Feed a Family of Four Like Kings on $5 a Day

A good friend of ours bought a sailboat in La Paz, Mexico, flew down there, and is now living on it in the Sea of Cortez. He mentioned that it’s not much cheaper to live in the La Paz area than it is to live in California. I’ve read this on some sailing forums as well and any of you that have been to La Paz or have looking into traveling to that region of Mexico would know that it has the highest cost of living in Mexico. But a massive percentage of Mexico’s population lives in in poverty every day. How is it that it can be completely unaffordable to stay in the La Paz area for any length of time?

So, we decided to do a test.

We intend to cruise Mexico, do it for 4 to 6 month lengths of time, and to do it very cheaply while eating like kings.

We got gifted some beef...BLAM! Cube steak tacos.
We got gifted some beef…BLAM! Cube steak tacos.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, right? We decided that for two weeks, we would see how cheaply we can feed 2 adults, 2 children, and El Perro Loco (the crazy dog) on fare that should be easy to get our hands on in just about any part of Mexico and would keep well for a week at a time to limit how often we’d need to dinghy in to go shopping. Also, they would need to keep well at sea. The fresh ingredients for salsa are the only thing that wouldn’t keep for a long time at sea but luckly, there are dozens of good options for canned salsa with many different price ranges. Pinto beans, corn meal, rice, and salsa would be very regularly included. Meat would have to be caught or killed ourselves. There’s just no way to eat this way purchasing your proteins.

I didn’t keep track of any real hard numbers here but for the first three days of our test, we came in at approximately $3.00, $2.80, and $2.60 PER DAY. Here’s some more of the details…

Breakfast is for the kids. My wife and I don’t do breakfast. We’ve been following Leangains for years now and we don’t eat anything until lunch time. It’s kept us lean and mean. For breakfast, we usually make the kids oatmeal and throw a little brown sugar in it and a little dash of butter. We use the large quick oats containers that you can buy at any large grocery outlet and we don’t purchase the name brand. Sometimes there is a definite difference between the name brand and the generic but many times there is not. I also purchase an 18 pack of eggs once a month. Once in a while, I’ll load them up on a couple of eggs each along with their oatmeal or I’ll replace the oatmeal with some potatoes. Potatoes is another cheap starch.

Kids scarfing down tacos.
Kids scarfing down tacos.

Many times for lunch, we are doing fish tacos with homemade tortillas and salsa. We started with pre-made tortillas but are just now starting to make our own. It’s about 1/3 the cost of buying the pre-made ones. We get about two and a half times as much fresh salsa buy making our own versus buying the cheap pre-made stuff. Fresh green cabbage is included and the fish is caught by the kids. As you can see from my wife’s previous post, they have no trouble catching large bass, striper, and catfish. We also make refried beans as a side dish with the tacos. It took merely a couple of days to master refried beans and man, they are awesome now! Spanish rice is another favorite dish of ours and frequently shows up in lunches or dinners.

Dinner is always different than lunch but many times includes some of the same things. We’ll grill fish on a BBQ and serve sides of Spanish rice or refried beans, sometimes both, topping the fish with fresh, homemade salsa. Another think we love to make is fish soup. There are endless recipes you can Google that are both delicious and extremely affordable. Any other sources of meat that we happen upon are usually used to mix up our dinner fare a bit.

We’ve been doing this for the last two weeks on less than $3 a day. I named the post $5 because there are bound to be some hidden expenses that I didn’t include because like I said, I didn’t keep track of any hard numbers. Also, since an extra $2 a day amounts to $60 a month, that can cover slightly more expensive ingredients that you need for recipes that add a bit more variance to your diet. I want to make a point of stating that these are prices in America. Eating like this off of the coast of Mexico should be even cheaper in theory.

All things considered, we are even more excited than before about cruising Mexico while eating like this. Why? We just freed up a lot more money for margaritas and tequila!




4 Comments Add yours

  1. desiree says:

    I was just in la paz and looove making home made fajitas, fish veracruzana, tacos, etc. The one thing that I missed was vegetables! Your diet sounds high in protein and starch- aside from cabbage and salsa, how do you get your greens?


    1. probst629 says:

      Sometimes, you have to deal with what is going to keep. We actually find that plenty of cabbage, beans, and salsa is enough roughage for us but when we are close to fresh veggies, we load up on them! The way we look at it is that we are loading up on all of the micronutrients we need that way. A micronutrient bank, if you will. Massive fresh salads with a large serving of fish, duck, or goose is awesome! We also do a lot of soups with a huge assortment of added veggies.


  2. Very impressive! Oatmeal is one of my go to breakfasts as well – cheap and filling 🙂


    1. probst629 says:

      It’s hard to beat for a breakfast. We break up he monotony with cream of wheat and egg sandwiches.


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