I'm not sure if I should be happy that word is getting out that people can cut their shopping bills while helping those in their local community or if I should be hiding in shame in a deep, dark corner. It is definitely a double edged sword when articles refer to you as The Coupon Man when you dislike couponing as much as I do…

I have had a number of people wanting to know more about me which I also view as a double edged sword, but one that is dancing precariously close to my neck. That is because I am nowhere near as interesting as some of you apparently believe someone stupid enough to make this type of bet with his sister must be. Here are a few questions that have come my way:

What are you like in real life?

Pretty boring. You know that guy that you see in the corner of the coffee shop typing away at his computer day after day as you come in to get your daily cup of Joe? That could very well be me.

Is house sitting your job?

No. House sitting is actually my charity work. I don't charge when I house site, but instead ask the person I am house sitting for to make a donation to their local SPCA in the amount they would have had to pay to place their pet(s) into a kennel while they were gone. I see this as a win-win situation for all involved.

What is your real job?

I am not sure that I have ever had a “real job” (Okay, I did a long time ago and hated it, so I would rather just forget about that) — currently I make my living as a professional blogger / website owner. I write several blogs and run several websites. I don't make a huge amount of money, but then I can eat well on less than $1 a day so I don't need a lot πŸ™‚

How do you stay motivated?

I have a lot of little quirks that I use to stay motivated. For example, I take a lot of walks (my time to think and relax) and I watch a video each morning as I start the day — things like that. (this is the video I have been watching this week — how can you have a bad day when you start the morning watching something like this?)

I also have a lot of quote all over the place so I constantly see them and remind myself of my goals. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed individuals can change the world. Indeed, it's the only that ever has.” (Margret Mead) is written on my computer and “Every man is guilty of all the good he didn't do.” (Voltaire) is on my bag (feel free to share quotes that inspire you – I love them)

What do you do in your spare time?

Spare time? What is that?

If you have questions about me and why I do this, feel free to ask them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them (or ask any questions you have about this challenge). Also feel free to leave the reason(s) you have decided to follow this challenge as I am as curious about all of you and what has prompted each of you to join me along in this journey.

Black Plum Smoothie

I took another walk by the school with the plum trees and picked up a few more so that I could have the morning smoothie with fresh fruit again (plums, frozen banana, ice and blueberry juice)

black plum smoothie

Eggs, Toast & Veggies

It is so nice having leftovers that I can easily make into a quick meal (I just need to make sure I don't get lazy and rely on the leftovers and never make anything new). I warmed up the roasted veggies and decided to cook up a couple of eggs and place them on whole wheat toast (with a couple of strawberries on the side). Nothing fancy, but good tasting, quick and easy:

eggs toast veggies breakfast

Chicken Stroganoff

I just don't know how to leave well enough alone. After my last attempt with chicken stroganoff I should have just accepted that it was a dish that wasn't meant for me. Of course, that would be assuming that a person that decided to eat well on $1 a day actually has common sense. So I tried the recipe again, this time with sour cream in the refrigerator.

I did have to make some simple substitutions on the veggies and used onions, green peppers and real garlic along with the rest of the chicken breast I had previously cooked:

chicken stroganoff veggies

I must admit that the finished product using sour cream instead of ranch salad dressing turned out many times better, but I think that I chickened out and didn't place enough sour cream into the dish. I was expecting a creamier meal than it turned out. If course, now I will have to debate with myself whether or not to attempt it again…

chicken stroganoff

Banana Peanut Butter Ice Cream

There are some days that you will always remember and today is one for me because I discovered the absolutely perfect dessert of all time (it is going to be difficult for me not to eat this on a daily basis — and the best part is that it's healthy so nobody can really complain)

Somehow the people following this blog have figured out that I like peanut butter and banana in combination. pepsibookcat left a comment about frozen bananas on boingboing and DeeAnn then emailed me the frozen banana peanut butter & honey ice cream recipe. I don't have honey on hand, but do you think that would ever stop me from trying something like this? Frozen banana and peanut butter (that was it — one frozen banana and one spoonful of peanut butter mixed in a blender) and I was in instant heaven!

banana peanut butter ice cream

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: $48.85
Money Left to Spend: $51.05 ($6.17 must be spent at CVS, $1.50 must be spent at Safeway)
Retail Value of Everything Purchased: $1396.37


The Beginning ::: Day 82: Some Foods Don't Mix


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  1. I think it is super fun to read your blog- very interesting and great to see the deals you get. I am a super couponer mom who likes to find deals- I am currently attempting to also incorporate eating healthier as in no HFCS and more organic and hormone free meat…on a food budget of $350 for 5 people for the month this has not been easy but we are slowly trying- so I am looking for any tips I can find!! Keep writing I really enjoy it!!

