot racks.  Most people have to stack their pots and pans in the cabinet and that means scratches and dings in that non-stick surface if you don't protect them.

Protect your pots and pans with paper plates.  It's easy, just line the insides of pans with thin paper plates, which have slightly curved edges which mates nicely with the shape of your cookware.  I like paper plates to 'nest' those pans better than paper towels for that reason, plus they're more durable and paper towels can leave those little fibers behind.

Prevent damage to your non-stick cookware, stack them with paper plates! 


A cereal battle - Corn Flakes vs. Corn Flakes: Kellogg's vs. store brand vs. discount brand

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

I always have some kind of cereal on hand.  Sometimes it's for breakfast, sometimes with a little fruit and a heavy dose of cream, it makes for an impromptu dessert.  And although Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries is my all time favorite cereal, that's not what I typically have on hand.  My pantry is routinely stocked with corn flakes and/or toasted oats. 

Do you pay the premium price for the name brand?

If you do, you might think twice about doing so after reading this article.

20180209_071902In conducting this 'Cereal Battle', I purchased THE name brand, Kellogg's Corn Flakes; a store brand version, in this case Kroger; and a discount brand called Millville, a.k.a., Aldi.

I compared price, weight, the look, taste (both dry and w/milk) and the 'sogginess' factor.

Cereal #1, the name brand - Kellogg's Corn Flakes:

The visual of pouring these crispy golden flakes into a breakfast bowl is iconic.  It's almost as American as baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and......  Ford.....  (That's what I drive, I hate Chevrolet).

Price:  $3.39

That price is interesting, not only because it's the highest one of the cereal battle, but check out the box.  It's the tallest box of the bunch.  Remember when I said I would be evaluating weight, as in perhaps a consumer is getting a few more flakes for the dollar?  It's just a taller box.  All cereals weighed in at one pound, 2 ounces.  Kellogg's is marketing people, specifically those who don't read labels.  One might think they're getting more value with a 'bigger box' of cereal.

For the look, taste (both dry and w/milk) and the sogginess factor, I'll summarize all three cereals in a bit.

Cereal #2, store brand - Kroger:

Price:  $1.49

Look how much cheaper the store brand is, a savings of $1.90 and remember, even though the Kellogg's box is taller making some folks think they're getting a better value, all cereals weighed in at one pound, two ounces.

Cereal #3, discount brand - Millville, a.k.a., Aldi:

Price:  $1.39

This is the cheapest cereal of the group, offering a savings of $2 over Kellogg's but just 10 cents over the store brand.  And check out how 'Millville' tries to closely mimic the name brand with the look of the box.....But how closely does Millville mimic the corn flake, the look, the taste?

20180208_214324When it came to the look, as you can see they all pretty much look the same, they're all golden with ever-so-slight variations and there's no distinguishable difference in flake size.  In the taste test, they all tasted the same, sampled dry and with milk.  But the crucial part of the test, the sogginess factor......  Unless you can shovel faster than a back hoe on rocket fuel, all cereals get soggy about 3/4 through, the crunch slips away at about the same rate for each.

Kellogg's gets top nod when it comes to marketing, but that's it.  The look, taste, sogginess factor, it's all the same.  If you have been a buyer of the name brand, there's really no reason to continue doing so.  Save yourself some money whether it's with a store brand or a discount brand from Aldi.

Other uses for corn flakes.....

Corn flakes aren't just for the breakfast bowl.  These things are versatile.  Crush 'em up and use them as a breading instead of bread crumbs, they're excellent with fried chicken and fish!  Crumble some up and use them as a crunchy topping for casseroles.  Put some in a food processor for a finer crumb to make muffins or cookies.  Have you ever had corn flake crusted French Toast?  It's another does of YUM!

Next up:  Cheerios vs. other 'toasted oats' cereals

Observation:  Did you know there is no faux Wheaties?  I didn't realize that until doing this cereal comparison.  You can find every other kind of cereal in a store brand or discount version, but NOT Wheaties.  I hate paying the premium price for a box of cereal, but since there is no other option, I have to, it is the Breakfast of Champions after all.....

 


Restaurant Review: Panda Express, 11787 E Kellogg Dr S, Wichita

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Needing some lunch while out and about running errands, I decided to stop in at Panda Express, the largest Asian segment restaurant chain in the United States, according to Wikipedia.  Believe it or not, I've never eaten at a Panda Express, I hold a preference to local Mom & Pop shops.

