How a 50-Year-Old Carpenter and Real Estate Investor Eats on $815K in Eugene, Oregon

He buys corn, peaches, and tomatoes from a beloved produce stand, makes “no-peekies” sandwiches, and eats McDonald’s after a long travel day.
Food Diary How a 50YearOld Carpenter and Real Estate Investor Eats on 815K in Eugene OR
Illustration by Maggie Cowles

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 50-year-old carpenter and real estate investor buys corn from a beloved produce stand, makes “no-peekies,” and eats McDonald’s after a long travel day. In his double-income household, he makes $315,000 and his wife, an executive at a retail company, makes $500,000. Keep reading for his receipts.

Jump ahead:

The finances

What are your pronouns? He/Him

What is your occupation? Carpenter, general contractor, and real estate investor.

How old are you? 50

What city and state do you live in? Eugene, Oregon. My wife and I have been married over 28 years and live a bit of a crazy, busy lifestyle; we are constantly on the go. We have a primary home in one city but also rent a townhouse in a second city where my wife works. I travel between the two and manage our rental properties. We are also building a house for retirement in Canada, so I have been making trips there all summer.

What’s your household size? We have two grown daughters, one who is living at home during college break and one who lives and works in Colorado. We have two spoiled dogs, a rat terrier and a black lab, and our grand-dog corgi that visits often.

What is your annual salary, if you have one? I make $315,000 from my construction business and rental real estate income. My wife’s salary is roughly $500,000 including stock options and bonuses. She is an executive for a large retail company.

How much is one paycheck, after taxes? Mine is $9,000 after rental expenses; wife’s is $6,000, plus an annual payout of bonus and stocks of $250,000 after tax.

How often are you paid? (e.g., weekly) Monthly for the both of us.

How much money do you have in savings? $1.5 million

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

  • Mortgage (Including property tax and insurance): $3,647
  • Electricity/Water: $250
  • Natural gas: $65
  • Cell phone: $150
  • Wi-Fi/Cable: $250
  • Car payment: $1,300
  • Yard care: $250
  • Garbage service: $100
  • Streaming services (Netflix, Disney+, Apple TV): $40
  • Total: $6,052

The diet

Do you follow a certain diet or have dietary restrictions? No

What are the grocery staples you always buy, if any? Kirkland Signature olive oil, Kerrygold butter, fleur de sel French salt, Costco steaks and meat, flour, sugar, rice, noodles, pasta, and whatever fruits and vegetables are in season. Costco is where we do the majority of our shopping. I don’t think the prices and quality can be beat! I also go to the local farmers market or a farmstand once a week.

How often in a week do you dine out versus cook at home? We dine out one to two nights a week on average. Cook at home the rest. This week was way busier than normal, so I ate out more.

I am the primary cook for our family; I love trying new recipes, love grilling, and am happy to feed whoever stops by for dinner. I like to use really good quality ingredients and I believe they’re worth the extra money. I learned to cook from my mom and the great home ec classes at my small-town school.

In the first 20 years of our marriage, my wife and I were often on the “gas and groceries” budget as we worked hard to save money and reinvest it in the properties we were building. We mostly ate at home when our kids were small, and I feel like the food we make at home is better than most things we get at restaurants.

How often in a week did you dine out while growing up? Almost never.

How often in a week did your parents or guardians cook at home? I grew up in the area in a very close family in which sitting down at the table every night was very important. My mom always cooked all meals and was a phenomenal cook. We had a big garden, raised cows and chickens, and fished and hunted a lot. A normal dinner was three courses, everything homemade, plus dessert. (Nothing from a box.) She made a variety of food and always tried new things, looking to Bon Appétit, Gourmet, and Sunset for inspiration. Friends and family often “happened to stop by” at dinner hour, as there was always enough for everyone. The first time my wife met my parents, she commented how nice it was that my mom made such a great meal, as it was three courses plus dessert. I said, “That’s every night!” We carry on the dinner table tradition with our daughters, and they both cook in their homes now.

