October First

One of our favorite restaurants. If you are in the San Diego area, check it out!

One of our favorite restaurants. If you are in the San Diego area, check it out!

As we got into bed last night, I was sure to remind Christopher that we only had nine hours until we could eat whatever we wanted. I had a rough time falling asleep. Yesterday I stopped at a grocery store to get some food items for our lunches today. When I walked in, I was overwhelmed. I was only getting two things, strawberries and tofurkey for our sandwiches, but I spent at least twenty minutes in the store wandering up and down the aisle thinking about everything I could buy. I think I annoyed Christopher. I called him at least twice to have him talk me out of unnecessary purchases. I was able to walk out with only what I came for, but it was not easy.

When I got home, it was only to hear Christopher scheming for our next adventure. However, I was a bit of a naysayer and I rejected several of his ideas. I pleaded with him to just let us live our normal lives.

This morning we both had a difficult time getting out of bed, but it was a treat to have vegan donuts (with chocolate frosting and custard filling… brought to us from friends who had visited Ronald’s Bakery in Las Vegas). I thought I might cry as I took a bite of this three day old treat that had been waiting patiently for this day to come. Prior to this I don’t know that I would have eaten a donut that was as old or melty as this one was, however, today no one could have stopped me. As a result of breakfast, both of us had headaches and stomachaches this morning.

I am glad we are done. Christopher lost about 13-14 pounds;I can tell when I hug him. I lost about 5 1/2, which is plenty. I actually punched a new hole in my only belt yesterday… of course my pair of previously too snug jeans fit for now. Our families are happy too. We went out to dinner with Christopher’s mom who was thrilled to treat us. You will see below that today we were perhaps a little overexcited about our options for food. It was a shock to see our totals. I recalculated several times to make sure I was correct.

Of course, I did get a little annoyed at dinner when I found out that Christopher had two students bring him three batches of cookies today and he shared them with his students instead of me. I guess he learned nothing from the Great Cookie War… I was right and he has agreed, but I still did not get those cookies.


PS. Costs today are estimated. We did not measure.

Daily Totals:

Breakfast: 1 vegan custard filled chocolate frosted Donut – $0.75, Fresh squeezed orange juice – $0.54 (three oranges used, Christopher only), 1 chocolate bar donut – $0.50 (Christopher only)

Snack: Medium toffee nut soy latte, decaf- $3.50 (Kerri only)

Lunch: 1 soy turkey sandwich – $1.65 (1/3 pkg. soy turkey – $1.00, homemade bread – $0.20, approx 1 Tbsp vegan mayo – $0.25, yellow mustard – $0.10), Organic Strawberries – $1.50

Dinner: Shared appetizers- $2.50 ( Summer Rollz and barbeque mock chicken), Entrees -$7.95 (Kerri had Pad Thai with mock chicken, Christopher had Curried mock chicken with rice, potatoes and broccoli… we only ate half, the rest will be in our lunches tomorrow), Taro root Slushie with boba – $4.00 (Christopher only), Passion Fruit Iced tea – $3.00 (Kerri only)

Christopher Total: $19.39

Kerri Total: $20.85

Donation Total: $1032


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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32 responses to “October First

  1. Yeah!!!! You made the $1000 mark today:) How proud you must be.

    I’m really gonna miss you guys. You should consider writing a mini book (you can still live your normal lives Kerri~wink~) so the learning and teaching of your experience never ends. You already know what’s possible in 30 days. I just wrote and published a book in 60 days. One just has to know…


    Good Luck and All my blessings to you and yours,

    Gerrie Stood

    Author of:

    The Joy Junkie’s Survival Guide to Emotional Eating

  2. AJ!

    Do you have the ability to post your grand total and what you think you normally spend? I just wonder how different it is.

    Congrats on your accomplishment, and thanks for sharing it with us. Maybe the guy who does the 30-days series could think about mentioning this on his program.

  3. Danielle

    Ha! This is absolutely terrific. I just read the article on you guys in Earthfirst! and the ironic thing is that I commited myself to a similar experiment. Only it was $2/day (the other demographic of the poverty line as I am sure you both know! -smile-). I was aiming for a month (sept 1st-oct 1st) but opted out on the 21st because I began to lose sight of my mission. I followed the same rules as you both had posted (ironic as well since I just read this a few days ago!) but I did not take donations. It was just a personal experiment after researching quite a bit on global poverty/hunger. I am glad to hear you raised those donations and the experiment was a success. Mine was close to the timeline but the experiment for me was successful. Plus I brought awareness to many people locally and more importantly, myself.

