Food Diary: How a 28-Year-Old Teacher Eats on $50K/Year in Providence, Rhode Island

Welcome to The Receipt, a series documenting how Bon Apétit 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 28-year-old English teacher in Providence, Rhode Island who drinks a lot of kefir, considers ruining her intestines to eat gluten, and is very opinionated about Caesar salad. Keep reading for her receipts.

The finances

What are your pronouns? She/her

What is youroccupation? I am a high school English Language Arts (ELA) teacher. During the fall, I worked as an Assistant Scorer for NCAA volleyball games, and in the spring, I coached a high school volleyball team.

How old are you? I’m 28 years old.

What city and state do you live in? Providence, Rhode Island

What is your annual salary, if you have one? $50,253, as a Level 2 teacher with Master’s. Level 2 is my salary step and year in teaching, so it means that I am a second year teacher. I have a Master’s of Education in Urban Teaching from Providence College, where I worked as a Graduate Assistant for the Black Studies Program.

How much is one paycheck, after taxes? $1,293.45

How often are you paid? (eg weekly) Biweekly

How much money do you have in savings? I have almost $1,000 in savings.

What are your approximate fixed monthly expenses beyond food? (ie rents, subscriptions, bills)

  • Rent and utilities: Close to $1,000
  • gym memberships: $60
  • Canva subscriptions: $12
  • Apple Music: $5
  • credit card bills: About $200
  • Total: $1,277

The diets

Do you follow a certain diet or have dietary restrictions?
I’m Muslim, so I don’t eat pork. I drink alcohol very rarely. Food allergies are the bane of my existence; I can’t eat gluten, garlic, almonds, hazelnuts, jicama, jackfruit, cherries, or kiwi.

What are the grocery staples you always buy, if any?
I’m always buying kefir, yogurt, granola, coffee, half and half, arugula, mushrooms, bananas, rice cakes, dates, eggs, deli meat, rice and lentils.

How often in a week do you dine out versus cook at home?
I typically eat out one to three times a week.

How often in a week did you dine out while growing up?
My family would have “Junk Food Mondays” when my parents would go to a fast food restaurant and pick up dinner. Once in a while, my grandpa would take us out for dinner, or we would go somewhere as a family for special occasions. Kabob and Curry, Andrea’s, and East Side Pockets are three places in Providence where we would get take out from once in a while. My family has been eating at those restaurants for more than 20 years. Being a regular is nice, because they know we like a lot of extra sauce.