Food Cost Index


Cornmeal – $0.19 / Cup (25 lb. bag for $12.79)

Dry Active Yeast – $0.008 / TSP (5 lbs. of $3.79)

Garbanzo Beans (Dry) – $0.61 / Cup (1 lb. for $1.65)

Olive Oil Blend – $0.04 / TBSP (1 Gallon for 9.99)

Pinto Beans (Uncooked) – $0.26 / Cup (25 lbs. for $12.99)

Peanut Butter (Crunchy) – $0.05 / TBSP (4 lbs. for $5.99)

Popcorn (Organic, Kernels) – $0.48 / Cup (1 lb. for $0.95)

Rice (White, Uncooked) – $0.22 / Cup (25 lbs. for $12.99)

Rolled Oats – $0.12 / Cup (1 lb for $0.55)

Tomato Puree – $0.30 / Cup (14 cups for $4.19)

White Flour – $0.11 / Cup (50 lb. bag for $15.49)

Wheat Blend Flour – $0.24 / Cup (25 lb. bag for $15.79)

Processed Foods

Nucoa Margarine – $0.06 / TBSP (1 lb. for 1.59)

Original Syrup – $0.04 / TBSP or $0.62 / Cup (1 Gallon for $9.99)

Sourdough Bread – $0.05 / Slice (1 Loaf for $0.99)

Soy Milk – $0.25 / Cup (1 Quart for $0.99)

Soy Sauce – $0.02 / TBSP (1 Gallon for $5.99)

Spaghetti – $0.05 / oz. (5 lbs. for 3.79)

Strawberry Preserves – $0.06 / TBSP (2 lbs. for $2.59)

Tang Beverage Powder – $0.07 / 8 fluid oz. (34 oz. tub for $5.99)

Top Ramen (Oriental Flavor) – $0.17 ea

Vegetable Broth Bullion Powder – $0.05 / TSP (1 Jar for $4.99)


Broccoli (Fresh) – $0.08 / oz. ($3.99 for a 3 lb. bag)

Broccoli (Frozen)  – $0.06 / oz ($0.99 for a 1 lb. bag)

Carrots – $0.12 ea. ($4.49 for a 10 lb. bag – 47 carrots)

Garlic – $0.12 / Bulb ($0.99 for 8 bulbs)

Lettuce – $0.47 for 1 Heart of Romaine ($2.79 for a 6 pack)

Oranges – $0.18 ea. ($5 for a 10 lb. bag – 27 oranges)

Potatoes – $0.10 ea. ($2.99 for 10 lb. bag – 32 potatoes)

Yellow Onions – $0.25 ea ($0.99 for 4)

(ALL costs circa Sept. 2008)


143 responses to “Food Cost Index

  1. This list is interesting. The total for 1 of each thing on this list is $156.47(if my math is right). When we discuss the sadness of people living at or below poverty level we also have to understand that most of them have to do their shopping on a daily basis in the smallest quantities that will get them by. They have no space to keep large purchases, even if they could afford them. This leads to greatly inflated food costs. I am pretty sure it would be impossible to go into any store in the US and buy food for 2 people for $2.00. The problem gets even worse when people have unreliable cooking facilities. This very fact keeps homeless people on the streets in the US because all of their money is eaten up by daily food costs.

    The prices you list seem very low to me because I do most of my shopping at Safeway–the prices seem to run about 10-15% higher on every item on this list and 350% higher on olive oil. It would be interesting to convert the prices to see what it would cost for a daily shopper to eat the same foods for a month.

    Rules for conversion: Eat the same foods after buying the cheapest, smallest package available. Anything that comes in a size that will last more than 7 days is skipped entirely unless it is very cheap(corn tortillas for example).

    Day one would look like this:
    Breakfast: Safeway Hot Cereal Oatmeal Maple Brown Sugar $1.99/10 (1/2 cup servings so half as filling) $.20 160 calories

    Lunch: PB and J sandwich on homemade bread – Smuckers Goober Grape (PB&J in 1 jar) $3.49/10 servings, 240 calories, OvenJoy Bread $1.19 for 11 servings 220 calories 1 sandwich= $.46
    Snack: 1 Package O.R. Smart Pop 4/$1.99 – $0.50 100 cal.

