I woke up without much motivation to cook, but at least with a bit more sleep. What I did know was that eating junk food all day wasn't going to cut it for a second day in a row.

One thing that I have learned about myself is although I don't care what I eat, if there is something lying around, I will eat it. Having all those snacks around just wasn't going to end well when I know I am like that. Therefore I am donating the other 5 Ritz Bits packages to the local food bank (along with 12 other bags I had picked up during the week on my walks, but knew I wouldn't be eating myself and would be going to the food bank). It will be a challenge to have enough snacks around so that I don't feel deprived while not having too many so that I feel it is OK to binge on them…

Ritz bits

Cherry Plum Smoothie

I did get myself motivated enough to make myself a morning smoothie with the rest of the cherry plums I had. I also took the advice from a number of readers saying the smoothies were likely thicker here because I was now using frozen bananas instead of fresh ones. To compensate for this, I added a bit of the blueberry pomegranate juice I had and it made all the difference – and we are back to perfect smoothies again:

cherry plum smoothie

Peanut Butter Celery & Cream Cheese Carrots

I knew that the only way to stay away from the snacks today was to limit the amount I was going to allow myself (I usually don't like doing this because it usually makes me feel deprived and wanting more, but I needed to lay down some parameters for at least the next couple of days) to one granola bar per day. That meant that I was going to need to find another snack for when those cravings came and I opted for peanut butter celery and cream cheese carrots:

peanut butter celery

carrots and cream cheese

In addition, I ate the last of my Fiber One Strawberry yogurt.

fiber one yogurt

Combining these snacks with the old reliable peanut butter and banana sandwich kept me from craving the junk food.

Chicken & Veggies Over Rice

I began to look for recipes and as soon as I did, my head started to hurt. While I had managed to suppress the cooking rebellion, it was still there. I decided to forget about following any recipe and just throw together some stuff I had since I felt at this point cooking, no matter how badly it turned out, was better than letting the rebellion come back in full force. I started off by cooking one of the chicken breasts I still had in Italian salad dressing:

chicken Italian salad dressing

Once the chicken breast was cooked, I took it out but left the remains of the Italian dressing in the pan. I then threw in a bunch of veggies I had on hand: green pepper, onion, broccoli and tomato. I added a bit of salt, pepper and garlic powder. After cooking those awhile, I took one strip from the chicken breast, cut it into small pieces and added it in with the veggies:

veggies with chicken

I then took the rest of the rice I had leftover, placed that in a bowl and put the chicken veggies on top:

chicken veggie rice

It turned out darn pretty well and I would have no problem making it again. More importantly, it got me back onto the cooking horse which I hope to stay on for a long while…

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: $49.15
Money Left to Spend: $50.85 ($5.83 must be spent at CVS, $1.50 must be spent at Safeway)
Retail Value of Everything Purchased: $1370.97


The Beginning :::
Day 78: The Plastic Bag Omelet

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  1. You have now gotten the basics of cooking a dish without a recipe! That’s how alot of good cooks do it. I know now what will taste good in certain combinations and when I have a need for a speedy dinner I can count on those things for a tasty meal! Good for you!

  2. You’ve discovered the trick: Make good snacks in advance, and you’ll have something better to eat than chips & candy. Recipes are just tools, not rules.

  3. Have you ever checked out neighborhoodfruit.com? It shows you fruit bearing trees in your area on public lands that you can pick from. It might help you find some new foraging spots.

  4. I was thinking about you and your contributions to food banks today. I really admire you for how you help people who might be at a low point in their life. I think that that your snacks and treats that you donate add a touch of humanity to an austere food box. (I’m not disrespecting food banks, just we who should donate more.) Can you imagine what they must feel like, waiting in line for free food, hoping to get something that is halfway decent. The recipient gets the box home, and among the cans of Lima beans and black eyed peas, they find a cheerful bag of snacks.

    Massive Kudos to you Jeffrey, for all the hungry bellies you have filled with your amazing efforts and for all the smiles you have created by realizing that sometimes, a small bag of goodies can go a long way to helping someone feel better during a bleak and difficult time.

  5. @ Dana

    Thank you, but it really isn’t anything special. Anyone can do it and I hope that this whole series encourages a lot of people to begin doing so if they don’t already. The truth is that before I started Penny Experiment, I had never been to a food bank (which further proves that anyone can do it). I’m just trying to make up for previous years I should have been doing it 🙂

  6. I think that this dinner looks like one of the best you’ve made yet! I like to cook without recipes, too.

  7. What is the function in the meal/snack of the wheat thins when you have them with a PB&B and a glass of juice? The reason I ask is because that’s a lot of carbs for a single meal. If the function is crunch/texture, perhaps you could do something like you did here and substitute celery and/or carrots. This would also get you an additional vegetable serving without having to think too much.

  8. @Anne

    To be perfectly honest, because I like them and I get snack cravings. I have to have my snacks or I would go absolutely nuts (it’s bad enough that I have to cook for myself).

  9. I understand the snack craving. I keep carrots and hummus around all the time just so I can have some anytime I want.

  10. @Anne

    I think our definition of a “snack” is a bit different. Sometimes i like junk food. I’m trying to make that junk food as healthy as possible, but it still has to be junk food. Sometimes healthy food just doesn’t hit the spot for me and that is why I had those snacks. It’s not something I am very proud of (I would love it if I was satisfied with more healthy snacks all the time), but it is reality. Sometimes I just like to have junk food.

  11. We also keep tortilla chips or rice chips and salsa around because my husband loves them. I also prefer Triscuits to Wheat Thins. I usually put peanut butter and blueberries or strawberries on them with a kosher dill pickle on the side. Where you want junk food, I want sweet and savory together. Hence the carrots and hummus. Even though we go for different tastes, the craving is there and inexplicable to those who don’t crave.

  12. Also I meant that, if you include them in your meal/snack because they are junk food, then, of course, carrots or celery won’t do. I feel the same about my sweet savory combinations. When that’s what I want, either sweet or savory by themselves won’t do. The carrots and hummus mean that I always have the means to satisfy that craving, just as your Wheat Thins satisfy yours.

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

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