As seen on Fox and Friends.

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Waking up at 2:45 is not my idea of a good time. However, in order to do today’s live interview on the morning talk show “Fox and Friends”, it was a necessity. Luckily we are not teaching today. This whole progression from the quiet-little-blog-that-could to international press phenomenon has been quite an interesting journey.

Like we’ve stated before, we didn’t start this project to make a political statement. We didn’t do it to get media attention. We did it because it sounded like an formidable challenge. We did it to learn. We didn’t even set out to learn anything in particular. We just knew that this experience would help us examine our own lives, our relationships with food, and our assumptions regarding a whole host of issues.

Over the course of the experiment we learned a lot, and we now have more questions than ever before. One of which is: What does it cost to eat well in America? In order to figure this out, we have devised a series of new experiments for 2009, the results of which will be the crux of a book we plan to write.

In addition to our appearance on Fox and Friends, we have also been talking with the folks at the Community Resource Center here in Encinitas, and we’ve learned that this year it has been very difficult for them to provide food for folks. With the economy the way it is, fewer people are giving to non-profits. So, in the spirit of the season, if you’re willing, consider giving to them directly, or “sponsoring” us. We will be presenting a check to them on December 18 as part of an opening reception for their Holiday Basket Program. See the note below for links.

Have a wonderful day.

- Christopher & Kerri

NOTE: If you’re new to this site and want to start reading at the beginning you’ll have to click “older entries” and start from Day One otherwise you’ll be reading in reverse; which could be interesting too. Inquiries can be sent to: greenslate@gmail.com

*If you think what we’re doing is interesting, inspiring, or just plain nutty, consider SPONSORING our efforts. Simply enter in an amount, click “update total” and follow the prompting. If you don’t have PayPal, it will let you use a credit card. At the end of the of the month all proceeds will go to the Community Resource Center (here in Encinitas, CA). We will post evidence of donations at the end.

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73 Comments

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73 responses to “As seen on Fox and Friends.

  1. Marty

    Just saw your interview on FoxNEWS, great job and looking forward to going back through your blogs and catching up on your journey!

  2. To be brief, this project sheds light on why our standard deductions and personal exemptions ($3500 per person a year) may actually be more “on the mark” than most of us thought.

    I’m going to learn from this project. I believe money saved is even more valuable than money earned, taxes considered.

    Jonathan James
    taxprosolutions.com

  3. di butler

    I saw you on F&F this morning. I then went back and read your whole blog. Very interesting. I think with expansion, it would make a great little book, perhaps if you do other projects, you could combine. I am not vegan, but I am thinking this would be accomplished much easier if one wasn’t, there are things you could eat, such as eggs, for protein and keep costs low. I grew up in the country, we had several acres of gardens, and we lived on a creek. So we were able to keep costs very low. I agree that “poor” is a different word in relation to our country vs. many others. Even our poor are usually more fortunate, due to foodbanks, charities, government assistance, etc., than other countries. You spoke of politicians who don’t have much dialog about poverty. Here’s a question most people don’t know. What person has done the most for the people of Africa ever in our entire history? From poverty, housing, medicines, clothing, supplying doctors, and looking for cures for diseases, George W. Bush has been the person who has given the most to the continent. Surprised? Most people are. He has faults, as all politicians do, but he has been the most compassionate President our country has ever had. Good Luck to You in the Future, whatever you choose to do, and God Bless. Mrs. D. Butler, Atl, Ga

  4. Hi,
    I think what you are doing is great and educational. From 2001-2004 my three children and I had a budget of $115 for food, every other month, which how often we hired a driver to go to town for supplies. My income was $287 per month over the course of those three years while living in a log cabin ($100 per month) in KY. This was by choice. I gave up driving and we used two horses, one pony, and bikes instead. We did without a phone, and had not ever used a PC before, so we didn’t miss it.

    Yes, we ate a lot of beans (home-canned, 1/3 beans to 2/3rds water per quart) and rice, but we never suffered. We also ground our own wheat for flour and used a wringer washer and line dryed our clothes on a pulley-line.

    We either made it, grew it, or did without it.

    Today at 18, 17, and 13, my children are happy to eat anything served to them, and they are content with any accommodations (or lack of them) offered to them. They are prepared to live anywhere in the world in undesirable conditions if need be. This was my motive for choosing to live as we did.

    Presently we are back in our hometown of Sarasota (due to medical reasons). Our housing costs are astronomical compared to the amount than we paid during those years. My income is drastically higher as well.

    A few lessons learned:

    A sharp axe, good hoes, and plenty of quart jars are vital to living off the land. Wrapping your house in plastic in the winter months keeps the wood-heat inside better. Don’t let yourself run out of salt and pepper, ever, or homemade soap. And most important of all, frogs legs don’t wiggle in the frying pan if you freeze them first.
    Incidentally, rice, beans, and tortillas are still our family’s favorite food. Go figure.
    Blessings to you on the book you are writing.

  5. Gary

    Nice work.

    I especially liked your comment during your interview that you “didn’t do the project for political purposes.” There are more than a few million in the USA who are absolutely sick of all the “activists” who keep shoving their political agenda from the right & left down our throats.

    Your project simply helped people think, at a minimum, of how to watch their food dollars and that weight loss can be done without spending money on diet fads and expensive programs.