The expenses

  • Week’s total: $707.28
  • Restaurants and cafés total: $438.89
  • Groceries total: $268.39
  • Most-expensive meal or purchase: Dinner at Beppe & Gianni’s Trattoria, $157
  • Least-expensive meal or purchase: Jalapeños at Trader Joe’s, $0.58
  • Number of restaurant and café meals: 12
  • Number of grocery trips: 8

The diary


8:45 a.m. My wife and I are in Ucluelet, British Columbia, for a business meeting that I am stressed about. I spent a long night on the phone trying to help family members whose property is being threatened by a wildfire. I end up drinking a Coke from the cooler in our truck on the way out the door.

11 a.m. After the meeting, we grab pastries at The Break Cafe & Bistro, a local place that makes its own pastries and coffee in the mornings and fantastic sandwiches in the afternoons. I get a savory danish that has arugula, shallots, and cheese ($5.25 CAD). My wife has a ham, egg, and pesto brioche ($5.50 CAD). We also buy a millionaire bar (a chocolate and caramel dessert bar) for a snack later ($5.25 CAD). I get an Americano with lots of room for cream ($0.25 CAD). My wife and daughters have a running joke about how much cream I like in my coffee when ordering it. My wife always tells the barista that if it’s more cream than any sane person would order, then that’s the correct amount. I don’t know why the coffee was only 25 cents; maybe there was a cashier error. (We only realize when we go back through our receipts for this food diary.) My wife gets an Earl Grey tea ($3.25 CAD). She’s one of those people who doesn’t like coffee! ($24.58 CAD total)

12:02 p.m. We leave Ucluelet to drive back to Oregon and stop at a rest area along the highway to eat some leftover pizza out of our cooler from the night before. It’s from a small, wood-fired pizza place in Ucluelet called Abbondanza, and while I never know when they’ll be open, the mushroom pizza with white sauce is the best I’ve ever had. I always order it when we visit.

4 p.m. Driving across Vancouver Island is a challenge. The main highway has been closed for much of summer due to damage from a wildfire earlier in the season—now, it is closed during work hours on weekdays for road repairs. We get super lucky and make it through the queue purge at the lunch hour! Yay! Maybe we can make an earlier ferry and get some sleep tonight!

We make it to the ferry terminal and I grab a Coke ($3) from the vending machine. Our ferry is 20 minutes late so we have time to get out of the car and walk around the terminal a little bit. It’s unseasonably warm, hitting 99 degrees. We sit in the shade and enjoy being out of the car.

6 p.m. The ferry ride takes right around two hours. We find a quiet area on the ferry and relax there for most of the ride, but make it to the viewing deck in time to see orcas surfacing along the boat. We snack on apples that we purchased last week at Costco and enjoy the millionaire bar we purchased earlier.

8:45 p.m. After deboarding the ferry and going through the border, we stop in Washington to get McDonald’s for dinner, because sometimes, at 8:45 p.m., with hours left to drive, you just need to get some protein in your system and McDonald’s does the job! I get a Filet-O-Fish with medium fries and a Coke ($9.79) while my wife gets a Quarter Pounder with cheese and no onions, with a medium fry and a Diet Coke ($10.29). ($21.85 total including tax)

Total: $42.83


10:04 a.m. I drop my wife off for her work meeting in Portland, Oregon, where we’ve stayed the night, and then head toward Eugene. On the way, I stop in Woodburn and get a sausage cheese biscuit ($2.79) from McDonald’s. (I would like to preface that I don’t often eat fast food and definitely not McDonald’s two days in a row, but it has my favorite fast-food breakfast, so here we are.) Then I go down the street to get a medium Americano at Dutch Bros. ($3.25 plus $2.00 tip) If I am not making my coffee at home, then I prefer the taste of Dutch Bros—my daughters started going there and now I'm hooked too.

