I knew when I decided to try and eat well on $1 a day that the challenge would make for some interesting quandaries which I would have to consider along the way. Little did I know how far down the rabbit hole I would eventually step in the search for free food.

It is a well known fact that men do not buy tampons, yet I found myself doing just that (not to mention the pantiliners in the basket as well) in order to make it possible for me to get some free peanut butter. I realize that by admitting that I have done this as part of the challenge, no man is ever going to attempt this challenge again. Most would rather starve to death than pick up pantiliners and tampons at the store for any reason, let alone a jar of peanut butter. I'm having serious doubts about my own sanity and manliness. The mere fact that I would actually go for this deal without considering the possible repercussions for men around the world shows that I may not be thinking clearly these days:

Woman: “Honey, can you run down to the drug store and get me some tampons?”

Man: “I'm sorry dear, men don't buy tampons…”

Woman: “That guy trying to eat well on a dollar a day bought tampons and pantiliners just so he could have a jar of peanut butter. Are you saying that you value me less than a jar of peanut butter?”


This is part of a month long challenge to eat well while spending an average of only $1 a day on food. You can find the beginning and the rules of this challenge here


Obviously, this is a no win situation for any man which will eventually send him to sleep alone on the couch no matter how valiantly and desperately he attempts to recover. I sincerely apologize to all men for creating this situation, and I see a very bleak future for myself when it comes to having to shop for tampons (update: I am now ashamed at my embarrassment).

I had no plans to buy the tampons, but I received an email from CVS offering me $4 off any purchase of $20 or more:

day 15 cvs coupon

This week had a lot more opportunities than next week to get stuff for free and reach the $20 threshold — the only issue being that they included tampons and pantiliners. Since all these deals ended today, I won't go into the details since you won't be able to do them, but just give an overview of what I bought:

day 15 CVS purchase

day 15 CVS receipt

5 Bayer 36 count baby aspirin: $1.00 (used $1 off 1 Bayer coupon = Free)
1 Reach dental floss: $1.99 (used $1 off 1 J&J dental floss coupon = $1.00 and get $2.00 back for future purchase)
1 package of Kotex U tampons: $4.99 (used $1 off 1 Kotex U tampons coupon = $3.99 and get $4.99 back for future purchase)
1 package of Stayfree pantiliners: $3.99 (used $2 off 1 Stayfree coupon and get $2 back for future purchase)

These purchases added up to $15.97 meaning that if I bought $4.03 more in anything, I would reach the $20 mark to use the $4 off $20 purchase coupon. Knowing that I was going to have to buy tampons, I ended up spending an hour trying to decide if relish, mayo or dressing — along with a jar of Skippy Natural peanut butter — would really be worth going through the checkout line. I finally decided on peanut butter and relish ($3.29 and $1.99) which brought the total to $21.25.

I used all the coupons plus the $4 off $20 purchase coupon and $7 in CVS Extra Buck coupons I already had which brought the final price to $1.38 ($1.13 was taxes), but I received $8.99 back in CVS Extra Bucks — $1.99 more than I had used:

day 15 CVS extra bucks

This meant that I actually made $0.67 on the transaction (I later decided that the mayo had more uses than the relish and traded it in – the mayo was $0.51 more than the relish meaning that in the end I made $0.16 profit)

day 15 CVS Miracle whip

I also had a raincheck for Fig Newtons at $1 each from the previous week when they were all sold out. They had been restocked, so I purchased 3 and had three $1 off 1 coupons making them free as well:

day 15 CVS fig newtons

In addition to the CVS transaction, I also made a trip to Safeway to get milk and pick up a potato. The mild was 25% off and I had a $1 off milk coupon from some cereal promotion from the past which I used. For some reason, my Safeway card didn't scan meaning I paid a little more for the potato than I should have, but I didn't notice this until I was home. This transaction cost me $1.32:

day 15 milk and potato

day 15 milk and potato receipt


Since I no longer need to take the antibiotics I was prescribed at the beginning of the month, I skipped the oatmeal in the early morning, but I felt like I had less energy throughout the day, so I think I may go back to it again tomorrow and see if I feel a difference. Instead, I had my main breakfast about an hour earlier than I had been having it the last 10 days.

I had a bowl of cornflakes with banana on top (thus the need for the milk). I also grated up about 1/4 of the potato and cooked it up hash brown style. They needed salt and since I didn't have my Wheat Thins, I improvised and added salt from the bottom of the tortilla chip bag. I topped it with a spoonful of salsa. I also had a slice of whole wheat bread and a small cup of V8 spicy vegetable juice:

day 15 breakfast


As usual, it was a busy day and lunch had to be quickly thrown together. I had a peanut butter sandwich (I was going to make use of it right away after having to buy tampons for it) with a banana (I needed to use it up because with the increasing heat, they are ripening more quickly now). I also spread onion and chive cream cheese on a stalk of celery and added a few fig newtons as well. I poured a full glass V8 Fusion 100% Goji / Raspberry vegetable and fruit juice to round it off:

day 15 lunch


I boiled a cup full of rotini pasta for dinner:

day 15 dinner pasta

I then took a can of tuna, added Miracle Whip, a stalk of celery and half a tomato to make tuna salad. I thin placed this over the rotini to make a tuna pasta salad:

day 15 dinner tuna salad

I think that these next two weeks will be a lot less stressful now that I have a decent base of food and I have my staples of milk, eggs and peanut butter with still almost half my money left to spend. It is a lot better position than I was in when this all started 2 weeks ago…