  4. JohnnyZu

    Yea! I really enjoyed reading about your experiences. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Ansie

    Thanks to the NYT, I was forwarded to your blog, and read through all the entries. What a challenge … Congratulations! In the past I’ve flippantly said, “If you really want to, you can eat a healthy diet as cheaply as fast foods or convenience foods.” I don’t think I’ll say that again.

    FYI, there’s a great recipe for vegan mayonnaise at http://veganfeastkitchen.blogspot.com/2006/09/modern-vegan-blt-sandwich-heaven.html
    . If you make your own soy milk, I think it’d be a lot cheaper than .25 a serving. 🙂

  6. Jess

    Lost 13 lbs! At 3500kcal/lb fat, that would imply an energy deficit of 1516kcal/day.

    I have done a similar experiment during a few weeks of a lean summer, however I two caveats. Minor caveat: I used the $1.25 (2005 dollars) that has become the new poverty standard (1.4 billion people). The $1 equivalent is based on 1990 dollars. The major caveat is that I also had a 30′ x 20′ patch, not much larger than even the smallest yard, from which to acquire fresh veggies and greens and barter with fellow gardeners for variety. Needless to say that I did not suffer from the same lack of fresh, healthy foods, nor did I lose much weight.

    One piece of advice though is how to process your own soybean foods for added protein. Soybeans can be obtained relatively cheaply in bulk (trading at $12 a bushel last I checked) typically less than $1/lb. (Avoid health food stores and asian markets). Soak the beans overnight, blend them in a blender and then pour the mixture through a cheese cloth. Simmer the soy milk for 20 min and sweeten/flavor to taste (vanilla, chocolate, whatever). The left over pulp can be added to stir fry for a fiber boost.
    I have heard about home made tofu from a fellow vegan in the peace corps, but at $1.50/lb at Trader Joes, who has the time?

  7. Aaron

    A great idea! especially to document it for us. I remember seeing a similar thing with just using a food stamp budget, and it required a lot of creative reusing of ingredients.

    BTW, what is the name of your favorite restaurant in the picture? I live in San Diego so I wanted to check it out…

  8. I came to this blog via my friends blog who saw you guys on the news (his Dad lives near you)… I have read from the 1st day to today, can you believe how much of your “splurge” total was on drinks? I work at Starbucks, I know how much people pay for them (I only drink them at work when I don’t have to pay for them)… But way to go, you guys deserve a splurge after all that!

  9. Cathy S.

    I’ll have to check out the restaurant too. Glad you all made it to the end. I’ll bet blogging about it made you committed to it.

    The Christopher Cookie Caper is a lesson, but I’ll let you figure that one out. I already know what it is.


  10. If your diet wasn’t so restrictive you could have eaten MUCH better. In college I probably lived on 50.00 a month in food . I didn’t suffer . When I lived in Mexico I could have easily lived on $30 a month in food and eaten far better than you did, maybe even ate out a few times in that month. I think your experiment should be adjusted for the economy in which you live . California is very expensive , as is the US as a whole when it comes to living expenses. Your diet should also be taken into consideration. Not knocking the experiment , deffinitely took a big effort on your parts, and I wouldn’t want to do it . Congrats for bringing attention to the hunger issue overall , it’s only getting worse in this country for obvious reasons.

    A side note, there is a very low cost grocery store alternative called the angel food pantry . There may be one in your area if you are struggling. You can buy food at a discount that will feed a family of 4 for a week at around 30-50 dollars depending upon your area.

  11. Saw the interview this morning on Yahoo site.
    What an inspiration.
    You guys have inspired me to experiment something similar in the athletic arena. The idea would be to approach this with a holistic concept to limit the side effect you had expressed experiencing.

    Whey Protein
    Barlean’s Greens
    Co-Enzyme A
    Frozen blueberries

    The idea is out there. See how this would work being on an athletic program.

    Since it sound like you are on the path of a writing a book (as your reasearch and experience is a need out there) consider contacting


    Thank you for becoming inspirited to take action.


  12. The problem with your dollar a day diet. Is that you only did for one month. The average american who gets food stamps get less then that for 12 months out of the year. The more you make the less they give in food stamps. So even though goverment makes sound like everyone gets about 170 a month for a single person is not true. That is if you had no income .Because i have some income i get about 100 a month. You are eating better then i am. Buying in bulk, using coupons and meal planning helps me out. Try this for one year and then blog about it then. I also challenge government officials to live on this dollar a day diet for a year.