    Dinner: 2 Bean and Rice Burritos – $0.35 ( Beans – 16 oz canned $.80/4 servings(Buy 2 cans), 123 calories, Safeway brand Clarose Rice 19 1/4 cup servings $1.44 180 cal., Mission Corn Tortillas – 18 servings for $1.25,(these are the CHEAPEST things in a grocery store and they don’t spoil–read the label for more info on that.) Iceberg Lettuce – 16 servings for $1.49 10 cal., 1 TBSP Taco Bell taco sauce – $0.11)

    Dessert: 1TBSP Peanut Butter Taken from PB&J Combo – $0.17

    Total for the day: $1.70
    Total Calories: 1143
    Total spent at grocery store to eat this: $15.97

    Days of eating this exact menu so that nothing gets wasted:
    Oatmeal for Breakfast for 10 days.
    PB&J Sandwiches for 7 days(PB&J runs out before bread does.)
    Bean & Rice Burritos for 8 days. (Buy 2 cans of beans.)

    The popcorn was the most expensive item and would probably get skipped entirely. Bread was 11 cents so combine with PB&J snack for an “extra meal.”

  2. ivan

    excellent project. for one restaurant meal for 2, you guys could eat for a month!
    idea for fresh vitamins/veggies- let those beans/lentils sprout.

  3. for the very poor people whom i know they don’t even have a stove to cook.they collect paper, pieces of wood and make a fire with 3 bricks in triangle . they have 2 piece of cooking utensils. a glass and a plate. No fork and spoon.
    food is made from scratch mostly collected by begging.
    when they are hungry and have no money mothers give their children water to drink and sometimes even hot water ( more than luke warm )because it kills hunger.
    when one sits on the floor to eat ( one eats lesser ) than the western style –yes the poor do not have a dining chair or a table.
    they eat only carbs.
    etc etc

  4. Caz

    While it’s interesting to read, this would not at all be possible in Australia (or I bet many places outside of the USA). Even shopping at the most discount grocery stores, produce shops etc. it is IMPOSSIBLE to get many of these items even close to the price at which you’ve found them.
    Fresh broccoli here is MINIMUM $5.99/kg (1kg=2.2lbs)
    Carrots are $1.99/kg
    Heart of romaine is $2.98/1 head (not 6 like you had)
    Garlic is $0.99/3 bulbs (not 8)
    The cheapest bread you can buy is $3.00/loaf

    While I think it’s interesting, this cannot be correlated to other countries who don’t have government subsidies on many groceries and thus are paying much higher prices for things.

  5. Jess

    Caz from down under has a good point. The $1/day poverty standard (now $1.25 in 2005 dollars) on which 1.4 billion people lives doesn’t count for the consumer prices of foods relative to the other items in the “basket” of goods by which relative prices are accounted. According to price comparisons, 40c are needed to buy in China what can be obtained here for $1. However, with 40c = 2.8 yuan a person could buy sufficient food to obtain 2500kcal/day and a varied diet. Though roughly 10% of Chinese live on less than $1.25 a day, severe malnutrition is rare. Government subsidies and policies for grain production (though they also cause a lot of poverty for farmers) keep basic food prices low for the factory workers earning about 10-20 yuan ($1.5-3).

    Ivan has a good tip on getting vitamins out of sprouted beans, but sprouted grains can do this as well and also increases protein yield. Though rarely sold whole, sprouted wheat can make a good bread.

  6. Maggie Hatfield

    There are so many reasons to go vegan; I have to muzzle myself in my enthusiasm so I don’t alienate my friends but did you know that making your own soymilk costs only 10¢ per batch (6 cups). I buy local organic (non GMO) soybeans for about 85¢/lb. The taste is lovely and you can vary the ingredients to alter the taste. I’m only a few days into your posts so if you’ve already discussed this … my apologies.

  7. Megan

    Those food costs are much cheaper than what I pay up here in the PNW. I just paid $20 for a 50# bag of flour and $5.49 for a 10# bag of potatoes. I thought those were great prices at the time! It really makes one think about how our trade policies are affecting the poor in the 3rd world.

  8. greetings from a fellow encinitan. Interesting project with lots of merit, but wow, what an incredibly starchy and nutrient-deficient diet.

  9. Hello! I salute your efforts!

    Einstein Bagels in Clairemont area told me they throw out all their bagels daily. I was told I could come every day at a certain time and pick up last night’s bagels and do whatever I want with them.
    There are many establishments like this around who throw out their food daily.

    There are also I’m sure fruit stands who throw out their produce that is still edible. One on Morena Blvd. near Costco, one near La Jolla Trader Joe’s. If you haven’t done this, I suggest you go to a fruit stand and ask. I want to see you healthy and energetic enough to continue your book pursuits!

