Day Thirty

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What I Ended Up With on Day Thirty

What I Ended Up With on Day Thirty

Summary Page

Well I made it with $1.40 to spare, as I ended up not spending any money today because of a complicated situation that I don’t feel like trying to explain right now.

[Note Added 3/12: I realized after I went to bed last night that it might have sounded like I didn’t eat anything on Day Thirty, since I didn’t spend any money and I forgot to tell you what I ate.

I finished up the things I’d been buying over the past few days:

steel-cut oats and toasted sunflower seeds and a tangerine for Meal One, chicken soup, and cabbage stir-fried in chicken fat with garlic for Meal Two, and peach yogurt for dessert.]

I still don’t know what I’m going to eat tomorrow, but it’s actually been kind of nice eating less, and having no processed food, so I’m not in too much of a hurry to get back to eating like a “normal” person. (As I believe I’ve stated elsewhere, I’m not that good at being normal.)

I think this is greatly disappointing to everyone who’s asked me what my first meal is going to be.

I told People magazine it was going to be a ham and cheese omelet with a side of cheese grits, because I like ham and cheese omelets and cheese grits, and it sounded like the kind of thing someone who has spent the month eating for a dollar a day might want to eat. And it was even possible that I myself might want to eat a ham and cheese omelet with cheese grits when I was done.

But now that the day is actually upon us (or nearly upon us) what I really want is yogurt with grape nuts and fruit, which seems vaguely un-American after a project like this.

But, really, is that so wrong? To want a nice bowl of yogurt with a banana and a little bit of molasses sugar and some grape nuts?

I don’t think so.

So we’ll see how I feel tomorrow, and what I end up getting. And maybe I’ll tell you about it and maybe I won’t. (After all, I only committed to 30 days of reporting, and my 30 days are up.)

For those of you who care about the mainstream media, note that there’s an article on my project in this week’s People magazine, which hits newsstands tomorrow, and also I’ll be on Good Morning America tomorrow. (The irony of my being on a show called “Good Morning America” is not lost on me—if anyone is watching tv tomorrow between 7 and 9am, be sure to let me know how it turns out. I should be up by 11).

Also I’m scheduled to be on The State of Things on Friday, so those of you in the WUNC listening area can tune in to that. The show airs from noon to one, and it might also be available on the WUNC website, but I’m not sure about that. Hopefully I’ll do a better job answering questions on that than I did for the Good Morning America taping. They needed me to be concise. And I’m sure everyone who knows me can just imagine how that went.

29 Responses to “Day Thirty”

  1. Phil Says:

    Fantabulous. BTW, I’ve enjoyed not only your story, but also your storytelling.

  2. Marie Says:

    Thanks again for doing this challenge. I really enjoyed following your experience.

  3. fernando Says:


    Well you made it. My most sincere congratulations. I’m just very happy to see that what you accomplished inspired me and other to do stuff like this.

    Tomorrow, enjoy yourself, my treat! Have a great day and thank you for this 30 wonderful days.

    Fernando, from Mexico

  4. Sara Says:

    Congratulations to a truly inspiring journey and entertaining blog. I really enjoyed reading your posts, and am grateful for all the toughts and ideas your story has inspired in my little corner of the world.
    Sara, Sweden

  5. S Says:

    Just saw your story on GMA. I love reading about thrifty eating! I’ll be going back and reading through your blog. Thanks for sharing your journey and ideas.

    Hope you enjoy your yogurt, omelet, or whatever meal you choose to go with today. :)

  6. Lisa Says:

    I just watched the piece on GMA. Congratulations!! I have been trying for the past three weeks to eat on $2.00 a day, which has been easier than I thought and quite tasty. With your story I am inspired to continue my own experiment

  7. Dorothy Says:

    I heard you on GMA this morning and checked out their website. Your story is very inspiring! As a matter of fact, you’ve inspired a few of my co-workers too! Who doesn’t need to lose a few pounds and eat healthily for less money? Thanks for doing this, can’t wait to catch up on the whole last month of blogs.

  8. Congrats on finishing your project! I’m going to miss the daily blogging, but I hope you will decide to do the $30/week budget + occasional blogging that you mentioned earlier.

  9. TabbyinTexas Says:

    okay now buy $30.00 worth of food on 1 april and make it last the entire month! i wonder if that would be easier!
    what an awesome experiment you completed!
    hope the burrito was awesome too! It must have tasted wonderful after a plain palate all month!

  10. Sara Says:

    Wonderful…I love this blog, and I’m going to miss it. You have inspired me to evaluate my own food budget and improve greatly on it!

  11. Pam Says:

    It was great this morning on GMA- that’s why I tried to track down your blog; I saw the article on GMA. I’m wondering (so i’ll have to go check out the People Mag) what recipes you used! We already eat “old fashioned” oatmeal most days of the week, so that part didn’t surprise me! Now I can read your blog & very likely find more than People Mag published!
    So is your next project menus for entertaining on a very short budget? :-)

  12. Ellison Says:


  13. Melina Says:

    Just saw the GMA report. You looked great(not malnourished!)and sounded intelligent and dedicated to your subject. Congratulations!

  14. Barbara Says:

    Great job, Rebecca.

    The “Good Morning America” video (Eating Well for Cheap) is available (at least for now) at

    It seemed pretty well done for that sort of thing. They did get a couple of things wrong in the follow-up with a nutritionist, but nothing too aggravating (unlike the summary description of “Eating Well for Cheap” on the website, which is).

