More Clarification

Thursday, February 26, 2009

I expect there will be several rounds of further clarification as this project moves through the next two weeks.

Here’s today’s.

I am not suggesting that eating for a dollar a day is a viable lifestyle, or that anyone can do it, or that everyone should try it. (Though trying to eat for much less than you usually do is definitely a worthwhile exercise.)

My primary purpose was to see if I could meet the challenge issued by the One Dollar Diet Project people—“I challenge anyone in America to eat fresh food for a dollar a day.”

I set up the project in the hardest way I could think of—starting with no food and only a dollar each day to work with (with anything I didn’t spend on prior days carrying over)—because:

(a) it was interesting to me because I wasn’t sure if I could do it (when I first thought of the idea it seemed impossible)
(b) it allowed me to do the project without having to calculate unit costs of food items
(c) it allowed me to adjust as I go, seeing how I feel and what I feel like I need, instead of having to plan everything up front and eating the same limited selection of food days after day.

In addition to wanting to see if I could meet the challenge, I also wanted to demonstrate an approach to cooking and eating that I’ve used for the past 10+ years that allows me to eat well for much less than most people think possible.

This project is basically an extreme version of what I do normally— cooking from scratch, eating mostly whole foods, buying just what I need for the next few days instead of shopping in bulk, and working with what I’ve got in my pantry and freezer instead of always having to get everything for every single meal.

So that’s the main point of the project.

Thanks for asking.

5 Responses to “More Clarification”

  1. Missourimom Says:

    Kudos to you for proving that this can be done. I have always hated it when people say junk food is cheaper than healthy food. Sadly, we live in a fast food society that snubs their nose at scratch cooking.

  2. I found your blog through Very interesting idea, and I’m looking forward to seeing how you do. I live in Raleigh and write a blog ( on a similar subject – going green on a budget. If you can really eat well on $1 a day, I definitely want to know how you do it! I thought I was doing pretty good, but I’m nowhere near that!

  3. Marcia Says:

    I’m looking very forward to perusing your blog. It’s a subject I’m passionate about. I did read the teachers’ blog from time to time, and it seemed a bit false to me that they didn’t roll over money to the next day (why not?) and wouldn’t take any free food either.

  4. Betsy Says:

    Wow, a veritable cornucopia of food on Day 17…. one thing I’ve been wondering is how feasible you think this experiment would be if you had less flexibility in your schedule. Our buying patterns are a lot different here than they were in Arlington, partly because our storage space is much less, and largely because we have a lifestyle and urban setting that make it much easier to buy food day-by-day. But part of the liftestyle factor is that Chris is at home, that we have markets near us 4 days a week, and that there are also three mini grocery stores within 3 blocks of our apartment…. even if we were both working, it would be way more complicated because, without much exaggeration, making a grocery store stop on the way home can mean the difference between having time to read to the kids at night or not. I know you’ve purposefully designed your life to have flexibility, but I’m curious how you think you’d have to adjust to accomplish this if you were working full time.

    Have you had any fresh veggies yet, aside from onions? I tend to think of them as being pretty affordable. Baked potato with leftover sauce or other veggies as topping? Also, I don’t see dairy showing up very often, is it something you don’t normally eat much anyway?

  5. lessisenough Says:

    This particular project I think would be much more difficult if I didn’t have the flexibility I have of being self-employed. (That being said, I still have work … and not very much of it is getting done). Though honestly the blog/recording component is way more of a time-suck than the cooking/shopping. When you’re only spending a dollar, each trip to the store is pretty quick, the cooking is simple, and my dishes are a breeze.

    I do think that some things might actually be a little easier if I worked outside of the house because I would have the opportunity to stop and pick things up on the way from one place to another, whereas now, every trip I make has to be specifically scheduled.

    One important thing, though, is that when you go to the store more frequently, it goes a lot faster. You can just get what you need, you don’t have to try to think of everything you might possibly need, because you know you’ll be back in a few days.

    Also everything is easier here than it is in DC because there are fewer people. So a quick stop at the store can be a quick stop at the store. As I recall from when I lived in DC, there was no such thing as a quick stop anywhere.

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