  13. Kathy Johnson

    Hey, I saw your interview with Fox News on Yahoo and loved it! I know that you were merely doing the $1 a day diet as a project but I hope that the media attention will raise hunger and poverty awareness. My husband and I lived in Tanzania and some of the people there had to feed their whole FAMILY on $1 a day. Children with distended bellies and malnutrition were everywhere. Good luck on your new book endeavor!

  14. Deborah

    Thanks, Christopher and Kerri, for bringing your project to the public’s eye. It is really sad that the majority of folks live their lives without a single clue of what it is like to live in poverty. I think that it is awesome that you both took the time and struggled the hunger to have this eye opening experience. Life in someone else’s shoes is always a unique experience.

    Yes, there are huge amounts of poverty in the world and gets little attention. With such extreme levels of poverty in foreign lands, very little attention is ever brought to the poverty in America. It seems that American’s would rather close their eyes to the problem. Rest assured that over 35 million Americans are eating on a $30. monthly budget year round and will be for the rest of their lives. With food prices rising, these people may find themselves eating an equivalent of $20. a month.

    The root of the poverty problem lies in politics which I am not going to get into here. I would just like to say that when some people make more in “one minute” than I make in “one year”, that gap is simply too much.

    And no, I do not get food stamps even though I do qualify. Let me tell you, that just because someone qualifies for food stamps does not mean that they can be approved to receive them. I am totally disabled and live below the poverty level and cannot be approved.

    I have spent much of my life living on the equivalent of your $30. per month food budget. Currently, I am spending about $50. to $60. per month just because I can afford to. On this amount, one cannot eat healthy; it is only enough for basic survival. And yes, I am cranky and under productive as a result. The lack of proper foods also causes unneeded stress on my disabilities. But, I always find the good in everything; while many eat whatever they want and live a life of obesity, I am going on 60 and not a bit overweight.

    There is a myth that poor people are lazy and want free hand-outs. This is simply not true for most of us. Does one really think that we would rather sit on the sofa suffering hunger pains that to work for our living.

    So may I speak on behalf of the 35 million hungry American’s, none of us living in poverty want other’s taxes to be raised to give us more hand outs, all we want is “opportunity” to work and to take care of ourselves. In the past, asking for opportunity has been asking for far too much; perhaps that could change sometime in our future.

  15. GR

    I can identify with such an extreme diet. I’ve been really poor in my life at times and I know how to stretch things. I lived on about $30 a month in food in 1990. It helped that I drove a candy truck at the time! 🙂 I ate a lot of granola bars at that time, to be sure.

    On a different note, I think you’re missing out on some money. You should monetize your site with either Google AdSense ads or something else. (You can find out more about it here: AdSense.Google.com.)

    You’re getting great traffic and it’s going to waste. Yes, the book you’ll write will be good but you need to have something on your home page ASAP. Just trying to help you out.

    Best to you,

  16. Patrick McCarthy

    Hi,Again–I forgot to mention, if you are interested in some great food ideas I can recommend ISKON, aka Hare Krshnas. I think they have a temple in San Diego area and maybe a restaurant. But they eat Karma Free, aome of the food contains Ghee,Clarified Butter, as well as yoghurt, but also they usually have many vegan items and great cook books etc.

  17. Lynn Hall

    Seems kind of sad this this story has made the news and is getting so much attention. Especially when so many eat for $1 or less per day if at all because they do not have the same luxery of choice, no book deals, no publicity – just endless poverty. Seems kind of insulting to them to be so flippant about this “fab” diet. Many would love to have Tang and peanut butter and jelly each and every day and many would hand their meager food to help their starving siblings rather than watch them die. That is the true story here and much more valuable for us to remember.

  18. Ms. M.

    Its musing to see people with the willing desire to experience a portion of what is a current issue, globally as well as in parts in the U.S. such as with the challenges of inadequacy-of food and nourishment. And because privileged people have lived martian[ed] from the realization that it exists, at least you can now say, you empathize with what is real. But I am hoping you have a full understanding by the end of your 30 day journeys. America may tip there hats to you, especially in amazement, but there are those which understand the essence of poverty, and you dont see these on TV especially with a smile. People understand, that what has been seen as a job well done of you, or here of your bravo’s received, and pats on the back, are someone’s existing nightmares. but thank you for the kind gesture.

