eating well, frugal eating, affordable grocery

Well, it has certainly been an interesting first week with this challenge. It definitely didn’t get off to a good start with me heading to the emergency room (luckily the final verdict was that it wasn’t caused by my food preparations) and me getting antibiotics which have put some restrictions on when I can eat certain foods, but as the week came to a close, I am pretty happy at where I stand.

The number one positive is that I haven’t been hungry this week. I was able to start with nothing on May 1 and get a good foundation of food for less than $10 that should mean that I can concentrate my future spending on a bit more variety (depending on what kind deals I can find). I have actually donated quite a lot of the food away and decided I could part with a bit more as well for the US Postal Service Stamp Out Hunger food drive today.

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 would like to add a little meat if possible since the first week was a vegetarian diet, but I’m also a bit hesitant as I don’t want to come to the end of the month without enough money. I also would like to try some soups this week to get a bit more vegetable variety.

Overall I think the meals have been relatively healthy thus far, and healthier than I had been eating before I started this. This is mainly because I can’t snack like I would normally (I have been having some sugar withdrawals and am hoping there are some chocolate deals at the stores this coming week) and I am eating until I am full instead of everything that happens to be on the plate. One of the goals was to stay the same weight as I was when I started – I have actually lost a couple of pounds, but I think that was more to the two days I ended up in the emergency room and didn’t get a chance to eat for most of the day. I’ll worry a bit more if my weight decreases this next week


I had a lot to do in the morning and thought I might only have the time to eat breakfast early (not two hours after taking the antibiotics when the food restriction eased), so I went with 2 packages of oatmeal and half a banana in the early morning:

day 7 breakfast
I did end up getting some free time at around 10 and ended up putting together a bowl of Corn Flakes with half an apple chopped on top:

day 7 cereal

I love my peanut butter and banana tortillas. I have a feeling that I will continue to have them even after this challenge is over. I ate the last half of avocado (with salsa on top) that I had (they are still on sale for $0.33 a piece until Tues at Safeway, so I am going to try and pick up a couple more). I also added and then a handful of Wheat Thins and one of the cream cheese minis (this is actually a pretty good tasting snack as well):

day 7 lunch

I decided to do something a little bit different from burritos (hey, I love burritos of any kind, so I will probably have a lot more for the rest of the month). I took some of the leftover black beans I had and mixed them with salsa. I then hard boiled a couple of eggs, took out the yolks and mixed them with a bit of salsa as well. I then steamed up some carrots and had myself a meal:

day 7 dinner
I didn’t buy anything new for a second straight day, but I will be making some purchases in the next couple of days. After one week, this is what I have still available to me (this photo is slightly off as I took it midday before lunch and dinner:

1st week stash
0.5 jar of salsa
0.75 bag of black beans
0.5 half gallon of milk (not in photo)
2.5 boxes of Corn Flakes
6 eggs
0.5 avocados
1.75 bananas
1.33 boxes of Quaker Instant oatmeal
13 packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis
0.75 package of Knudsen Light sour cream
4.5 apples
1.5 lbs of carrots
1.5 boxes (small) of Wheat Thins
0.5 jar of Skippy All Natural peanut butter
0.5 bag of long grain brown rice
8 100% whole wheat tortillas

This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Money Spent $9.71
Money left to spend: 21.29
Retail Value of everything bought: $263.24

1 jar of salsa
1 bag of black beans
1 half gallon of milk
4 boxes of Corn Flakes
1 dozen eggs
2 avocados
5 bananas
2 boxes of Quaker Instant oatmeal
14 packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis
1 package of Knudsen Light sour cream
10 apples
2 lbs of carrots
4 boxes (small) of Wheat Thins
1 jar 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 to Food Bank that was purchased with my $1 a day

1 can of Pork & Beans
5 boxes of cereal
50 packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis
4 boxes (small) of Wheat Thins
1 Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean bathroom cleaner
1 Scrubbing Bubbles Extend-A-Clean bathroom cleaner refill

The Beginning::: Day 8: Drinks


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  1. I noticed you use a lot of Philadelphia minis. There are coupons for this product and a lot of others at couponkutters dot com. Thought you like to know.

