Posted by: facetothewind | June 7, 2011

Frugal foraging: how to face the coming Depression with a smile.

Richard is a master of frugality. He faces the likelihood of the great global depression to come with a fresh attitude. Yesterday he said to me outside a very pricey food boutique, “Thank God good quality organic food is so expensive otherwise I’d be fat.”

He took me on a tour of his secret San Francisco where he can get by on less than $10 a day. We started out with free tea at the naturpathic pharmacy. Then he took me to the produce store (whose name will be withheld) where one can get a bag of “quick sale” produce for $1.49! It’s all organic, top quality, but yesterday’s freshness. Still, it’s fine if you’re cooking it. He walked out the door with a giant bag of veggies for $8. Then he took me on to his favorite Chinese kitchen and I got lunch for $3. And then on to his Chinese bakery where I had hot tea for $1 and a custard pie for $1. Unbelievable. With $2 for a bus ride home from the beach, the whole day’s adventure was $7. Add in $1.49 for the ingredients for a wonderful vegetable soup, it was San Francisco on $8.49 a day!

Here we took the tea bag for later and washed the plastic spoon. The corsage was free.

Onward to the Mission district of San Francisco where you can find tons of (non-organic) produce bargains. So what you save in outlay you pay for in the pesticide build up in your body and the working conditions of the farm workers. Here I found a whole package of hot house Mexican tomatoes on the vine for $1, pastry for 33 cents. Richard and I split one, so 17 cents each give or take a half cent.

I found a $1 cup of tea here at J. Georgie’s where there appears to be no cohesive culinary theme…

Other bargains to be had if you don’t take “French” (or “Resh” for that matter) too literally…

And finally we went to Rainbow Groceries (the big hippie food outlet) to see if there were any bargains there to be had. Not a one. Just lots of cute people standing around the soap bar laboring over which bar of $6 soap they wanted. (I got a bar for 50 cents at a Mexican food store.) Richard and I were joking about taking my 50 cent bar of soap and throwing it in the sand to give it an exfoliating grit. Why not?

At one point I found a cute little hat I liked for $22. I showed it to Richard who said, “Oh no. It looks terrible on you.” So I put it back. And then I came up with a great business idea. I could become a personal shopping guide. I will take you out shopping for $100/hour and tell you how absolutely awful you look in everything you try on. Think of all the money you’ll save!

Well, finally at Rainbow we did find a bargain: a really nice venison and salmon stew for under $3. Wow. Alas, it’s dog food, but I checked the ingredients and there’s nothing in that can that I wouldn’t eat. A nice romantic venison stew for two? $1.50 each! Who knew?

My day in the Mission cost me $1.67 and included a nice bar of soap for later.

Depression has never been so joyful!



  1. Love it! We have to learn (or re-learn) the lessons our Depression-era and WWII-era parents had to learn. Some of us will find it easier than others.

    P.S. In these pix, you guys look like fraternal twins!

  2. looking forward to a Tucson counterpart of your thrift tour!

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