Three panel screenshot from a TikTok where an unhoused teenager shows how he makes pasta with tomato sauce and hotdogs for under $5

@randomhomelessguy2/TikTok

Homeless teen shares how he cooks meals under $5 on TikTok

Using a hot plate and a free public outlet at a park, Zeemer shares how he prepares meals.

 

Jennifer Xia

Internet Culture

Published Jul 2, 2021   Updated Jul 6, 2021, 12:54 pm CDT

From Hot Cheetos mac and cheese to ramen and Fritos, an unhoused teenager on TikTok is sharing how he cooks on a budget. 

Zeemer, @randomhomelessguy2 on TikTok, started posting in February. Using a hot plate he bought at Walmart for around $15 and a free public outlet at a park, Zeemer shares how he prepares meals for less than $5. 

His videos have garnered millions of views, with his most-viewed TikTok reaching almost 30 million views. 

“Man makes better food than I do at home,” one user commented.

Zeemer gets water from a public water fountain and shares the prices of every ingredient he uses in each video. In his most-viewed video, he chops a $1 package of hotdogs into circular rounds with a plastic knife and boils a $1 pack of pasta he bought at the Dollar Tree. One can of $1 tomato sauce later, he has a simmering pot of pasta ready to eat. 

Beyond cooking videos, he also answers users’ questions on how he showers and charges his phone. 

“My gym has free-to-use showers, sinks, lockers to put your stuff, and bathrooms to use,” he shares in a TikTok. 

He brings two plastic bags to hold his cleaning products and clothes. After showering, he brushes his teeth in the sink and gets his day started. To charge his phone, he uses the same public outlets he uses to plug in his hot plate at his local park. At night, he and his mom sleep in their car in a parking lot.

His videos have sparked debates in the comments surrounding misconceptions of what it means to be unhoused. 

“I can have a phone being homeless,” Zeemer says. According to the Homeless Children’s Education Fund, 62% of youth experiencing homelessness have cellphones. Cellphones connect people to resources, employment opportunities, as well as friends and family.

People point out that a phone bill or gym membership is much cheaper than monthly rent in response to peoples’ comments questioning how he’s unhoused if he has a phone. 

“People act as if being homeless = having nothing,” one user commented. “Homelessness comes in many different ways. I’m sorry people don’t believe you.”

Zeemer said in a video that he and his mom were able to stay at his grandmother’s house for a period of time before getting kicked out, which sparked further controversy surrounding whether he was actually unhoused. 

“To sum it all up, she was being pretty mean to my mom and she just didn’t really want us there to begin with unfortunately haha,” he said.

Zeemer now has a P.O. box and even opened some fan mail in a May TikTok. 

People sent restaurant gift cards; letters; snacks; and his favorite food, ramen.

“Love you guys so much,” the on-screen video text reads. “Even to the people who don’t send anything, if you follow or like, I love you. You guys really help me through tough times.”

Zeemer did not immediately respond to the Daily Dot’s request for comment. 


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*First Published: Jul 2, 2021, 2:16 pm CDT