    My husband and I have our own publishing company and if you don’t have any luck with regular publishers (which often takes a long time for results), we can help you to publish your book.

  10. I would love the directions for making soy milk. I love you blog particularly the recipes and directions. I was born in the city and personally and appreciate the info about whole grains easily milled in coffee grinder.

  11. Leonard

    Have you worried about the health effects of this diet and did you get a check-up before and after the experiment, ie “Super Size Me”? I’d think the PB&J would raise cholesteral levels and the broccolli stems would be too fiberous to allow vitimin absorbtion.

    Did you track activity such as walking, biking or work energy to record energy output or fatigue?

    Great work guys! Thank you, you’r an inspiration.

  12. Pingback: Counting Calories | MetaFilter

  13. I saw you all’s interview on…
    You all’s experiment brings a lot of light to the fact that in order to eat well any where in the world it is expensive… This just gives more reason to agricultural education throughout the world….

  14. Dare2bcute

    I think that there are many different options to buying food. Buying in bulk and generic brands are just two of them. I think that it is possible to live off of less than a dollar a day. You just have to be creative. I mean in my area ramen noodles come in different flavors and cost about 12 cents each. Now I’m not saying that these are the greatest foods to eat but I think these two are onto something. The idea can always be manipulated and changed up a little for the average household looking to cut costs.

  15. Helen

    In response to Leonard’s concern about PB&J raising cholesterol. My husband has taken PB&J to work 5 days a week for 25 yrs and his cholesterol is well within healthy limits. Broccoli stems if you peel the fiberous outer layer off is what Broccoli slaw in the grocery stores is made from.

    This was a great experiment – it gives one cause for pause as we reexamine the food bill. I look forward to reading about your 2009 experiments.

  16. Kim

    where are the real costs?
    I see your kitchen, you are using a range, Please include the cost for the gas/electric? you are adding the water without including the cost for that… I live in the US and to eat for 1$ a day is impossible due to the simple costs for utilities. In any home you cannot take out the cost for sustinance without at least including the cost for preparation, it would be different if you had an electric stove and offset that with solar panels. nore do you cook on an open fire (burning wood, dried dung or petemoss) so you have to include the amount it costs to cook, and store your food, frigerator. ( including the prorated cost for the appliance)
    I think, seeing your beautiful home, that you will excede 1$/day in storage and prep. You cannot do this in a vaccuum, there are costs you have to acknowledge, as you have benefits that allow you to do things that would need enginuity and cost for the rest of us.

  17. its funny i feel like im actually living this right now. My husband lost his job , and we have been living week to week buying th bare minimum in groceries (as in we run out after 3 or 4 days) and its VERY HARD. i dont think people realize just how infated food prices are. and unless you can buy a months worht of groceries at one time. its a waste of money to buy day to day. Congrats on your project id love to know more about your experiements!

  18. Joan In Michigan

    Very interesting and inspiring.

    I would like to see more recipes and shopping lists as well as the weekly weigh in for both of you.

  19. pjkobulnicky

    With all sympathy to Jenna commenting above and others who have little choice on how much they can spend for food, my wife and I did a “food stamp” week last year in much the same spirit that the two of you did your dollar a day experiment. You can read the week’s postings at
    While our experiment was much shorter and much easier ($6 per day vs $2) we still had many of the same observations that you two had, especially the need to try to buy in bulk rather than in small retail quantities.
    I think what we need to do, and maybe what your next experiments will focus on, is giving people in need exceptional advice on how to eat well on little money. The answer is not just nutritional but involves shopping, preparation and even issues of taste and satisfaction. One can eat relatively inexpensively without having to feel utterly degraded.
    Good work.

  20. Carly

    Safeway is so overinflated on prices. i rarely go there, only when i really dont feel like driving to the other side of town and shopping at foodmax or winco foods. they probably took their prices from these places rather than places like safeway.

  21. Megan

    Your experiment is very enlightening. I work at a locally owned grocer, and would gladly give our daily bread pulls to someone doing this! I would definately check with any local bakeries about getting day olds. You may even get real snacks!

  22. Shelly

    Amazing. Those of us living below poverty and using food stamps can get more bang for the “buck” using this method of shopping. Our diets are substandard to begin with…so why not have more for what little we get. Bravo!

