I was talking to some friends about this Eating Well On $1 A Day challenge when the following conversation took place.

Friend 1: “So why do you think that the blog has captured the attention of some people? I mean, there are others that have done things like this before you.”

Me: “I'm not sure.”

Friend 2: “You give people hope.”

Friend 1: “What do you mean?”

Friend 2: “They see someone that seems to be doing something impossible with coupons and normally they would disregard it as completely impossible. But then they read about the rest of your life and they realize that if someone that pathetic in other areas of his life can do it, then they should be able to do it too.”

Friend 1: “Yep, he is right. You are an inspiration that way.”

Me: “……..”

Friend 1 & Friend 2: Both start laughing together as they realized what they had just said.

Friend 1: “No seriously, that was supposed to be a compliment.”

Friend 2: “And as far as pathetic goes, I did mean it in the best way possible.” (both uncontrollably laughing to the point tears form in their eyes)

Apparently the entire incident was amusing enough that they continued to reference back to it for the rest of the afternoon (and start their laughing fits all over again).

While I certainly hope that my life isn't quite as pathetic as my friends seem to think it is, I do hope that all that are reading this realise that anyone can adopt the basic strategy I'm using to reduce the amount they spend on food while getting a lot more (and the types of food they like). If I somehow managed to figure out how to do this with my acute dislike of couponing, then anyone can.

Cherry Plum Banana Smoothie

I'm still having thickness issues with the smoothies (still taste great) and I'm sorry that the apricot smoothies look like a thing of the past, but the cherry plums do make an excellent smoothie as well:

cherry plum smoothie

Pasta Salad

The pasta salad I made previously was perfect for an easy meal (the best kind in my book). I really do need to get better at making larger amounts so that I can use the meals later as a meal in itself again or as the base for another meal. Days just go a lot smoother when I don't have to create something new for each meal of the day.

pasta salad

I did snack on a peanut butter sandwich in the late afternoon and finished up the rest of the toasted Wheat Thin chips.

Chicken Stroganoff

I decided to try a new recipe sent to me by DeeAnn.

Hamburger Stroganoff

Stuff You'll Need:

* Cutting board & knife
* Pasta pot & water
* Frying Pan & stirring spoon
* Pasta (as before, I recommend you cook extra for a later meal)
* 1/4lb ground beef
* chopped onion, (cut off a piece of onion about the size of a 1/3c measure; the diced chunks should be about the size of your pinky fingernail.)
* about a half-cup sliced mushrooms
* Garlic Powder (1/8 – 1/2 tsp, depending on how much you like garlic)
* Salt & Pepper
* Sour Cream (a tablespoon to 1/4c, depending on how much you like sour cream and how saucy you want the dish)


1. Put the pasta water on to boil; add the pasta when it boils and cook until done.

2. Meanwhile, brown the ground beef, onions, and mushrooms over Medium heat (or Med-High, if you want it took cook faster), breaking the meat into little chunks with the spoon.

3. When the meat isn't pink anymore, you can drain off the extra fat and water, if you want.

4. Add the garlic power, oregano, and a good-sized shake each of salt & pepper. Keep cooking, stirring occasionally (every 2-5 minutes, or whatever it takes to keep the food from sticking to the pan) until the meat and veggies are still wet, but there are no puddles left in the pan.

5. If the pasta isn't done yet, turn the heat to low and wait until you drain the pasta.

6. If you were waiting, increase the heat back to Medium and stir in the sour cream. Heat just long enough to make the sauce warm, but DO NOT let the sour cream boil: it'll get all funky-looking.

7. Taste the sauce. If it tastes boring, add more salt & pepper.

8. Add the pasta to the pan and mix everything together, then pour it out and eat.

I should have realised that I was heading for trouble when I needed to substitute the main ingredient (this recipe had been sent when I still had hamburger on hand). I decided I could pull it off with chicken instead and have “Chicken Stroganoff” –oh, if it were only that easy…

Things started off fine although another substitution needed to be made. I started boiling the pasta and threw chicken, onions and broccoli (substituting for mushrooms) to begin frying and added the garlic power, oregano, and a good-sized shake each of salt & pepper:

chicken broccoli onions

I went to the refrigerator to find that I had no sour cream (I had accidentally left when traveling for the house sitting). So I was missing a main ingredient, but was too far along to stop. The closest thing I could find to sour cream was ranch dressing (which, yes, I know is nothing like sour cream, but in the panic of the moment, they were both white — maybe my friends do have a more valid point than I wish to admit…)

chicken with alternative sauce

When it was all said and done, it basically tasted like a warm pasta salad which wasn't terrible, but I was looking forward to eating something that had a different taste. Chalk another one up to experience (with plenty left over for another meal)

chicken broccoli pasta

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: $47.70
Money Left to Spend: $52.30 ($5.83 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of Everything Purchased: $1341.86


The Beginning ::: Step By Step Safeway Moneymaker Example


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  1. Might it be possible for you to present some sort of quantitative breakdown of your method? I don’t know what that would look like, but it might be helpful. Just for one example, now that you’ve explained the moneymaker scenario so that I think I understand how it works, I wonder what percentage of your expenditures is that ‘free’ money?

  2. @Eric

    While it certainly would be possible to figure out, I am not the person to do that figuring. As well as being “palate challenged,” I am most definitely mathematically challenged. I try to keep things simple – if I can stay under $1 a day, I consider that a great success no matter what the percentages are.

    I also have a feeling that it would do more harm than good. The hardest thing about this challenge thus far is trying to get people off of the $1 a day (because, let’s face it — this is a bit extreme and although it can be done, it doesn’t mean that it is a good thing to do) and to merely look at it for the methods.

