I'm still trying to decide whether I will continue this challenge for another month and that is making for a dilemma on how to spend the last bit of money I have. If this is it, then I want to use it to get something I will really enjoy on the last day, but if I continue, $4 is four days worth of food that could go toward some quality food. I know how I would like to use it, but I will hold off spending until I make a decision either way.

I wasn't planning on buying anything today for the challenge, but I ended up doing so. I went to pick up some free Tide Stain Release and also to pick up 4 more packages of the Smoked Turkey Franks since they were also free and I had coupons (I knew that I wasn't going to eat them, but since they were free, I will donate them to the local food pantry) when I came across an unexpected deal.


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 always browse through the discounted sections at stores to see if there are any good deals that I can match with coupons I have. In the deli meat section, I noticed that Oscar Mayer Deli Creations packages were discounted to $0.99 because their sell date was the end of the month. There is a $1 off 1 coupon for Deli Creations in the 5/16 SmartSource weekly newspaper coupon insert which made them free. I immediately bought all 10 that were marked down and actually made $0.10 (the cashier paid me — many don't when coupons are more than the price of food, but on occasion they do):

day 30 deli creations

day 30 deli creations receipt

Since I am only allow to use 2 of these for this challenge according to the rules, I will see if the food pantry can use the rest of them. I know that they like the packaged meals like this especially for the homeless that stop buy since it is a convenient for them.


I had my usual Corn Flakes with banana on top for breakfast, and I added a couple of scrambled eggs to the side with a large spoonful of salsa. I also had a glass of the 100% white grape / peach juice (half juice, half water):

day 30 breakfast


I used up my last can of tuna and mixed it with the last of the bagged salad and Miracle Whip to make a tuna sandwich. I only had two pieces of bread left and wanted to save one for the last day, so I ate it opened faced. I also had a whole apple:

day 30 lunch


I am really running low on most things, so my dinner was pretty much dictated to me with what was available. I used the rest of the ground beef and made a hamburger and fried up an egg to place on top. I also boiled one of the ears of corn I had:

day 30 dinner

This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Money Spent $26.48
Money left to spend: 4.52 ($2 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of everything bought: $593.19

20 Deli Selections lunch packages
3 ears of corn
1 package of chicken breast deli style (1 lb)
5 packages hardwood smoked turkey franks
1 package of veggie spiral pasta
1 salt and pepper shaker combo
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 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
3 half gallons of milk
36 boxes of cereal
3 dozen eggs
2 avocados
20 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

4 packages hardwood smoked turkey franks
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 31: Final Day


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  1. Quick question: How many coupons do you have of each item you buy?! And where do you keep them?? Do you take them with you everywhere? I’m a little new but I have quite a bi of coupons (not a whole lot of one item though) and have them in an accordian style binder. Suggestions?

  2. According to the rules of this challenge, I am only allowed to use the coupons out of 2 newspaper inserts each week (since that is something that anyone with a bit of creativity could manage). So of the Deli Creations, I can only use two of them for this challenge and need to donate the rest to the food bank.

    I usually have 30+ inserts for each week, but I have to actively go out and get them. I stop buy a few local coffee shops and pick up the ones that people leave behind. I also take a walk on recycling day and collect ones being thrown out. I do this because I buy a lot of food banks for http://www.pennyexperiment.com (another one of my challenge projects).

    I do not carry a binder with me and I do not cut out coupons to sort before hand. Too much time and trouble for me. I leave all the coupons in the inserts and only cut them out when I know I will buy something. This probably won’t work well for most people.

  3. Ok another question (sorry!!) How do you keep track of what you have then if you have that many? I’ve been at this for like a month and have put every coupon I have in a word spreadsheet. It’s time consuming though. Just curious about what’s your method?

  4. I don’t 🙂

    I have no idea what coupons I have. Since I don’t buy by brand or what I want, I don’t need to know. I buy only what is on deep discount so I just wait until advertising inserts come out. I then use a coupon search engine to see if I can match any of the good deals with a coupon that is in one of the old paper inserts.

    Then I am always on the lookout for coupons that give discounts on milk, produce and meat since these are harder to find. That is pretty much my only strategy.

    If you are planning meals on your pantry contents, you can do this, but id you are planning meals and then looking for ingredients, you can’t.

  5. It has been inspiring to read about your progress. You are quite the bargain shopper!

  6. If you decide to continue, I would love to see you chart your hours spent gathering/ clipping coupons and shopping. I think it would be interesting to see how much an hour you would have to get paid at a job to make forgoing coupons worth it.

