Feed yourself and your family for 3 bucks a day without having to move to Rwanda!

“While it is true that many people simply can’t afford to pay more for food, either in money or time or both, many more of us can. After all, just in the last decade or two we’ve somehow found the time in the day to spend several hours on the internet and the money in the budget not only to pay for broadband service, but to cover a second phone bill and a new monthly bill for television, formerly free. For the majority of Americans, spending more for better food is less a matter of ability than priority”
Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto

Television often has adverts about feeding a child for a dollar a day. I feel sympathetic and compelled to help, but my personal investigations have revealed that only a pittance  of this money reaches hungry mouths. The vast proportion goes to administration or is stolen in transit.
At the other end of the spectrum, the typical western family is going broke from gluttony. The concept of feeding your family on as little as $3 per person, per day sounds like hogwash to most families in the western world. Despite the fact that this is probably triple what many families in developing nations spend on a days food.

If you eat a diet that is principally meat, dairy, fish, and fowl or if all of your meals are fast food then you are right it is hogwash. However, it is perfectly achievable if you centre your plate around a starch (beans, potatoes, rice, corn…) with the rest of your calories coming from whole foods, fruits, vegetables and maybe a few nuts.

The three dollars pp/pd breaks out to be about $1.75 pp/pd for the starch and another $1.50 pp/pd for fruit and other vegetables, condiments, spices and herbs. See this link and the original work of the author for verification. Our experience is that these numbers are about right after correcting for a few factors in our currency/food economy and close enough to repeat as a rough order guide for people contemplating the benefits of simple living. Of course the $3pp/pd can be reduced dramatically if you can grow the bulk of your fruit and vegetables. However, figure in the cost of acquiring the land to grow vegetables and it might not be that good a deal!

Oftentimes you hear struggling families complain about the cost of healthy food as a justification for relying on the edible food like substances from McDonalds, Burger King and Taco Bell. But, based on a consumption of 2500 calories the relative cost of living on the junk food diet is over $14 pp/pd before medical costs. Good luck feeding a family of 5 on that expensive diet. You are talking US$490 per week vs $105 for healthy home cooked food.

Bottom line – if you want to bring your food costs into line you need to look at centering your diet around foods you can grow in the back yard…or in a local community garden or even in your front berm!

You’ll breakfast on oats with raisins and some seeds, lunch on whole wheat brown bread sandwich with carrots, lettuce, tomato and dressing and dine on a bean, potato and gravy burrito. In doing so you’ll quickly come to realise your body likes this way of eating. Starches are comfort foods and your body will give you plenty of signals that this is how you should have been eating all along. Meanwhile your simple living journey just trimmed another several hundred dollars off your living expenses…how low are they now? Low enough you don’t need to work everyday?

Eat well my friends.

I decided to use US currency in this article because the blog has an international audience and everyone can relate US currency to their local prices. If you have done the math in your local food economy please share by clicking the speech bubble under the title of the post.

The souless soleless shadow

“When we quit thinking primarily about ourselves and our own self-preservation, we undergo a truly heroic transformation of consciousness

Joseph Campbell


Once again I find myself sole-less. It’s somewhat surprising since I’m digging reading the ruminations of this chap right now. A sole soul of another sort I suppose. If there are two things I would like in my life it would be sturdy shoes and expanded consciousness.

I look online at ‘buy it for life’ websites, but I’m sort of resigned to wearing out shoes. It seems to be an inevitable result of choosing a self propelled life. Really I’m not all that worried about shoes. Any will do. Preferably not leather and not formed from the labour of a slave.

As to my second wish it is simply a matter of prioritizing time for the internal journey over the cut and thrust of daily life. Our days are so busy and the pantomime so urgent and so important that it dominates the entirety of our available time and energy. I’d always known that meditation was good to me, but when I worked full time I rarely found the time..

Reflecting nowadays I don’t recognise myself as the child I once was. That life is so distant from the way I live now. I don’t care about material success. Or material things…even shoes. I am poorer, but my quality of life is much better. I am more fulfilled. I’m calmer and more happy. I can dip my toes into and out of the world as I please. Like a shadowy stranger with nothing vested and nothing to spin in the Casino. I watch situations with a dispassionate distance. Often times a chaotic storm swirls around me while I access an inner stillness and marvel at the breeze. We over rate this 5 cent (sense) reality. Believing our eyes or ears over our feelings. We value logic more than creativity. We talk when we should listen. These are all temporary states. Habits that can change.

In your busy life how many books do you dismiss for lack of time, how few rich conversations are you exposed to, or how little time do you have to stop and think deeply? Do you have time to help others? Do you even have time to help yourself?

Simple living has given me time an opportunity to play more than I work and with that I have had space to think. This in my opinion has been the greatest gift.