  2. I look forward to reading your blog every day to see what deals or fruit freebies you have found. I live in the Boston area and there are no fruit trees anywhere where I walk (im so jealous!:) I’m trying to lower my grocery bill too and watching your methods has really helped. I wonder how you come up with these cool ideas for support so many worthy causes? Have you always been this way or was it the result of some experience you had? Keep up the great work!

  3. Jeffrey, this was an interesting read. I am putting you in the back of my mind for pet sitting. πŸ˜€

  4. I wonder how you come up with these cool ideas for support so many worthy causes? Have you always been this way or was it the result of some experience you had?

    Sadly, no, it has not always been this way. In fact, I just began at the end of last year (more proof that anyone that decides they want to help, can) — total random when I happened to find a penny. I always thought about helping others and making a difference, but it always remained a thought until recently. Once started, I just try to figure out ways to do things where everyone involved wins.

  5. I lllllooovvvveee this blog. i read it every day. I even read it outloud to my husband. I love it. It gives me hope i can do things like that. plus gives me ideas of how to make things work so that i can pull off the same type of good deals. Keep up the good work! wish you were goin to go longer..i still have lots to learn. lol.

  6. I stumbled onto your blog by accident somewhere around day 20 and was so fascinated I read days 1-19 in one sitting. I guess I’d be a “crazy couponer”…my monthly budget for a family of 4 is $130. And, I follow several other couponing blogs. But, I read yours daily because your approach is so different and your chronicling of your journey is super fun reading. I am hoping you’ll still be around in some form or another on day 101.

  7. When I was reading your answer about why you house sit, I thought you were going to say that you have the people write a check to their favorite food bank. With pets, though, I understand why SPCA.

  8. At the first of this month, after catching up on your challenge and progress, I decided to start something similar for my family. I’m starting slower than you did though, with $2/day allotted for each member of my family. I have 4 kids (expensive), myself and my husband, and my mother (expensive). I didn’t start off too well because I didn’t do enough planning, so I only have $6.65 left for the month. But I think I can make it on that with some careful execution.
    I began my challenge here: http://www.abczoohome.com/Site/home/Entries/2010/7/4_Changes_in_the_second_half.html

  9. Why do I read your blog? Mostly because it is just fun. I coupon and follow a few couponing sites, but what I like about yours is that we get to see exactily you choose to buy and what you do with it.

    I know your sister will not believe this but I have gleened inspiration from your meals. The day you made roasted veg and a fritata, I went home and made a similer one for my family that night for dinner. I have also been making PB&B sandwiches for my youngest daughter. she LOVES them. πŸ™‚ Which reminds me I am going to have to try that ice cream.

    Anyway, I really enjoy your blog and your perspective. Thanks!

  10. Have you gotten any marriage proposals yet?

    Ha, no – I’m sure that one look at my cooking skills scared them all away πŸ˜‰

  11. Heh heh heh. Well sir you have inspired me to have a milkshake (vanilla soy, frozen bananas, frozen strawberries) every night with my supper so I must thank you for that! Great and healthy way to cool off after a workout.

    Also, I make the peanut butter banana concoction semi frequently for a bit more healthy dessert πŸ˜€ If you refreeze it after you mix it together it takes on a frozen yogurt-like texture. And I know you don’t have any maple syrup but you could substitute that in the recipe DeeAnn sent you as well. Happy eating!

  12. I LOVE your blog. I think your challenge is awesome, but I also find your unique job situation inspiring. I feel ridiculously pressured to have a “career” even though I really don’t want what that traditionally means. Your lifestyle gives me hope that I can do something that is not a “real job” too.

  13. I follow your blog partly because I like seeing what you’ve come up with each day, and see how your Penny Experiment works out…
    Partly because I’m working on keeping 5 adults fed, which I can usually do on $100 a month without coupons, and hoping to do better…
    And partly because I’ve been looking for inspiration on how to help others, and what to do with my life. I don’t know that this is it, but I’ll keep helping where I can.

  14. Okay, you’re going to laugh at this, but I read this blog partly because I think you have figured out the ideal way to learn how to cook, and it inspires me.

    Right now, I cook by finding a recipe I like, spending a fortune on ingredients, spending a huge amount of time making something moderately tasty, and the net gain is one difficult expensive recipe learned.

