During Cheap Eats Week, bold Eater editors, Vox Media staffers, and readers are attempting to make it through the whole week on $10 a day (before tax/tip). There is a complex set of rules (street fruit! the bar snack loophole!) but the gist of it is: spend no more than $10 for restaurant and prepared meals for an entire day. All non-nutritional liquids (e.g., coffee, alcohol) are exempt. Eater editors have been summarizing their meals in posts on the site, while readers and co-workers have been adding their intel to the forums and social media. Here's some highlights from the #thecontest hashtag.
With a little over $8 left for dinner & an empty stomach, I was feeling slightly frantic yet still frugal as I set off for a movie on the Upper West Side. I got off at 72nd St, passing my stop on purpose. I had time to hunt around a bit, but I also knew Gray's Papaya was there for me. I noticed a Grandaisy next to Gray's, and we know bakeries are prime bargain-hunting grounds after 6. I waited my turn, then asked the cashier if they had any late-day deals. He said all sandwiches were half-off. I did a little jig (in my head). The suit who had been in front of me (and only bought a coffee) suddenly doubled back from the door & asked the cashier, "Did you say half-off?" I opted for the Scandinavo- egg, cucumber, dill, capers & pickled onions on their dense 7-grain bread. It was $3.75, less than my bodega tuna from yesterday. I grabbed a stool next to the window & tore open the white paper encasing my sandwich. I felt a strange, uneasy excitement at its fanciness. After eating so cheaply for the last few days, the novelty of pickled onions & a dark, complex bread felt foreign to me. I wolfed it down with such speed & ferocity that during my last bites, I noticed the guy at the newsstand outside staring at me. I didn't care. As the suit said to me after buying a sandwich of his own, "Half-off? You can't beat that. #Eater #thecontest
On the outskirts of Astoria, you can find Kesso Foods, owned and operated by a small Greek family since 1986. They add live cultures to the milk, bake it in the oven, and strain through cheesecloth overnight. $4 for 16oz, or $3 for 8oz and you can add honey, fig/apricot/apple compote or sour cherry, and various nuts/granola. You can also get it at Zabars, Fairway, and Whole Foods if you can't make the trek.
Day 3 breakfast was this apple turnover-like pastry from my local Italian bakery. I was running late so I was tempted to scarf it down on the train, but managed to wait until I got outside, where I then scarfed it down next to this overpopulated bike rack. I'm not much of a morning pastry person (give me savory eggs or bacon or Chinese porridge with fermented tofu any day), but this was pretty delicious. The apple filling was still warm, and for $1 it was hard to complain. #Eater #thecontest
Perhaps one of the least photogenic sandwiches, the oft-overlooked tuna salad was my dinner. It took a few tries to find a deli with a sandwich for less than $5. This place didn't even have prices listed. The cheerful guy behind the counter suggested chicken cutlet first, but that made cartoon dollar signs pop up in my mind. Then he said tuna, I said how much, and he said four dollars. Sold. #Eater #thecontest