The artistry and romance of the toast

“A slice of hot, buttered toast is the perfect meal. It’s not too much and not too little, and it gives you just the right buzz”

Naveen Andrews

For the longest time I maintained a delusion that simple living was self sufficient living. I thought that at some point I’d be manufacturing all my replacements for simple household items. I maintained that delusion until I saw this attempt to reverse engineer a toaster.

Of course simple living is not self sufficient living. Simple living is quite simply to find alternative solutions without the need for money. There is nothing in the simple living code that suggests that one cannot harness the talents and inventory of others. That I think is the key difference between the two. In self sufficient living one must not rely on another living soul and life can be a harsh and brutal existence as a result. FYI these intrepid folks.

Still a simple living apprentice can always take a leaf from more intrepid sorts and try to fashion ones own solution to resource problems like I have done in our periods between electronic toasters. Of course the toaster is an incredibly complicated convenience device. Any fool can use one, but can that fool toast without a $29 device? Some will say it’s only 30 bucks, but there is very little to be gained giving such a concession because it becomes a slippery slope to economic slavery.

Myself, I have toasted on an open fire. I have toasted over a propane flame. I’ve toasted under an oven grill and I have toasted with a candle (hey I had the time). Until you have toasted two slices of bread on a single gas element while simultaneously cooking a family pot of porridge you haven’t lived my friends! In becoming a toast artisan I have grown to shun the unskilled manner that any half awake teenager toasts bread.

With my lover, a naked flame and our bread I demonstrate the unbounded abilities of an ace toastmaster extraordinaire. As she bites into the delicate slightly crispy wafer her eyes twinkle with delight. This is all the inspiration and appreciation the true bricoleur craftman needs and is there any more romantic expression than sharing a well toasted loaf? How easily I forget the endless ‘is it ready yet?’ complaints or the rash ‘we should just buy a flippin toaster’ comments.

For I am a master and toast is my canvass.

Maxims for living well in the age of intolerance

“Hatred is wasted energy”


The purpose of life is happiness.

Your focus should be on meaning and energy. This is all that really matters in life.

Eat to improve your health and sleep and meditate to enhance your energy levels.

You were born to move so use all of the capacities of that vessel of the self.

Connecting with people is your paramount daily achievement.

Spreading joy is your mission.

Love is mutual admiration and its a verb which means to feel loved one must action acts of love.

Be engaged, kind and sensitive. Everyone you meet is on their journey through life as are you.

Place the touch of happiness on everyone you meet and in everything you do.

You have the power to improve the emotional circumstances of everyone you encounter.

Choose to be selfless over selfish.

Heal continuously. Harm rarely.

Above all…care!

When care returns your neighbourhood will be a brighter place to live.

Anarchy around the Formica family table

“Undermine their pompous authority, reject their moral standards, make anarchy and disorder your trademarks. Cause as much chaos and disruption as possible but don’t let them take you alive”

Sid Vicious

Being freedom oriented we have a healthy dose of anarchistic conversation around the dinner table. My son is probably going to grow up with a fundamental skepticism of authority and the a basic distrust of the party line they pedal and I’m ok with that.

Anarchistic philosophy is normal in our house to the degree we forget its not mainstream.  As a result we sometimes have amusing exchanges with people that are very much of the view that the Prime Minister/President is some sort of deity and that every word they read from a teleprompter is pure fact.

The most obvious thing I’ve observed about these folks is that any anarchistic comment makes them extremely uncomfortable. They’re supremely defensive if you highlight verifiable facts that the official story really deserves considered critical examination. It’s  understandable because recognising stuff like this can irreversibly shatter your safe world view.

The other thing I notice is that they always say that they have an open mind, but they don’t. Their mind is closed tight. Only facts that agree with their fixed view get any attention.

If you seek truth and freedom it starts with opening your mind.

Like if you show me creditable evidence of aliens or of a government administration serving the people before big business then I am open to it being possible. Show me enough evidence and I’ll accept it no matter if its main street or side street thinking.

I also question everything. Everything.

We are born into a world where the rules of the game were set up centuries ago to ensure the current ruling lineage enjoys a privileged life and that their future generations will enjoy the same or more control and influence. They own all the doors, the keys and the locks. All the information channels from birth to death are advocating their interests at the expense of us regular folk. Every institution you come into contact with from pre-school to the corporation is programming you to accept fundamental constructs that are simply someone else’s idea of how your life should be.

There are no reasons that things need to be this way and turning out to vote can never result in the fundamental shift that is needed to free humanity from our ideological and economic prison.  Most people can’t see the prison bars. Not surprising when so much effort and money is poured into distracting you from opening your eyes.

So tally-ho the anarchists. Upset the authorities. Write your own rules. Participate when it suits and pull back when it doesn’t.

Be free.

Seek truth.

Live simply.