  15. Marcia Says:

    Congrats for finishing! Didn’t know about GMA, but did read about you on

  16. Patty Says:

    I didn’t even hear about your project until today. Congrats! If you decide to modify some of your recipes to continue to be frugal, my mom used to make a yakisoba using spaghetti noodles too! She would pan fry the cooked noodles with sauteed shredded cabbage, celery, onion, a couple of beaten eggs with a little salt and lots of pepper. If there was leftover meat from dinner, she would chop it fine and throw that in too. Also, try pan frying shredded cabbage until tender in a little bacon fat and adding a couple of beaten eggs to it, salt and lots of pepper (you can add crumbled bacon in there too, but not needed). Thanks for sharing your experience!

  17. Aafke Says:

    Thanks for sharing this project with us. I have learned from it. Like Sara says: you have inspired me to improve my food budget. I like your story and I hope you wil go on.
    Aafke, from Holland

  18. Lis Says:

    Congratulations on your success! I’ve been following your blog since about the middle and I’ve enjoyed it. Despite what you think, you did pass on some valuable information anyone can use. I have some additional challenges including a husband and small child to feed (neither of whom would ever eat cabbage soup,) as well as a full time job outside the home. But in evaluating our buying and eating habits I’ve found that time is my biggest enemy, not money. Still I’ve been inspired to take a look at those nice vegetarian cookbooks I have that I never use. You could keep doing a food blog, and I’d keep reading.

  19. supergrover Says:

    Noooo! Was the GMA THIS MORNING (Thursday) and not Friday like you said?

  20. Merri Says:

    Hi, I saw your show on GMA. I was interested in this topic, because I use to work with families struggling to make ends meet. I was often frustrated with the food choices they made.

    Although I got your point, that having a budget is no excuses for not eating healthy. The story also proved to me that you do have to invest more cash to eat the most healthiest foods. Eating that amount of food, and loosing that weight can be dangerous for a lot of people, especially for children. So, I was glad to see that they had a nutritionist talk your approach.

    I hope that people will get some good tips from your site, but I also hope it opens their eyes to the cycle of poverty, and nutrition.

  21. lessisenough Says:

    I can’t emphasize enough that I’m NOT suggesting that anyone try to eat for a dollar a day. I was not trying to say that people would be fine if they only just do what I did, or that a dollar is enough to live on.

    It’s not.

    I was trying to show that junk food is not necessarily cheaper than good food, and that there are many healthy affordable foods. The reason I selected a dollar a day is because someone else did a project eating for a dollar a day and I wanted to see if I could eat better than they did. I also chose to do it the hardest way I could think of — starting with no food, and having only a dollar each day to spend.

    So that’s where this project came from and what it was about. It was not the Rebecca Currie Lifetime Health and Fitness Plan. I’ve never tried to say that you can have a great diet for a dollar a day, and the way I set up the project was ridiculously hard.

    What I was trying to do was show the TYPES of foods you can get that are healthy and cheap (whole grains, legumes, frozen vegetables, etc.) and the kinds of strategies people can use to eat better without spending a lot of money.

    I feel like the NY Times article Eating Well on a Downsized Budget did a good job of saying what I’ve been trying to say.

  22. Congrats on your accomplishment with this project.
    You not only ate economically but well.
    A real inspiration…going to miss reading your Blog.
    I definately have looked at my own spending with new eyes after finding your project.
    best to you.

  23. Nancy V. Says:

    I saw a link to your blog on and have enjoyed following your adventure this month.

    We already eat pretty low on the food chain, but you’ve inspired me to lower our grocery bill even more.


  24. Amy Says:

    I’m embarrassed to say I spend about $60.00 a week on food. Some weeks I can get by on less, but when I read food blogs or magazines I get inspired to make the recipes I read about, and that is expensive. A big obstacle for me in eating cheaply is the psychological meaning of food, and food as entertainment. Frankly, I think I also just eat too much. Your blog has inspired me to cut back.thanks for doing this experiment.

  25. Kelley Says:

    I am proud to know you and think you have a knack for this stuff. With Megan as your manager, who knows where you will go. Maybe you will be in LA with Chuck soon.

  26. CherylK Says:

    I don’t know if I’ve already told you this (I might have just been thinking it – lol) but I have been following your journey with great interest. Good for you. I love that yogurt, grape nuts and fruit sounded good to you…actually, that sounds good to me…think I’ll go dish some up. Thanks for a great read!

  27. Allyn Says:

    Hey Rebecca — kudos to you on the “less is enough” project! I just heard the archived segment on WUNC with Frank Stasio. You’re such a good interviewee–very alive and engaged, even with the details of the details. Here’s an FYI about making beans… You can cook them while you’re at work (for those of us who work outside of home)–crock pots work great. With plenty of water, you can cook pre-soaked beans on low heat for eight hours or more. They’ll be ready for you when you get home.

  28. Evie Says:

    I would love to do what you are doing. How can I do that with a family of 4? I really need help.

  29. lessisenough Says:

    Don’t try to eat with a family of four for thirty dollars a month (or even $120). If you read my “A Few Lessons” post, I outlined some basic strategies — focus on whole grains, eat higher fiber foods, etc. Also there are some good suggestions from others in the comments section for that post so be sure to look at that.

    A great resource is the More-With-Less Cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre. It has a ton of great information on eating for less, along with good, simple recipes. If you get a copy of that, read the info and then start cooking using it, I think you’ll see a difference.

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