My oldest son is a frequent patron of Panda Express and that's largely why I finally decided to give it a try.  It's fast casual American Chinese cuisine, with the food served cafeteria style, from warming bins.  Entrees come in 'bowl' or 'plate' sized portions and of course there are the traditional sides and appetizers to choose from to enjoy with that 'bowl' or 'plate'.

20180208_142800(1)I walked in and viewed the menu a bit before approaching the counter and until one of the staff greeted me, which took about a minute or so.   After greeting me, the gentleman offered me a sample of the 8 Treasure Chicken Breast to try,  which I accepted.  Liking the flavor, I ordered that entree as part of a two entree plate to-go.  I went with the fried rice to accompany the 8 Treasure Chicken Breast.  The staff member then asked what I wanted as the second entree and I decided on the Shanghai Angus Steak. 

"There will be an additional $1.50 charge for that, is that OK?" The staff member asked.

Apparently the Shanghai Angus Steak is a "premium" entree, above and beyond what qualifies as the second entree for no additional charge, I get it, it's Angus, but since the guy had already started scooping up the steak to put it in the box, I was like, "Sure, no problem."

I just got up-sold, a bit unwillingly with the premature scooping, but I didn't protest because I wanted the steak.    To go with my two-entree plate, I added an egg roll to my order.

The total cost for this meal was $12.85 after tax. 

So how was my meal you ask?

First things first, the egg roll....  I always order egg rolls when eating Asian and it's always the first thing I bite into to start the meal.  The egg roll I was served looked like it sat in the fryer a bit too long - beyond golden brown - and when biting into it, it was not as crispy on the outside as one would like.   I wasn't surprised by that though, the lack of that good outer crunch is to be expected since it was served from a warming bin.  The sweet and sour sauce I ordered to go with my egg roll was also a bit disappointing, it was so-so, flat.  It lacked the range of a really good sweet AND sour.   

In sampling the rest of the meal, the entrees were seasoned well and not over-sauced.  Some Asian places tend to over-sauce things, the sauce needs to compliment the entree, not overpower it and Panda Express did well here.  The chicken was tender, but the diced Chinese pork sausage that's on the menu description was not 'a plenty' in the dish.  Overall, it was a nice spicy, savory bite along with the red and green bell pepper, celery, Chinese black beans (a few tossed in for looks?) and whole dry chili peppers.  In tasting the Shanghai Angus Steak, this was the better of the two entrees.  The beef was tender and the combination of the tender crisp string beans, onion and mushroom in that sauce made for a nice bite.  Then there was the fried rice.  It was either over-cooked before it was placed in the warming bin or had been in the warming bin too long.  It was a bit gummy and under-seasoned.

Summary:  I got in and out of the restaurant with my take-out quickly, the service was adequate and the eating/service areas were clean.  But the price was a bit high for what turned out to be average food.   My dining experience reinforced my preference for local Mom & Pop inspired Asian fare.  Panda Express will do in a pinch, but it's not a go-to place for me.  It amounts to getting something made to order and wok fresh from a Mom & Pop, vs. the warming bins of a chain restaurant.  For the money I spent here, I can get a better meal at a good Mom & Pop.

Panda Express gets 3 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars

3 stars

Related:  Go China Grill

Related:  Teriyaki House

 


Restaurant Review: Terriyaki House, 1845 S. Rock Rd., Wichita

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

A friend of mine recommended this place to me awhile back and in the mood for some Asian cuisine for dinner tonight, I decided to check it out.

Boy am I glad I did and my friend was spot on with the recommendation!

You know how when you're trying a new restaurant for the first time and sometimes on those whims or recommendations you pull into the parking lot during dinner hour and there's just a couple cars in the parking lot and few patrons inside?  Not so with Teriyaki House.  I was already feeling pretty good about the place by the time I approached the counter and was asked what I'd like to order.

Since this was the first time trying this place, I went with a classic, Broccoli Beef with a side of egg rolls.  The way I see it, if a restaurant can't fix a classic right, then I'm not about to waste my time with their house "special."  The cost was a bit over $11 for my take-out meal, which is a bit higher than typical for such a place, but "sample the food before judging," I told myself and sat down while my dinner was prepared.

