Day 17 proved once again that you look at things from a very different perspective when you are eating on an extremely limited budget. I am still trying to digest the meaning behind the fact that it was worth it to me to buy tampons to get a free jar of peanut butter. Today I had to reflect upon how happy I became (I literally jumped out of my chair with excitement and did a little happy dance) when I received a package of free food from Kraft in the mail.


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


Earlier this month you could “like” Kraft on Facebook and choose from several sample packages they were giving away. The time frame said that the packages wouldn't arrive for 4 to 8 weeks, so I anticipated that I would get mine after this challenge was over, but the package arrived today. In it were the following:

kraft gift bag

4 sample packages of Wheat Thins Sundried Tomato & Basil
3 sample packages of Maxwell House Vanilla Caramel Latte
1 coupon for a free package of Cheesy Explosion Macaroni & Cheese dinner
1 coupon for a free package of Oscar Mayer Deli fresh turkey pastrami

The wheat this will make a great snack or addition to a lunch. The more spice options from plain salt (I have been using salt from Wheat Thins and tortilla chips to give flavor to some meals). I have a feeling that the Maxwell House Vanilla Caramel Latte will end up in the trash. It is never a good sign when a coffee product has the ingredient “instant coffee” listed behind “sugar, nondairy creamer [corn syrup solids, partially hydrogenated coconut oil, sodium caseinate (from milk), dipotassium phosphate, mono-and diglycerides, artificial flavor] and maltodextrin. I will likely use the macaroni from the macaroni & cheese, but not the “cheese.” I am most curious to see what the deli fresh turkey pastrami tastes like.


I stuck with my cup of oatmeal in the early morning even though i had run out of fruit to add flavor. I'm not sure why I do that to myself because I already know that I am not going to like it. I was just too lazy to make a trip to the store to get bananas after all the store trips I have been making recently. There was a good suggestion in the comments that I flavor the oatmeal with fruit juice which I will definitely give a try.

For the bigger breakfast, I chopped up part of my potato and fried it up and then placed an egg on top with a piece of whole what toast on the side. I also had a bowl of corn flakes and a cup of half water and half V8 Goji / Raspberry vegetable and fruit juice:

day 17 breakfast


I decided to have spaghetti for lunch and simply threw in a bunch of pasta and placed a light amount of the four cheese pasta sauce I had. While it doesn't look all that appetising from the photo, it was actually pretty good. I also discovered that I have always put way too much pasta sauce on my spaghetti in the past because I still got a good flavor with a fraction of the amount I would usually use. I also had another glass of half water / half V8 Goji / Raspberry vegetable and fruit juice

day 17 lunch


I made another half cup of long grain rice in spicy V8 juice and used it with more of the left over black beans that I had to make a burrito (adding sour cream and salsa on top and wrapping it in a whole wheat tortilla — I only have one left). I still had more so I also placed a some is a small jar and mixed it up with sour cream and salsa to make a dip for tortilla chips. I also had a bit more of the steamed carrots and broccoli on the side.

day 17 dinner burrito

day 17 dinner

For the second day in a row, I had a snack of a Fig Newtons and a tortilla chips in between meals.

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 sample packs of Maxwell House Vanilla Carmel Latte
4 sample packages of Wheat Thins Sundried Tomato & Basil
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

3 sample packs of Maxwell House Vanilla Carmel Latte
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 18: Disappointment


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  1. Tomorrow the store adds change, maybe it will bring something good to eat. My fingers are crossed for you.

  2. Awesome on the free stuff! I can just imagine you happy dancing about it. I had to laugh that you recieved more wheat thins!! At least you like those.

  3. I’ve never really looked too close at samples before. Now I will look at them in a different way. You sure have gone a long while without chocolate 🙂 I hope the mystery purchase is something chocolate

  4. I got the free Kraft stuff in the mail too and couldn’t remember where I signed up for it. Now I know! I was excited too, but probably not as excited as you!

  5. My local Safeway has Chobani Greek Yogurt for .99 from 5/19 through 5/25. I went to their site and it looks like they have coupons for free yogurt:
    “Thank you for visiting Have a cup of Chobani on us. Please fill out the fields below, and click the print button.”