    And, just so you know, oatmeal mixed with two tablespoons of Splenda while its cooking comes out quite sweet and without the added sugar & sugar calories normally ingested through the addition of brown sugar after cooking. And as you discovered, its inexpensive.

    Nice work. I enjoyed your professional personalities during the interview. No whining. No politics. Realllllly appreciated that.

  6. carolyn

    My son and his best friend went to work at 18 and for lunch every day they ate a $1 double cheeseburger from McD’s. Later, we saw where a guy was suing because he developed heart trouble from doing the same. Everyone thought the guy was crazy, but I knew my boys weren’t thinking about how healthy it was either to eat a burger every day. It had fat in it and they didn’t get hungry for the rest of the day at a job which entailed their climbing ladders and cleaning a ship. I am now 200 lbs from not being able to afford fresh vegetables and fruit for about 2 years- and I got sick of apples, my used to be favorite fruit. Lettuce and salad greens are simply not available to poor families even those with food stamps. And don’t forget the elderly who don’t qualify for much in food stamps because of their “large” SSA checks. I now get $475 per mnth in SSA benefits whichwill only get my about 45$ in food stamps. Luckily, I don’t have to apply any more. Now to lose the wieght! U can contact me if U want. I lived in public housing for about 10 years and it was an experience I wouldn’t want to wish on anyone.

  7. Congratulations for taking on this challenge. I am interested to see how much it costs to “eat well” in America. My question to you is what is your definition of eating well? I am glad your mom made you drink Tang. Did you at least take a multi-vitamin?

  8. Nick

    I have a very obvious question that I’m not sure anyone has asked yet or not. How were your bowel movements during the month’s time?

    When I first read you spent only a dollar a day, I figured you were eating ramen noodles every day for a month, but it seems you guys managed to work in rice, beans, and other things… Though I am sure there are no real nutrients in canned foods.

  9. Saw you folks on Fox. Kudos to you. I am going through a spend as little as I can on groceries phase right now and I to am a little tired of oatmeal to. LOL I am using brown sugar on mine and really it is pretty good.

    A great tool I have used is cous cous bought in bulk. Not very common in the U.S. but it can be used as an oatmeal subsitute or as a pasta.

    Love your story, I’ll add links for you at my site.

  10. Christopher & Kerri! Hello!

    Thanks for the inspiring blog. I’d love to know more about your book.

    After reading an article about “The unhealthiest city in America” and how KFC challenged families to buy food for a meal on less than ten dollars I’ve been blogging about that. You’ve given us something to discuss over dinner tonight.

    http://thetoymaker.livejournal.com/

    Keep using your superpowers for good,

    Marilyn

  11. this is very interesting and I hope you are successfull in your book writing. I have had to really tighten the strings at times myself and see my 6 yr child loose weight because we couldnt afford fruit and things like that -even with things like wic. I really hope that this rises an awareness from the way we eat as a society, to things like taxes and govt. We are at the point now because of the economy that we cant afford a lot of things again and if the taxes rise they take food out of my kids’ mouths! I have always been taken care of by God-my kids didnt get sick from lack of nutrition,but what about the many struggling parents out there who have no one to lean on-yes hunger happens in America too.

  12. Brian

    While I think this experiment is interesting, have you ever thought about trying the experiment but planning ahead and planting a vegetable garden. I know that I can put out my garden for less than 15 dollars and I have fresh veggies all summer long and am able to store them in the freezer to eat during the winter. If you put some work to it, you can get a lot of fresh foods via this method.

  13. i just saw you on yahoo! great job. what a challenge. there is an organization called Heifer International (http://www.heifer.org/) that has groups come and participate in a living situation of people around the world. When a group I knew went this past summer, they lived in “Tibet”, “Mississippi Delta”, and “Mozambique”. They have the camp set up like it would be in those countries and they have to live and eat as if they were really there. I think it changed everyone’s relationship with food. Just thought I would let you know.

  14. mama2four

    Interesting experiment. As you venture into your next project and your book….Whole grains and legumes are a whole protein., collard and other greens are cheep and provide many, many vitamins and are easy to grow. Herbal teas!!!! “Back to Eden” is an old book but a great book to learn from.

  15. jim

    I saw the interview on Fox News and wanted to say Congradulations to you all on having the motivation and persistence to do this project!

  16. Angela

    Just saw the interview (via the internet) and all I can say is WOW!! You two have excellent self control & discipline two things that we all need more of. I may try this next month..

  17. Veronica

    What an interesting experiment and also timely since more Americans are struggling to eat these days!

    One way you can afford fruits and vegetables is to grow your own. You can grow something like baby spinach and smaller salad greens in flower pots and they take less than 30 days to harvest. Seeds cost only a few dollars per packet. If you have neighbors with fruit trees, you can also ask them for donation.

    A good place to buy yeast for bread is Amazon.com. Bob’s Red Mill yeast comes out to be about $1.90 per 4 oz (small bottle size). The same amount is almost $10 in a regular supermarket. It will cost you only 60-70 cents (in ingredients) to make one 2-lb bread.

    Good luck!

