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Old 05-28-2019, 04:58 PM   #1
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People on fixed incomes buying fast food

Wife's cousin is disabled and only gets like $170/month in food benefits. She wastes it in the hot foods/prepared foods/deli area of the Giant Eagle (across the street from her apartment).

Wife tried to show her some basic recipes like homemade soups, subs, etc., but her cousin started to get defensive.

"I can't afford to make homemade subs! The store has them for $5 already made. If I buy all the fixings, it will cost way more than $5!" Then my wife gently tried to point out that about $10 will buy enough ingredients to make about 10 subs. So instead of $50 for 10 store made subs, she can have 10 homemade ones for $10.

My wife was met with an attitude. Also, the soup idea of some stew meat or hamburger and a bag of frozen veggies, some diced tomatoes, seasoning, etc. was shot down. Because she can buy canned soups and soup from the hot foods area for less than the stuff to make homemade soup. But again $10 of soup ingredients will make a couple of gallons of soup.

She was out of food and eating ramen noodles and won't get any food benefits for a week, so my wife asked what she was hungry for and she said Chinese. Wife took her to the local Chinese place and gave her $50 and told her she could keep the change. So her cousin comes out waving $2 in the air. "Wow that didn't last long", she said with a laugh. Turns out she ordered 2 large orders of sesame scallops, 2 large orders of fried shrimp, 2 large orders of vegetable fried rice, 10 egg rolls, large egg drop soup, and some more stuff. She ate it all in one day. It was so much food, they put it in a cardboard box.

Wife thought she'd spend $10 on Chinese and then $40 at Giant Eagle. I told my wife she's a grown woman. Don't waste energy on her.

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Old 05-28-2019, 05:11 PM   #2
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You and your wife - and her cousin, indirectly - might benefit from reading "The Spoon Theory" by Christine Miserandino from the website "But You Don't Look Sick," about what it's like to live with chronic illness and disability.

The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino
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Old 05-28-2019, 05:13 PM   #3
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You and your wife - and her cousin, indirectly - might benefit from reading "The Spoon Theory" by Christine Miserandino, about what it's like to live with chronic illness and disability.

The Spoon Theory written by Christine Miserandino
Thanks, we will look it up.
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Old 05-28-2019, 05:38 PM   #4
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I can't help but believe that "wife's cousin" is living her life on her terms..

No matter how one may perceive that she is wasting her food benefits, knowing there is a better way to feed herself, it is her choice to do so..

It may be possible that she just doesn't want to cook or that her disabilities make cooking difficult.. I, absolutely, do not know as, I do not know her but, I know of people my age, with difficulties, real or imagined, who live in a similar situation..

I try to be helpful and compassionate and allow them to live on their terms..

Ross
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Old 05-28-2019, 05:48 PM   #5
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Hi JD, good to see you back.

Without knowing the extent of wife's cousin's disability, it's hard to comment...sometimes people just get set in their ways and go the easy way that they are used to. I learned a long time ago that trying to change someone's eating habits are often met with an attitude.

Since your wife gave her cousin $50 at a Chinese restaurant, maybe the cousin assumed that she was welcome to spend it all there at the restaurant...? It was a very kind gesture for your wife to give her cousin $.

I wish you all the best, but I'm not sure I would spend much more time on trying to convince Cousin to adapt to a different way of eating. Inviting her to dinners of nutritious dollar friendly meals and sending home the leftovers with her might work, but then again, it might not. Best of luck to all of you.
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Old 05-28-2019, 05:50 PM   #6
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+1, Ross. We were posting at the same time and I was interrupted a couple of times by grandson.
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Old 05-28-2019, 05:57 PM   #7
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Hi JD, good to see you back.

Without knowing the extent of wife's cousin's disability, it's hard to comment...sometimes people just get set in their ways and go the easy way that they are used to. I learned a long time ago that trying to change someone's eating habits are often met with an attitude.

Since your wife gave her cousin $50 at a Chinese restaurant, maybe the cousin assumed that she was welcome to spend it all there at the restaurant...? It was a very kind gesture for your wife to give her cousin $.

I wish you all the best, but I'm not sure I would spend much more time on trying to convince Cousin to adapt to a different way of eating. Inviting her to dinners of nutritious dollar friendly meals and sending home the leftovers with her might work, but then again, it might not. Best of luck to all of you.
Thanks for the warm welcome back. Yeah I hear ya. Wife assumed a person without food in her house would be logical and simply spend $10 at the Chinese place and then keep the remaining $40 to spend at the Giant Eagle across the street from her apartment.

My wife told her: "here's $50, get what you want, and keep the change." Maybe her cousin heard the "change" part and thought that meant to spend as much as possible and be left with some coins?

My wife is the last relative to help her. She has a dad a few miles away, but he never calls her or visits her. She's not physically disabled other than moderate obesity. She walks fine so the walking to the store is not a problem. It's closer than the Subway and McDonald's. She spends most of what little disposable income she has at McDonald's.