4 p.m. At home, I have a couple pieces of salami and a Coke out of the fridge. I haven’t been home in a little over a week due to work and this is an easy snack that doesn’t require any preparation. After driving for the last day and a half, I just want to sit in my recliner and relax.

8:30 p.m. My wife gets a ride from a coworker back to Eugene after her meeting, and my daughter and I meet her for dinner at Beppe & Gianni’s Trattoria. This is my favorite restaurant in Eugene. I usually eat here once a week, and it is our family’s go-to for birthdays, anniversaries, and any other celebration. It’s located in an old house and has such an inviting atmosphere. The owner, Beppe, greets his guests and makes sure everyone feels welcome.

Tonight we are celebrating my wife’s work promotion that was just announced. We get bread and olive oil ($5) and the summer grilled vegetarian platter that has grilled carrots, asparagus, fennel, and artichoke hearts with goat cheese and grilled bread ($21). I also have a Pepsi ($3) while my wife has a glass of Orvieto wine ($12) and my daughter has water. For dinner, I order the Pollo Speck ($28). It is one of my favorite things on the menu. It perfectly combines the flavors of salty speck and wild mushrooms, which are locally sourced. My daughter gets a small Caesar salad ($10) and the ravioli special, which is fresh house-made ravioli filled with ricotta in a tomato cream sauce with basil and a specialty Italian sausage ($27). My wife orders another special, the penne caprese ($21), or penne pasta with small fresh mozzarella balls, fresh grape tomatoes, basil, and a light sauce. ($127 total, plus $30 cash tip)

9:15 p.m. After dinner, we walk across the street to Prince Puckler’s Ice Cream. This is a local favorite right on the edge of the University of Oregon campus, and I often see a line out the door, even in the winter. I get a single scoop of Cup of Joe, the coffee flavor, in a waffle cone ($5.25). My daughter gets a single scoop of Rocky Road in a waffle cone ($5.25), and my wife gets the Key lime sherbert in a sugar cone ($4.50). ($15.00 total plus $2.00 tip) This has been our go-to ice cream place since before my wife and I were married. It’s an institution…nothing fancy, but I haven’t found better ice cream. It has a perfectly creamy texture and flavor without trying too hard.

Total: $182.04


11:10 a.m. I am heading up to my father’s property east of Eugene, where he and my brother are working on a defensible line around it to protect it and its log house from the Lookout fire, an ongoing wildfire in the area. It is about an hour’s drive with much low visibility due to the wildfire smoke. I stop at Dari Mart, an Oregon-based convenience store and dairy company, and grab a 32-ounce peach Snapple iced tea ($1.99 plus $0.10 bottle deposit) and Tillamook jerky ($2.59) for my “brunch” on the way there. ($4.68 total)

I also stop at Herrick Farms’ produce stand in Walterville and pick up produce, some of which I will leave with my dad and brother: 11 ears of corn, two boxes of peaches, nine tomatoes, one cantaloupe ($45.83 total). This is a place I’ve been coming to since I was a kid, and it’s one of our favorite stops in the summer and fall.

1:31 p.m. My father’s property is around 40 acres of mixed timber and pasture lands. We have planted a food plot for the deer and other wildlife on the property for the last five years. While dragging a fire hose around the property, I grab a turnip out of the food plot and prepare it to eat as a snack, adding a little salt. It’s quite tasty.

While I’m out of town, I send my daughter on a grocery run to pick up a few things for dinner. She goes to Safeway for sliced deli honey ham ($18.58) and Tillamook cheddar cheese ($8.99). Tillamook is a staple in our house. She also goes to Hideaway Bakery, a great local wood-fired bakery, to pick up bread for the week: a country levain loaf ($10) and a farmer’s seeded loaf ($10).

6:47 p.m. I return home from my dad’s. My wife is in Medford, Oregon, for work for the rest of the week. For dinner I make something we call “no-peekies” with the ingredients my daughter picked up earlier in the day.