Referencing again that word 'typical' - that's what the Teriyaki House appears to be - one of those small little oriental places in a strip mall,  a Mom & Pop operation.  But this place is a cut above the typical, the restaurant was clean and orderly, the lady who took my order greeted me warmly, she even asked me if I wanted some ice water to drink while I waited for my order.  The aromas when I walked in were fantastic and everything just had a nice feel to it.  There were smiles on customer faces and employees alike.

20180207_183700(1)It didn't take long at all for my made-to-order wok order to be filled, I hardly had time to review my Facebook account on my phone before the lady at the counter was asking me if I wanted any additional sauces to go with my meal.  She neatly wrapped things up for me and I was on my way.... 

This meal was excellent.  I've done A LOT of Asian take-out over the years and this was well, damn good!  The portions were large, the beef was tender, the veggies were tender crisp.  Everything was seasoned well and prepared to perfection.  While I balked a little bit at the price initially, the size of the portions and the deliciousness of everything I sampled dismissed that notion outright.  From the egg rolls, to the rice, to the entree and YES, there were even pot stickers!.....  This meal packed value and flavor!

Teriyaki House gets 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars.  I've had better Asian take-out, but not in Wichita.  I think I've finally found my Asian cuisine go-to.

4 stars


Creamer vs. Creamer: Coffee Mate vs. International Delight vs. store brand vs. discount brand

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Every morning, millions of Americans wake up to (or need it to wake up) a cup of coffee, java, joe, brew, mud, bean juice, morning jolt, wakey juice, call it what you will....  Many of those folks can't drink it black however, it's GOT to have some creamer in it.....

I'm in that latter category.  Creamer is must!  If I had to drink my coffee black I'd be more of a curmudgeon than I already am.

My preference is Hazelnut flavored creamer, Italian Sweet Cream is my Plan B if a Hazelnut selection is not available.   Coffee with cream is just one of those simple pleasures in life, a good way to start the day and that Hazelnut flavor kicks off that start better than any other flavor for me.

But regardless of what flavor of creamer you might prefer in your coffee, have you ever wondered if you're paying too much for it?

20180205_184059I did, hence the "Creamer vs. Creamer" battle.......

In a Bachelor on the Cheap evaluation of creamers, I bought two national brands, a store brand as well as a discount grocer brand and compared them.  All creamers purchased were 32 ounce containers.  I considered price, label/ingredients and of course, taste.  Here's what I found in this test, tasting each creamer starting with the highest priced first:

1st Cup - Coffee Mate, cost - $3.29:  This is the standard, that creaminess you come to expect when you add a splash to a cup of coffee.  There is a reason so many restaurants, coffee shops, hotels and convenience stores offer Coffee Mate, having it available on their tables, bars and counters and Coffee Mate has the sales force to make that happen.  My first cup of coffee this morning was smooth and I uttered that coffee "Mmmmm" with that first sip.

2nd Cup - International Delight, cost - $2.99:  I've bought International Delight before but I can't recall ever buying their Hazelnut flavor.  I've purchased their seasonal offerings like Pumpkin Spice or Peppermint because it was on sale or a promotion, but never their Hazelnut before this challenge.  I won't be buying their Hazelnut again anytime soon either.  My second cup of coffee this morning was a disappointment.  A review of the ingredient labels of the four products I purchased shows International Delight uses palm oil (rather than vegetable oil) in their creamer recipe, the others don't.  With that being the only distinguishable difference, International Delight comes off not as sweet as Coffee Mate and well, more savory if you will and that's not a good thing.  There's also a hint of bitterness in the finish.  The taste of palm oil is hard to describe, I just know I don't like it in my coffee.

20180205_1930003rd Cup - Kroger (store brand), cost - $1.99:  Ahhhh, back to a good cup of coffee with the third......  If I conducted a blind taste test on myself - put that on camera, right? - I don't know that I would be able to tell the difference between Coffee Mate and the store brand and I'm saving $1.30!

4th Cup - Friendly Farms (discount grocer brand, a.k.a., Aldi), cost - $1.99:  Also a good cup of coffee and the price is right, also saving $1.30 over Coffee Mate.  But if I had to give a nod to Friendly Farms or a store brand like Kroger, it would have to go to Kroger.  Friendly Farms is a plan B to a store brand but still a preference over paying the premium for Coffee Mate.

