One cold winter day in February, I stood on a street corner with $US90 in my pocket, waiting for a man who I’d never met before to show up.
I’d found him on Craiglist, where he’d been selling a week’s supply of Soylent, the cult favourite meal replacement drink.
Soylent had recently gotten a $US20 million investment from venture capital firms, but the manufacturers were struggling to keep up with demand.
The website said that it would take 6-8 weeks for new customers to receive their first shipment.
After I’d heard so much about how Soylent was like a “productivity cheat code,” as Business Insider’s Dylan Love put it when he tried the product, I didn’t want to wait that long. So I found someone with an extra week’s supply who was charging only a $US5 markup.
When my Craiglist connection arrived, I gave him the money and he handed over the distinctive white box.
It felt strange to spend so much money on what was essentially seven packets of powder. But I reminded myself that it was the equivalent of a week’s worth of food, which comes to $US4.28 per meal.
I’d never tried Soylent before, and I wasn’t disappointed. As Love pointed out, the taste isn’t unpleasant, and the easy preparation makes it perfect for times when I don’t want to think about what I’m going to eat.
Also, I’ve freed up time that I would have spent cooking. With Soylent, there’s no need to chop up vegetables, wait for the oven to heat up, or run to the store when you’re missing one crucial ingredient. Just add water, blend, chill, and you’re good to go.
I still eat a normal breakfast and dinner on most days, but I don’t have to think about what I’m going to eat for the twelve hours in between anymore. I used to get up early before work to pack myself snacks and a lunch. If I didn’t have time, I’d end up ordering overpriced takeout. Now, Soylent has replaced those meals, and all I have to do is grab it out of the fridge.
You can see how much money I’ve saved by looking at this screenshot from my Mint.com account. In January, before starting Soylent, I spent $US534 on groceries. In February, I bought Soylent mid-month, and my total spending went down to $US279.
Since then, I’ve bought a one-week supply of Soylent each month, and included it in the Groceries category, which is what you’re seeing here. It’s not sold out anymore, so I can bypass Craigslist and buy it straight from the website for $US85. In March, I spent $US200 total, and so far in April I’ve spent $US187 — meaning only $US102 on actual food.
The first time that I bought Soylent, I was nervous about spending close to a hundred dollars on something that I’d never tried before. I worried that I wouldn’t like the taste, or that I’d get tired of it after a day or two.
That didn’t happen. And given how much time and money it’s saved me over the past few months, I’d say that it’s the best money I’ve ever spent.
Read about the best money successful people ever spent in Business Insider’s Success Series.