    I didn’t print out the coupons because I just ran out of ink, so I don’t know if they’ll work for you or not. If you’re interested, here’s the direct link:

  6. A small bit of peanut butter stirred into the oatmeal will also make it much more palatable, though I know you like to hoard your PB.

  7. @Dana I was excited when you wrote your comment , but the coupon is buy 2 get one free — not bad, but still steep on $1 a day…

  8. This has been interesting reading. Most stores in my area refuse coupons printed off of a computer which severely limits access to them as we don’t get the paper either. I never checked on our local CVS to see if they will take computer printed coupons. Currently I have $6.50 in extra bucks and I am learning to take advantage of any ‘freebie’ they give us, knowing even if we can’t use it, someone can. I even have a free bottle of bodywash tucked away for my son’s girlfriend for Christmas stocking use!

  9. CVS should take online coupons which can make many of those free things money makers. Although it is takes time and patience, I would encourage you to educate your local store managers about online coupons since they have built in many safety features to ensure they are no longer counterfeit. If you can get them to begin accepting them, you would be a hero to many others that shop at your store as well. Here is how to go about it:

  10. Well off I went to my CVS yesterday with my list of what I needed and just their coupons. I had never realized I could use the “$X off for this amount of CVS brand purchased” in conjunction with extra bucks coupons and ended up with something else I hadn’t known. Hubby needed antacid tablets, so I picked up 2 CVS bottles for $6.99 each, and Hershey nuggets (my daily treat) were on sale for $2.44 (cheaper even than Walmart). Total of $21.46 in product before sales/coupons. Got $2.50 off for the CVS stuff, $6.50 off from extra bucks AND since I get my Medicare D drugs through Silverscript/CVS I have a new CVS card that gives me 20% off ALL CVS products so I got another $2.80 off. Total spent $7.06. Normally I would have bought all this at Walmart with no discounts and even if the generic tums had cost less, I still would have been paying close to $20. Since we get lots of prescriptions filled, we get lots of CVS coupons and I will certainly be looking at them in a new way from now on and also trying to match up manufacturors coupons with name brand items as well. Thanks for the hints!

  11. Oh, I love freebies in the mail! I track a couple of freebie sites online and get loot in the mail at least once a week. Many of my son’s stocking stuffers last Christmas were free stickers, posters, and stuff I had gotten through online offers.

    For 2 periods, I had all my female needs covered by free samples I had gotten in the mail.

    Free sample packets of aspirin, ibuprofen, and such are good to keep in the change compartment of my wallet in my purse for if I get a headache while not at home. They are securely sealed and portable.

    The thing that feeds my heart is that sometimes just when I’m feeling my wobbliest and scaredest moneywise, a packet of cookies or a protein bar will show up for free in my mail that afternoon. It’s kinda like getting my hand held by an angel. 😉

  12. Pepsi–That is so sweet. I just got some bottles of Pantene shampoo and conditioner plus coupons in the mail today. I’ve been putting stuff like that away for stocking stuffers or the senior home. Last thing I want to do is get too used the expensive shampoos since I haven’t paid more than 50 cents for Sauve for YEARS!

  13. pepsibookcat,

    YMMD.. (you made my day)
    I am so pulling for you – you have seemed like such a nice person from the beginnning of this experiment! I’m enjoying not just following the experiment but the comment too – yours in particular. Your son is a very lucky guy 🙂 hang in there.. being a single parent is hard, but you sound like you’re going to make it-even if you wobble and are scared sometimes. God bless. 🙂

  14. I just found your blog and started reading on day one of this challenge. So I am still not sure if this was for a month or year. But on the off chance you are still doing this, I have some tips. When bananas start to turn black, they are actually not rotten. They are at their sweetest. I usually pop them in the freezer at that point and take out to either bake banana bread or smoothies. But they would be just a good mashed up in yogurt or oatmeal. Also, I would imagine the free drink coffee mix things might be tasty mixed in your oatmeal to give it some flavor too.

    Regardless, such a fun blog idea! Love it! And LOVE that you list all of your donations too.


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