I should have known that not paying attention in math class would one day come back to haunt me. My math is so bad that I am seriously considering taking a calculator with me to the store from now on (although that still might not be enough). For awhile I thought I might have to take back one of the items I purchased (I hate doing that, but sometimes it has to be done) when the grocery store gods looked kindly upon me and provided me with some unexpected help that more than made up for my mistake.


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


Since I was low on everything and I had such a disastrous day yesterday, I knew that I needed to get some more food. The one positive was that I was well ahead of the game when it came to my $1 a day spending. My first stop was to CVS where I could take advantage of their $4 money making scenario this week:

Gillette or Old Spice Body Wash, 10-18 oz $4.00: Buy 1, Receive $4.00 Extra Bucks, Limit 2

There is also a $4.00 off 2 Gillette Antiperspirants/Deodorants or Body Washes, any from Proctor & Gamble 5/2 Sunday newspaper insert (a number of buy One Get One Free Coupons are also available: BOGO Free Gillette Body Wash from the 5/2 Proctor & Gamble 5/2 Sunday newspaper insert, a BOGO Free Old Spice Body Wash from 4/18 RedPlum Sunday newspaper insert and the BOGO Free Old Spice Body Wash or Fresh Collection Antiperspirant from the 5/2 Proctor & Gamble 5/2 Sunday newspaper insert). Using any of these coupons will make the purchase a $4.00 (actually about $3.25 after taxes) money maker where I can buy other food items to make it work out even.

I plainly knew that taxes were going to take about $0.75 cents of my spending power away when I wrote about this deal a couple of days ago, but I completely forgot to do the calculations that way. Instead, I somehow thought I needed to spend $4.25 (yes, I seriously need to take a math class again). Since I was almost out of bread, I went for another loaf of 100% whole wheat which was $2.50 and then a couple more cans of tuna which were $0.88 a piece making the total $4.26:

day 23 CVS

Of course, after everything was rung up, I ended owing $1.00 instead of the $0.01 I had calculated in my head (I did use $8 in Extra bucks that I had, but I also received $8 in Extra Bucks back, so that was a wash).

day 23 cvs receipt

day 23 cvs extra bucks

I went back out to the car and immediately saw my mistake and began debating whether I should take back a can of the tuna.

Since I had already decided I was going to get some fruit, I decided to head to the grocery store first to think more about it. When I picked up my basket, there was a catalina coupon sitting there for $3 off Safeway brand produce (I seriously think that you could eat well off of nothing more than the coupons people throw away considering how many I have found thrown on the ground. Now that would be a really interesting challenge…). This more made of for my tuna mistake and has me well positioned with food and the amount I have spend going into the last week.

The first thing I had planned to buy was a box of Hamburger Helper. I thought it was priced at $0.99 and I had a $1 off 1 coupon from a General Mills Spanish recipe magazine Que Rica Vida which is sent out every few months and contains good coupons (you can sign up for it here – it is well worth the 5 minutes it takes to do so). When I got to the Hamburger Helper, I saw that the price was $0.99 each if you bought four (this is one of the most difficult parts of eating on $1 a day — some of the best deals require a purchase in bulk). What was interesting was that they had advertising showing a catalina deal where if you buy 4 Hamburger Helper boxes, you will get $2 off ground beef coupon on your next purchase. With the $1 off 1 coupon and $1 of 3 online printable coupon ( if you use Internet Explorer browser or if you use the FireFox browser), it would make the 4 boxes $2 and I would get a coupon for $2 off ground beef. I'm still deciding if that would be a good way to spend 2 days worth of food, but would be a good deal for anyone that uses Hamburger Helper from time to time.

I did use the coupon I got for free Kraft macaroni and cheese (while I don't think that samples will get to me in time, I am still filling out free sample offers on the slim chance I decide to extend this challenge past one month). I then added 3 bananas, a couple of tomatoes, a bag of lettuce mix and a bag of Safeway brand apples. Those put me back $3.13 after coupons:

Day 23 safeway

day 23 safeway store receipt

So all together I spent $4.13 for all of the above. The body wash will be donated to the food bank that also distributes those items. The bread should last me the rest of this challenge and I now have at least one apple to eat each day for the rest of the challenge. I am low on milk (should have enough for breakfast tomorrow morning and that is it) and eggs will be cutting it close (six left). I will do another inventory of what I have when I finish the house sitting.

I also found some good coupons at the store. They were $1 off 1 for Odwalla juice (any size) and don't expire until December so there should be a good deal in there somewhere. My sister buys this juice a lot for her kids as well:

day 23 found coupons

It is always good to keep your eyes open for coupons that you may use in the future when shopping as some of the best coupons can be found in the stores.


