From Jean-Paul Vellotti, combining frugality and ingenuity on his Trinidad vacation:
Since I’m down in the Caribbean, I can certainly relate to the idea of eating well cheaply. It’s not so much that I need to save money, since the exchange rate favors the U.S. dollar, but here in Trinidad there are only two real options for dining: pay high prices at American-style resturants or eat locally on the cheap. I almost always choose the latter because the flavor profiles are much better; also, since the ingredients are bought from local markets, they are fresher and more sustainable than the products flown in that supply the chain hotels here.
The room I’m staying at in this monastery guesthouse is quite far from any markets, and since it’s so high in the mountains, traveling to one can take a good hour. That’s why I keep simple products, like bottles of seltzer water, in my closet. The other day I was thirsty for something sweet and remembered that I’d picked up a bottle of guava juice a few days before—a lightbulb moment. But I was short of a cup . . . until I also remembered I had an empty beer bottle from the previous night.
By adding a few ounces of juice to the seltzer, I had my own Caribbean cola, for less than the cost of a bottle deposit. Quite simple, and something that I’d forgotten I used to do back home in lieu of consuming the chemicals and high-fructose corn syrup found in store-bought sodas. In fact, I have found that a great variety of organic juices can be bought at Trader Joe’s, and seltzer water at my local supermarket. Although a bottle of organic blueberry juice, for example, might sell for $5 or $6 at Trader Joe’s, when used as a spritzer, it costs pennies on the dollar compared with a commercial blueberry soda (and has no harmful additives).
In many instances, necessity is the mother of invention. But this time, laziness ruled, and my taste buds and wallet benefited.