  18. Jennifer Caprile

    Thank you so much for taking this challenge and sharing it with the world! Many people here in the United States have no idea of the concept of living on $1 a day for food. I am proud that you two are doing this and wish all the luck with your book! Keep it up!

  19. you looked great on Fox news. I wish I had thought of blogging my eating habits.
    what the ‘he-double tooth’ picks check out my blog

  20. Patricia Rhoton

    I agree with the above comments.
    Growing your food and learning to process it as a child did two things for me.

    It made me a fresh food snob, and I pine for the time when the garden comes in and I can enjoy my meals again. It might be less expensive, but it is priceless to me.

    It also showed me that inexpensive food needs a full time cook. More so than a gardener. Cooking from scratch is a lost art. More Americans than you can imagine have never eaten scratch cooking.
    And wouldn’t eat it if they could.

  21. BG

    Hey, I found your blog from yahoo news. I am really excited to hear more about the 2009 experiments!

    My husband and I have rice and beans a lot but I am afraid we go over our $200 grocery budget more often than we should.

    Keep it up.

  22. Janine

    Saw your story on SBC Yahoo. I read your blog and think that this experiment is fascinating. Though I know that politics aren’t the reason you did this, but your work stirs up some great questions. I really hope your book gets off the ground, I would love to read it. I can’t wait to tell all my friends to check out your blog, and see what great conversations can come of it.

    Thanks for the inspiration,

    Janine from Milwaukee, WI

  23. My name is Nichol. Todays’ cost of living and my average wage make ‘normal living’ seem virtually impossible. I’ve been living this way for nearly 5 years now, to my surprise – and here’s why:

    I have IBS [Long Ignored] and Colitis [Same] in
    recent years diagnosed with Crone’s and adjacent Diverticulitis. A diet for these conditions is far more expensive (and monotanous) than the diet
    of an average person of average health.

    I needed a diet I could afford, that is to say; not one good meal one day and none the next – but a stable, more staple diet of healthy ingredients.
    The hard part, as Greenslate pointed out in both interviews, is affording healthier foods.

    I went a step further than Christopher & Carrie…
    not only did I total up a monthly itemized grocery list, but I did so with the notion that I can also save money on the utilities by purchasing foods that do not require cooking, or foods which require very little energy expense to prepare.

    The answer is Chilli and Cornmeal. It’s your basic rice and beans menu with a few healthy vegetables & spices over cornchips or cornbread (rather than rice). We amit, the rice has its moment when the usual foods begin to deplenish.

    We’ve gone so far as to ask nutritionsists, our biology instructors, doctors and a few friends as personal ‘Diet Aides’ to find that our diet contains 98% protein needed by the human body [and both types], 100% of the Carbohydrates required [again, Grain & Veg.] with a bounty of Esential Vitamins & Minerals EG: Iron and Calcium.

    This menu suits both Carnevorous and Vegetarian taste buds, so no quabbling!

    Since this diet the conditions have been reduced to just one: IBS [I've been fighting off the omens of intestinal cancer]. I eat once per day around 1 – 4:00pm ; she gets by on standard Oatmeal [try homemade granola bars with raisins] and the same meal per ounce that I am eating per day.

    My total Grocery Costs per month: 61.90. That’s $2 per day – but there’s two of us. We are currently in process of experimenting with home-made chilli rather than buying canned goods.
    No more painful hours in the mens’ room wishing I could afford a better diet. To date I have more energy, regularity, stamina and friends say I seem to be in a better mood as well.

    May his information benefit others in the spirit of humility and wisdom – as there are many folks out there living on much less than we are. Bless you, Greenslate and Leonard, for your contribution to humanity.

  24. Cholla Queen 1973

    I was intrigued by the concept. However, after reading/watching about your project, I have some thoughts.
    Rewind to the early ’70’s – this was a necessary way to live due to similar economic conditions and political commitments.
    I think that the vitamin issue could have been solved by using the 99c store to buy a bottle of vitamins. Much better than Tang and cheaper. Flaovr-aid and Kool-aid both have absorbic acid in them.That’s 99c + tax for either.
    Read ” Cookbook for A Small Planet”, the follow-up to “Diet for A Small Planet”. Free at library to read, and you can always check the CRC Thrift Store for a copy floating about. Complimentary proteins. P&B sandwiches make you tired due to sugar and carborhydrates.
    I understand your position that this was an experiment. Most people however, would take advantage of Food Stamps, food banks, the rescue mission. Cans & bottles are also used to generate income for food.
    The trick to eating cheap and staying healthy is to learn what works and what doesn’t. And propagate that knowledge.

  25. Kerri, your mom told me about the show so I taped it.
    Though I’m not big Fox fan, I did think the direct interview with you two, was much better than the other tv spot. Seems like the others who left comments got a much better idea of what it was all about. What a fun ride this has become for you. I hope all continues to go well. : ) Claudia

  26. I think your follow-up projects and subsequent book should be required reading for any economics course. Personally I have found sucess in in a vegan diet, one that eschews meat and dairy products in favor of starches: beans, rice potatoes, etc. In my opinion more attention needs to be paid to this subject to alleviate more pressing concerns for America, i.e. environement, renewable resources and the health of generations to come. Try drmcdougall.com

  27. I read about you on someone else’s blog and was intrigued enough to click the link they provided. What you two did is very interesting. I often complain that in order to save money you have to eat crap. I also eat a lot of fruits and try to have veggies with every meal, and those fresh items are very costly. I’d be interested to see what you have planned for next year and will try to come back and read from day one.