  23. Kimmiekins

    …to get people thinking about what goes on outside their own personal world is a great thing…

  24. Laurie B

    Hi! I applaud you both taking the time and expending the energy to take a hard look at diet and how we spend our food money in America. We are a fortunate nation indeed. I do not support your actual diet plan, however! You are missing many necessary nutrients (as you already are aware). And remember, because we do live in a nation with a great food supply and the resources to access it, taking advantage of it doesn’t make us evil. We would be remiss NOT to eat well and healthfully. It’s all about balance, in my opinion. Thank you for opening some eyes. In good health–Laurie

  25. Kathleen

    I’m fascinated with this project and highly commend you both for “opening your minds” and stretching my own. Right or wrong in the minds of all readers, you deserve kudos. You’ve opened many of us up to just think and to dialogue. To be conscious thinkers and activists for change. I’d like to recommend reading a great book called The China Study to get good info about our misconceptions on protein and nutrition. Pick up good books with charts on the vitamin, mineral and protein content of grains, vegetables etc. and it will really open your eyes to the beauty of a predominantly plant based diet. Long term goals, what are the after-effects (ie., cancer, heart disease etc.) of what we consume…no matter how much or how little we spend to consume it. You’ve opened up a much bigger picture and this is great! I recently became divorced and decided I need to lose weight, eat healthier, and live within a budget. So I got rid of my car and I ride a bike and I also utilize public transportation. I also use a prepaid phone instead of a landline. I buy my clothes at rummage sales and St. Vincent DePauls as well as resale shops. I LOVE my conscious changes and I feel good about how and where I spend my money. I have a very low income salary and I am 52 yrs. old. I bring all this up because knowledge is power and change is what you make it. I bought a $35 juicer and I love it. I’m not saying a lot of my comments are saving money and working with the $1/day concept. I’m saying “think outside the box”. Make changes in your life that effect changes in another. Getting rid of a car means money for other things. Not spending money on higher end clothing, lattes, nightclubs…you get the picture, allows for more thoughtfulness about just what you really need to live and be happy. Do things like enjoying potluck dinners with friends, neighbors, coworkers, family etc. and you can also stretch your dollars. Share the leftovers. Share the ideas. Make soups and one pot meals. Those things save money. Yes, go to local stores (health food, grocery etc.) and do not be afraid to ask about the throw away foods they are more then happy to give. These foods should NOT be thrown away anyhow when people are starving in this world. And share with others. Help others. Give to others. It goes around and comes around. A big thing to is to be conscious of portion sizes. That is a HUGE awakening to me. A serving of brown rice is only 2/3 cup! When I saw your video and you (the young man) said he lost 14 lbs in one month, it opened my mind about the portion sizes we just don’t pay attention to but should. Again, gain access to charts on this kind of vitamin, mineral and protein/carb information and serving sizes. This too helps with health and budget conscious consumerism. Maybe $1/day is also tough because we have a tendency to eat quadruple the serving sizes we should be. The young man in this story was being savvy with a tablespoon of peanut butter and one of preserves for the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Yes, we can make comments about the hydrogenated oils etc. but we’re missing the good points he makes with portion control. And the homemade bread. Maybe this couples next conscious level decision is to be more aware of what they can eat that is more and more unprocessed. Thinking of the healthwise choices to avoid cancers and heart disease. It’s all steps in the right direction. Change does not happen overnight. It happens over time. I give you so much credit. Start a community garden and grow your own foods. Join a food co-op and split the goods and costs with friends and family. Buy in bulk and split it too. Be creative. You are on the right track. Thanks for your courage to ask questions and to dare to be different from the way you used to be! It means a lot to me and my desire to change too.

  26. DEN

    This is basically my life, so nothing new here. I work 40 hrs a week and have full custody of my child. I can not afford a baby sitter and even if i worked a second job all that money would go to a baby sitter and not help me with food or bills.

    The land of the free? It sure does cost a lot to live “Free” and even more to be healthy. Even the stuff i can afford is shopped at a save store and the quality of that crap is even less than the standard! This summer i will grow a garden and do the best i can with it because fruit and produce is at ungodly prices.

  27. Humberto Vargas

    Congratulations, really interesting project… I was born and live in Mexico and one dollar is about $13 pesos right now, multiplied by 30 days that would be $390 pesos a month. If there are in average 4 people in a familly then that gives us a total budget of $1560 pesos per familly… Now think of this: Minimum daily wage in Mexico is $50 pesos a day, that is $1500 pesos a month… So now you can imagine that the number of families eating for less than $1 dollar per day in this country can be really high… What concerns me is that WHAT you eat is much more important that HOW MUCH you eat… You guys were able to come up with a balanced diet out of a $1 dollar budget because you are educated… Unfortunatelly the people in the world that is eating for a budget like that does not have that level of education… In Mexico this families would skip some meals and eat tortillas, beans and drink a can of coke… My conclusion: It is better to teach people how to eat well on a budget than just give them food. I think there is really great potential for your project, globally speaking. Congratulations!

