Most people that I talk with about this challenge assume that it is the couponing and shopping that takes a huge amount of time and if I added that into the equation, it wouldn’t be worthwhile even with the amount I save. The truth is that while couponing does take a bit longer than if I didn’t coupon, the place that I find is by far the most time consuming is the time trying to figure out what to cook and the time spent cooking it. I have had to spend far more time on those aspects than the couponing which has caused some issues because I do have all my other work to do as well. I definitely need to come up with a way to better utilize my time in the kitchen and preparing foods since it looks like I will be doing this a bit longer.

There is a money making scenario this week at Safeway (along with some possible freebies) that could mean that I will have a chance to stock up on some more basics. The problem is that I had a very busy weekend ahead of me and wouldn’t have much time to take advantage of this until Monday of next week. I know from experience that these money makers and freebies don’t always work, so I wanted to at least test it out to make sure it worked. The result was that it was a partial success.


This is part of a continuing 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


These are the three purchases I wanted to test:

Rolaids – $1.49 each (when 8 mix and match purchased)
** $4.00 off 2 any Rolaids from the 6/6 RedPlum Sunday coupon insert
Final Pirce: $1 moneymaker when you buy 2

Bull’s Eye BBQ Sauce, 17.5-18 oz – $0.99 each (when 8 mix and match purchased)
** $1.00 off 1 Bull’s Eye Regional BBQ Sauce: Carolina, Texas, Memphis, Kansas City Bricks printable coupon (also another one that can be printed — both can be printed 2 times)
Final Price: Free

Smart Balance Milk – $3.99
There were reports that if you bought Smart Balance Milk, Smart Balance Buttery Spread or Smart Balance Sour Cream, you would get a catalina coupon for a free 1/2 gallon of Smart Balance milk that you could roll again and again (use the catalina coupon for free milk and then another catalina coupon would come out — wash, rinse, repeat).

This is what I ended up buying:

day 42 purchase

3 bananas
1 package of Smart Balance Sour Cream
2 Bull’s Eye BBQ sauce (Memphis style)
2 Bull’s Eye BBQ sauce (Carolina style)
4 Rolaids Soft Chews (will be donated)
2 Rolaids (will be donated)

The Rolaids and BBQ sauce scenarios worked perfectly and I was able to buy all the above for $0.20

day 42 receipt

day 42 receipt total

The only part that didn’t work was that I didn’t receive a catalina coupon for a free Smart Balance milk (it has now been confirmed that it is no longer working — it seems I was a day too late). I would have liked to have purchased something other than the sour cream with the Rolaids overage, but it was worth the risk as I would have had a lot of free milk if it had worked.

I do have more of the Rolaids coupons (been hitting all my coupon insert spots hard looking for more), so hopefully I can get some more free / nearly free food on Monday.

I also had to stop by CVS to use a Extra bucks coupon that was expiring. There weren’t any great food deals, so I went with getting a some brown sugar and cinnamon that would be useful for cooking:

day 42 cvs

This purchase cost me $0.18

day 42 cvs receipt


I had run out of fruit and didn’t go on my normal morning walk to do some foraging, so I needed to figure out a way to make my pancakes sweet. I decided to try and mix in Honey Nut Cheerios into the pancakes. I was afraid that mixing them directly into the pancake batter would make them soggy, so I sprinkled them on top once I put the pancakes in the frying pan. I then also had a glass of milk (I thought I would have a lot of free milk at that time):

breakfast day 42

They Honey Nut Cheerio pancakes were actually surprisingly good so I decided to cook up the rest of the batter, but mixing the Honey Nut Cheerios into it. I then placed them into the freezer and I will try them as a snack later on:

breakfast day 42 extra

breakfast day 42 frozen


For lunch, I basically threw the kitchen sink together (and why I need help with my cooking). I fried up some potatoes, threw in some onions and some corn I had cut off the cob. I added a bit of salt and pepper and placed them into lettuce as a wrap to eat:

day 42 lunch


Things got extremely hectic in the afternoon with work and other unexpected issues that needed to be resolved. There was just no time to cook dinner and I simply ended up having a couple of bowls of cereal (and unfortunately stayed up into the wee hours of the morning trying to resolve everything). In staying up late, I also snacked a bit on the tortilla chips and the ice cream in the freezer that kept calling to me.

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

Money Spent $34.65
Money left to spend: $26.35 ($1.33 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of everything bought: $793.22


The Beginning ::: Day 43: Balanced Diet


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  1. Definitely seems like you are starting to spend less money since you have built up all the staple foods. I’m wondering if after a couple more weeks if you could build up so much that you wouldn’t be so hindered.

    I do have one question, what in your mind is this project about? Is it to prove anyone in general could/should coupon regularly to save money, I know many people have criticized the time spent or is it (in my mind) more directed towards people who suffered for lack of the means to buy food because it can be expensive.

  2. @Peter,

    It’s kind of funny. The only reason that I even started couponing is because of another project where I am trying to turn a penny I found on the ground into $1 million worth of food for food banks — — and it was because all of the food I was getting for that project that this one came to be.