    BTW: In order to raise money for the organization you’re supporting; consider holding a giveaway – something small – and involve bloggers. You could offer something for the blogger who brings you the most traffic/donations or something like that. Or make it a meme and involve the blogging community. (IDK just a thought.) Things in the blogging world spread like wildfire as I’m sure you’re realizing with the recognition you’ve gotten from your experiences.

  28. Nancy

    I would encourage you to read Tosca Reno’s book “The Eat Clean Diet” as you research what it costs to eat “well” in America. When I began to implement the diet, I was amazed at how much my grocery bills spiked just to eat a good ratio of proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats. It might be helpful to decide what eating “well” means before you embark on your investigation.

    Bravo on your efforts! What an inspiring journey!

  29. Matt

    You guys are insane, but that is pretty cool.

  30. This is amazing! You guys are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing this with the world!! I can’t wait for your book to come out.

    ~~Marie~~

  31. k

    I just saw this clip online and was somewhat baffled. Why would you live off peanut butter and tang when you educate yourselves a bit and forage for really wonderful things? You would be amazed at the abundance of the natural and urban environments. Maybe you are uncomfortable with social perceptions or believe that food is not safe unless you buy it? Souther California is brimming full of edibles there is no reason to drink tang to prevent scurvy! Pine needles are a better source of vitamin c than oranges-which are everywhere! I’m sure someone in your neighborhood has a tree with lovely oranges hanging over their wall onto public property. Many independent farms offer goods for service and you learn alot along the way also! Gleening fields after harvest is another way to obtain fresh produce-although it often has high pesticides like your average grocery produce. Dumpster diving is also a wonderful way to reduce waste and nourish your body (you will also find many other useful perfectly good items!)These activities could be explored in the classroom challenging the students to do research on all of these options and what to do with the excess they will find (believe me-it’s crazy what society discards!) Good luck! Open your horizons and your students!! :)

  32. k

    I just saw this clip online and was somewhat baffled. Why would you live off peanut butter and tang when you educate yourselves a bit and forage for really wonderful things? You would be amazed at the abundance of the natural and urban environments. Maybe you are uncomfortable with social perceptions or believe that food is not safe unless you buy it? Souther California is brimming full of edibles there is no reason to drink tang to prevent scurvy! Pine needles are a better source of vitamin c than oranges-which are everywhere! I’m sure someone in your neighborhood has a tree with lovely oranges hanging over their wall onto public property. Many independent farms offer goods for service and you learn alot along the way also! Gleening fields after harvest is another way to obtain fresh produce-although it often has high pesticides like your average grocery produce. Dumpster diving is also a wonderful way to reduce waste and nourish your body (you will also find many other useful perfectly good items!)These activities could be explored in the classroom challenging the students to do research on all of these options and what to do with the excess they will find (believe me-it’s crazy what society discards!) Good luck! Open your horizons and your students!! :)

  33. WOW! Kudos to your efforts and I am so glad you can enjoy your favorite vegan spot again. Your experience will become a class assignment for sure for my high school seniors. Thanks for the inspiration. Blessings and good health!

  34. harold

    I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t know that you can get a fair number of calories for a dollar a day by eating nothing but grain and legumes (including peanut products). Any observer can see the prices on those items in the grocery store.

    I saw the clip on Yahoo. To me, it clearly demonstrated that a $1 per day diet is grossly inadequate. A transient survival diet for adults at best. Inadequate vitamin A, vitamin C (except for the Tang), folic acid, iron (for the woman), right off the top of my head. And probably more deficiencies. I could have showed you how to do a bit better, but the point remains, one dollar a day does not provide for an adequate diet in the US.

    I am curious as to why you went on Fox and Friends. By choosing a venue which is hostile to basic social safety net programs, you risked having the message of your experience twisted into an idea that “irresponsible” poor people “should” be living on one dollar a day for food, instead of “excessive” food stamps. Although you did emphasize that you could not afford fresh foods and needed Tang for vitamin C, the outright deficient nature of the diet was not mentioned. No-one said the words “vitamin (or mineral) deficiency”.

  35. Lam

    As a single woman with a small business I have been forced by the economy to watch every penny. I find I can live off of $25.00 to $35.00 a week for food. My weekly diet is healthy and simple. I buy whatever unprocessed meat is on sale, whatever frozen vegtables are on sale and 3 servings of fruit a week; also whatever is on sale. My carbs come mostly from yams, potatoes and rice. I use little or no salt and standard spices. I cook twice a week and eat 2 meals a day from whatever I cook. Treats are usualy home made cakes or cookies, peanut butter or the occasional chips. Once a month I go out to eat but keep that bill at $20.00 or less. I have found this way of eating to not only be cost effective in a slow economy but much healthier.

  36. Betty

    Eating a nutritonally inadequate diet will lead you to be unhealthy eventually. Oats, beans, and peanut butter are quire hard on everyone’s digestive system and don’t have that wide array of nutritional value. Read about raw food, and try growing your own food, and living off of it.