    But now I’m thinking of it differently: what if I look at what I already have in the fridge/pantry and figure out how to combine it into something delicious? Isn’t that what the best Italian grandmoms do? Or any really good home cook? That way every recipe has a net gain of learning building block skills that can make me a Good Cook, not just master of one recipe.

    Your post about ranch dressing stroganoff was a perfect example. You learned something: ranch dressing = pasta salad; sour cream = stroganoff. Learn enough lessons like that, and you could feed a whole family interesting meals for life. My guess is that you won’t be able to call yourself a “bad cook” for much longer πŸ˜‰

  15. I finally caught up last night. Since I have a CVS in my town, and I need a few things anyway, I am going to see what sort of savings I can get. I know I won’t get out of there as cheaply as you do. I have no newspaper insert coupons and doubt that I will be finding any today anywhere. But I have the online coupons for a few things in the CBS sale ad. I hope I can get a good CVS Extra care coupon when I walk it. I have no Extra Care bucks yet. However, after the purchases I plan to make, I should be earning a lot for future purchases.

    I am inspired to try and do something similar as you have done but it won’t be so drastic. I have a husband who wouldn’t be onboard with any “crazy ideas”. *roll eyes*

  16. I do lots of work with nonprofits that try to bring food security to food desert neighborhoods. Your specific case proves that you don’t have to like shopping or cooking or have a lot of money or money to eat a healthy, well balanced diet. So I’m sort of stealing your recipes and keeping track of what you do for my own devices.

  17. @roxie

    Take $10 a “play money” and do the best you can with it. It takes some time and practice and if you view the money as “play money” (your charitable contribution for the month because by learning this skill, you will be able to donate a lot of stuff in the future to your local food bank) you won’t get down when a mistake is made — just learn from it and move one. Good luck and can’t wait to hear how it turns out.

  18. I’m a fan of Food, Inc. on FB and they posted an article written about you the other day. After reading the article, I was instantly hooked and began reading your entire blog from the beginning. It’s taken me several days, but I am caught up and finally ready to comment.

    I love this blog! I was fascinated from the get-go on how anybody in the world could get these kinds of deals, survive and EAT WELL (and yes, PB&H are delicious sandwiches) on less than $1 a day. Even though I was a finance major in college, some of the math was a bit confusing – so I’ll really look forward to the guide.

    You are inspirational. My husband and I took a look at our budget the other week and I honestly cried at how deep in dept we are and how little we had left over to spend on food. Your experiences outlined here have given me hope, though! Surely, if you can eat for 81 days (and eat as great as you do), spending less than $50 – then my budget of $350 for a family of 4 should be able to last a whole month.

    Now, I’ve got obstacles to overcome. I’m not sure how many stores in my area will do these types of deals. I have CVS (which is brand new to the area). I am going to have to search out stores. I have about 100 Wal-Marts and Neighborhood Markets. No Albertsons or Safeways. Boo. But I have a Food Pyramid, which do the catalinas, so I’m hoping that might be a good start. I’m also taxed 8.5% on all items, even food, so that will also play a role. But I’ve already been to CVS.com and signed up for the card. I do receive the Red Plum circulars in the mail and have access to additional inserts, given your advice. I’m on my way!

    So, why do I read your blog? Hope and Inspiration.

    Thank you and keep up the great work.

  19. Ok..home from CVS. My Son-in-law went with me. He is recovering from surgery and wanted to get out of the house, so I told him about the new “game” I am starting and showed him the plan for CVS. They were out of the Celsius water, but gave me a raincheck. I got the M&M pretzels 2/$1 and got the $1.00 back on Extra Buck coupon. So SIL and I will have dessert after while. I scanned my card when I went in and got a .79 coupon for a Dove large candy bar. They didn’t have any large ones in stock but the cashier let me buy a regular one for .89 and took the coupon off that. So a Dove Dark choc. candy bar for .10!!! Yay!! I have two grandsons at potty training stage and another grandson on the way. So I decided to also take advantage of the Huggies Pull-ups deal. They were 8.99 and I printed a $2.00 coupon onlins so I paid 6.99 for them but got a $3.00 extra bucks coupon. Altogether they cost me 3.99. There were a couple of other small items that were on sale with the extra card that I could use. No other special deals on them. I also took an extra .50 coupon off the Honest Tea that they had on sale w/card at 2/$3.00.

    So what I actually brought home today would have cost me $22.42 plus tax at regular prices if I had no Extra care card or coupons. I actually paid $12.57 not including the tax and walked out with $4.00 Extra Buck coupons for next time I go in.

