Major Coupon Disaster – Eating Well On $1 A Day


Well, I managed to do about the worst thing I could possibly do in a challenge like this. While I don't keep a coupon binder like most people who coupon (because I don't clip, sort and organize my coupons). I do have a coupon envelope where I store my most valuable coupons. It usually contains about 50 or so coupons for free products (Kraft Deli Meat, Libby's Vegetables, the free Ben & Jerry's ice-cream, etc), coupons where I can sometimes get free products (for example, Kraft Deli Creations often go on clearance for $0.99, so I have 20 $1.00 off 1 coupons so I could take advantage of this when I came across it) and other coupons that I often use. They are the best of the best coupons I have so I always want them with me when I shop. Like a complete idiot, I lost my coupon envelope.

I knew something was wrong when the coupon envelope wasn't in its usual place when I checked as I got ready to leave on my latest house sitting gig. I thought I might have left it in the car, so I did a thorough check and nothing came up. Then I started to think about my last shopping trip and remember putting it on the shelf by the Toasted Wheat Thins and realized I must have left it there. I immediately went back to the store to see if anyone had turned it in – no such luck. When it became clear it truly was lost, it almost brought me to tears (it really is a sad day in my life when losing coupons can nearly bring me to tears…).

If I had done something like this in the first couple of weeks of this challenge, I would have quit right then and there. Even though it is devastating, I have managed to create a cushion which should help me survive even with their loss. While I am obviously disappointed about the food I thought I had (I swear, I am jinxed when it comes to Ben & Jerry's ice-cream), I am even more disappointed in the food I could have received for free that would have gone to local food banks. I just hope that whomever found my coupon envelope realized what they found and took full advantage of all the great coupons I had collected. It would kill me to learn that the person simply threw it all away…

That left me in the unenviable position of being in a new place where I am unfamiliar without any coupons and in desperate need of restocking my food supply. I had to go in search of local grocery stores and only managed to find a P&W Markets — a grocery store with which I am not familiar at all.

I was really lucky in one aspect – bananas. P&W had discounted all of their browning bananas (which are perfect for me because I use them in my morning smoothies). I ended up buying 26 bananas for $1.98 and I'm seriously considering going back and buying more. In addition to the bananas, I purchased some chicken breasts and eggs. The prices on these two products weren't great, but they weren't terrible either. In the end I came home with 26 bananas, a dozen eggs and 4 chicken breasts for $6.66:

day 69 shopping

pw markets receipt

Once home, I pealed and cut up most of the bananas to freeze them (I had to look up on the Internet how to do this)

freeze bananas

I need to make another trip tomorrow to see if I can find some more grocery stores in this area since I will be here a few weeks. I need to begin to plan my shopping strategy and it will be important to know which grocery stores I'll be able to use for deals.

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: $47.19
Money Left to Spend: $52.81 ($5.54 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of Everything Purchased: $1268.64

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The Beginning ::: Day 69: Eating Squirrel Leftovers

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12 Responses to Major Coupon Disaster – Eating Well On $1 A Day

  1. bj says:

    Sorry that you lost your best coupons! But that makes this challenge even more realistic. Stuff like that happens to all of us in life, and even more to folks who are poor and don’t necessarily have secure private space to organize their stuff. However, you have not only your cushion of staples but your “cushion” of new meal planning and cooking skills. I think those are even more important than the coupons. As for the figs–fresh figs are luscious–just cut them open and eat when ripe. Also great with a dollop of cheese such as ricotta or mascarpone, drizzled with honey, or with a savory meat such as thin strips of ham (or proscuitto for a real treat).

  2. nichole says:

    You can freeze bananas in their peel to keep them fresh longer so stocking up on cheap bruised bananas is definitely a good idea! Also, an easy recipe for you 🙂

    Carrot Potato Patties
    1 carrot
    1 large or 2 small potatoes
    1 egg
    tbsp flour
    any seasonings you like
    cooking oil for frying

    grate carrot and potato with cheese grator and put in a bowl with seasonings, flour, and egg, mix well. If mixture is too runny or soupy, add another carrot or potato. Drop by the spoon full into oiled pan, cook on both sides and you’re done. This can be made with any combination of root vegetables, and you can even throw cheese into the mixture if you’d like.

  3. Julie says:

    I would highly recommend freezing the sliced bananas in a single layer on a baking sheet first and then put them in baggies. (It’s going to be sort of a mess when you try to get them out of the bag, as I discovered the hard way.)

    Nichole’s recipe sounds yummy, BTW.

  4. Laurel says:

    I understand how it feels, and I admire you for stepping up to the challenge of making it work anyway. Your purchases were all good choices. Good luck — I have learned a lot from reading your blog.

