Food Savings |

Food Savings

Barry Smith

I’ll be in Vegas this week working as an Audi Visual Guy. I am doing this because a few years ago I decided that I was an artist. Therefore I am now broke. I’m going to work as an AV Guy because I need money, so spending as little money as possible while in Vegas is part of my goal. With this in mind, I concocted a plan that will be a huge money-saver — I’ll pack my hotel mini-fridge full of stuff from the grocery store and eat it throughout the week, therefore saving untold hundreds by not eating every meal in casino restaurants.

Here’s how my plan is working out so far.

5:30 p.m. — Land in Vegas. Get a taxi to Whole Foods, which, on the map, looked to be really, really close. I watch the meter tick rapidly toward the price of at least two respectable Vegas lunches before we arrive. Total fare — $28. I initially asked the driver to wait while I run in and grab a few things (thereby saving more money, maybe?), but thought better of it. Why rush such an experience? I’m shopping for the week, and I need to plan carefully. Also, I’m hungry, as I didn’t really eat lunch, so I need time to wander down each aisle and make some well-informed impulse purchases. Organic gummy bear granola? Absolutely!

6:15 p.m. — The girl checking me out does not have polio. I know this because she sees that I have selected vegan cookies and asks if I’m a vegan. (She asks this while scanning my five cans of tuna.) I tell her that I’m not vegan, that I just grabbed the vegan cookies because they were next to the checkout line and I still had room in my cart. She doesn’t care, as she’s only asked because she needs a jumping-off point to tell me that she just made a vegan cheesecake for her friends, but because of her being paleo for so long she has not had real cheesecake in like, forever, so she didn’t know if it tasted like actual cheesecake or not. I blame my low blood sugar for taking so long to pick up on the awkwardness of our exchange. (“I’ve been paleo for years.” “Oh my God, I’m so sorry. I thought that had been eradicated.”) My food total — $75, bringing my money-saving project up to around $100. Perishables include a pound of sliced turkey, half a pound of sliced cheese, a tub of spinach, fresh salsa, hummus and a bucket of salad-bar accessories. Turkey sandwiches for lunch, tuna salad for dinner. Do I know how to do Vegas, or what? I grab a taxi in the parking lot and I’m on my way to my upscale digs.

6:45 p.m. — One of the perks of this gig is that I get to stay is some super-fancy hotels, the likes of which I don’t otherwise frequent. Of all the things I feel self-conscious about (see 20 years worth of previous columns), not fitting in posh environments isn’t one of them. I generally just don’t care. Generally. But as the valet begins unloading my Whole Foods paper bags from the back of the taxi, I’m feeling painfully out of place. I quickly grab everything from him and make my way into the lobby, where I hide the bags in the corner. I was, I’m pretty sure, the only person checking in to the VIP lounge with two full paper bags of groceries. Ever.

6:50 p.m. — I make my way to the elevators, eager to get my week’s supply of food tucked away into my little room fridge.

6:55 p.m. — I don’t seem to have a room fridge. There’s a mini-bar fridge, though, with a little warning sign inside that says, “If you use this for your own crap, you’ll be charged a buttload of money. Call housekeeping if you want a regular fridge, hillbilly.” Or something like that. I call housekeeping and ask if there’s a charge for a miniature room refrigerator.

“Is it for medical or personal use?” she asks.

Uh oh. I know where this is headed. I consider telling her I have polio, but I doubt she’ll buy that as easily as I did. Thing is, if it turns out that I just went to all that time and expense and don’t have a place to keep my food from spoiling, I’m likely to have a heart attack, so technically, yeah, it’s for medical use.

“Personal,” I say.

“Then it’s twenty five dollars a day.”

7:05 p.m. — I sit down to a $100 multi-sandwich, gigantic salad, vegan dessert dinner. I chew each bite thoroughly, knowing that it needs to last me for the next seven days.

Also, there’s no can opener.

Barry Smith’s column appears Mondays in The Aspen Times.