    Here’s what I do. I found public plots of lands, “public parks” near my apartment to grow food on, because people often don’t travel inside of the woods. I live in an apartment with no land. I have been growing food on this plot of land for 5 years now. I’m growing tomatos, greens (spinach, collard, kale, dandelion), watermelons, canataloupes, onions, etc.. and nobody besides my daughter & son know who help me water and plant.

  37. Pushky

    Hi
    I just happened to bump into your video interview for Fox and Friends and wanted to tell you how impressed I was at your experiment. I second Brian’s idea if you plan to continue with such an experiment. A vegetable garden sounds like some extra work but once you start seeing the fruits of your labor, you’ll feel great.
    Also, I might have some interesting tips that you could consider. I grew up in India and now I’m based here in Boston. Many of Indian dishes are simple to make, nutritious and cheap. Back home, I don’t think our monthly groceries were more than $20-$25 per person.
    If you wish to listen to some ideas or some recipes, I would be glad to contribute to this experiment of yours, get back to me at the email provided. As a curious supporter, I have decided to emulate you in doing something like that too. Should be great for weight loss too! :o)

  38. carleeny

    The only thing that disturbs me about this, is the idea that you think this is ‘inspirational’ and ‘new’.

    I’ve been living off of about $20 a month for food. It’s called ‘welfare’.

  39. Pingback: Couple lives on $1 a day diet for one month - Coupon Mom Forums

  40. Chris

    The F&F clip intrigued me enough to check out your site here. What you’ve done in the course of this project is interesting and inspirational. The extreme to which you did it challenges all of us, without exception, to examine our own habits.

    I especially admire your honesty: you described this as a challenge, but you did not try to mislead anyone into thinking it was easy, fun, or even something people ought to try for themselves. Admitting that Chris’ 14 lb weight loss in 30 days’ time was unhealthy, and Kerri was generally tired, drained and cranky put a caveat on your success. You reminded your audience that eating healthy is important, and you were not eating healthy by generally accepted standards.

    Your experience serves to remind us all of how fortunate some of us are, how there are others out there very badly in need, and how we can probably all do a bit better. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  41. jamilleluney

    Very innovative idea. Many have thought about it, but not many have gone through with it. 14lbs in a month will break most peoples will.

  42. You should try to coupon and maximize that dollar. It can be done, just need time and patience and then bang out the sale price to get many things for pennies. Then spend the rest of the dollar on veggies/meat/milk and other necessities.

    couponerswanted.com Great helpful funny people.

  43. I usually feel very blessed to be able to eat all organic, but after seeing your interview, I feel guilty about it!

    Very cool what you’ve done. Thanks for bringing this awareness to so many and for continuing your awesome work. I’ll look forward to catching your future projects.

    (Next time, try some bluegreen algae to keep your blood sugar stable, reducing tired, hungry and cranky symptoms and providing your body with important nutrients. You can actually live on it and water alone!)

  44. marilyn

    4 stars for you! I have long been an advocate for the idea that there is poverty and hunger in the US. For too long we have focused our attention upon other nations when there are children here that go without. We are, it seems, too proud to admit that we need to change. I am 54 (today) and I grew up with no running water and very little food. My family would not take”charity” and we grew and raised what we ate. I remember tea and a piece of bread for supper many a night. breakfast was toast and tea lunch was a thin smear of peanut butter on a piece of bread and for supper it was either macaroni or fried potatoes. we had meat once a week. We did have tomatoes and beets which my mother canned…. I still hate tomatoes over potatoes(LOL) But hauling water and cutting wood for canning is exhausting for a child on that kind of diet. Especially in the north where snow and extreme temperatures drain energy fast. We had one apple tree but let me tell you when you glean fields and have to ask as a child if you may have the friut left in someone’s yard is a hard thing. The Lions club brought a care package each Christmas and oh how I loved them ( the lions) until I grew up and as an adult offered to help and heard several complain that there should be no candy as the system would then have to pay for dentists… I was so dissullusioned that my heroes did this without ever knowing that that candy was the only bit of sweetness I had in my entire childhood. I thought they were angels and I found that some ( not all) did this just for the publicity. Today I make my own baskets delivering them anonomously. I wish I could do more.

  45. Maine Dietetic Student

    Food Stamps, as of October 1, are now called the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or SNAP. Here in Maine, if a single person earns more than $1079 per month before taxes, SNAP as well as all medical care is canceled. This policy keeps people poor and on the system, not allowing them to save up to buy a decent car that runs, fix things, insulate their house, or save for their children’s college. I’m a college student, in dietetics, and due to having psoriatic arthritis and fibromyalgia, being extremely fatigued, in chronic pain, getting the flu every week due to a depressed immune system, I am unable to work full-time. Luckily, I am on SNAP and MaineCare, and I am very grateful for the assistance I receive. I would not be able to attend college if I did not receive SNAP and MaineCare! I grew up on an organic farm, and learned healthful eating habits, and therefore I do very well nutritionally on SNAP, and I feed my mother also. I buy reduced, or extremely on sale fruits and vegetables, the cheapest per pound lean meats and freeze them, stock up on sales and use coupons, grow a summer garden of spinach, romaine, herbs, squash, and tomatoes, can and freeze garden produce, and buy day-old bread at outlets, or make bread at home. I usually buy only stock foods at groceries and health-food stores, such as rice, dry and canned beans, whole wheat pasta, canned, frozen, and fresh fruits and vegetables, spices, etc and make foods from scratch. With the $172 a month I get from SNAP, we eat hearty stews, baby spinach/romaine salads with artichoke hearts, olives, and flavorful cheeses, spicy Indian dishes, light meat vegetable stir fry, mostly vegetable lasagna, spinach feta-cheese bread, and so many other great foods! It can be done and we have tons of food in our freezer and on our shelves! But one cannot buy lots of soda, $10/lb prepackaged cookies and chips, ready-to-eat foods, highly advertised junk in glossy packages, and expect to eat healthily or cheaply! Educate yourselves about what is healthy and what stores and mainstreet media actually advertise!