The recipe comes from the lunch ladies at my small, rural school where they made lunches from scratch every day. A no-peekie is essentially a ham and cheese sandwich for which you roll a small ball of pizza dough out to the size of a salad plate, place sliced deli ham and grated cheese in the center, and fold the edges over the top and pinch in the middle. You put the pinched-together side down on a nonstick baking sheet and then bake until golden brown in a 425-degree oven. I make the pizza dough from scratch, but you can also use premade. After resting the pizza dough, they take about a half hour to prep, and then they bake for about 20 to 30 minutes.

They are pretty easy and my daughters loved helping when they were little. These are a family favorite and make great lunches. I used to make a big batch and put them in the kids’ lunches for school. They are a unique lunch box item and their friends loved them.

To go with the no-peekies, I roast corn in our BlueStar Salamander broiler and then season with salt, lime juice, and Trader Joe’s Everything But the Elote seasoning, and top with cilantro. The last component of the meal is a roasted red potato, red onion, and cilantro salad, which is an old Emeril Lagasse recipe that we make often. The whole dinner is perfect for this nice summer evening. We eat outside on our patio. In Oregon, we have to enjoy the good summer weather as much as we can!

9:30 p.m. My daughter and I make a run to Salt & Straw for ice cream. We both get flavors from its Summer Picnic menu. I get the Brie and fig cheesecake in a waffle cone and my daughter gets the chocolate potato salad, also in a waffle cone. Yes, I know it sounds crazy, but these are ice cream flavors. ($15.61 total, plus $4.39 tip)

Total: $108.37


9 a.m. I eat a leftover no-peekie for breakfast and make a coffee with my Nespresso. I’m kind of out of commission today—I have a migraine and feel sick, likely from the wildfire smoke yesterday.

2 p.m. I have a Mtn Dew from the fridge, hoping the caffeine will help my migraine.

6:19 p.m. I order a medium half-pepperoni, half-combination pizza from Papa’s Pizza Parlor as I still don’t feel good and pizza is an easy option. ($28.80 plus $4.32 tip)

Total: $33.12


7:35 a.m. I run to Safeway to get groceries for breakfast. I purchase Darigold heavy cream ($4.79), sourdough English muffins ($3.99), Hill’s breakfast patty sausage ($3.99), and Hill’s link breakfast sausages ($4.99).

9:26 a.m. I make breakfast sandwiches with sausage and cheese on English muffins for my daughter and me, and make coffee with my Nespresso and cream.

11:45 a.m. Prep for dinner. I get beef tri-tip out of our freezer to marinate the beef for Bon Appetit’s tri-tip recipe with tiger bite sauce by chef Yia Vang. We tried this recipe in 2020, and it has quickly become a summer staple in our house. It is definitely a crowd-pleaser. The beef comes from Pat Anderson Ranch in Jordan Valley, where we hunt in the fall.

I pack the tri-tip on ice and head a couple hours south to Medford, where my wife works. I will be at our townhouse there with her for the rest of the week.

My wife shops at Costco on her way back from work to grab a couple of things for dinner and some produce, but it’s a light Costco run: raspberries ($6.99), Vizzy orange hard seltzers ($12.99 plus $1.99 bottle tax), pineapple ($13.99), veggie snack pack ($9.99), tomatoes ($5.99), three pounds of limes ($4.99), a three-pack of butter lettuce ($6.49). ($62.63 total)

6:15 p.m. After my wife gets home, we make a quick run to Fred Meyer to get the last ingredient for dinner (cilantro) and a couple of other things: Umpqua heavy whipping cream for my morning coffee ($4.49), milk ($2.29), Franz nine-grain sandwich bread ($5.99), and two bundles of that cilantro ($1.98).

