While we had a birthday dinner for my niece's 5th birthday at Red Robin for the family on her actual birthday, today was when she was having her birthday party with all her friends invited:

birthday cake

blowing out candles

This was another event where the food was all paid for so I could take advantage of it (especially since I was recruited to help out setting up, moving all the stuff to the party area at the park and cleaning up afterward). Sandwiches from Whole Foods, various types of salads made by my sister and her husband (potato, rice & bean, mixed green, etc), potato chips and dips, fruit and veggie platters, cake, cookies, beer, wine, drinks. All the makings for stuffing myself and all at no cost. I decided to pass on it.

I think there is an assumption by some of the people that follow this blog that since I only have $1 a day to spend on food, that must mean that I am constantly thinking about food and how deprived I feel. Therefore I must jump at every opportunity to eat free food that presents itself and doing that is against the spirit of this challenge (from some of the comments and emails I have received).

The truth is that I hardly ever think about food except when I need to make something since cooking is still about as much fun as having people scratch their fingernails as hard as they can on a chalkboard right next to my ear. The cravings for sweets that I had when I first started have long passed due to me getting accustomed to not eating as much sugar and I now always having plenty of snacks around when I do get these types of cravings. I am never hungry with plenty of food at my disposal anytime I crave something to eat.

During the 70+ days I have been doing this thus far, I have turned down numerous offers from friends and to take me out and pay for it without a second thought. I even brought my own food to a family BBQ. What makes saying no to these offers difficult isn't that I will be missing out on free food, but that I miss out on the social aspect of getting together with them (it's kind of difficult to bring in your own food to a bar or restaurant).

The only two times I have accepted free meals thus far was for lunch (as part of a job interview for which I wasn't willing to pass up a lot of potential business) and for my nieces birthday dinner where I was specifically invited by her to attend (and I wasn't willing to say no to her). So while I don't personally think that eating the food provided for free at my niece's birthday party is against the rules or even the spirit of this challenge, I haven't been taking advantage of these opportunities because from a food standpoint, there has been no reason to.

I realize that this won't pacify the critics that don't believe I should have accepted any free meals, but I did want to put out there that I certainly could have eaten a lot more than I have. When given a reasonable choice of declining, I have done so.

Apricot Banana Pancakes

I knew it was going to be a long day with getting everything ready for the party so I wanted to be full before taking off to help out. I decided to use up the rest of the pancake batter and topped the pancakes with a apricot banana mixture and had them along with a glass of the blueberry pomegranate juice (half juice / half water):

apricot banana pancakes


Since I was going to be at the party, I decided to pack my own lunch for the day. I simply put leftovers from previous days together – the chicken rice & veggies and the spinach pasta salad. I also filled a container of the toasted Wheat Thin chips and a couple of bananas:

day 71 lunch

I assumed that I would be back in late afternoon from the party, but didn't end up getting back until 7:00 pm. I immediately took Lila for a walk and by the time I had finished that it was 8:00. I had planned to go a day without a peanut butter sandwich (because there are some that continue to feel that this is not a proper meal), but I was just too tired to put together anything else, so that is what I had (and it is still delicious to me despite all the naysayers).

This is the current list of food I still have
This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Goal: 100 days eating on $1 a day
Current Money Spent: $47.19
Money Left to Spend: $52.81 ($5.54 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of Everything Purchased: $1268.64


The Beginning ::: Step By Step CVS Extra Bucks Money Maker Example


Rebate Fanatic. Saving you money every time you shop online! Sign Up and Start Saving Today


  1. Being vegan has no impact whatsoever about the environment. Most creatures are omnivores and therefore eat both animals and plants. It keeps everything in balance. I’m not saying anything about the potential health benefits of a vegan, of which there are quite a few, as well as few compelling detriments but the same can be said about any food lifestyle. But saying that being vegan is better for the environment than animal products really has no truth to it.

  2. A PB sandwich is a meal. Since when did a meal need to contain fruit, veg, meat, and carbs? I think we spend too much time worrying about what we eat and if it’s balanced. So you have a PBS for lunch. So? It’s not like you’ve been eating only that for every meal for this entire challenge. Besides, when you have limited funds, you tend to eat a lot of PB, assuming no allergies, because it’s a cheap source of protein.

  3. This blog has really changed how I go about couponing, I managed to save 43% on my groceries today thanks to you and tomorrow I should be getting 2 canisters of Folgers coffee for free from CVS using the guides you’ve posted. Thank you! I also wanted any of your readers from the northeast to know that Shop Rite currently has a catalina coupon for $2 off your next purchase that is triggered by buying yoplait products. I don’t know what the minimum you have to buy is to get the catalina but I purchased 20 yogurts.

  4. @Lostinbrave: I’m not a vegan myself, but the environmental claim comes from the fact that a pound of beef takes, on average, sixteen pounds of grain, the monetary and environmental cost of transporting that grain, and, in intensive farms, a great deal of antibiotics, as well as an amount of indoor lighting.

    Compare that to the counterexample of simply having sixteen pounds of grain processed into flour, and then potentially into a secondary produce (bread, pasta, etc.), processing which compares well, environmentally, to the cost of slaughtering, butchering and cooking the beef.

    As I say, I’m no vegan, and I take the claims of vegans with a pinch of salt in this matter, because there really are many more “Animals are my friends, do not eat my friends!” vegans than there are environmentalist vegans, but it’s a very real consideration to make.

  5. Jeffrey – I don’t think you need to justify your actions on not eating food when friends and family offer it to you. Your site is wonderful in all capacities and has greatly helped me think about the food I buy in a different light. I think you do a great job using the resources available to you in the best way possible!

    @Everyone else who posted on here: I’m a vegan but that’s not what this blog is about. Don’t turn it into a conversation about that!

  6. Your niece is adorable.

    I am NOT a naysayer on the peanut butter sandwich front. It is just fine. It makes your taste buds happy and your tummy happy. It’s healthier than many things people commonly eat on the run or quickly when they’re tired.

    And, as my little boy says, “Peanut butter sandwiches have a lot of stick,” meaning that they keep him from feeling hungry for longer than many other foods. And, given that he’s a bottomless pit in the middle of a growth spurt, that’s high praise for him to give a food.

  7. I totally think getting free meals from others is a legitimate way to save money and is a major strategy in a lot of survival guides for poor students, especially. I totally think it’s OK to accept the offers as long as you don’t fish for them. Same with church potlucks, grocery store samples, etc.

  8. My name is not a real common name, but first time I have ever heard it used as a name for a dog. Makes me laugh. So thoroughly enjoying your challenge.

  9. Pingback: Eating Well On $1 A Day - Grocery Coupon Guide

Comments are closed.