    I am not trying to make a statement of any type that everyone should try and eat on $1 a day (in fact, I would not recommend this at all) — this is simply an extreme example of what can be done. I hope will inspire others to realize that even with a bit of time and effort, they can reduce the amount that they spend shopping.

    Because I take a different approach to achieve this (I don’t buy what I want, but buy things that allow me to buy what I want), there is a lot of excess stuff that I buy that I end up donating. I hope that those that are inspired to save money this way will also begin to donate their excess to local food banks and charities.

    This would be a win – win situation for all involved and if it does inspire others, it would make this challenge much more gratifying than even proving my sister wrong 😉

  3. Today I received a CVS coupon for a free Dove chocolate bar. I don’t know if this has ever happened to you but this is the third time this year I received a free chocolate bar from CVS.

  4. @Joomi Lee — Some people have all the luck. Fingers crossed I get the same coupon when I scan my card next time…

  5. Hey, you have the ingredients for French toast. Mix a little milk into some beaten egg and add a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, then dunk your bread and fry. You can even take two slices and fill the center with PB & banana before you dunk.

  6. This is amazing! I’ve spent the past hour reading through from the beginning and I can’t tell you how excited I am to try out some of your tactics.

    I am curious though, and I think someone might have asked earlier, but do you go through the checkout a bunch of times or just ask the cashier to ring things up separately? That part all sounds a bit nerve racking.

  7. @carol

    I’ve done both, but most times I go through the line again (I just don’t like having to make people wait behind me). If I get to the store when it is not crowded, then I will take everything up and have it separated into different transactions (the most I have ever done at one time is 4 and I think that would be my limit because I started to get confused with which coupons I needed when I did that many). I’m not the most organized person and I think someone better organized could pull off the separate transactions all at once better than I could.

  8. Jeffrey, you’re my hero!

    Although I have no intention of eating on a dollar a day, your experiment has proven that good food doesn’t have to be expensive! I’m currently unemployed and am in school full time, so grocery shopping is not fun these days; especially with the rising cost of food (bah!).

    I starting “couponing” today and saved over 25 bucks on 75 dollars worth of items (not bad for a first try). I also spotted some items that were not scanned properly, so I expect to get a few more dollars back. And, even though I bought a few items I don’t need, I do have a donation pile at the front of our house always ready for the VA that stops by once a month (so I sure they’ll appreciate all the money makers). In addition, I’m keeping track of time spent couponing and millage on my car after shopping trips; happy to say my savings are nicely in the black!

    I have to tell you about – you type in the ingredients you have on hand it spits out recipes for you; maybe that will help with your adventures in the kitchen! If you can manage to wrangle a few spices (check the ethic food section, they have cheaper spices in baggies), you can spice up your meals easily. Paprika, onion, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes (free at most pizza places) are staples in our kitchen. Lastly, premixed items go a long way: dressings like Italian can be used on salads and in dishes (like pasta salad), same goes for ranch (stay away from any dairy based dressing that is not in the produce section, they’re high in preservatives). My favorite is a Asian dressing found in the organic section, it can be used as a dressing or marinade.

    Lastly, check out Their videos are amazing (if you have the time).

    Thanks for all your hard work documenting this escapade! It has been a wonderful vicarious experience!

    P.S. Hope your feeling better these days!

  9. Jeffrey –
    Really glad to see some updates. I’ve been following your challenge faithfully. Like another reader commented, I’m unemployed (having been terminated/downsized from 2 jobs in the past 2 years. Also, I’m a full time college student (at the ripe young age of 55, I’ve just completed my freshman year, majoring in psychology).
    I do have some problems with buying cheaply..namely, my 19 y.o. son (he’s abit of a fussy eater & is not working as yet). However, I do clip coupons, tho only for the brands I buy or if they’re a good deal. I’ve learned so much from your postings, and also from the comments by other readers. Please keep on posting!!

  10. Alicia, I don’t suppose you want to hear my opinions on fussy 19 year old eaters when their mom is out of work so I won’t!

    I’m your age on disability and had gone by the wayside with coupons and such for years as I just didn’t have the stamina and didn’t think I could afford the paper, etc. Well seeing Jeff’s adventure and the ways coupons have changed since my kids were young and I couponed and rebated all the time has inspired me.

    This week I was able to get 2 Sunday newspapers for $1 plus a $2 CVS extra bucks and then went through the inserts and ads with a fine tooth comb. I decided to try one cleaning product (toilet bowl cleaner) that I didn’t usually use as it was on sale and I had $1 off coupons and then got a $1 Catalina besides. I needed toilet bowl cleaner and this looked like it would do. Anyhow I find that I am more willing to try a few new things when I can get them so much cheaper than my regular no-name stuff.

    For those who really hate Walmart, I’ve found since I started clipping and checking for sales at the other stores, I haven’t even been to Walmart! I can’t believe how many groceries I’ve been buying at the drugstore. I came home with $11 in CVS extra bucks today, $9 of which I was expecting and the other $2 was a surprise, this is the second time in a week I’ve gotten a surprise $2! My time out getting groceries equaled the time I usually have spent and that included lunch out. The only extra time was going through the coupons last night spending no more time than it would take to watch a sit-com (we don’t have TV).

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