Perishable Food Dilemma – Day 63: Eating Well On $1 A Day


Every time I decide to extend this challenge, I look at my schedule and wonder why I do these types of things to myself. I have a three week house sitting job this month which means traveling to a new area (finding new stores where I can shop, etc) and taking all my food with me. it is always during these travel times that I have the most problems with this challenge.

As with most of my house sitting jobs, the people I will be house sitting for have said that I am welcome to eat anything that they have on hand. I haven't taken people up on this offer because of the challenge in the past, but since they will be gone for three weeks it is likely that some of the perishables in their refrigerator will go bad during that time. So the question is whether or not it is acceptable for me to use the perishables that are likely to go bad and if not, what should I do with them? Please vote and leave any opinions you have in the comments — especially if you feel that I should not be allowed to use it.

Should I be allowed to use perishable food that is likely to go bad when I house sit?

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Cheerio Kashi Cherry Plum Cereal

I ran out of bananas and I know from past experience that having them for the morning smoothie goes a long way to making the smoothies better. That means that I definitely need to make a shopping run in the next couple of days even though there aren't rally any good deals this week. So instead of a morning smoothie, I went for a bowl of Cheerios and Kashi mixed cereal with cherry plums on top:

Cheerio Kashi cherry plum cereal

I was afraid that it might be a bit sour, but there wasn't an issue at all and it was a good combination I won't hesitate to put together again.

Loquat Blackberry Oatmeal

I have found that a cup of oatmeal with fruit is good and filling for the days I'm on the run (which is most of them) and I only have time for a quick snack or sandwich in the afternoon. It keeps me from getting hungry and wanting snacks throughout the afternoon. I had the last of my loquats and blackberries on top:

loquat blackberry oatmeal

because I was on the run, I grabbed a quarter of the extra quiche I had made and a couple of plums to tide me through the afternoon.

Roasted Veggies

I need to use up the rest of the potatoes in a fairly timely manner so that not more of them go bad. I decided to do the roasted veggies again. The last time I did them, DeeAnn had mentioned that I wasn't quite patient enough and needed to let them roast and blacken a bit more. She was kind enough to post a photo recipe of how roasted veggies should be done. I ended up using a lot more pepper on them this time around (maybe a bit too much?), but they were delicious and I have a bunch left over for future days.

roasted veggies

roasted vegetables

roasted veggies dinner

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: $40.01
Money Left to Spend: $59.99 ($5.04 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of Everything Purchased: $1171.64

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The Beginning ::: Step By Step CVS Moneymaker Example

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34 Responses to Perishable Food Dilemma – Day 63: Eating Well On $1 A Day

  1. Dawn says:

    I vote yes because it’s gonna go bad anyway. I’m sure they’d rather see their food go to good use than get tossed out. I know I would!

  2. skydivingchic says:

    I voted yes, you can use the perishables. It has been mentioned before, but few if any people live without social support. College kids are infamous for taking advantage of free/cheap food opportunities – I know I did. Most people receive occasional free meals at work or from friends and family, even those with very limited means. While I don’t think it would be in the spirit of the challenge to purposely go seek out every possible such opportunity, this opportunity presented itself naturally as part of your work, so I see no problem. Additionally, the alternative would be to simply throw the food out once it goes bad. I have to believe that someone living on such a tight food budget would be doing everything possible to minimize waste and likely taking advantage of these types of opportunities.

  3. Tina K. says:

    If something is within a week of expiration, you can use it to enhance whatever you’re eating, but keep in mind that not a lot of people have the opportunity to house-sit and use other people’s foods. As long as most of the meal is stuff you had, you should be able to supplement it with a few perishable items.

    After all, no one wants to come home to a fridge full of rotten veggies, moldy cheese and chunky milk.

    As for what you can do with them, liquids can be used to enhance soups and sauces. Juices might be used in your smoothies. Cheese is good on or in anything. Deli meats are perfect for those moments when you’re so hungry that you have to put SOMETHING in your face before you keel over.

  4. LadyChadwick says:

    I voted yes, merely because of the environmental waste of not eating that food.

    Why throw away perfectly good food just because it might kinda be unusual for a poor person to find?