To sum....  I will continue to buy a store brand or discount brand of Hazelnut coffee creamer before I'll buy Coffee Mate and International Delight is now totally out of the picture, even their seasonal/promotional stuff.  There is no distinguishable taste difference between a store brand like Kroger and Coffee Mate and I like saving $1.30.  I go through a jug of creamer a week, that translates into a savings of over $67 a year - just on creamer alone.  Buying the store brand saves!

A lot of people think that store brands are really just a national brand slapping a grocer's label on their product via some negotiated and/or bidded contract but that's not true.  Kroger didn't go to Coffee Mate to have them make some Hazelnut creamer and put a Kroger label on it.  Coffee Mate isn't about to do that, it would shrink their market share.  And why pay for all that advertising to become the top brand then?  Think about it, why do those name brands insist that grocers put their products on the prominent and/or eye level shelves?  And remember that sales force on the payroll that gets/keeps the name brand in the restaurants, coffee bars, hotels and convenience stores.  The reality behind store brands is, there are all kinds of small food companies out there dedicated solely to the development of store brands.  They work directly with the grocer to develop the item, package and label it.  The reason behind the cheaper price is that there is no advertising/marketing/sales force costs involved in that development.  

Save with the store brand, you won't notice the taste difference, but you'll definitely notice the price difference!

Spend wisely my friends......

 


George brand men's pants provides an excellent, inexpensive, business casual look

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

George PantsI've got the George brand men's flat-front wrinkle-resistant pants in my closet.   It's a go-to in my wardrobe, they are designed for a classic fit, they're comfortable and I bought them at Walmart.   Made with cotton blended twill, they are fade resistant, easy to maintain and they last a long time, as in the threading doesn't fall apart after a couple washes like some of those discount clothes tend to do.  The George pants line also includes a pleated front design, come in a wide range of colors and includes Big & Tall sizes. 

Prices are in the $12 - $15 a pair range, depending on your selection.  That's Bachelor on the Cheap friendly!

For social gatherings or business casual, the George line of pants are a great addition to a well-rounded wardrobe! 

George pants get 4 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars

4 stars


A Bachelor on the Cheap Challenge: Eating Fast Food Value Meals for a Week on a $50 Budget, Day 6, Dinner

Mike Thayer 2016 (2)By Mike Thayer

Can you eat nothing but fast food value meals for a week on just $50?

That's a budget of just $7.14 a day.

Are there enough restaurants out there offering value meals that will fit in the budget? Will there be enough variety? Will I stay full enough, no snacking required?

Can I stay under budget and eat well to boot?

Day 6 and time for dinner 

This challenge started out well, but I have to admit this as being an epic fail on Day 6.  There is just no way to eat a variety of meals, stay full between meals and spend just $7.14 a day to do it.  In order to stay on budget for the challenge, I find myself eating at McDonald's again.  I'll say this, of all the fast food restaurants offering a value menu, McDonald's is clearly the best.

20180211_172005With just $2.48 remaining in the daily budget for dinner, I decided on a McDonald's Bacon McDouble for dinner.  I've had this burger during the challenge before and in my humble opinion it's the best $2 burger in town

So what lies ahead for Day 7?  While I got back on track with the budget going into the last day of the challenge, I'm still limited with the value meal choices that are out there.

Meal total for the day:  

Breakfast:  $2.13

Lunch:  $1.08

Dinner:  $2.13

Cumulative total for the Challenge:

Day 1:  $7.29

Day 2:  $6.44

Day 3:  $7.27

Day 4:  $7.36

Day 5:  $8.59

Day 6:  $5.34

I went over budget by 15 cents on Day 1.  I was under budget by 55 cents on Day 2.  I went over budget by 13 cents on Day 3.  After Day 4 I had a whopping 5 cent surplus working for me.  That laughable surplus didn't matter, I blew my daily budget on Day 5 by $1.45.  Ouch!  On Day 6, I sacrificed in the name of food science and came in under budget by 35 cents.  I've got $7.49 to spend on Day 7, the final day of the challenge.

20180211_173800Grand Total:  $42.29

The nice thing about this challenge - No dish washing required!  Bonus!

And then there's bonus #2:  A growing surplus of napkins!

Bonus #3:  The opportunity to rack up on condiment packets.....  You knew that was coming, right?  What bachelor does NOT have condiment packets in his fridge?  I've racked up ketchup, mustard, mayo, salt, pepper, ranch dressing, buffalo sauce, honey and honey mustard!

Spend Wisely My Friends.....