    The son-in-law was impressed and now wants to see if we can find some similar deals at other stores too. πŸ™‚

    I can go back next week and get the celsius tea for 7.99 and use my $2. coupon and my $4 extra bucks and end up with another 7.99 back on extra care bucks….I think.

    I just have to be careful to not lose these coupons!!

  20. @roxie,

    I can go back next week and get the celsius tea for 7.99 and use my $2. coupon and my $4 extra bucks and end up with another 7.99 back on extra care bucks….I think.

    Yep, that is exactly how to play the game. The best part is that the more you do it, the better you get at it.

  21. Why do I read this blog? I find couponing a very interesting concept. Not to mention your adventures in cooking (and gathering/buying food) are convincingly real, it’s very attractive to continue following it. As many have already said, you are an inspiration. In my case, you inspire me to continue with my own journey in cooking.

  22. Stubled on this yesterday, finished reading today. πŸ˜€ Great stuff!

    Though we don’t do coupons here in Canada like you do in the States, what’s been most inspiring to me is your developing cooking skills, your determination to help others, and the alternative lifestyle you’re living. Those I can replicate at least a little in my own life!

    And like the rest, I feel your sister is OTL with regards to the PB and banana combo. Years ago, I attended a nutrition seminar for university students. The presenter said that an ideal meal had three components: Simple sugar for immediate energy (fruit, like bananas), complex carbs for medium-lasting energy (like the whole wheat breat), and protein and a little fat, for that long-lasting fill up (peanut butter). The PB and banana sandwich is an ideal combo for a nutritious, filling meal.

  23. I’ve been following along with your blog because it’s interesting. I new at couponing and finally there is someone explaining how to do this. I don’t have the time to clip organize and what not. I like how you show that it’s really simple. I am not looking forward to day 101 if you stop at 100. πŸ™‚ One question I do have and maybe you answered it and I just missed it was in an earlier post you mentioned you eat corn one kernel at a time like the Japanese do. How is that? do you wiggle kernels out with your fingers?

  24. I just found your blog the other night. Food Inc posted a link to an article about you on Facebook. anyway, i’m in the bay area, though up north around concord. but I’d love to get together with you and a few other like minded folks some sat or sun afternoon. I’ve called myself the coupon ninja for a while now. and I certainly employee your techniques. but I love your challenge and am feeling inspired to challenge myself to do better.

    I do have a few ideas for cooking. If you end up with lots of potatoes again, I’d suggest making a large batch of mashed potatoes and freezing individual portions. For frying breakfast potatoes, I prefer using a leftover baked potato. It’s really fast to cook that way. Leftover mashed potatoes are also great to cook up for breakfast, like a potato pancake and get it nice and crispy on each side.

    If you end up with extra berries in the future, freeze them. You can sprinkle a little sugar on them first, but it’s not necessary. When you thaw them they’ll be mushy and watery, but that’d be perfect for your pancakes in the morning. There’s no need to do it if you can use them while fresh, but if you have more than you can eat it’s a great option.

    can’t wait to keep reading your blog each day!

  25. had one other idea for you. i see you’re almost out of tomatoes now, but I know you’ve had lots before. one of my favorite sandwiches is sliced tomatoes on toast smeared with cream cheese. good way to use up the cream cheese too.

  26. Hi Jeffrey,

    You asked why we are following the site. What you’re doing is very interesting to me because I think we’re approaching similar goals in very different ways.

    In my house we have a lot of organic, carefully and ethically foods we’ve bought in bulk. And we have a big garden out back. We shop at whole foods and pay a premium for good ingredients (organic vegetables, local organic honey, local, organic tofu, etc).

    But in the end, despite the care we take with our food, we can eat for close to $2 a day.

    Today I made two big pans of lasagna for my house. The noodles I made from scratch from our 50 lb bag of organic whole wheat flour. Two pans worth was three cups of flour… maybe $0.75 worth of flour. The tomatoes came from our garden, and I put in collard and mustard greens as well.

    Instead of ricotta I used “okara” which is the byproduct of the soy milk we make every day in our soy milk machine. $0.25 worth of beans gives us a quart of soy milk, and a few cups of okara. If you add canola oil, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper and herbs you get a delicious ricotta substitute.

    In the end, two pans of lasagna cost us maybe $2. All the ingredients were organic, used a minimum of packaging, had a minimal carbon footprint, included no chemicals whatsoever… and in the end the food is much more nutrient dense (whole wheat, fresh veggies, etc) than lasagna you get anywhere else.

    And tasty too.