I didn't post the thread to bash her. I just thought it was puzzling how some people spend their resources on food. She asked us to help since she was down to 3 bags of ramen noodles. We were just trying to help her with some basic recipes and tips.

I posted this more about the general concept of the poor wasting money on prepared foods and not her in particular. Buying ingredients is a better value.
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Old 05-28-2019, 06:11 PM   #8
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Maybe getting her a reloadable ARCH card would help. https://www.mcdonalds.com/us/en-us/s...arch-card.html

Also some single serve and microwavable items.

or check into the availability of meals on wheels.

Good luck to all of you!!!
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Old 05-28-2019, 06:58 PM   #9
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It can be hard to know the difficulties another person has. Maybe the cousin has a hard time with bending over. Maybe she tires easily.

I have a suggestion. If you or your wife want to spend money on her again, maybe bring some groceries to her house and help her prepare some soups and / or stews. Subs too, but you can only make a few if you want them to be good when it's time to eat them. Maybe she doesn't know how to make soup or stew from scratch and getting some help would be good. Maybe it would be really hard for her to do it on her own.
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Old 05-28-2019, 09:04 PM   #10
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Hi again, jd, good to see you around. You and your wife are good cousins, but this part of your first post gives me the impression that she's happy with other people fixing her food:

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Originally Posted by jd_1138 View Post
...Wife took her to the local Chinese place and gave her $50 and told her she could keep the change. So her cousin comes out waving $2 in the air. "Wow that didn't last long", she said with a laugh. Turns out she ordered 2 large orders of sesame scallops, 2 large orders of fried shrimp, 2 large orders of vegetable fried rice, 10 egg rolls, large egg drop soup, and some more stuff. She ate it all in one day...
All in one day? I know that they say MSG makes you want to eat more, but oh dear, she might need an intervention...

taxy's suggestion of showing up at her place and working with her to make a couple of simple suppers might help. It could be that no one really took the time to teach her cost-cutting meals. Or she might not know how to work around the medical issues that bother her. Since your wife has had her own issues, she might be able to make suggestions that would work for her cousin. Then again, Cousin just might be content with doing more watching and less working, not really wanting to do for herself. Good luck and let us know if you are still working on her as your cooking project.
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Old 05-29-2019, 07:32 AM   #11
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While I can't comment about a person's individual situation, I agree with jd's point of view on the general concept of the poor wasting money on prepared foods. I've read a number of articles about low income people and the challenge of eating a healthy diet. I've read a number of claims that people eat fast food because it's the cheapest option. I can't agree with that.

We rarely eat fast food, but I think a McMeal runs about $7 or $8 for a McWhopper, fries, and a drink. Unless I buy some pricey seafood or a nice steak (a rarity, but not because of the price), the ingredients for a healthy dinner are less than $7 each. Just as an example, a pound of pork tenderloin ($3 - $4), a pound of fresh veggies ($2 +/-), and a box of rice pilaf ($1) will easily feed two people. It doesn't take much work to roast a pork tenderloin, nuke some veggies, and make a pot of rice.

Our monthly grocery bill is about $600 for the two of us. That includes paper products, coffee (about $60 of that), and cleaning products. It also includes some pricey seafood and plenty of fresh fruit. I buy whatever I want, and the only reason I know what the grocery bill is because it's all on a credit card. It works out to $10 per day per person, and that's 3 meals per day. It wouldn't take much effort to significantly reduce that.

Back to the cousin, if I was trying to stretch a food budget, I wouldn't buy prepared scallops and shrimp.
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Old 05-29-2019, 07:51 AM   #12
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While I can't comment about a person's individual situation, I agree with jd's point of view on the general concept of the poor wasting money on prepared foods. I've read a number of articles about low income people and the challenge of eating a healthy diet. I've read a number of claims that people eat fast food because it's the cheapest option. I can't agree with that.

We rarely eat fast food, but I think a McMeal runs about $7 or $8 for a McWhopper, fries, and a drink. Unless I buy some pricey seafood or a nice steak (a rarity, but not because of the price), the ingredients for a healthy dinner are less than $7 each. Just as an example, a pound of pork tenderloin ($3 - $4), a pound of fresh veggies ($2 +/-), and a box of rice pilaf ($1) will easily feed two people. It doesn't take much work to roast a pork tenderloin, nuke some veggies, and make a pot of rice.

Our monthly grocery bill is about $600 for the two of us. That includes paper products, coffee (about $60 of that), and cleaning products. It also includes some pricey seafood and plenty of fresh fruit. I buy whatever I want, and the only reason I know what the grocery bill is because it's all on a credit card. It works out to $10 per day per person, and that's 3 meals per day. It wouldn't take much effort to significantly reduce that.

Back to the cousin, if I was trying to stretch a food budget, I wouldn't buy prepared scallops and shrimp.
One thing a numbers approach doesn't take into account is the time spent buying, bringing home, preparing and cleaning up after making homemade meals. Lots of poor people work two or more jobs and don't have vehicles, so they depend on public transportation to get around. That's an added obstacle to to buying groceries and getting them home. Then you're assuming they have a working refrigerator and stove available, and a set of cooking tools. Then there's children, errands and appointments. It's not always as easy as it seems.

