As I have mentioned before, I should have thought through that I really don't enjoy shopping or cooking before I decided to attempt this challenge. Add another thing I should have considered to that list: eating on $1 a day is not fun when you move around a lot.

I have a house sitting job the next five days which meant that I had to take all my food along with me. It also means I have to spend time figuring out what supermarkets are in this area for any shopping I do this week. It simply adds another layer of difficulty to the project which can be time consuming.


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


I don't know if it was having to move everything, a lack of sleep, eating a single breakfast this morning or the fact that the house I am house sitting for has chocolate everywhere which I can't touch (probably a combination of all of the above), but I had another one of those days where I was craving snacks all day and broke down and ate whatever I could get my hands on. This binge ended up wiping out the rest of the tortilla chips I had, my second box of Fig Newtons, several of the CapriSun juice packs and more of my precious peanut butter. I hate when this happens because it throws a huge wrench into my future meal planning plus I find when I don't have access to snacks, I tend to crave them more. Let's hope it was just a one day rampage and I can get back to my eating routine again.


It was a busy morning since I had to pack up and head off to the house sitting job that I have and it didn't help that I ended up getting up late. It was a rushed breakfast which consisted of a bowl of Corn Flakes with banana on top and a package of instant oatmeal flavored with 1/2 grape/peach juice and 1/2 water (this made it much less sweet than yesterday and much better).


I decided to use my last whole wheat tortilla since it was getting old and I have decided to use up as much as I can while here without buying more so I don't have to drag back as much stuff when my house sitting gig is up. I had the old standby peanut butter and banana tortilla with a sample bag of the Wheat Thins, a few Fig Newtons and a Caprisun juice pack:

day 19 lunch

I had lunch earlier than usual (around noon versus 2:00 when I had been eating) and the munchies started about 3:00 pm. I polished off the bag of tortilla chips first, then moved onto the rest of box #2 of Fig Newtons. I also had a few more of the CapriSun juice packs before dipping into the peanut butter. It was a close call breaking down and eating some of the chocolate available (along with thoughts of going out and buying myself some), but I suffered through it and hopefully the worst is behind me


Not surprisingly, I didn't have to make myself a big dinner after all that snacking. I boiled up some spaghetti and used the four cheese pasta sauce. I also used the last of the steamed carrots and broccoli that I had as a side dish:

day 19 dinner

I am house sitting until next Monday and I am sure that this will throw some unexpected obstacles that I have not anticipated my way for this $1 challenge. I am glad that I have now built a small cushion where my spending is actually a bit behind $1 a day and we will cross those challenges when they appear.

This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Money Spent $16.57
Money left to spend: 14.43 ($2 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of everything bought: $500.63

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
14 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 20: Forgetfulness Is Costly


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  1. Maybe you need to buy some peanut butter with your $2 CVS money or chocolate!! Good luck. I’m very impressed with how well you have done.

  2. I still have about a half jar of peanut butter — but chocolate with it would be fanatastic!I got a better night’s sleep so I think the munchies will be a bit less today.

  3. Tom L. & I wrote a book (put in “Eating on $1”) on Amazon. That dollar is based on 1600 calories and the suggestion is to only eat that way for a few days. I think you are finding how expensive even bananas are. I bet you are inadvertently losing weight due to reducing variety. The book shows 80 cents for protein of at least 30 grams, $1.50 for five fresh fruits and veggies and then $1 for 1600 calories. So always cooking, it comes to $3.30 with scientific precision. Check the caprisun. If it is a drink not a juice it would be loaded with sugar. Sugar is cheap- 30 cents for 1600 calories. If everyone just cooked rice – 60 cents for 1600 calories, that alone saves a lot of money. Especially for a 15 year old boy who needs 4800 calories. I’m sure others have mentioned your gas expense and cost of printing ink for online coupons. So, good work and I love your donations because, oddly enough, the poor have to pay more.

  4. As I found out yesterday, CVS is having huge chocolate sales this week :). I have learned that it is better to give in and eat a controlled amount of chocolate daily than feel deprived and then end up eating way too much of it.

    I think that you should also be proud of the fact that while doing this you have accumulated enough food to actually be able to binge some and still have enough left to eat your regular meals. Think about how many people who couldn’t have gone this many days on less than $16 worth of food.

    I have been thinking of this challenge much in the last few days and realizing that many of us could be doing much the same as you if needed/wanted to, but how many of the genuinely poor are willing to put in the effort to do all this to feed themselves? It is a huge effort that very few would be willing to take up.

    I also wonder if you kept this up for several more months, when you would find yourself with actually a full pantry and no need to go shopping daily any more. Just your donations to the food bank prove that some items you would have a years supply in your pantry and so instead of having to buy more cereal for instance you could pick up more meat, etc.

  5. @Amanda More – My weight has actually stabilized and I am not losing weight anymore. I think the stomach problems in the beginning (which I eventually found out had nothing to do with my cooking) was the main culprit. While my variety is still limited due to the $1 a day limit, having enough food has not been an issue.

    @Gail — I think that the real problem with the poor is a lack of access to supermarkets. In many areas, they just don’t have large supermarkets where they could get these deals. That being said, I think a lot of people dismiss coupons (I know I used to) as not being as good a deal as store brand / generic foods. I have learned that is not the case for many items. What I have really learned thus far is that I did not know how to coupon and I did not know how to shop before starting this. If you are willing to cook with what you have and only shop the deals available, you can do really well. Even without the $1 a day challenge, this is a smart shopping strategy.

