A Small Cooking Miracle Takes Place – Day 96: Eating Well On $1 A Day


I made a decision today. I have been thinking about how I want to end the 100 days of this challenge. At first I thought it would be good to use the rest of the money I had and create some pretty impressive meals the last few days. Upon further reflection, however, it seemed like a pointless venture.

For one, my cooking skills would likely turn those fancy meals I had in mind into total disasters. Even more importantly, there really is no reason for me to so. While it is nice to know that I have been able to build up a decent amount as a reserve so that I could use the current money I have on hand to buy most things that I would want at this point, I’m pretty satisfied with what I have been eating. Yes, a bit more variety would be nice now and then, but to have a huge variety the last few days would make the last days were completely separate from the rest of this challenge which is not something that I really want to happen.

Instead, I have decided to forgo any more shopping trips and see what I can create with what I currently have since I have plenty. While this may result in some repetitive meals and not a lot of flair for the last of the 100 days, I think it is a much more realistic representation of how the entire challenge has worked and the way I feel most comfortable ending the 100 day goal (and maybe I’ll be able to pull out one or two decent meals from what I have as well).

I did a bit of foraging on my early morning walk and picked up some more blackberries:

blackberries

I also came across an apple tree. I only picked one because I think the apples still need a few weeks to ripen, but wanted to give it a try to see:

apple

Blackberry Banana Smoothie

The old standby that will continue to be made long after this challenge is over:

blackberry banana smoothie

Cinnamon Banana Oatmeal

Since I have decided to use up much of what I already have on hand, I decided to make myself some oatmeal since I haven’t had any in awhile and still have plenty left. I opted to make cinnamon oatmeal with a small amount of brown sugar in it. As I was cooking it, I wondered how some of the frozen bananas would taste mixed them in as well (these were sweet enough that I probably didn’t even need the small amount of brown sugar that I had used). When it was done, I topped it with some fresh blackberries:

cinnamon banana oatmeal

And then an amazing thing happened. My two nieces ran into the kitchen wanting to know what I was making because it “smelled really good” and both wanted to know if they could have some. Seriously, I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. While this challenge has given me a lot to think about when it comes to my image, I would still like to believe that others view me in a somewhat manly light.

I decided to tell the girls it was the spices that got in my eyes. A grown man bawling in the kitchen because two little girls think what he made smelled good doesn’t quite paint the manly picture that I had in mind. It goes without saying that I had no problem giving the girls most of my meal and they happily devoured it (they even said it “tasted better than it smelled” which brought an entirely new round of spices in the eyes excuses…)

oatmeal lizzie

oatmeal margot

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I had very little time in the afternoon since I had a ton of errands to run. I threw together a grilled cheese sandwich and decided to give the apple a try. It was right on the verge of being ripe, but not quite. It lacked juiciness and was a bit tart, but it was farther along than I would have guessed when I picked it. The apples on that tree should be quite good in another couple of weeks.

grilled cheese

Spinach Salad

By the time I got home, it was well past dinner time and even though I was hungry, I didn’t want to eat (or make) a full meal right before I went to bed. I opted for a spinach salad which would allow me to use some of the food I still had on hand: tomatoes, shredded carrots, raisins and the rest of the apple. It was surprisingly good and put enough in my stomach so that I could fall asleep quickly without feeling overly full.

spinach salad

This is the current list of food I still have
This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Goal: 100 days eating on $1 a day
Current Money Spent: $76.11
Money Left to Spend: $23.89 ($0.85 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of Everything Purchased: $1473.94

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The Beginning ::: Day 97: More Protein Than I Really Wanted

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18 Responses to A Small Cooking Miracle Takes Place – Day 96: Eating Well On $1 A Day

  1. Wendy says:

    I love watching kids enjoy food, especially when I made it!

  2. Maryl H. says:

    Can’t tell exactly which kind of apple you picked, but it could be a transparent, which is great for making applesauce but too many of them in their natural state can play havoc with your system, to put it delicately.

    It’s been a fun ride these last almost 100 days – and your nieces are cute as the dickens, aren’t they?

  3. Brenda says:

    Jeffery,
    What a lovely memory to give to your sister and her precious daughters. They are very lucky to have you. (The old girlfriend really missed out on a wonderful man.} Real men are not afraid of feelings, and loving children is a great gift. Tell your sister I think that she should help you with a few cooking lessons on ethnic foods, it would be good for the kids to join in and you would learn about the important spices that have shaped history. A few Thai or Indian or Chinese and other ethinic recipes with good spices have made people who we are. I am from Tennessee, and know what our cooking has ment to family life. The poorest people sometimes have the richest heritage in foods. And food is love. You have been guiding a lot of people, and opening the eyes of many that feeding the poor or jobless at this time is an act of love. What goes out comes back a hundred fold. Again, if your blog ends soon, we will miss you, but I feel enriched by having read your adventures. I do hope they don’t end. I wish your sister would get pulled in to it with you and a new adventure would start. Charming, and smart and good at heart/ Your ease with all that you do is much more heroic than you know.My sons and daughter are like you.they think of others and share what they have without thought of personal gain. I like to think your parents had something to do with how good you and your sister are. I love it when our women inspire our men to be more. She has been your inspiration, and enjoyed doing it. I had a brother too, and loved to see him at his best.

  4. Amanda says:

    Hello! I found your blog about 2 weeks ago, and I stayed up til two in the morning reading from beginning to end lol – since then I have been keeping myself posted….I ran across this photo recently ad thought if you hadn’t seen it yet, then you would definitely be interested! http://hubpages.com/hub/What-is-Eaten-Around-the-World-in-One-Week ….basically it just shows the cost and a picture of the items for what a family eats in a week from different countries around the world…..kind of mind-boggling after seeing what you have done here!