  46. harold

    I think what you are doing is valuable. I should add to my comments above that I could show you how to make a $1 a day diet non-deficient, at least for adults, even without a vegetable garden.

    (Obviously, if you are lucky enough to have the resources and knowledge to set up a garden, it becomes far, far easier. Likewise, if you have enough money at one time to buy things in bulk, and space to store bulk and frozen, it becomes easier.)

    Even in the highly realistic scenario of having only small amounts of money at one time, carrots are cheap – fresh or frozen – and a single one provides an ample amount of vitamin A. You don’t even need to eat one every day. Tomatoes and tomato products can provide vitamins A and C at reasonable prices as well. Potatoes and yams aren’t as affordable per calorie as grains and legumes in most markets, but provide extra nutrients. Someone else mentioned that vitamin pills can be low cost, although I don’t think of them as a substitute for actual food.

    Nevertheless, such a diet would be monotonous, and even if technically non-deficient, suboptimal for adults, let alone growing children.

    I still think that saying you’re not being political, and then going on Fox, is like saying it’s not about sports but going on ESPN. However, I guess exposure is exposure.

  47. Good job, you two. I love all the advice people have given you…how funny that so many of those who comment seem to know more than you about eating on pennies a day. I’m glad YOU promoted what you have done; it makes us all think about what is happening not just in our own country, but around the world.

  48. IamaJewwell

    Everything old is new again.

    While what you are doing is interesting it is not new. Yes millions of people eat for a dollar a day or less in other countries that we know, bt so do many people here in America.

    Ask anyone over 50 and they will tell you that their dear great grandmother could feed a houseful of folks for ten dollars a week. Granted the prices were different, usually higher!

    With agricultural incentives (cash for crops) in the 50’s, corporations bought up many struggling family farms. The corporate farms could produce a higher yield, so food prices fell and up until 2001 many of us never gave food prices a second thought. But there are many in our country that live Off the Grid and they have known for a long time that less really is more.

    Being self sufficient includes growing as much of your own food as possible and knowing how to cook it and store it. Hunting, fishing and living off the land. Don’t know what I talking about? OK think Little House on the Prarie, yes people really did live like that once apon a time.

    Ok so you live in an apartment and have knowledge, but few true survival skills. Or you live in 2700 sqft of a luxury ie… ( over extended mortgage payment). There are other ways to live. We off the grid types were like you once.

    And we have done many bone brain things. Though we’d never eat oatmeal everyday for a month, then thats because we don’t have too, not with fresh eggs everyday and a bountiful back yard garden and a great fly reel (that’s fishing talk for all ya city folk : )

    And though we don’t own livestock, we’ve bartered our services, talents and knowledge for some of the best cuts of steak in the state.

    Off the grid we use solar power, recycled lumber, rain water and we’re not affraid to say NO to the things we really don’t need, while still living well.

    So while what you are doing is interesting, I’d like to see you kick it up a notch! Off the Grid Fine Living for less than a dollar a day! Now that is impressive!

  49. patti

    i have to say i do that everyday i just stop eatting lunch and have coffee what so good about that one dollar can go for a day i been dong it from when my boys were small now when you dont have it to spend that the way it is

  50. Strangely I have found myself with a budget similar to yours for food many times. While you used the word experiment I would use the words bad planning , poor judgment , or cheap to describe my situations.

    Regardless hunger is a very real and very relevant topic here in the US. Your unassuming approach to your “ten minutes” is inspiring and I for one plan to follow your year long progress on your newest “learning experiment”. Keep up the good work.

  51. Your story would make a fantastic documentary by Morgan Spurlock (of Supersize Me and 30 Days fame). It would not surprise me to find that he has alread contacted you! Fantastic blog, great writing, lots of “food” for thought.

  52. Jen

    This is a great way for people to stay grounded and see how people live that have less than most of us. I am a big coupon shopper, and it allows me to feed my family for very little. I am not sure exactly how much, I venture to guess 40 dollars a week for a family of 5, if I cook at home for every meal. It can be done. Kudos for doing this.

  53. Just saw your Fox interview on Yahoo….

    I work full-time in community development in Nicaragua. One of my pet peeves is that fresh produce is hard to come by for the people here. I consider a family in good shape if they have a plot of land where they can farm veggies and fruit trees. But most won’t because everyone here lets their pigs, horses, goats and chickens run wild. I’m fascinated that you were met with the same dilema of not having a veggie garden or fruit trees to supplement your diet, just under different circumstances.

