Day Seventeen

Our abandoned cookbooks

Our abandoned cookbooks

I rarely used to eat breakfast. I love coffee in the morning, but I feel like 5:30am, when I get up for work, is just too early to eat. Now I go to bed at night looking forward to my morning oatmeal. I know that if I don’t eat it, there is no way I am any match for the 36 tenth graders waiting for me. I have told my students on several occasions that it is important for them to eat good breakfasts because if they are hungry it will be difficult to think about other things. It is nice to know I am not lying.

I start thinking about what we might have for dinner shortly after I have lunch. After school I am exhausted and I can only think of getting home to prepare our next meal. It is not uncommon for Christopher or I to call the other after classes get out to see what time we each will get home and what is on the menu. Now there is a new sense of urgency. We have both had evenings where we rush home and make whatever is fastest because we need to eat immediately.

The food we are eating is good, but we haven’t had quite the variety we were hoping we would. I still love beans and rice, but my taste buds want a change. We have not yet had a day of cost desperation where we have had to have ramen noodles, but when I hesitantly mentioned that it actually sounded good to me, I was surprise when Christopher agreed.

I may try to make a soup this weekend. It just depends how much it will cost. The other day I started looking through some of the many cookbooks we have for a simple inexpensive soup and I may have salivated a bit on the page. Looking at the recipes made me want to cook everything. The thought of the food I want consumes my mind.

In happier news, I found went on a mission for less expensive salad dressing today and succeeded. The Dollar Store had a bottle of Balsamic Vinaigrette for $0.50. This made it possible to have salad with a full serving of dressing and have some money left over for desert.

Dreaming of bland oatmeal only eight hours away,


Daily Totals:

Breakfast: Oatmeal – $0.05 (less than a cup cooked), 1Tbsp margarine-$0.03 (Kerri only),8 fluid oz Tang – $0.07 (Christopher only)

Lunch: Chana Masala – $0.25, Rice – $0.07

Dinner: Salad – $0.23 (1/4 carrot – $0.03, cherry tomatoes from garden – $0.04, 1/4 heart of romaine – $0.12,tbsp garbanzo beans-$0.04), 2 tbsp dressing – $0.06 (Kerri had one), Polenta – $0.09, Marinara Sauce – $0 .13

Dessert: 1tbsp Peanut butter-$0.05 (Christopher only), 1 peanut butter cookie – $0.06 (Kerri only)

Christopher Total: $1.00

Kerri Total: $0.94

Donation Total: $602


NOTE: 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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6 responses to “Day Seventeen

  1. Christopher…. When you are ready…. there is a case of Ramen in my file cabinet! Stay strong guys… My one year old had at it with a Mikky D’s Sweet and Sour packet tonight when I momentarily turned my back on him… I thought of you….

  2. Rachel Cohen

    Why didn’t you make noodles? Easy, cheaper and better than those tortillas.

  3. Hope

    We are the poor people of america who have 4 kids and eat like this daily. oat meal for breakfast 4$, complete pancakes from sams 6$, rodenberrys syrup $8, big box from sams ramen noodles $5, leg quarters $90 rice beans $4, giant can of corn 3$ or green beans 3$ for the week, hot chocolate $5 for snacks and pop corn 6$ also from sams club. We don’t qualify for food stamps and cant afford as much food anymore. That means not often fresh veggies, hardly never fruit unles 5$ giant can of pineapples from sams, and I buy a bottle of vitamins to make up for the lack of vitamins that we dont get from fruit, vegetables, and milk that we hardly ever buy. It really sucks.

  4. katiyah

    Interesting experiment that I would not attempt with being vegan. I have never felt better than when I gave up meat and dairy. I never drank soda or ate processed foods much but dumping meat and milk was extraordinary for my health.
    I must say maybe people will start to think about family planning a bit more seriously. With the cost of living these days I don’t know why more people can’t make the connection between having more than 1 or 2 children and quality of life.
    I am a creature of habit myself but your menu would drive me mad after a few days certainly. Thanks for showing you can eat on a dollar a day as unhealthy as it is.

  5. In response to katiyah
    “I must say maybe people will start to think about family planning a bit more seriously. ”

    I can only say that people’s circumstances can change in life. We have two kids that we can well afford and that we chose to have. We make well into the 6 figures and we live in an extremely frugal way. I want to teach my kids to respect money and be financially responsible. We rarely buy new furniture for many reasons. I always save at least 50% off my grocery bills (on a bad week). I often get free grocery items.

    Reading about this experiment makes me wonder how much we actually spend on groceries in my family. I think I need to start breaking it down to see how low it is. There are ways to eat more healthily while keeping costs down. Who knows what the future will bring to us. I know I will be prepared because I live the way I choose to live, kids and all. I am of that mind set.

    I think you made a really broad statement there.

  6. Maple

    Congratulations on your success (obviously, I’m posting this after the completion of the project) and many thanks for your dedication and concern in doing this at all. I am inspired and impressed. May the result of your project be wide ranging and raise not only awareness, but more compassion and generosity.

    The obvious comments have already been made in earlier day’s posts about the gap between this experience and that of the real working poor.

    I am continually frustrated by much touted “frugal family” articles and radio programs that profess to help one “save hundreds” on a monthly grocery budget. The only problem is that these plans always require that one have money in order to save it. A poor person can’t afford to buy in bulk or stock up during sales because that would use up an entire month’s grocery money.

    The spices and things used in the recipes also require an outlay of precious cash, unless there’s a store where they’re sold in bulk and can be purchased just a pinch or two at a time for a few cents.

    I agree with other comments about the ethics of eating the cookies. Free food is free food, whether it comes in the form of fast food condiment packets or cookies baked for a school event. The Costco food, however, is an unrealistic scenario. A $50 membership would be out of reach for almost all. (I’m interested in Hope’s comments, in which she refers to Sam’s Club. Obviously, it must save her in the long run and she’s able to make the initial outlay to achieve that.)

    The nutrition aspect scares me. Ramen noodles, while cheap, are a septic tank of chemicals, sodium and fat. Beans and corn, once staple foods of the poor, have undergone drastic price increases. Soup bones, good for stock in which to cook rice and pasta, are now priced beyond reach. Your references to diminished mood, acuity and stamina in direct proportion to your diet should be shouted from the highest government rooftops. How can we expect kids to learn and adults to work productively if they don’t have good quality body-fuel?

    Regarding katiyah’s comments about reproduction: I can agree in principal, but can’t make a blanket condemnation. There are several factors involved. Irresponsible sexual activity; more kids that will allow mom to stay home on public assistance; and religious beliefs can result in multiple pregnancies. However, often it is despite the best preventative efforts that one can afford that a pregnancy occurs anyway.

    My neighbor became pregnant after believing that she’d finally gone through menopause. A friend has 3 kids despite being on first the patch and then the pill. She had no insurance to get her tubes tied. Which reminds me of the woman at work who had that procedure…and was pregnant a few months later. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be more conscientious (and even have incentives for sterilization). But, we need to remember that sometimes, kids just happen.

    Regardless of all of that, knowledge about our growing food crisis (guess that phrase works on 2 levels, doesn’t it?) is sorely needed. So is the motivation to do something about it in ways that don’t compromise health and environment (e.g., GMOs, factory farming, and most pesticides).

    Thank you!

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