Food Diary: How a 30-year-old resident doctor eats on $65,000 in Philadelphia, PA

5:45 p.m. 45 minutes of Intervals and Arms later, I’m still thinking about that cup of peanut butter, so I go in there and savor its slow melt in my mouth as I walk my corgi, Ollie.

6:43 p.m. My parents are coming from the suburbs for dinner. They loved exploring Philadelphia’s amazing restaurant scene with me, but I have a few criteria for “dining with the parents” – the restaurant can’t be too dark or loud or too expensive, and it has to have something at the menu I know will please both. I choose Chayatee Thai, a Thai place around the corner that we all really enjoyed on a previous visit. As we catch up, my dad orders root vegetable fall rolls as an appetizer ($7). The order comes with three rolls, which is perfect. My mom and I drink the extra sweet and sour sauce. It’s raining tonight, so curry is a good choice. My massaman curry has tender chunks of pumpkin that melt in my mouth, and I soak up every last morsel of the rich sauce with bites of rice ($22).

My family can never pass down the dessert – I wonder where I got it from. I love mango and sticky rice so that’s what I order ($9). Half of the bright orange mango is topped with sesame seeds, which add a unique flavor and crunch. When my mom’s coconut sorbet comes out in a real coconut shell, I think she might have won the dessert roulette ($10). It’s incredibly silky, almost like yogurt. ($39 for me, covered by my parents). The sticky sweetened condensed milk on my rice has cured almost all of my dessert cravings, but I always crave chocolate when I get home, so I still have two mini cups of peanut butter while I make my breakfast.

Wednesday total: $2.25 (or $41.25 including dinner covered by parents)

Thursday

6:37 Before going out, I spread salted almond butter on the banana I bought in the cafeteria on Tuesday. This amount of fat and protein should be enough for me until I can have breakfast after the rounds.

8:42 With my cafeteria meal card, I buy a Core Power vanilla protein shake ($4.40), a banana to save for later ($0.65), and a decaf coffee ($1.60). To make the coffee palatable, I add some Italian Sweet Crème to our call room, a room where residents can stay during night shifts. ($6.65 total, covered by my meal card)

8:58 As I write my post-round notes, I snack on my fruit, yogurt, and granola breakfast. Today’s has grapes and thawed mangoes. My favorite bites are the dried cranberry ones.

10:13 a.m. I break my packed snacks early. These peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets are so satisfying to chew on and easy to eat while I’m working on the computer.

12:12 p.m. My co-resident and I played “guess what the cafeteria will have for lunch” earlier, but I’m pleasantly surprised that the cafe offers taco salad as a special dish, which I get with rice and beans instead of meat, and no cheese or sour cream ($5). I realize it’s almost embarrassing, but I’m really not a big cheese lover. They also have spicy fried cauliflower bites, so I add a small container ($1.50). I know I’ll have a few dollars left on my meal card, so I also grab a container of watermelon ($3). ($9.50 total, covered by my meal card) Cauliflower nuggets are pretty good, especially when tossed into taco salad bites. Could have used a little more dressing, but overall not a bad cafeteria lunch. I also eat three clementines that I brought from home.

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