    I know you’re keeping your focus on the US but some of it might be applicable here. Perhaps you’ve seen the photo essay Time magazine did on what the “world” eats. If not I put the address in the space for my website or you can just google “what the world eats”. It was an eye-opening essay and made me wonder about the true cost of a healthy diet. Notice in the photos how some of the developed nations consume less fruits and veggies than the developing nations.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. You are both teachers in the truest sense of the word.
    Esther Fritz

  54. Paul Wilke DDS, ACN

    Dear Christopher & Kerri

    Very interesting story. I would like to share with you one important point. There is a very real difference between real Vitamin C as found in lemons or limes etc and Ascorbic acid or sodium ascorbate that is found in man made supplements. A person with scurvy could consume all the ascorbic acid he wants and would not recover from scurvy unless he consumed some lemon juice or lime juice or orange juice. Ascorbic acid is only about 6% of the total Vitamin C moleule, the antioxadant part. Without the other 94% a persons connective tissue integrity will degrade or not be restored. Ascorbic acid was first isolated in 1928 by Hungarian Dr. Szent-Gyorgi. He received the Nobel Prize for his discovery. When he objected, reporting that ascorbic acid doesn’t cure or prevent scurvy, they ignored him and the myth is still prevelant today! It’s the same with all other man made nutrients. They are in a chemical, isolated, dead form. Real nutrients are in a live whole food form.

  55. I found your story interesting. Nutritionally, there are lots of cheap foods that add variety. Just putting salsa as an alternative addition can add vitamins. Good luck on educating others and yourselves.

  56. Emily

    lYou can come up with a meal like that for less than $5 if you had to. As graduate students for the last 7 years, we’ve had no choice but live frugally, and I NEVER eat ramen. We eat fresh produce, veggies, meats, and breads EVERYDAY. My kids idea of a special dessert is blueberries and raspberries. We recieved government assistance now as well, we can easily survive on $200 a month. You just have to be creative. We lived in the caribean for 1 year, our food budget was $200 a month, as it is now, and thats in a country where fresh milk is $8.59 a gallon, and that was 6 years ago! Lamb was cheaper, so we ate lamb more often than not. We ate a lot of rice, beans, and veggies. I made a new creative meal everyday, and that was with an infant and a toddler on my hands. We dry our clothes on a line, and had a compost. You can make it if you are willing to. There is no sense is spending extra cashflow on things we don’t need, but theres no reason we can’t live reasonably well on little to no income. I also send in for lots of rebates, a constant flow of random 2 and $3 checks here and there really helps. Good luck on the book. I’d like to write one as well.

  57. JillM

    I love the idea. In my religion we fast one meal a month and give the money(+) that would have been spent on food to the needy. It’s called a fast offering. Americans spend an insame amount of money on food when there is so much good that can be done. I wish you lots of luck with your endevor.

  58. Pretty amazing that you did this. I am curious if you were under a Doctor’s care.. is that me over-reacting? I’ll keep reading your site… wow.

    John

  59. Bob

    My question after reading much of your project is why you couldn’t eat more for a dollar a day. Is it because of the high prices in California or lack of experience with where to find cheap food? Here in Indiana, and I am sure in much of the country, you could be more than full on $1 per day. You need to know where to shop and use coupons whenever possible. I think if you visited stores like Aldi and Save-A-Lot you would be blown away at what $30 will buy for a month. Also there are stores like Kroger who triple coupons up to 50 cents. If you are smart and read the sale flyers you can get many items for free with a coupon. The most difficult task if finding cheap but quality protein sources. If you need meat each day its almost impossible to do $1 a day. You’re limited to maybe a half can of tuna, a hot dog, a sausage link, or a little bit of ground beef.

  60. Lisa

    It would be interesting to see what it costs to eat a ‘diatetically perfect’ diet in America today and compare that to what amount food stamps provides for a family of four. By diatetically perfect, I mean based on the current ‘food pyramid;’ bread and grains, 6-11 servings a day; fruits, 2-4 servings per day; vegetables, 2-5 servings; milk group, 2-3 servings/day; protein group 2-3 servings/day. Better yet, how to manage that ideal goal on a very limited budget while still providing a good deal of variety and avoiding highly processed, unhealthy foods. WIC and food stamps should come with detailed shopping instructions and recipes.

  61. Lynn

    I am fascinated by your experiment and look forward to your future ones. I am a teacher myself and as you two know so well we teachers do not get paid well enough to live adequately. I feed a family of four and my youngest son is extremely picky preferring spaghetti at every meal. My husband and I live more frugally than many of our peers, but we know we can do even better. I will follow your work and see what I can learn from you. Thank you for teaching us all!

  62. This is the first year as a single mom that I’m doing better financially after putting 2 older children through college and they both graduated in MAY and I still have my 12 year son to raise…. I just sent $25.00 …

    I have promised myself to donate 50.00 this season… and 2 good causes emerged.

    I know 50.00 is not much… but a little bit here and there does add up.

    Thank you for doing this to help others..

    I’ve been a student of frugality for years and thus able to keep my house and high nyc mortgage and eat well.

