Food Diary: How a 25-Year-Old Baker Eats on $34,000 in Astoria, Oregon

Welcome to The Receipt, a series documenting how Bon Appétit readers eat and what they spend doing it. Each food diary follows one anonymous reader’s week of expenses related to groceries, restaurant meals, coffee runs, and every bite in between. In this time of rising food costs, The Receipt reveals how folks—from different cities, with different incomes, on different schedules—are figuring out their food budgets.

In today’s Receipt, a 25-year-old baker bakes gluten-free cookies and figgy flatbread and visits breweries and food trucks. Keep reading for her receipts.

Jump ahead:

  1. The finances
  2. The diet
  3. The expenses
  4. The diary

The finances

What are your pronouns? She/her

What is your occupation? Full-time baker at a grocery store, part-time bartender at whiskey bar

How old are you? 25

What city and state do you live in? Astoria, Oregon

What is your annual salary, if you have one? About $34,000, combining both jobs before taxes and fluctuating tips

How much is one paycheck, after taxes? Around $900 for baking, around $150 for bartending

How often are you paid? (e.g., weekly) Biweekly each

How much money do you have in savings? $662

What are your approximate fixed monthly expenses beyond food? (i.e., rent, subscriptions, bills)

  • Total: $1,523
  • Rent: $850
  • Electricity: $75
  • Credit card: $110
  • Car insurance: $164
  • Health insurance: $237
  • Medical debt: $20, paying the absolute bare minimum. I have more than $2,000 in debt due to an MRI.
  • Cat supplies: $51
  • Spotify: $10
  • Apple: $7
  • New York Times: $6
  • Bon Appétit: $3

The diet

Do you follow a certain diet or have dietary restrictions? Gluten and dairy allergies. I don’t have celiac disease, but my body still has an adverse reaction after ingesting gluten.

What are the grocery staples you always buy, if any? Quite a few Costco products that I stock my freezer and pantry with: chicken breast, canned tuna, brown rice, microwavable quinoa packets, Romaine hearts, frozen broccoli. Lots of produce (bananas, bell peppers, tomatoes, avocados, cilantro, jalapeños, citrus), instant rice, and wine. Always wine.

How often in a week do you dine out versus cook at home? I recently broke up with my boyfriend of more than four years who is still living with me, so I go out a lot more often than I used to. Probably about twice a week now instead of once every two weeks. I used to cook dinner for us almost every night (when I wasn’t working my second job), but I am now taking advantage of this newfound freedom and spending more time with friends. Should I be spending extra money? No. Am I going to? Yes.

How often in a week did you dine out while growing up? I would say maybe once or twice a month. Only for special occasions and even then, that was a rarity. Money was pretty tight due to my parents owning and operating their own inn and us living on the property. I was always enthralled with restaurants and their various offerings and constantly asking to dine out. This was usually met with, “We can’t afford that.”

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