  7. @Jennifer — I don’t spend much time clipping coupons because I do not clip and sort coupons. There is no way I could ever survive if I had to do that because of how much time it would take. I have a shelf where I simply pile all of the Sunday inserts (I date them so they are easy to find) and then only cut out coupons that make for great deals when the grocery store inserts come out.

    I do spend about an hour on Saturday (drug stores) and an hour on Tuesday (grocery stores) going over the new circulars for the next week bargains to match deals with coupons.

    I do spend more time in the grocery stores looking for coupons there. I definitely do not go in, get my stuff and get out like I used to.

    There is definitely a time commitment involved, but I don’t think it is as much as people might imagine.

  8. What is the coupon search engine that you use? It might not work for me since I’m on the East Coast, but I’d like to try.
    ps-I love PB and B sandwiches. It’s a true southern staple. I’ve been eating them all my life.

  9. I am actually putting together a coupon search engine right now, but it doesn’t have the search function working yet (it should be within a week or so): http://www.savingadvice.com/tools/coupons/ What will be really great about it is that if you find coupons at your local grocery store, you will be able to add them to the database so the more that input, the better the resource will become. Right now I have to search several data bases which is kind of a pain.

  10. It would be interesting if you kept going. My 2 cents if you do:
    – You’ve proven that you can get enough staples to survive on less than $1 per day, so if I were continuing the challenge I’d use the last $4 to obtain some spices. You already have salt & pepper, but if you got an Italian seasoning blend, some garlic and onion powder, some chili powder and/or cumin, and some curry powder and or Chinese 5-spice, you could really have some diversity in your cooking for the next month.
    – I think you’ve done pretty well nutrition-wise, but you’d want to make sure you got some more variety in your fruits and veggies. I especially notice the lack of green leafies, such as spinach and broccoli, and dark antioxidant-rich berries. Frozen is nearly as good as fresh in terms of nutrients, so maybe you could look for deals on that…
    – Your sister’s main complaint has been that “no one would eat” the food you’ve come up with. I actually think it doesn’t sound that bad, but here’s a possible solution: Most people aren’t so desperate that they only have $30 per month for groceries. I bet it would be almost as challenging for people to get by on $1.25 or $1.50 per day. What if you upped the amount slightly, to show people that yeah, you can more than just subsist on $1 per day, but you can eat really, really well on $1.50? $45 per month is still far less than most people spend on food…

  11. So if you do not clip your coupons or keep them with you how do you take advantage of the deals likt the deli creation? Do you scope out the discount sections, then go home to look for a coupon, and then go back to the store again?

  12. @Jenelle

    I learn from experience 🙂 The first time I had to go back. There are certain items that you learn often get discounted and I keep those coupons in the glove compartment of the car (like the deli creations). There really aren’t many of these as most items on clearance shelves are marked at 50% off and that is often higher than can be found at other times. So far I have only had to go back once for a deal like that (although I did have to go back a second time to take back the ice cream on the last day as well)

  13. I just found this site today so I’m reading it all at once…linked thru Daily Dish. Anyhoo, if you do continue I’ve a recipe for a pie that is no-cook and made with Jello, yogurt, cool whip & pre-made crust. You can make it so cheaply, and based on how you’re eating..it would last a long time. It takes about 5 minutes to make & you’re done. 🙂

  14. I can often combine offers to get a bottle of BBQ sauce for near free at the grocery store or, at the most, for 89cents. I find having BBQ sauce helps add perky variety to a budget cooking menu. If anything, you could make cheap, easy sloppy joes (brown the meat, stir in BBQ, put on bread) every now and then. And, now that you can broil, you’ll find that brushing a light coating of BBQ over some kinds vegetables before roasting them under the broiler makes for yumminess!

  15. oh, and I love that you’re getting more creative in your ‘plating’ of the food ‘ala food network’ 😀 cool.

  16. I commend you on sticking to you budget – this was not an easy challenge . . . and your sister is being ridiculous in her comments about your palate . . . however, if part of the challenge was to eat healthy – what you have eaten is mostly – not – you had some fruits and veggies . . . but very little protein and no matter how inexpensive it is, cold cereal is just sugar in a box . . . and a lot of the other foods you had were processed, chemicals, artificial additives – not real food . . . I’m not faulting you, or criticizing because this exercise has demonstrated that for those without financial resources – true healthy eating of wholesome, natural, real foods – is almost always unattainable . . . and kudos for donating all the ‘extras’ to a Food Bank

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