NPR just posted an opinion piece on this: https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt...cooking-from-s
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Old 05-29-2019, 10:37 AM   #13
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Good article GG.
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Old 05-29-2019, 12:05 PM   #14
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Regardless of her condition or situation, the cousin, perhaps just does not like to cook. I know a few people like that. They're just not into cooking at all. But in this cousin's situation she's somewhat in a bind with a good portion of her limited income going towards her food bill. If she's not into cooking I don't think there's much else you can do for her at this point except to steer her away from junk fast food.
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Old 05-29-2019, 06:10 PM   #15
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Its impossible to make comments on someones habits without walking in their shoes. That being said, the Chinese food incident would annoy me. Sure, the cousin considered it a gift, and was therefore, able to do what she wanted with it. But to blow it all, then gorge herself in one day, and not plan for the remaining few days that she had before getting her next check for food. To me, thats inconsiderate .

Not knowing what her exact disabilities are, assuming some are health related, a good, healthy ( or at least healthier ) diet, may not eliminate the health issues, but could make them more tolerable, maybe reduce the amount of meds she's on ( assuming she is on meds). Also , if she is receiving services for her situation, Im wondering if she has access to a dietician, who also may be able to help her with her diet.

Once again, im just thinking out loud, not judging her or her situation. But, I'd chalk the Chinese food incident off as a learning experience and not put yourself in a situation were taken advantage of.
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Old 06-21-2019, 02:22 PM   #16
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Its impossible to make comments on someones habits without walking in their shoes. That being said, the Chinese food incident would annoy me. Sure, the cousin considered it a gift, and was therefore, able to do what she wanted with it. But to blow it all, then gorge herself in one day, and not plan for the remaining few days that she had before getting her next check for food. To me, thats inconsiderate .

Not knowing what her exact disabilities are, assuming some are health related, a good, healthy ( or at least healthier ) diet, may not eliminate the health issues, but could make them more tolerable, maybe reduce the amount of meds she's on ( assuming she is on meds). Also , if she is receiving services for her situation, Im wondering if she has access to a dietician, who also may be able to help her with her diet.

Once again, im just thinking out loud, not judging her or her situation. But, I'd chalk the Chinese food incident off as a learning experience and not put yourself in a situation were taken advantage of.
Those are awesome suggestions. Yeah, she should consult with a dietician to learn how to cook/eat.

She sent another text saying she was broke, out of money, no food, etc., so my wife PayPal'd her $20. She then responded with "$20 won't buy s--t, but I got a meal at McDonald's out of it, and I guess I will eat there tomorrow, too." She didn't say thanks, either, for the $20 which kinda irked me.

So my wife delicately replied "you could've bought food for 5 days with $20 if you bought stuff for soup, box of generic cereal, milk, oatmeal, etc.". I told my wife that we need to just try to get her some resources to help her.

We can't afford to keep helping her, especially if she's going to keep stuffing fast food down her mouth. She doesn't understand nutrition.
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Old 06-21-2019, 03:05 PM   #17
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Those are awesome suggestions. Yeah, she should consult with a dietician to learn how to cook/eat.

She sent another text saying she was broke, out of money, no food, etc., so my wife PayPal'd her $20. She then responded with "$20 won't buy s--t, but I got a meal at McDonald's out of it, and I guess I will eat there tomorrow, too." She didn't say thanks, either, for the $20 which kinda irked me.

So my wife delicately replied "you could've bought food for 5 days with $20 if you bought stuff for soup, box of generic cereal, milk, oatmeal, etc.". I told my wife that we need to just try to get her some resources to help her.

We can't afford to keep helping her, especially if she's going to keep stuffing fast food down her mouth. She doesn't understand nutrition.

That response should have outraged you!! That woman would be out of my life forever. She doesn't want to help herself so why should you?
There comes a time you cut your losses and move on without looking back. Off my soapbox now.
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Old 06-21-2019, 05:05 PM   #18
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If the cash isn't working or becoming a burden I would check to see what food pantries, senior citizen nutrition programs, soup kitchens, etc... are available in her area and give her the information.

In this area, most of the food pantries will give out a three-day emergency food package with little more than a utility bill or some other piece of mail that shows the person lives in the area being served.

I would also ask myself how she managed before you and your wife started offering her cash assistance. Your good intentions may just be the path of least resistance for her.

Good luck to all of you.
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Old 06-21-2019, 05:13 PM   #19
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That response should have outraged you!! That woman would be out of my life forever. She doesn't want to help herself so why should you?
There comes a time you cut your losses and move on without looking back. Off my soapbox now.
I completely agree with this.
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Old 06-21-2019, 05:29 PM   #20
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Its impossible to help someone if they're not willing to help themselves ( is themselves a word?? sounds right but looks wrong, anyway). You guys have gone above and beyond time and time again.
This falls under the category of ' you guys are a lot better people than I am'.

Definitely time to move on.
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