  5. Peter M says:

    Initially I was torn over yes or no. I decided to go with yes. You have a job which offers a chance at free food, its as if someone invited you over for dinner or you worked at a pizza place and had the perk of free pizzas at the end of a shift. Its possible for anyone to have a similar situation.

  6. Cherise says:

    Eating perishables you’ve been invited to eat while you’re house sitting is the same as foraging extra fruit from neighbors who invite you to do so. Also, it’s totally immoral to just let perfectly good food go to waste when there are so many people starving, $1/day challenge or not.

  7. Susan says:

    I voted no, because it feels too close to having people pay for you.

  8. Dana says:

    I think that if you eat the perishables instead of buying your food, then you should use your daily dollar to buy food for the food bank. That way, you don’t have an unfair advantage in the challenge, and the food bank gets even more of your kind help.

  9. Priskill says:

    I voted yes (as usual) because i think life is full of surprises and opportunities — we have to withstand all the setbacks and thunderbolts, so it’s only fair to enjoy the windfalls when they blow our way. Carry on!

  10. Sheila says:

    Wasting food just to meet some challenge would be stupid. Use up any perishables. It will free you up and leave extra money to take advantage of good deals that you can use or donate later.

  11. GHarkness says:

    While I certainly hate the thought of throwing out food, I voted “no” simply because it seems to me that eating these foods is not within the “spirit” of $1.00 per day.
    Perhaps you could take a middle-of-the road approach and eat the leftover foods, but “charge” yourself a dollar for those foods….and then eat them :-) !

  12. baselle says:

    Yes – don’t waste the food, and they gave you permission to have it. However, there is one twist that if you consider it might trip you up.

    Amongst our group the tradition is that when you use someone’s food, you should replace it, or at least put some back. That might trip you up. Are you planning on replacing some? Is this another vote? :)

  13. Patricia says:

    I voted yes because I consider it a perk of the job and also to avoid having to throw perfectly good food away because it turned bad. However, I was also thinking maybe you can donate these food as well so that you’ll still be sticking to the rules of the game.

    I was also wondering, would you consider tallying the results of your past polls and how did you go about incorporating it in your challenge?

  14. Julie says:

    I’ve been thinking about you a lot lately, Jeffrey, and especially about the challenges and polls that you’ve posted recently. In my mind, you’ve already proved your main point of the challenge, i.e. that someone can eat well on $1 a day and still donate food to charity. Pretty much any other restrictions at this point are up to you and depend on *your* secondary goals. Do you want this challenge to be more about what any random person would have access to (BBQs with the family, food while house sitting, etc.) or do you want it to be more restrictive to prove a point to your sister? Really, it’s up to you, and none of the rest of us are in a position to tell you how to do things.

  15. Denise says:

    If you belong to Facebook you can go to the AMC movie theater page and download coupons good for any size drink or popcorn for just $1. If you buy the biggest size they also give free refills. You may use both coupons together but not with any other offer. This offer is good to use only on the 4th of July. Have a safe and happy 4th everyone!

  16. John says:

    I vote yes. My thoughts are that it should be used to enhance your meals not replace your own eating. I agree about “job perk”. Letting the food spoil seems worse than going hungry. I’m guessing the food that might spoil can’t go to a food bank as most won’t take perishables. Seems much similar to someone inviting you over for a BBQ for the 4th. Fair game.

  17. Tammy says:

    I voted “yes” as long as these generous people don’t go out and stock the fridge for you. I often stock the fridge when I know we have guest coming. I like what your doing but strongly suspect that you could live off most peoples leftovers for at least a week…no problem.

    I can’t wait to see how you make the deals work for you in this new area.

  18. melayla says:

    I voted yes. To me, this seems similar to your foraging and getting fruit from people who wont be able to eat all they have. You aren’t asking people to feed you, but if it’s there and otherwise won’t be eaten – I think you can certainly use it.

  19. nichole says:

    As someone with a limited food budget who regularly has a friend with a limited food budget house sit for me I voted yes. I can only pay my friend with perishables and letting her forage my fruit trees. Most people on a strict food budget will find opportunities like this to supplement their diet.

  20. Wendy P says:

    I voted “yes”. In this case, I’d consider the perishable foods akin to your foraging.

    I’m really enjoying your challenge! Thank you so much for continuing!