  19. Korrie

    I found out about your journey when I was checking my email on yahoo this morning and was very intrigued. I heard that you had a blog and checked it out. I was so impressed that I read each of your 30 entries in one sitting. I was more impressed when I found out that you are both vegans because I am a vegan chef based out of NYC. It’s interesting that you guys are doing this because my roomie and I have been interested in doing the same thing recently. Both of our jobs have been affected by the economy and have forced us to drastically alter our habits, and not just our eating habits, although that has definitely changed. We found out about Chinatown in the city and that has been our staple for food and supplies. We went from paying $50 per trip to the grocery store for one bag at a regular store in Manhattan to spending $30 for 2 weeks. Pretty damn impressive if I do say so myself. This has also caused us to think about other areas in which we can save money. Washing our laundry by hand (we do not have laundry in our building) saves us $30/week, etc. I will definitely be forwarding this story to all my friends here who are feeling the same pinch as we are. Thank you for your stories -they have been very inspiring. Take care and wishing you all the best.

  20. Charles Diaz

    I hear people complaining about what the government gives people to eat on (food stamps). You know, it isn’t supposed to be easy to live on government assistance. If it were, where would the motivation be to work or self regulate family size? I’ve heard no gratitude for what people do get from the government (really, from other citizens). I guess this is what is called an “entitlement attitude”. Glad to read about your experiment.

  21. Jim

    It was a neat experiment, but with a little hunting…rabbit, squirrel, deer, you could have eaten a lot healthier. There are also farmers auctions where you could have gotten fresh fruits & veggies at a discount. Raise a few chickens like we do and also have fresh eggs. Fish in the summer and freeze for winter. Down south we do know how to eat well on fewer dollars already. When the cupboard is about bare there is nothing like brown beans and cornbread.

  22. hi, this is jason
    Im so happy that you made it all the way to the end !!!
    That seems so hard to make it.

  23. Rachel

    It is interesting that on one hand, you discovered just how artificial the food we consume is, especially the pre-packaged goods, how easy it is to prepare fresh food, yet on the other how hard it is to get good nutrition on such a small amount of money.

    Although I live less than an hour south of you, I find it amazing the cultural difference in the view, access and choices available in food in the U.S. Choosing to be vegan, vegitarian, gluten-free, low-carb, high carb, low-fat, sugar free or anything is a priveledge allowed to those who can afford that choice and that is what stands out most for me in reading about your experiment.

    Your honesty about your experience and posting them for the world to see, comment upon, pick a part or criticise is commendable. I am a U.S. citizen living in a foreign country and I see your experiment from a different angle and deeply admire your efforts. This may blossom into something that can make a difference in poverty all over the world. I tip my sombrero to you and wish you luck in your future.

  24. Tony

    Congratulations. Saw you interview on FOX and read through your blog. Better late than never. Great stuff!

    I wonder if you would have eaten better with
    $ 30.00 per month instead of $ 1 per day.

    I live alone on a fixed income and watch my food costs very closely. I never buy chicken parts, A whole chicken at $ 4.00 will give me 3-4 meals, some snacks and the carcass, a soup.

    We overpay for “convenience.” This is just one example of cutting food costs

    In addition, most of the world thrives on organ meats, most of which we ignore or throw away.
    As a result they are very inexpensive.

    One can eat well on a moderate budget. I’m not
    up for $1 a day just yet. My hat’s off to you two!



  26. yoon

    I’ve lived in what is considered under the poverty line for a few years, and I too managed to be vegan. I have a strong dedication to the animals, so I can make myself eat rice soup (water, some white rice from the asian market, and alittle kelp) everymeal of the day. I never had food stamps because like another lady said, its the choice of the food stamps or the car (that brings me to work). It does however make me made when I see people going out the first of the month with their food stamps buying lopster and crab legs (not to mention wearing their designer clothes and holding their pricey cell phones) when I can’t even afford a f***ing . We (me and my husband) sleep on a matress on the floor, eat soup and rice everyday, every week, all yearlong, buy bulk from the asian market (can’t even afford walmart), have to walk to work sometimes to help save money (I don’t mind walking thou, I have to leave verry early, but its not a big deal for me), have the wear the same clothes I’ve had since I was 15 (I havn’t gained weight, and I should stay thin, it does help save money)…. and then their are some people who smoke pot, eat lopsters and caviar, watch TV on their big screen, and still get government help. I’m not in anyway saying all poor people (I’m one too) live like that, but some do. I’d be greatful for anyhelp the government would give me.
    and on another note, I know fresh produce is pricy, but that is not best excuse to be obese. their are people much poorer than you all over the world and they are not obese. people need to look harder for better things, like go to asian markets, grow something if you can (I can’t, I live in a city appartment), walk whenever you have a chance (walk to work if you can). I’d never let myslef be obese, it causes just to many problems (health and money wise) that I can’t afford.