  2. I purchased them because they were free (actually money makers) with the blinkie coupons that were available in the stores the last two weeks. They allowed me to cut the cost of some of the other things I purchased and I ended up donating the vast majority of them to a local food bank. I definitely don’t need any more cream cheese these days — I still have 13 of the minis left and I can’t imagine I’ll go through all of them this month. As part of this challenge I am not allowed to buy coupons — in fact, I’m only allowed to use the coupons from two Sunday inserts each week.

  3. You are doing great! I am amazed at how much food you still have left! Based on what you have been eating your calorie count is probably on the low end between 1200 and 1400 per day. I’m not surprised that you have lost some weight.

  4. Can you explain again about the cream cheese minis. I’ve been following all week but don’t understand that part. What coupons did you use?

  5. You can see about blinkie coupons here:

    The photo I used for that post is actually the cream cheese blinkies that I was talking about. For two weeks (it is now over) the cream cheese minis were $1.49 each, but if you purchased 5 of them, you got $5.00 off your purchase. This made the cream cheese minis $0.49 each. The blinkie coupon was good for $0.55 off 1 meaning that if I bought 10 cream cheese minis and used 10 $0.55 of 1 coupons, the store would owe me $0.60. If I buy another item, that overage will go toward the cost of that item. So if I bought 10 cream cheese minis, used 10 coupons and bought an apple for $0.75, then when it was all rung up, all I would owe is $0.15 ($0.75 for the apple minus $0.60 overage from the cream cheese mini coupons)

  6. You are doing great on $1 a day! I do have a question about the blinkie cream cheese deal-did you know about this prior to going to the store or did you come up with this while shopping. I’m thinking this part was close to genius! Glad to see that you ate something different for dinner!

  7. Yes, I did know about the cream cheese deal before hand – it had been going on the previous week and I had been buying them for my local food bank since they were better than free. The big question was whether the blinkies would still be around. The stores started to take them down and they were running out of coupons – luckily the store near where I was house sitting still had theirs up.

  8. I think you’re doing great! I’m a vegan so not an expert on meat, but I wonder if canned tuna might be your best bet for something that’s cheap and healthy. I don’t know if you could get mayo for cheap, but tuna salad would be great on Wheat Thins, in tortillas, in a salad or many other ways.

    I was wondering if this series would be interesting since I read another $1-a-day blog awhile back. But while she concentrated on buying in bulk at her local co-op (proving that buying whole foods can be cost-effective), your focus on couponing and utilizing chain stores puts a different, equally interesting spin on the idea.

    I’d love to try something like this but I don’t think my family would join in. I admire you for going it alone–I think I’d feel weird if I were eating totally separately! Plus my goal would be to save money, and it wouldn’t work if they were still buying regular groceries

  9. @ceejay74

    While I definitely wouldn’t recommend trying this with a family that was 100% behind it, the basics are sound for everyday shopping. I have found since I started buying for food banks and that people that have seen the deals that I have gotten have asked me to get things for them too. Seriously, if I can do this, anyone can. I never grocery shopped before the beginning of this year, never used coupons and assumed that generics were less expensive that coupons with brand names. I found I was totally wrong. I think that anyone could you could easily combine this with regular shopping to save quite a bit.

  10. I am GREATLY enjoying your project. I’m a divorced single mom on a critically (ok, downright scary) tight budget, and I have an 11 year old son in a growth spurt who is eating me out of house and home! LOL However, I live in a tiny, rural, poor town, and I don’t have the gas money to drive an hour to the city at will (if it weren’t for the internet, I’d go insane). I only go to the city once every couple of months. So, I’m limited to a very small set of shopping options here in town. Plus, no one offers double coupon days here like some of the city chains do. So, I’m trying to figure out how to gain at least some of the benefits of your experiment in a place where I don’t have as many shopping options as you did.

    My favorite part of your whole project so far? Your donations to the food bank. One of the most difficult adjustments to being poor, for me, has been going from a position of helping to a position of being helped. So, I have really been inspired by this component of your project.

  11. Since you like the banana / peanutbutter tortillas so much, may I suggest adding some honey and sunflower seeds. 😀

  12. I read the first week and I’m not gonna read any more, so I figured I’d comment here. THIS is your idea of a “healthy” diet? I applaud your attempt and the idea certainly is interesting, but I haven’t seen enough variety in week 1 to consider this a healthy diet. Nice try with avocados and whole grains, but I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to eat like you are during this experiment. Eek. I’m glad you’re done!

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