Breakfast was quick and easy. I was up until 3:00 AM doing work on my other websites and I ended up sleeping until 8:00 – a couple of hours later than I usually get up. Not wanting to deal with oatmeal that wasn't flavored and needing to get out of the house as quickly as possible to make sure I could take advantage of the CVS deal before they sold out, I simply had a bowl of Corn Flakes (actually two since I still felt hungry after finishing the first)

day 23 breakfast


For lunch, I used the last of my old loaf of bread and the first slice of my new bread to make a peanut butter and banana sandwich and then cut up a full apple as well for a simple lunch, but one that tasted great after yesterday:

day 23 lunch

I am out of snacks, so I am going to have to find something to remedy that…


For dinner, I cooked up the pasta from the macaroni and cheese, but didn't use the cheese (any ideas on how I may be able to use that in something else?). Instead, I took took a can of the tuna, chopped up half a tomato and a handful of the bagged salad (iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, carrots and red cabbage). I then added Miracle Whip and the pasta for a pasta tuna salad:

day 23 dinner

I will certainly be glad to get back home after house sitting a be a little more stable for the rest of this challenge. I think that although I do need a few more staples, I am in pretty good shape even if next week doesn't produce any great grocery store deals.

This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Money Spent $20.70
Money left to spend: 10.30 ($2 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of everything bought: $526.72

1 bag of salad
1 package of macaroni and cheese
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
6 tomatoes
2 broccoli crowns
2 loaves of bread
2 jars of Classico pasta sauce
2 Safeway brand pasta (spaghetti and rotini)
1 celery stalk
2 bags tortilla chips
5 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
17 bananas
2 boxes of Quaker Instant oatmeal
55 packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis
1 package of Knudsen Light sour cream
20 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

2 Gillette body wash
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 24: One More Week


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  1. I envy you your catalina finds. People here are litter conscious and coupons or even flyers in carts are unusual. The stores are clean, clean, clean. Even the public restrooms tidy and clean. But, I will keep looking as hope springs eternal. I’m more likely to find pennies on the ground than coupons or trash.

  2. You can use your cheese mix over popcorn. My kids do that, but we also do hot sauce popcorn or caramel corn. But we use a stove top popper for healthy and CHEAPER popcorn. (Makes a difference when you pop your corn into a 20 quart bowl!)

  3. Like Traci said you could use it as a seasoning, but what I do is use it almost like cheese.

    If you have a bit of milk, mix it up with the mix and pour it over a piece of beef or something that you normally eat with cheese.

    Use it with the bit of Turkey Breast you have left for a good quick lunch.

  4. Re: the cheese packet…

    When I was in college, one of my roommates used to make mac&cheese with frozen veggies added to it (and sometimes tuna). I started doing that and realized that you definitely don’t need to use the entire cheese packet when you make ONE box. By only using a tsp or two at a time, you can stretch the packet and use it on plain pasta that you get for $1/box — many more meals for less money that way.

    Granted, it isn’t the healthiest food in the world, but it cuts down on the sodium you’d get from using the WHOLE cheese packet at once each time you make mac&cheese.

  5. Try mixing some of that cheese into plain oatmeal. Sounds gross, I know — but I frequently mix shredded cheddar cheese into plain-flavor oatmeal, along with some black pepper. Although the texture is completely different, it tastes like macaroni and cheese — with the added benefit of healthy oatmeal as the base.

  6. *crinkles nose* Not particularly thrilled with your bag of lettuce as a wise purchase. But, at the same time, by this point you were at a level of your experiment where you needed something pleasing for yourself even if it was impractical. So, I guess for an indulgence, this one was fairly harmless. 😉

  7. This is a bit late, but when I was in college, we would use the macaroni and cheese like you did, to make it go farther (for some reason we could chow down a whole box of mac and cheese, but separated it would last for two meals). We would mix the cheese packet with some cream cheese (and my roommate would add mayo and pimientos) and use it as a cheese spread or dip. We would also add a few teaspoons to chicken-flavored ramen noodles, and it would make it so much better. You could probably add it to salsa and sour cream for a really good dip.

  8. I sometimes use the cheese mix along with a little milk and mash potatoes with it. Also adding it to the water when boiling plain rice gives cheesy rice flavor just not too much. I usually use half the packet with the mac n cheese and save half to make my own later with any box of pasta I have on hand

  9. I can’t remember if you indulge this later, but you can bulk up cold pasta salad dishes with some of that bagged (or chopped) lettuce. You can get two servings of pasta salad out of one this way, though I make no guarantees as to how filling it is for you.

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