  27. yoon

    another thing, we don’t have chairs and a table to sit and eat on. we sit on the floor and just hold our food to eat. my husband wears his clothes for as many days as he can w/o them starting to be dirty, and I neevr complain about it. I think alot of people stress over things theys ee others with, that may seem like something you need, when in reality, you don’t, and shouldn’t stress over it (causing more health and money problems). everyone should at lest try to be thankful for what they have, becuase most cases (not all!) it’s better than what they have in africa.

  28. Karen

    Thanks for blogging about your experiment. I read the whole 30 days this morning. I think it’s amazing that you could manage for $1 a day. I managed $1 per meal for a while, but only because it was what my income allowed. My hat’s off to you for managing to stick to this for the whole month when you had other options!

    The information you posted about poverty was interesting too. Lots of food for thought. Your book, if and when you write it, will be interesting I’m sure. Good Luck.

  29. StrictNon-Conformist

    As others have pointed out, there are a few things that you really should do in the future to make this a more realistic test. Yes, what you did was an excellent test of will power, of which you clearly demonstrated quite a bit of. However, it was about as artificial as the show “Survivor” with much the same results: you lost weight, ate poorly (major calorie deficit, though I don’t remember you two posting what your starting/ending weights were, but just the delta over that time: perhaps you actually adjusted to an ideal weight in that time?) and you had a major safety net available, much like the survivors on the TV show. Essentially, the only truly worrisome thing you’d really have to deal with is foolish pride that may get you into real danger.

    The period you did it for (30 days) is less time than the Survivor series, and they need to maintain some level of physical activity to obtain their food, or at least be conniving enough to convince others to do the hard work 🙂 The gist is this: it has been well proven throughout time and space that the human body can survive for that long on body stores of vitamins (some are stored long-term) from better times, without collapsing, in most cases, barring some pre-existing health problems. It seems neither one of you have documented any pre-existing health problems, and are healthy otherwise. 90 days would likely be a minimum true test period of the regimen in use. However, it’d be insanely stupid for health purposes of trying to maintain the < $1/day diet, and instead, use a bit more intelligence in buying things in advance of eating them a bit more, and average out the costs: buying in bulk is so much more viable, and the minimum amount of convenience that comes from it also gives you something more to look forward to while preparing it 🙂

    This is a good start, but think about this: what if you wrote a book documenting just how much it took to maintain a healthy weight with maintaining excellent health, both mentally and physically, that involved proper amounts and types of exercise? Clearly, it’d be a bit biased towards the vegan way of life, and the observation that as far as was documented here, neither one of you have any food intolerances or allergies on medical grounds, which adds complication for many people in real life: just imagine trying to do this with Celiac Sprue disease, or a wheat allergy, or citric acid allergy (I have a friend with that allergy, as well as chocolate). Also, if you did the cost averaging, and did a bit of comparison shopping and found good markets in the area, you can more readily get spices of many different types that can make a heck of a lot of difference for making eating cheap palatable, as it seems a lot of the processed foods substitute fat and other mostly empty (of nutrition) ingredients for real flavor. It just isn’t very realistic to adhere to a fixed tiny amount of cash per day, unless you’re trying to simulate the experience of having no storage space, but if that were truly the case, you wouldn’t have bought that vital bag of oranges and the potatoes, either 🙂 That, and spices, if used sparingly, can last a rather long time for their value.

  30. Beth

    I just wanted to say that what you two did was an eye-opener for me. I’m glad that I found this site. I will be more observant in the future when purchasing groceries.

    Thanks for your blog and getting the message to so many people. Even if some think what you did was minor, I believe that it will be a catalyst of sorts. Anything to get this message out is great. We all need to remember how lucky we are and those who aren’t lucky enough to have the dollar a day, internet access, computers for that matter, to read blogs like this, money for heat etc.

    Keep up the good work. I look forward to reading more of your blog in the future.

  31. Hi,
    your diet was OK, but there was absolutely no B12 in it at all. That’s Ok for the short term as B12 is stored by the body, but all Vegans need to either take a B12 supplement or eat some foods that are fortified with it. All the ‘natural’ sources advertised do not provide adequate B12.


    Best Wishes, Organised Pauper (Vegan)

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