    I often wished I could teach others how to get the best deals when grocery shopping. Stock up on items on sale and freeze and never buy anything not on sale (called loss leaders)…

    You can freeze practically anything…. even bananas… I get them reduced and freeze them.They are great in shakes…and cheap * cheap * cheap…………

    Different things like that save you hundreds and easy tricks to do.

    Bettyann

  63. Richard

    Hi,

    I think you would have fared better if instead of bread, peanut butter and jam, you had eaten beans with whole grains (e.g. like brown rice) and a bit of vegetable oil.

    All the best,
    Richard

  64. julie

    How I cut back? The food you buy and don’t eat is the most expensive food. I am single. I grocery shop every 10 days, that significantly cut my bill.

    Try Gaspacho for your veggies. Reall cheap if you grow your own peppers. Add an avacado.

  65. Jackie

    Wow! This is great! Being a vegetarian, I consume lots of vegetables and fruits. I would say about half my grocery bill goes to that! But years ago, my family was on food stamps. At one point, I was called in for an audit and had to fill out a form stating how I spent that money. They wanted to know where every penny went! I never gave thought to that,so when they calculated what I wrote down, they said it was impossible for me to be feeding my family for $1.00 per day. I’ll never forget how demeaning they were. Thinking back, we ate lots of top ramen during that time. I would chop carrots, celery, and/or broccoli to add to it. We ate lots of oatmeal and lots of beans. So, your project is of interest, and I will be looking forward to your book!

  66. Cikgu

    Good job for showing how to loose weight without losing money.

    Hope you guys figure a way to get some fresh fruits and vege…perhaps in exchange of lunch budget.

    Regards from Singapore…

  67. Kelsey

    I think this is awesome! its about time people saw how hard it is these days for people to survive. I go to the store and stock up on top ramen and koolaid i think what you guys have done is the most wonderful thing in the world! I cant wait to get to read your book!

    Kelsey

  68. Tony

    From 1981-1989 I grew up in Central California living in poverty. My parents were not educated and could not get a decent job so we were living mostly on state funds, “welfare” is what most would call it. As far as welfare goes… they only give you enough according what your household number is minus any circumstances. I remember how my parents used to budget the $240 leftover every month for our groceries for the nine of us. At the table, there were never enough to go around and we were constantly hungry. Fortunately for us, my mother had a garden where she planted most of our vegetables. But we never had the luxury of even eating out, not even fast-foods. We lived that way for so long that in retrospect I am thankful for being forced to eat that way because in turn it was better for my health.

    If I can starve everyday as a child for eight years, I am sure that a 1-dollar-a-day per-person is more than enough.

  69. Anne

    RE: JillM ‘s comment:

    It’s the LDS faith that does this. She must have typed it wrong (“one meal a month”)- because Mormon’s are reccomended to fast on the first Sunday of every month. The fast should be 2 or 3 meals, some do 24 hours.

    They donate the money they would have spent (or as much more as they would like) to help other people in their communities.

    The money goes to places called Bishop Storehouses, they look like grocery stores on the inside, the people in need can collect the foods that they will need to sustain them.

    It’s an amazing system and has been in place and worked for many many years!

    That is where I like to donate my money- because on top of the local work they do, they have been all over the world helping those in need.

    I’m happy that you guys have also come up with a way to donate for a good cause. Well done.

  70. allochthon

    ( I haven’t yet read all the comments on this post, but I doubt this has been mentioned…)

    I’ve found an excellent way to get plenty of veggies, and high quality protein, with very little money. This is going to sound like a pitch, but it’s not. I’m not making any money on this, and while some people sell systems, most of us do this with scrounged materials.

    Aquaponics.
    The problem with hydroponics is that you need expensive equipment, expensive nutrients and controlled conditions.

    The problem with farming fish is that the effluent is an environmental poison, and most farm-raised fish aren’t actually all that healthy because of their diet.

    But if you combine the two, the weakness of the one becomes the strength of the other.
    Raise fish in a tank, and pump their water onto a gravel filled growbed filled with veggies. The fish fertilize the veggies, and the veggies clean the water for the fish. Add a few basic gardening-type nutrients (frex: greensand) and you have a continual system providing fresh, organic veggies, and fresh, organic fish.

    The only cost, once the system is set up, is the electricity for the pump. And maybe electricity for lights if you have to do it inside.

    I learned about it here:
    “Aquaponics – The Urban Food Revolution”

    http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/12/aquaponics_the.php

    and there is a wealth if information on how to do this cheaply at http://www.backyardaquaponics.com/forum/, or http://www.fastonline.org/content/category/4/15/29/
    This site has instructions for building a system with plastic 55gal drums, which are often very easy to get.

    It’s below 0*F in Minnesota, and I’m eating fresh salads grown in my kitchen, and I have tilapia that will soon be eating size. For the price of some electricity, water and seeds. I got my fish free.

  71. allochthon

    re: scrounging for an aquaponics setup:
    Get lumber from construction site garbage. Get pumps from thrown out clothes washing machines or old pumps from a marina. Get drums from a carwash, or restaurant. Get fish (if local laws allow it) by scooping up the baby fish from a nearby lake or stream. And, of course, rain from the sky, collected in rain barrels.

  72. Pingback: dollar a day

  73. due to the busy schedules from work, most people would just prefer to eat on fastfoods ”

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