I have to give credit where credit is due. The Romanian-language newspaper Adevǎrul has been running an interesting series – can 4 university students live on the legal minimum wage, which here is 461 lei (after taxes)? At today’s rate that’s 107 euros or 147 USDollars.
Interesting concept but today I see the boys went grocery shopping and made some horrible choices. Still, they spent 90 lei, theoretically to buy enough food to last two weeks. I doubt it.
Right away you see there’s far too many animal products. These are clearly going to be expensive. Then he buys only 12 eggs, paying a far higher price (per egg) than he would if he had gone for the 24.
Even though he went to Cora (a hypermarket), he didn’t even buy the cheapest milk there, which can save you two or more lei than the other brands. And the most expensive meat of all is treated/cured/processed meats, such as fish in a can and the salami/sausages. Huge mistake!
If saving money is your sole object, you need to load up on cereals – they’re cheap and will both fill you up as well as give you calories. Can’t say it’s an ideal choice but if you truly are pinching every penny, that’s the way to go.
You can get a huge sack of flour (or corn meal) for almost no money and even the most retarded cook can quickly figure out both pancakes (Rom: clatite) or else mamaliga. Jeez!
Pasta is also insanely cheap, as you’d expect. The cheapest fats are going to be vegetable oil – a five-liter bidon of that and you’ve got tons of options from salads to fried foods.
Which brings me to my last recommendation, which is potatoes. You can get an entire kilo for 2 lei or less and there’s about 50 ways to eat them. They make you feel quite full and are chock full of starch so they’re quite tasty day after day.
In an earlier, related article, Adevǎrul followed a retired guy to see how he survived on his pension of just 382,5 lei per month (122 USD/89 Euros).
The man lives in Bucharest too by the way:
Our retired man lives in a one-bedroom apartment, which he owns free and clear. He has no internet connection, he doesn’t go out on the town, he spends no money on gasoline or on public transportation because he always walks. He has no debts. He only pays the maintenance fee on his apartment, the electricity bill and food. Just the bare necessities.
Sounds kind of frugal – and it is. Yet look at this:
Maintenance: 100 lei
Electricity: 25 lei
Toiletries: 25 lei
Left Over: 232,5
In other words, that 232 lei is his food budget. Since I think this is so interesting, I’ve translated the entire thing below. For a rough currency conversion, 3 lei = 1 USD and 4 lei = 1 Euro.
- 30 loaves of bread = 22.5 lei
20 eggs = 8.4 lei
5 liters of milk = 17.5 lei
1 kilogram feta cheese = 9 lei
5 kilograms chicken (head/neck) = 37.5 lei
1 kilogram beef = 23 lei
1 kilogram pork = 17 lei
2 kilograms salami = 13 lei
1 kilogram salt = 1.5 lei
1 kilogram sugar = 3 lei
2 liters oil = 7 lei
1 kilogram corn meal = 3 lei
1 kilogram rice = 3 lei
Whew! Look at all these cereals and animal products.
- 5 kilograms potatoes = 6 lei
3 green onions = 1 leu
1 kilogram onions = 2.5 lei
1 bunch of garlic = 1 leu
1 kilogram beans = 2.5 lei
1 kilogram carrots = 1 leu
3 kilograms tomatoes = 12 lei
2 kilograms green peppers = 6 lei
1 kilogram cucumbers = 3 lei
5 radishes = 2.5 lei
4 kilograms of cabbage = 2 lei
1 celery (root) = 3.5 lei
2 bunches of dill = 1 leu
2 bunches of parsley = 1 leu
WOW! I mean I was just floored. Not only did this guy not exceed his budget but he could BUY ALL THAT FLIPPING FOOD! Wow.
Some of those prices are quite good but otherwise I’d say that’s about on par with the piata in my town as well. That guy is eating meat, eggs, fresh vegetables and fresh herbs by the boatload for 214 lei a month! Insane.
And of course if he could get off the meat train, he’d save a ton of money. The meat came to easily a fourth of his entire monthly bill.
What’s even more insane is that I doubt 1 in 100 Americans of ANY income level, much less a senior flipping citizen on a limited, government income, eats and consumes that many vegetables in an entire month.
Someone was being snarky in the comments a few days back about “how could Romanians live so long with their diet, blah, blah” Well look at all the vegetables this guy is eating and he’s OFFICIALLY POOR. Jeez!
Very, very interesting contrast between this elderly Romanian’s food budget choices and the university students’.