  5. Pangie says:

    With all those frozen bananas, you could make banana ice cream! It’s a great healthy alternative to ice cream. The basic recipe is take a frozen banana and stick it in a food processor until creamy. It’ll be kind of like the consistency of soft serve once it’s done. It does take a while to blend it, because frozen bananas are hard. You can mix it up with whatever you think would be fun to flavor it. Fresh fruit, cocoa powder, vanilla extract, cinnamon, etc. I used one banana, a heaping 1/3 tsp cocoa powder, and 1/8 tsp vanilla extract, and that’s my favorite recipe. Here’s a picture: http://21daystopangie.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/chocolate-banana-ice-cream.jpg

    I recommend waiting until the banana is well blended before tossing in the ingredients.

  6. Dee says:

    I have been couponing for the past two years, and I have saved so much money it is unbelievable. So sorry about your coupons, I completely understand how that feels. I have some free coupons from the Kraft First Taste booklet that I will not use. So if it is not against your rules, send me an email with your address and I will mail them to you. You are doing something very remarkable here and I would like to show you my appreciation.

    People need to realize that there is nothing wrong with eating peanut butter sandwiches. You need to lead a simpler life to get greater gains. It is those who turn their noses up at PB sandwiches that most probably have maxed out credit cards and are lurking on the verge of bankruptcy. I wish this country would wake up and smell the PB 🙂

  7. jeffrey says:

    @Dee

    Thank you for the kind offer. What I would encourage you to do is to purchase food to donate to your local food bank. If that is not something that will work with your schedule, you can send coupons to me, but I will not use those coupons for myself (I will use them toward food for my local food banks). Although it hurts to have lost the coupons, I should be able to survive this setback and there are a lot of others that are in much more need of the help than myself 🙂

  8. mmmdonuts says:

    Sorry for your coupon loss, Jeffrey. It affects you and those you help, and it’s sad to think of the product of your time, effort, and good will being left on that shelf.

    I will say that this development brings a hint of suspense (“How will he make this work NOW???”) to your saga and renews the challenge, so in that sense, it ain’t all bad!

    Of course, your readers have no doubt you will deal with it – looking forward to seeing how. Good luck!

    And I second the thumbs up for Nicholes recipe – gotta try some of those this weekend!

  9. Lori says:

    If you had baking soda you could make banana muffins:
    1/2 cup applesauce or oil (I usually use applesauce)
    1-1/4 cup flour
    1/2 cup sugar
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    3 mashed bananas (I keep near death brown ones in the freezer in the peel.)
    2 eggs
    1/2 cup pecans if you have them a few raisins would work too.
    Mix all together and fill muffin tins 2/3 full (I get 12 muffins out of this recipe). Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Cool and wrap individually and freeze for on the go days.

  10. mariposaman says:

    I made the choice of putting some letter return address stickers with my name and address on my coupon folder. Some people cite privacy concerns, but I guess people would walk around with no i.d. in their wallet or not be listed in the phonebook if one gets that paranoid. I once lost my cane so sticker that too now.

  11. LIsa says:

    I’ve left register rewards sitting on shelves at Walgreens before! Which to me are even more like cash than just plain newspaper or store coupons. Luckily I’ve always found them. I’ve left newspaper coupons places too, and always found those as well. It sure was upsetting because they’ve always been either the RR’s for Walgreens or coupons for free products. I am always shocked theya re still sitting where I left them near the free product. Either people are honest and don’t take good coupons that don’t belong to them which I’d like to believe or they are too stupid to figure out how much stuff is free with coupons if you seek out the information (which is usually the case I bet) which is very sad that many people don’t realize how much stuff can be had for free just because you had the proper coupon!

  12. LIsa says:

    Dee,
    I am not a big fan of peanut butter sandwiches, or tuna, or eggs. However I do use tuna or eggs to make something out of them. And same with chicken which I buy when it is 49 cents a pound. I consider myself a careful shopper. I don’t understand people who don’t shop like this person writing this blog. I don’t limit myself to $1 a day or $30 a month but I get tons of free stuff ALL the time. Enough that I can donate a couple huge boxes full of stuff to pantries, plus a few extra bags, have enough stuff to give as nice shower/housewarming gifts, and also make $1,000 a year selling stockpile items to earn money for my house fund. That is a LOT of extra stuff! We have a paper here that is free that has smartsource coupons that helps a lot to get extra free coupons. I have little sympathy for people who complain of being broke or are in debt, yet don’t bother to take advantage of the rebates, coupons and drugstore deals. Not saying people who are homeless or jobless are to blame just that people with jobs living paycheck to paycheck…no excuse for that in my opinion