    I think any percentage analysis would also be deceiving because it certainly isn’t constant — it can change dramatically from week to week and month to month.

  3. You have certainly been an inspiration to me. I started couponing and CVS-ing (is that a word?) two years ago after my son’s birth. But, once I got a stockpile built up, I slowed down considerably and only took advantage of deals when we needed something.

    Your blog, which I find completely fascinating, inspired me to use my couponing knowledge to get items to donate to our local food bank. I didn’t even know where it was before this challenge and it turns out it’s only about 5 miles from my house. My husband and I have already dropped two loads of my couponing near freebies off and plan to do another run this weekend.

    So you’ve certainly been an inspiration to me and enabled me to bless others too. Thank you for all you do! Keep up the great work.

  4. I wonder if consistency of smoothies partly depends on how cold the ice is. Ice can be ice, but some can be colder than others. As in, the ice where you’re staying right now is colder than where you are usually, or have been in the past. I probably have no idea what I’m talking about, but I wonder …

  5. If you want to thin it out you can always add a little milk or water and blend it longer. Experiment with the necessary amount bur keep in mind a little liquid goes a long way.

  6. You are an inspiration, and I look forward to your posts. I now go shopping with a list and coupons together, and find that while I am there a bit longer, I don’t go quite as often since I am digging deeper into the pantry and the freezer.

  7. Jeffrey, I don’t know if I would consider Friend 1 & 2 real friends. It doesn’t sound like they were being very encouraging. I just found out about your site a couple days ago, and I am having a ball going back through your archives. But it’s more than just reading. You are giving me true inspiration. I wouldn’t worry about what others think. You know in your heart that you are doing the right thing. Keep entertaining us!

  8. Ha! I love that you share your meal experiences (read: failures) in detail. You are truly entertaining! Hopefully the next meal will go better, but frankly, being able to put together a decent meal using a recipe for which you don’t have half of the ingredients and having it turn out OK? You’re doing just fine. 🙂

  9. The closest thing I could find to sour cream is ranch dressing (which, yes, I know is nothing like sour cream, but in the panic of the moment, they were both white.

    I just wanted to highlight this thought. LOL.

  10. You’ve definitely inspired me to make smoothies more often. They are so easy and so good, and making them at home is alot cheaper than going out.

    P.S. Always check to make sure you have the ingredients on hand before starting to cook!! It’s a must. Put it all out on the counter as you’re reading the recipe. Will save you another cooking disaster – and I know, I used to do the same thing while baking. Had to run out to the store in the middle of the night cause I ran out of vanilla extract and eggs. But at least I had that option! And you can always google “food substitutions” to see if anything else you had on hand would work in place of what you are missing.

  11. I don’t think your friends meant your life was pathetic. I think what why were saying is that your life is more like our lives. Your busy, you travel and couponing isn’t your life. When I read stories about most of the individuals who coupon they spend hours clipping, comparing store ads and planning to get the most savings. Honestly, most people don’t have time for that. Your blog shows that while being extreme on the $1 per day, it is possible and easy for an average person to save money on groceries and your don’t have to devote your whole life to it.

  12. I disagree that your life is pathetic.

    I think that your blog is popular because you’re living on $1 a day with lots of couponing, and you don’t like couponing or grocery shopping. I can totally relate to that, and always used that as an excuse to pay more than I strictly needed to. You’re taking that excuse away from me. 🙂

  13. You’ve inspired me, I’ve never really used coupons before, but I used the information on this website to get free stuff from CVS the other day! It was pretty exciting when it actually worked 🙂

    I’m going to start saving the inserts from the Sunday paper so I can do more couponing in the future, and I’m going to use your low-key, easy method.

  14. I’ve been reading this challenge from the beginning and have started having smoothies most mornings as well. I always wondered how yours were so smooth and blended with only ice. I have to add some almond or coconut milk to make mine smoothies not chunkies! You must have a really good blender at your sister’s.

  15. Jeffrey –
    As a neighbor of yours in the South Bay, I’ve been so interested in your blog because couponing to make things really inexpensive is easy in places where stores double and triple coupons. Here I find it much more challenging.

    You’ve inspired me to make more of an effort to get extra for Second Harvest and to go into the CVS more than once a month. (Although the local store – Homestead at Kiely in Santa Clara – never ever seems to have any of the items for the money makers.)

    Thanks for the daily read!

  16. @Jennifer

    Raincheck! You can raincheck those money makers and there is no expiration on CVS rainchecks. That makes it is easy to meet the $20 threshold on the $4 off $20 coupons saving you even more money. Out of stock can be a blessing in disguise 🙂

  17. Greek yogurt makes a good substitute for sour cream. There have been coupons for Fage, Voskos, and Yoplait on the internet lately.

  18. Re: thickness

    You’re using frozen bananas. That *may* be making the difference. It also may be the size of the ice cubes or the wattage of the blender.

    Consider letting the bananas partially thaw before you take them for a spin and see if that helps.

  19. I think they meant pathetic in the sense that you’re basically couch surfing by house-sitting so often. While that might be seen by some as a low-rent situation used by losers it isn’t in your case as you are using it as a long term financial strategy towards gaining wealth. I think your friends are jealous of what you’re able to accomplish in regards to setting and meeting goals.

    Those smoothies look WONDERFUL!! …and you’re inspiring me to do more with what’s already in my pantry and fridge. Go YOU!

  20. Jeffrey, next time you want a substitute for sour cream try yogurt if you have plain yogurt. I don’t know what flavor your Fage yogurt was. Many people substitute yogurt for sour cream in lots of dishes.

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