This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Money Spent $15.75
Money left to spend: 15.25 ($2 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of everything bought: $499.81

3 packages (small) Fig Newtons
1 jar Miracle Whip
1 potato
1 mystery purchase
1/3 lb ground beef
4 tomatoes on vine
2 broccoli crowns
1 loaf of bread
2 jars of Classico pasta sauce
2 Safeway brand pasta (spaghetti and rotini)
1 celery stalk
2 bags tortilla chips
3 cans tuna
1 bottle Welch's grape & peach 100% juice
1 bottle V8 Fusion fruit / vegetable drink
1 bottle V8 spicy vegetable drink
2 boxes of Caprisun fruit drinks (10 packs)
1 jar of salsa
1 bag of black beans
2 half gallons of milk
36 boxes of cereal
2 dozen eggs
2 avocados
11 bananas
2 boxes of Quaker Instant oatmeal
55 packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis
1 package of Knudsen Light sour cream
10 apples
2 lbs of carrots
8 boxes (small) of Wheat Thins
2 jars of Skippy All Natural peanut butter
2 cans of pork and beans
1 bag of long grain brown rice
2 packages of Mission 100% whole wheat tortillas (10 count each)

Donated Food / other items to Food Bank that was purchased with my $1 a day

1 Stayfree pantiliner package
1 Kotex U tampon package
5 Bayer children's aspirin
2 sticks of deodorant
4 bottles Windex multi-surface cleaner
1 can of Pork & Beans
32 boxes of cereal
50 packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis
4 boxes (small) of Wheat Thins
2 Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean bathroom cleaner
2 Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean bathroom cleaner refill


The Beginning ::: Day 16: Over The Hump


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  1. Getting salt from the bottom of the tortilla bag is genius. I love it. I agree that it should be easier now that you have a base of food.

  2. My sister is poor and frequently visits a food pantry. She like many other women would appreciate your womanly products donation. She has gone without the items she needs, which is sad in this day and age. I try to help her when I can. Thank you on behalf of the woman that will use it.

  3. You are doing a really great job! I’m sorry you had to buy tampons and pantiliners. Can you donate those to the food bank or women’s shelter?

  4. @creditcardfree @Julinda

    Yes, all the items I buy in this challenge that I purchase, but don’t use myself will be donated to food banks or other non profits where they can be used.

  5. Do you ever run into problems with cashiers? Quite often I get told that I can only use one coupon, especially if the coupon says “limit of one per purchase”. And they would have a complete fit if someone tried to combine coupons they way you do. Maybe it’s because there aren’t as many coupons around here (in Canada), so cashiers don’t get to see them as much. But they often act like I’m stealing from the store. It seems like the better the deal, the more they scrutizine the coupons and look for a way to deny them.

    $1 off a $5 item is put through no problem, but $0.50 off an item that is $0.50 is read and re-read, and the “limit of one per purchase’ is reinterpretted to mean one per customer, etc. And they would refuse a coupon where it is $2.00 off an item that is $1.99.

  6. To not be much of a cook you are getting pretty creative. Just thought I’d let you know I’m learning from you! I’m off today to try to do a catllina deal like you have been doing. My first try will be @ Walgreens. They have men body wash (omg woman buying a mans product!) that will come out free. I have coupons that will let me buy 12! Like you I will be giving some to family and donating the rest. Keep your fingers crossed I have been a good student.

  7. @Carolee Yes, I do run into cashiers like that. I have found that the best approach is to be patient and to explain the meaning of the writing on the coupon (it means one per product). If they try to argue after I explain nicely, I tell them I will take the purchase to the customer service desk and talk with the manager. Often time this will get them to accept the coupon. If not, the manager usually is better informed about the coupon policy (not always) and once I get the transaction done, I politely ask that they train the cashier (and all the cashiers) on how coupons can be used in their store. it takes time and effort, but I see it as a service to all people that use coupons so they don.t run into the same problems.

  8. @Maxine I hope that it works out — i don’t shop W1algreens much, but they do have a few quircks that make using coupons a bit more difficult than at the grocery store. In most cases, they won’t allow the catalina to roll (you can’t use the catalina coupon that you receive the first time to buy the exact same product a second time) and you must have 1 item for every coupon you use. Let me know how it goes.

  9. What is the mystery purchase?!? Is there going to be a big reveal at the end? It’s starting to distract me from the rest of the story! LOL

  10. ok, not too bad for my first experience-except the grouchy cashier – there was no customers but she seemed most put out that I rang my items up in 5 different transactions. Once she called the manager on duty to see if I can do that & he said I could all went ok. $89.91 of product for $12.68. I do have a question about this though. I was charged tax on the total product not my actual sale-is that correct? I paid $6.75 in taxes & 5.93 for my products. Is that correct. If so how do they get their quarterly tax reports to work?