  6. I don’t think it is the poor that are worried about how to feed themselves as cheap as possible. The “poor” are on food stamps. Have you seen how these people pile their buggys up? Last week I was behind a lady that had a total of $380 in 2 buggies. She used her food stamp card then she was charged $25 and some change for Charmin, tide & fabric softener (hello. she bought the most expesive brands there was and she did not use one coupon). Makes one feel stupid for being proud!

    Anyway, thanks for helping me make my budget go further!

    I’m wondering if your bindging could be related to the lack of red meat that you are eating? In the past couple of weeks you have only eaten a very little ground beef.

  7. @Maxin I think the main problem is that most people don’t believe it is possible to get so much for so little using coupons. I have been surprised. I find that the people in line behind me when I do my shopping have looks of bewilderment on how I had just purchased all the food for pennies — especially when they see me walk away with food without handing over any money.

    As for the meat, that really hasn’t been much of a problem for me. I didn’t really eat much before I started this. I did eat a lot more fish and some chicken, but even then they were rarely a big portion of my diet. The same can’t be said with chocolate. That has been a tough one and very similar to how I felt when I weened myself off of soda a few years a go.

    It appears that my weight has stabilized and I am actually gaining back a bit that I had lost those first two weeks. We’ll see if that trend continues.

  8. Pingback: Eating Well On $1 A Day - Grocery Coupon Guide
  9. A good snack food for “those days” is popcorn. At the dollar store and sometimes as loss leaders at grocery stores, you can get 3 bags in a box boxes of salty, buttery microwave popcorn. Or, on a healthier note, if you have an air popper, a very cheap bulk bag of popcorn kernels goes a long way (but, on “those days”, you’d be craving seasoned topping).

    Also, on the chocolate front, a box of instant or cook and serve store brand chocolate pudding mix is 50cents even without coupons. You get 4 servings out of it if you play by there rules, 2 servings if you are realistic about the need to pigout on some chocolate. I’ve found this is a cheap fix for when my little boy and I want some luxury. Don’t forget to factor in, though, that it takes some milk to mix it up.

  10. Maxin, thanks for the inflammatory remarks about “poor people”. I for one am on food stamps & while I would never go to these kind of extremes, I have found this blog to be very useful with changing how I view my spending habits on food. the only reason why I might spend more than the average person on food is because I prefer organic over processed, and food like that is unfortunately not very cheap. and the fact that you are so hyper-aware of other people’s purchases is just sad. what business is it of yours how other people spend their money?? food stamps or not!

    sorry for the rant, but it really chafes my hide that some people think that those of us with less money somehow have it easy because we get food stamps. it isn’t easy. being poor & being unable to work sucks.

    with all respect to pepsi, I would stay far away from microwave popcorn.

    please don’t sacrifice your health even moreso for the sake of saving a dollar. sometimes it is just not worth it. (also, microwave popcorn is pretty icky in my opinion. it’s a lot easier & more fun to make it the old-fashioned way.)

  11. Mirabelle, whatever people’s attitude about the poor or food stamps, the major point I think that is being communicated here in this blog is that with some careful shopping where ever you are at financially you should be able to shop cheaper and still get good food. I personally have been amazed at the food deals at drugstores.

    You will always find people in any money class that doesn’t shop as well as they could. I’m sure for you to eat organic food while using food stamps means you are jumping through some kind of hoops as many of us can’t afford the cost of organic. I think that is what is so hard when we see people on food stamps getting full carts of stuff and spending more than we could ever begin to afford on groceries. Since maxim’s remark was not aimed at YOU I don’t think you should have taken such exception to it. It is hard not to notice what the person ahead of you is buying while waiting in line and the food stamp card is as obvious as a credit card or the old paper food stamps. I myself was stunned one day to see my husband’ cousins wife buy a huge stack of the finest steaks while on foodstamps. And she told me that ‘my husband likes steak’. Well mine did to but we could only afford a chuck steak now and then, not whole stacks of sirloin. I think those are the types of situations that are hard to deal with.

    No it isn’t easy being poor, especially when you are on the edge of what is considered poor. You don’t get help with anything including food or meds and so by the time everything is figured at the end of the year, we have had to do way more than many officially ‘poor’ with less. The lower middle class at this point is probably in a worse struggle than some poor people. At least you know you will get your food stamps each month. Some of us wonder where the grocery money itself will come from. This blog however is very helpful in showing a new and better way to those willing to do the work, maybe not to eat on a $1 a day, but perhaps drop your grocery bills by even 25%-50% would be a huge help.

    As to microwave popcorn. I have a Power Pop (I think the name brand) microwave bowl that I use to pop my corn. You can use the cheapest bagged pop corn and add your own amount of salt, butter, seasonings, etc. My hardest thing was finding the inserts which I ended up ordering on line at Walmart and then picking up next time I was at the store so no shipping charge. So that is yet another way to save on that snack and one no one has mentioned it. I have a glasstop stove and the last thing I would do to it is push a pan back and forth on it like I use to on my gas stove so I had to find a new way.

  12. Comment on food stamps:
    Foodstamps are paid for by us hardworking employed citizens via our income taxes. Therefore we have the right to be concerned about how our tax dollars are being spent and it does irritate us when food stamp customers are buying things that we cannot afford on our full-time salaries! I would certainly not ask that the poor starve but, that they be more thrifty with their purchases.

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