  21. Angela says:

    I vote “yes” but with strings attached….
    I think that you should be able to eat any food that would probably go bad during your stay however, whatever the value of those items are that you eat you should purchase and donate other items adding up to the same value.
    (Am I making sense?) Basically-if you end up eating a dozen eggs, their value is $1.19, so you need to purchase something of the same value to donate to the food banks. I thought that might work well since you already donate so much. My way of thinking also is that by doing it this way you are not only TAKING but also GIVING. It would even itself out.
    Hopefully this made sense, but if not just let me know and I will clarify. (sorry-I’m a bit loopy from the medicine that the emergency room gave me because of a mouth infection. yuck!)

  22. emi s. says:

    I vote no – most people don’t housesit and have this kind of opportunity for free food.

    If you do use the perishable items, I think you should pay for them; otherwise, it’s not as realistic of a challenge.

  23. ani says:

    Yes. It would be really stupid to waste all that food. Besides, I think you have already proved that you can live on $1 a day :)

  24. Sheri says:

    I voted yes, but I think you should stop calling this a “challenge”, because it causes a lot of people to miss the point I think you’re tying to make. This thing has grown from a silly sibling challenge into something of real value and worth to a great many people (i.e. your readers and the food banks to which you donate.) Telling you that you should not accept the food in the fridge at your house-sitting job, or that you should donate an equal amount completely misses the true point, which is that it is possible to eat well on an average of $1 a day. In the real world, people rarely live in a vacuum in which they have no opportunities for food they have not bought themselves.

  25. Sheri says:

    Haha, I totally missed the irony of my previous comment until after I posted it and then read the first sentence in which I told you that I think you should stop calling this a challenge. It’s not my place at all to tell you what you should and should not do! Unless, of course, you ask. 😉

  26. Susan says:

    Hi, your blog is interesting to read. I’m wondering what is the reason to continue on with the $1 a day experiment? You’ve proven that it can be done.

    Some suggestions to cut costs: use a small can of tomato paste to make pasta sauce – one can paste and 2 cans water (or 1 can water and 1 can milk but keep the heat on low) plus spices such as dried oregano/basil, salt and pepper to taste); barter or sell some of the extras that you have with friends – this would be a reality for someone living on so little, sell at a cheap cost to friends or trade for things you need; the extra cereal that you have, such as cornflakes can be turned to dessert/snack by using it to make “rice crispy squares” – add marshmallows, some butter, vanilla and use cornflakes in place of rice crispy cereal.

  27. Susan says:

    Forgot to mention that you’re not getting enough dairy and protein in your diet but you probably already know this. That’s where selling your extra items at a cheap cost to friends will help or even bartering for these items where possible.

  28. melissa says:

    I wanted to give you a helpful hint with baked potatoes. You can stab it several times then wrap it in a wet was cloth and microwave it till soft (appox 5-10 minutes depending on how big it is).
    A lot quicker then using the oven.

  29. T says:

    As you can imagine, my stance on this hasn’t changed. If it’s offered, you’re welcome to it.

    Would you *please* consider posting the results of polls, and the resulting action on your part? You’ve managed to get us all on the edge of our seats, but the lack of follow-up is certainly crazy-making.

  30. beth says:

    Most people say you should use the fridge food for yourself and donate the dollar. I’m wondering if you could eat your dollar food and use the fridge food to make something for other people.

  31. Barb says:

    Your real issue should not be are you allowed to eat perishables, it should be that you can’t justify letting good food go to waste!! Make allowances – keep track of number of meal equivalents you got from free perishables and deduct from total meals for the month. Or make some other means of tracking how much food comes from that source. Or even take perishables to the food bank!

  32. Jessie says:

    I voted “yes” because people would normally accept free food, especially if they were on a strict budget.

  33. Pingback: Eating Well On $1 A Day - Grocery Coupon Guide

  34. Jennifer says:

    This is a really late comment but after reading about your Piccata chicken in earlier post, just wanted to mention it is oh so easy to roast the vegetables in that recipe as well – zucchini and peppers and onions and whatever you choose, toss in a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper, roast at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or so. With a productive garden, I roast tomatoes and eggplant and whatever I can think of (have some veg in the oven now), easy and delicious. If you do a search online for oven roasted ratatouille, you’ll find good photos. Mix with the large pearl couscous or spread on some french bread, yummy.