Hunger Challenge: Eating on $4 a Day – Eggs & Onionsfeatured

I often stop and marvel at how lucky I am to be living in such an amazing food town. I eat well. Hunger Challenge

I feel truly blessed because in this city overflowing with great food, 150,000 people aren’t sure where their next meal is coming from. That’s 1 in 4 children and 1 in 5 adults.

This week, the San Francisco Food Bank is holding their Hunger Challenge to see if you can eat for $4 a day — the average amount that food stamp recipients have to spend. $4 for a whole day of sustenance? Are you serious? Could I even make one meal for that little money? I started brainstorming of all the cheap ingredients I could use. Carbs and veggies rose to the top of the list. Rice, beans, pasta, onions, potatoes, oatmeal…

Eggs and Onions

Eggs and Onions

I decided on a humble dish of fried Eggs and Onions over rice for my Hunger Challenge Meal.

Did you ever get on a food kick when you were little and wanted to eat nothing besides that one special dish? I went through first grade eating turkey and mayo on white bread for lunch every day. Must’ve had a thing for white foods…

Hua, on the other hand, branched out slightly farther in his color spectrum and pretty much lived on Eggs and Onions for a majority of his middle school years.

Eggs and Onions still make it to our dinner table every once in awhile whenever we are really tired, or lazy, and there’s nothing in the fridge (save a lonely onion and some eggs). To make it, you simply fry up some onions in a hot pan, add lightly scrambled eggs, top with soy sauce and serve over rice.

In this one dirt-cheap meal, you have your protein, vegetable, and carb filler. Would you want to eat this every day? Unless you’re a singularly obsessed young boy, probably not. Does it get the job done? Yes.

I made a few key decisions as I set out to buy my groceries:

  • I got my onion at an Asian grocery store. Produce is almost always cheaper at little Asian marts in Chinatown or the Mission versus chain grocery stores.
  • I decided to pony up for the organic cage free eggs. The chicken scene in Food Inc. haunts me and I’ve been buying organic eggs ever since…this is something I couldn’t give in on, even though they cost twice as much.
  • I’m a thief. I stole 2 packets of soy sauce from the sushi counter at Safeway. And I didn’t buy any sushi.

The Damage:

1 Yellow onion — $.60/lb.
Extra large Rock Island Cage Free Eggs — $3.80/dozen
Enriched long grain rice — $3.19/3 lbs.

Grocery Shopping on $4/day

Grocery Shopping on $4/day

I divided up the total cost to portions used for my meal, and came up with this:

½ yellow onion = $.30
3 organic cage free eggs = $0.95
½ pound enriched long grain rice = $0.53
1 tablespoon vegetable oil = $.10 (estimate)
Soy sauce packets = free (courtesy of your local Safeway)
Total Cost for Meal: $1.88

Needless to say, this exercise has given me a whole new appreciation for eating on a budget. Walking in a hungry person’s shoes is not easy. Could you eat on $4 a day?


Eggs and Onions

½ yellow onion
3 eggs
1 cup rice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 teaspoons soy sauce

1. Prepare rice in a rice cooker or boil/steam in a pot.
2. Heat oil in a pan over high heat.
3. Slice onion in crescent rings and add to the pan. Fry over medium-high heat until edges brown slightly. You don’t want to caramelize the onions, they should keep a bit of crunch to them.
4. Lightly scramble the eggs in a bowl, loosely breaking the yolk. Add to the pan, flipping so that the eggs are cooked through.
5. Serve eggs and onions over rice and top with soy sauce.

Print Recipe


This challenge got me thinking about the incredible edible egg…they are affordable, good for you, and so versatile. Here are some egg-inspired quickies to file away for a rainy day…

Recipes from Food & Wine:

FOOD & WINE is giving away a year-long subscription to a lucky reader from Lick My Spoon. Click here to enter and read official rules here.

This post is part of a series featuring recipes from the FOOD & WINE archive. As a FOOD & WINE Blogger Correspondent, I was chosen to do four recipes a week from FOOD & WINE. I received a subscription to FOOD & WINE for my participation.

Add comment