In November 2008, I read a New York Times article about how poor quality food is cheaper than high-quality food (a widely accepted belief that I generally disagree with). The article talked about a couple in California who were attempting to raise awareness of poverty by eating for $1 a day.

Didn’t go so well.

A month of tortillas and popcorn and pb&js. Hungry. Cranky. Tired of the monotony.

One of the participants was quoted saying “I challenge anyone in America to eat fresh food on $1 a day.”

This is a challenge I cannot refuse.

7 Responses to “About”

  1. Karla Says:

    Good for you!

    As you know, we did this as well in January and found to a be very humbling and worthwhile project.

    We invite everyone to read thru our archives (January) on our blog to learn more about our “Dollar-A-Day” Challenge, as well.

    Our projects continue…in February, we lived as Freegans (Freegan February Challenge) and now here in March, we’re doing a project that we’ve called “Helping Hands” – helping someone in need every day…..a “pay it forward”….”random act of kindness” mix.

    Again…congrats on a job well done – hang in there and best of luck to you!

    Karla n’ Amy

  2. djteknokid Says:

    I just recently found your blog.
    I am currently in the middle of the similar challenge as well.
    You can read about it here

    I have to say it is not a very easy thing to live $1 a day in this country. I am on day #11 and I so wish that I had better strategy. I am now down to $5 and I have 9 more days to go.

    Good luck with your project.

  3. lessisenough Says:

    I just looked at the $20.09 for 20 days project and not sure if you’re going to make it.

    Had you asked before starting, I would have advised against a few things — orange juice, for instance, is expensive and not only is it not filling, but the sugar rush might actually make you hungrier; lettuce also has not a lot of nutrients and isn’t particularly filling so not the best option when you’re really limited in funds.

    You were able to get a good price on bread, but bread isn’t that filing either, even with peanut butter. Spinach is an okay idea but you would have been better off with frozen spinach rather than fresh because you wouldn’t have had to worry about it going bad, and also it probably would have been cheaper. You might be able to parboil your spinach and freeze it before you lose it; I’ve never actually tried that so not sure if it would work.

    The eggs and potatoes were a good call. I would have tried to get some actual meat rather than hot dog/sausages. You can do more with a piece of chicken because of the fat/skin/bones etc. But since you have sausages, I would cut those up into small pieces and mix with the pasta rather than eating them whole. It will feel like more food if it’s in smaller pieces and everything mixed together.

    If you are going to try to stick it out, I recommend you drop to one meal a day — it doesn’t seem logical, but you’ll be less hungry if you eat less often. See if you can make it until the end of the day (5pm) then eat whatever you have allotted (sp?) for that day. Check out info on intermittent fasting or “fast 5” for more info on that.

    Good luck.

  4. Jeff Scherer Says:

    Veggies and beans are inexpensive. Make more of each kind to have leftovers which you purposely over cook with seasoning to add as topppings of a different flavorful kind of veggatable as a partly pureed sauce over todays meals.

    Also the crust of bread ripped into pieces small sauteed in butter simply added to say Noodles or beans or an egg is very tasty. Seasoned Butters.

    These can be done if you can split spice between several families to share costs or spend more but in lower limit a few random days amonth but only if you need spices.

    Fruits expensive! I had an idea once to take a can of fruit juice add sugar and soak cucumber slices to absorb the flavor(a dash of salt might be need to soak up the flavor).

  5. Joanne Says:

    Please can you add me to your mailing list. Thanks

  6. just1kitten Says:

    I’ve done this challenge recently and most of the food was not “fresh” if we are talking about utilizing dried beans, rice, and oatmeal. But, in my little plan, I regularly bought small quantities of carrots, kale, cabbage, onions, and the occasional lemon and used them up in as many interesting recipes as I could think of.

    I’ve been budgeting and planning for many years, so I already had an idea of what I needed. I took $20 ($15 for staples and $5 for the first set of fresh vegetables) and started at the local dollar (or less) store to get some staples: coconut oil, olive oil, honey, diced tomatoes, black beans, kidney beans, lentils, brown rice, macaroni elbows, masa flour, apple cider vinegar, salt & pepper, and salmon cans, Then I went to a store that sells bulk items where I got steel cut oats, and another stored with very good produce prices to buy carrots, celery, onions, cabbage, kale, and a lemon.

    With all that I only needed to occasionally replenish vegetables. I also walked to all the stores. I cheated a lot by using spices that I already had, but only the ones I had personally grown, harvested and prepared: garlic powder, hot red pepper flakes, cilantro, parsley, rosemary, chives, and dried dill weed.

    A typical meal was a lentil-kidney bean chili served with grated carrot, finely diced onion, and slivers of cabbage or kale on a homemade masa flour tortilla. I also made a lot of soup, using all the veggie scraps to make stock. One notable soup I made was based on the liquid I reserved from the salmon cans, where I made a “seafood stock” using celery and a bit of carrot. The final “seafood soup” was completed with thinly sliced carrots, scallions and spinach purchased on sale that week, plus flakes of salmon, a bit of pre-cooked rice, lemon zest, and masa flour dumplings, and a squeeze of lemon at the end. The addition of red pepper flakes and garlic powder seemed to add to the umami experience. I also love macaroni salad, but I make mine with apple cider vinegar, honey, and olive oil, drizzled over the cooked macaroni, diced onions and celery, plus a bit of garlic, salt, red pepper flakes, and dried dill weed. Chill for 20 minutes and try not to eat too much!

    I actually eat this way all the time, but when not on the $1 a day challenge I as much as I want and keep stocked up on slightly better quality ingredients than are available in a dollar store. I also grow, buy, and eat a lot more vegetables. In a pinch, carrots, cabbage, celery, kale, and onions can be good low-cost, survival food options. So, my real budget is closer to $20 a week and can go higher if I’m stocking up.

  7. lessisenough Says:

    Thanks for this comment! This is a great strategy for low-cost eating and very similar to what I did on the project in 2009. I’m glad to hear that someone else has had success with this type of approach and believes it to be an easy, common-sense way to eat. Also the soup sounds great! I’ve made stock in the past by boiling shrimp shells and freezing that for later use. Shrimp was expensive and then it got quite cheap but then it got expensive again. I haven’t checked to see where it’s at these days. But that is a good way to get maximum value from shrimp if you buy it.

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