  5. Emily says:

    I’m not an expert, but based on experience some varieties of apples don’t ever get super juicy and soft even when ripe, by design. To me that looks like one that falls into that category.

  6. Mary Ann says:

    I have followed your 100 days of eating on a dollar. I am just so proud of you and I don’t even know you!! I hope you will keep us posted after your 100 days are over. You have been an inspiration and sound like a real nice man. Take care and best wished in all you do.

  7. Janna says:

    Your apple looks quite ripe. I think it’s sour by its sort. Has it dense texture?

    In any case, apples are very good for your health – ‘an apple a day keeps a doctor away’.

  8. Janna says:

    It seems you have plenty of food left after your challenge.

    I suggest you to cook oatmeal cookies with raisins. You will need oatmeal, eggs, flour, sugar, raisins, tiny bit of salt. And you can cook it with your nieces! I bet the girls will love it. Sorry, cannot say the proportions of the ingredients because when I cook I have a gut feeling how much to take.
    Good luck in cooking and looking forward for the photo reports!

  9. Candy says:

    Jeffery, i am very amazed at what you do but i have a few question that i hope you don’t mind answering.
    Where are you situated?..i mean which state? and after the 100 days are finish are you going to keep helping us with our couponing?….my husband loves your site.
    thanks again,..btw..i am in wa.
    Candy 🙂

  10. jeffrey says:

    @Candy

    I have been doing this in the San Francisco Bay Area, but in reality, I am homeless (but by choice). I work on the Internet so I can work anywhere as long as I have a connection, so I travel full time (or, at least I did until I started this challenge). Yes, no matter what I decide, I will continue to explain and help with couponing.

  11. Dana says:

    I love the pictures of your nieces, they are truly adorable. Your post shows that families don’t have to buy the latest Dora the Explorer cereal or Squarepants waffles in order to have a nice, meaningful family meal together. (I’m not disrespecting anyone that buys fad foods, I’m just saying that it’s possible to have quality time with loved ones without them.)

    Selfishly, I am hoping that you continue after day 100, but I totally understand if you don’t. If you don’t mind, I would like to know how your garden is doing, are you expecting to harvest some food from it soon?

    Btw, if anyone reading this is on food stamps, the government allows you to buy “Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.” So you can have your own garden as well.
    http://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/retailers/eligible.htm

  12. LuxLivingFrugalis says:

    Perhaps your apple is a baking apple? One used for making pies and such, but not for eating out of hand?

  13. Sam says:

    I would like to suggest you take the rest of your reserve cash and see just how much food you can buy with it, and give it all to the food bank. 🙂

    You seem to be getting close to $20 worth of goods for every dollar spent. If you keep near that average you could donate another $400-500 worth of food.

  14. Thea says:

    Well, I’ve been told that you called my bluff and I need to get busy, good for us and all that we can help. I ticked the little box for the followup email to my comment, but that didn’t seem to work.

    Anyway, let the games begin my friend! We have children to feed and food banks to fill.

    If you will go to http://www.Your-Personal-Chef.com and join the Yahoo group at the bottom of the page you will see our first week’s menu in the file area. In addition to making the meals easy, economical, seasonal… they taste good; we have included a shopping list for the ingredients and where to get coupons for most of the items on the list.

    It will get better as we go!

    I look forward to you Jeffrey.

  15. Kelli M says:

    Just wanted you to know that you have inspired our family to create an experiment of our own: for (at least) the month of August, we’re going to keep our grocery shopping budget to $35/week (since we have 5 people, that’s $1 per person a day). We have so much in our pantry and freezers right now that we should really be using, and this will also help us to pay down some bills (mortgage, credit cards).

    Since we’re mostly using food we already have on hand it won’t truly be $1 a day, but we’re intending to only *spend* that much. Your couponing tips will also go a long way with our goal, especially when it comes to helping us buy our weekly staples for as little as possible!

    I probably won’t start blogging about it until next week; we just got home from an out of town trip & those expenses would throw it all off.

    Also, today we dropped off 12 boxes of Kellogg’s cereal (from the Lucky’s sale!), 2 large boxes of Poptarts (from the same sale), 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies, and a bottle of Scrubbing Bubbles bathroom cleaner at the food bank today (the Girl Scout cookies probably cost us the most out of the batch, but someone had ordered them from my oldest daughter earlier in the year and then never picked them up). Thank you for also showing us how we can inexpensively help others!

  16. Sarah says:

    I have been reading your blog since the first month and I am very impressed! It’s great to see how much you have been able to save while still eating such a varied and healthy diet.

    I recently moved across the country. I would like to get into couponing but I find it a bit overwhelming being in an area with all new grocery stores, convenience stores, etc. where I am not familiar with their deals. What would you recommend for someone in my situation? I know you frequently have to adjust to new stores when housesitting. Thanks for any tips you may have, and keep up the great work!

  17. jeffrey says:

    @Sarah,

    Take it slow. Don’t try to to do it all at once. Pick a single store and stick with it until you are comfortable, then you can expand from there. Trying to do too much at once I think frustrates a lot of people — keep it simple.

  18. Derk says:

    Jeffery, being a single man who enjoys living on the cheap and without a lot of drama, I have quite thoroughly enjoyed your last 96 days. Wow, it’s been long.

    Anyways, I want to propose a new and interesting test that might help a lot of people.

    Try to go all organic/natural for 30 days on $2-5 a day. The stuff gets expensive, but most grocery stores are getting in on it.

    The challenge would really show a lot of people the power of great foods and that they are readily available where you normally shop.

    If not, I totally understand. Seems like you have been through a lot. Good luck in all future ventures.

    –Derk

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