    So, that’s kind of the ideal that we strive for in our house. And I see so many parallels with what you’re doing, it’s really inspiring. I particularly like how accessible what you’re doing is. You don’t have to start a garden or buy huge bulk bags of things… you just go to the store every week. Bravo for that.

    Anyway, thanks for the continuing updates, and thank you for the quotes and reminding me of that Bright Eyes video. Inspiring stuff.

  27. Alas no such coupon deals in Belgium … to my knowledge … Are there any Belgian couponers following this blow, please give me a shout πŸ˜‰

  28. 1. I don’t see how one makes any money blogging at all. People do it for free all the time.
    2. Who is David Butler?
    3. You may have answered this before and I missed it but, do your local supermarkets advertise catalina deals in their flyers? I can’t figure out how you find out about them in advance to get the coupons you need for the deals since you say you don’t clip and file. Again, outside of the drugstores, our local markets don’t seem to advertise such things at all. Any suggestions? I have found some of your other hints invaluable.

  29. Actually, I would LOVE to know how to make money at blogging and running website. I have a website/business that is just plain slow right now but I take good part of the blame for that. I am not working off the farm, and farming doesn’t pay. I will be taking care of grandchild after he’s born but sure would like to have an income from home.

    CVS follow-up: When I took my SIL home yesterday, we swung by the CVS that is closer to his house to see what we could do with the Extra-care bucks and coupons from earlier in the day. I bought another package of Huggies Pull-ups (they will get used since I have twin grandsons at the potty-training stage) for $8.99 and I had another $2 off coupon for those. They didn’t give me another $3 ExtraCare Bucks though…offer limited to one. That was what I wanted to learn. This store did have the Celsius water, so I bought it, used my $2 off coupon, my $4.00 extracare buck from earlier in the day
    and received my $7.99 ExtraCare bucks for a future visit. So the pullups and water cost me under $10 and I have the 7.99 credit to use later. Not bad for a first day experiment.

  30. I would LOVE to know how to make money at blogging and running website.

    A lot of hard work and long hours! When I decided that I wanted to make blogging my full time job, I actually was working full time. I would work a full day, come home and blog / create content for another 6 – 8 hours so it was basically like having two full time jobs. I did this for 2 years before I made a single penny from the blogging. Anyone that tells you making a full time income blogging is easy has no idea what they are talking about πŸ˜‰

    The good part is now all the hard work has been done. I am basically free to pick the type of blogging projects I want like this and Penny Experiment without having to worry too much about whether they are financially successful or not. Was it worth it? Most definitley. Was it easy? Far from it…

  31. I don’t see how one makes any money blogging at all. People do it for free all the time.

    see above

    Who is David Butler?


    Do your local supermarkets advertise catalina deals in their flyers?

    If your store is good (which many aren’t), they will label the catalina deals with the price tag or with some type of advertising. The also announce upcoming catalina deals with catalina coupons, but they are often difficult to find.











  33. This is my first comment, but I’ve been (silently) following your blog since you started the $1 a day challenge – so inspirational!

    I’m curious as to which type of blender you use? Your smoothies always look perfectly blended! I tried the peanut butter/banana ice cream today, and while the parts that did blend turned out delicious, it was mostly a lumpy frozen mess.

  34. @Maggie

    Whatever blender happens to be at the place I’m staying – most appear to be older models and nothing fancy. That being said, it does take patience and a lot of stop-go to get it to that consistency

  35. Hi Jeffery, I found your blog when a friend posted day 90 on his facebook page. I have become hooked. Right now I am basically surviving off of food banks, I go there for what ever is available and then try to come up with ways to spend the least amount as possible. My husband and I were both laid off last year. He has since found work (making A LOT less money). We have two small children 5 and 7 both boys who eat a lot. You have really been giving me hope. The food pantries around here don’t have a lot of personal hygiene items and I sometimes we run out of needed items. While I always make do and can really stretch our budget sometimes I get so stressed out that I cry. I have been couponing the wrong way and am going to start trying your way. I enjoy your blog very much. I’m trying to catch up I just found it yesterday (my farm on fv has probably withered by now lol). Thank you for all that you do for your local food bank. With these hard times I don’t know where my family would be with out the two that I am able to go to. I hope that you don’t stop this challenge. That you can keep it going.

  36. I don’t coupon. I am fortunate enough to be able to buy whatever food I’d like, but there were years when I learned to cook very cheap indeed. I followed a link to this blog, and was fascinated. I love food, I love cooking, and I like reading about the details of how things work. I will be sad when I get to the end of the 100 days reading.

  37. Quotes for you:

    “Life is a great adventure or nothing!” – Helen Keller

    β€œDon’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

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