  11. @Maxine Congrats on your first run. The more you do, the more comfortable you will become — like everything, it takes practice and there will be a few bumps along the way. Yes, tax is usually calculated on the price the store sells it to you. This is because when you use the coupons, the store is still getting paid that amount, just not by you (they get reimbursed for the coupons from the manufacturers)

  12. All this time I thought you were a woman, not a man! (Smile)

    Thanks for explaining what blinkies, catalinas, and oyno’s are.

  13. So, I’m pretty new around here and today I realized that you’re a man?!! I guess I assumed that couponing and all-day food bank shopping and bets with sisters were women’s territory. I realized as I read this post that it’s definitely colored my perception, because I kept thinking, “he thought of that… he made that…” Ashamed, but grateful for being surprised.

  14. @Jill B — One of the reasons I took on this challenge is because (and I mean this in all seriousness), if I can do it, absolutely anyone can. I am probably the worst person in the world to try something like this. The only thing I’ve got going for me is that I am stubborn so I will see it through. I have spent more time in the kitchen this month than I have in the past 5 years which is probably not something I should be proud of, but is the truth. And I won’t even go into how I feel about shopping and grocery stores.

    While the things I have made are probably pretty pathetic compared to all the food blogs out there, it still drops the jaw of everyone that knows me seeing me actually in the kitchen trying to make something that takes more effort than putting it into a microwave. I am glad that it did surprise and hope that surprise flows into realizing that you, or anyone you know, can do this as well if they want to (obviously not quite the extreme of $1 a day, but enough to greatly reduce your shopping bill) and hopefully have plenty left over to donate to a local food bank.

  15. Nothing wrong with a guy buying pads/tampons, even if it wasn’t for getting free food! It’s a product, just like any other. Suffice to say, I’m sure many men are quite envious that you would dare “touch” something like that – and I’m sure you impressed the ladies 😛

  16. @Prexus Agreed.

    In fact it’s pretty offensive that a man would be so horrified to be seen buying them. “Most would rather starve to death than pick up pantiliners and tampons at the store for any reason.” What is the problem? What is YOUR problem? This seems like misogynistic BS to me. I was enjoying these series of posts but this was just disappointing.

  17. @Josephine and @Prexus

    I learned the lesson along the way:


  18. Oh fiddle faddle. Most men I know from 16 to 60 don’t want to pick up that stuff. It’s not misogynistic. In fact, it always gives me a chuckle to see grown men embarrassed to purchase *womanly* products. It’s really quite amusing, IMO. Look, I’m a women and if I bought 39 packages of pantiliners I KNOW I’d get some comment at the check-out. That’s how the cashiers are where I live. They ALWAYS comment. As for Walgreens, they can have some great deals…especially BOGOs. E.g., I bought one Smart Balance healthy buttery spread, and got one free just recently….AND they let me combine manufacturer coupons w/store coupons w/register rewards. Maybe it just depends on the Walgreens location…

  19. I am a guy and proudly buy tampons I keep a bunch in my gym bag and use them for bloody noses my team gets in rugby matches. Just remember to cut them in half lengthwise. Those things are absorbent and swell a great deal! This article is amazing. I am going to try the challenge.

  20. I for one got a chuckle out of the whole tampon/pantiliner “problem”. When I was a 16 year old girl, I was really uncomfortable going through the line with my “products” too – so my parents would buy them while I hung back. This is all well and good until you learn that my folks are the sarcastic type who would loudly proclaim to the cashier (we shopped at Target because my mom worked there) and any others around who knew us WHAT they were and WHY they were buying them and WHO they were for. (Any of you who have parents who love to tease know the tone and decibel level that was at. LOL)

    As uncomfortable as it was at the time, you were able to get a great deal and you helped others to boot. I say KUDOS to you. 🙂

  21. Also, always watch for scanner errors on items before you do the couponing and alter the price. A lot of stores have a rewards policy for catching scanner errors. (And, a lot of stores have gotten into trouble for fraud for rampant scanner errors and are now making nicenice.) For example, one local store has a policy where if you catch a scanner error (usually sale items that aren’t scanning sale price), you get $3 off the item or it’s free if it’s under $3. Over the years, I’ve gotten onions, soda, toothpaste, and more for free. One Father’s Day, after sale and scanner error, I ended up getting a dart board for my dad for only about $3 total. That was years ago, and he still plays with it in his garage often.

  22. Sorry this is so late, but I just found your site. How did CVS agree to use your $4 off? Usually you have to SPEND the the amount ($20) to get the discount. Surprised you didn’t have problems with that?

    Also, I’m surprised at the deals you’re getting a drug stores – I was always led to believe that most items are way more expensive there.

  23. @Nancy

    I did spend the $20 – The total when first rung up was over $20. The key is to make sure and give the $4 off $20 purchased coupon first. Then once that coupon has been used, you can use all the other coupons you have to bring the price down even more.

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