7 p.m. At our townhouse, I grill the meat on the community gas barbecue and make coconut rice to go with the tri-tip. I cook the rice by substituting canned coconut cream (purchased previously from Trader Joe’s) for water, and I add organic unsweetened coconut chips (also previously purchased from Trader Joe’s). Cooking the meal takes only about a half an hour since I did the prep work earlier, and my wife and I eat it with the recommended Bibb lettuce.

Total: $95.24


7:17 a.m. I have a Nespresso coffee with cream and take our dogs, a black lab and a rat terrier, for a walk before my wife gets up around 8. She makes scrambled eggs with ingredients from the fridge and has her Murchie's Black Currant tea that she orders online from Canada.

1:04 p.m. For lunch, we get In-N-Out. I have the #2 cheeseburger combo meal, no lettuce or tomato, grilled onions, fries, and a Coke ($7.85), while my wife has a cheeseburger with no onions, a Diet Coke, and fries ($7.85). We also order two plain, no salt cheeseburgers ($7.20) for the dogs—yes, they’re very spoiled, and they love cheeseburgers.

1:37 p.m. We stop at Harry & David to get some produce. It has very good quality produce and often great prices due to extra inventory from its fruit-of-the-month club. We purchase an 18-pound case of nectarines ($10.19), frozen sashimi-grade cubed ahi tuna ($11.75), 2.42 pounds of Cosmic Crisp apples ($3.78), bananas ($0.62), 7.67-pounds of Hermiston cantaloupe (we look forward to them every year) ($4.15), and five pounds of local Oregold peaches ($5.84). ($42.36 with coupons). We will share the nectarines with other family members and eat the rest of the produce this coming week!

6:15 p.m. I stop at Starbucks to get my wife a grande passion tea lemonade ($4) and take it to her at work.

7:29 p.m. For dinner, I go to Porters and have dinner in the bar. I’m by myself tonight as my wife is working late. This is a great local steakhouse. I get a cup of clam chowder, even though it’s 95 degrees outside, and the chef’s special, a 10-ounce grilled and sliced beef fillet with Italian salsa verde, served with cannellini beans and grilled escarole ($57 total, plus $20 cash tip).

Total: $146.26


7:25 a.m. I get up and make my Nespresso coffee with cream and take the dogs for a walk. My wife sleeps in until 11 a.m. (she worked until 5 a.m.) and has Murchie’s tea, fresh raspberries, and Special K vanilla and almond cereal for breakfast.

Then we go to Trader Joe’s to get groceries for the coming week: corn chips ($2.49), burrata ($4.99), three GoMacro coconut chocolate bars ($8.07), two GoMacro peanut butter bars ($5.38), a baguette ($1.99), a pound of champagne grapes ($2.49), elote corn chips ($2.69), basil ($2.79), two apple mango fruit bars ($1.98), an apple strawberry fruit bar ($0.99), two jalapeños ($0.58), and two avocados ($4.98). ($39.42 total)

1:27 p.m. I make a large bowl of ahi ceviche using the tuna from Harry & David, tomatoes from Herrick Farms, red onion out of our pantry, lime juice from Costco, jalapeños from Trader Joe’s, and salt. My wife and I eat a little bit of it, but it is mostly for my wife’s lunches for this coming week.

2:31 p.m. For lunch I make us a caprese salad using fresh burrata from our Trader Joe’s trip, tomatoes I purchased a couple days ago, olive oil and balsamic vinegar (both from Costco), and toasted bread. It’s really hot in Medford and this is a light and filling lunch.

5:30 p.m. We go out to dinner at El Paraiso Mexican Restaurant with one of my wife’s coworkers who is getting ready to retire. I get the pollo a la crema, which has chicken breast topped with a creamy white sauce, Cotija cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and bell peppers ($18.50) and a Pepsi ($3.75). My wife gets a tostada with beans, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, and ground beef ($14.50) and an El Paraiso punch, a mixed drink with peach schnapps, vodka, coconut rum, and mixed juices ($11.50). ($45 total plus $15 tip) This is a relaxing way to finish out a very busy week!

Total: $99.42