  28. joymama

    I like the concept of the project but how sad that the foods are not organic (well, the popcorn is) and are highly processed.

    Eating better quality foods keeps you filled and gives more energy.

    Please try this again eating organic and local foods when possible. Your health/immune system will improve and the social experiment will prove again that it’s hard to eat healthy in America if you are below the SEL.

    My family is frugal, vegetarian, cook from scratch and eat as organic as we can afford however we will not compromise on certain food items–must have organic dairy, apples, berries and a few others.

  29. Bob

    I think the point is that with some forethought it IS possible to spend MUCH LESS for food than typical AMERICANS do.

    My wife and I discuss this on occasion. We regularly spend over five hundred a month on food. I told her (and she disagrees) that I think I could feed us adequately on less than one hundred and fifty dollars per month. That’s five times more than this couple spends, so they prove my point. Thanks.

  30. francisca perez

    ramen gives you high cholesterol if eaten daily…. if you must eat this then mix in some stir fry veggies… totally cheap if bought frozen at Trader Joes or any other store

  31. Suzzane

    Very impressed. I have actually lived like this for real and not an experiment. Now, times are hard, my financial situation has changed but old habits are hard to break! One dish I use to fix alot was a 3 bean salad – can of chick peas, green beans, kidney beans – vinegar and oil, season to taste. Good and filling too! Thanks for what you did everyone appreciates it!

  32. VeganMe

    I have to say that I’m really impressed with the project. But going off of what Joymama said about eating more organic instead of highly processed food… It’s basically impossible to eat $1 a day of organic food and feel full! That’s why a lot of low income families are overweight… Processed food is CHEAP! It’s really sad. I really like how your project shows people that they can sustain themselves without meat; beans are cheap! Eat them!

  33. Montgomery

    Don’t forget about hemp. You can make delicious milk that doesn’t spoil very easily. As well as a huge variety of other foods that are very nutritious.
    Survivalists are a great resource for information, and a good in-depth study of the way people survived during the great depression is highly recommended. Remember Euell Gibbons? “You ever eat a pine tree? Many parts are edible.” As I put pine nuts on my salad I think about all the natural foods people walk by every day and don’t even recognize.

  34. Amanda

    What an interesting project! I thought I ate cheap on something like $30/week (includes wine, coffee, and “good” food… nice cheese, for example), which compared to everyone else I interact with, is “dirt cheap”… it is more common for most people I know to spend at least $50 if not $100+ /week on food, which I think is obscene! But I bake my own bread, am vegetarian, and cook most everything from scratch… and splurge every once in awhile… I think for a lot of Americans it would be a slap in the face to tell them they had to live on such a cheap budget, yet most of the world lives under even more restricting circumstances. In response to the commenter on utility costs, I spend only $30/month on utilities, which split by two increases your $1/day cost to $1.50/day, but I don’t see a huge burden in utilities costs… but then I also don’t use my furnace at all (and we’re supposed to get 1-3” snow tomorrow!). Whenever I go to the grocery store, I never understand the economics of pricing various foods… one week avocados will be $1, then $2 the next, and back and forth… there doesn’t seem to be too much logic to this, in terms of helping people to eat… why not keep the costs of food that you sell at a level that is enough to profit a bit, but not to rip someone off one week and then to sell something for what it “should” cost the next? Either way, in this recession we’re in, it is only going to get worse… people are eating at fast food places more, driving more (now that gas prices have dropped), and preparing for the worst… it seems as though Americans are just going to get fatter, lazier, and less frugal, entirely ironic to the situation at hand, but a reality nonetheless. If only we knew what it was like to live for $1/day or less with no cooking facilities, the world might be a better place…

  35. Debi

    Thank you so much for all of your perserverance and for enlightening everyone to the truth: we are eating incorrectly and unethically.

  36. i just got done watching you two on your interview. where exactly are you from again? The prices i looked at are outrageous, mabye down in the midwest to east coast region you can see prices drop but i live in anchorage, alaska and ive not seen prices for food like that since the last Iraqi war. i had to quit my job because my wife and i cant afford child care or a babysitter. now i sit at home every day with my son starving, because my wife only make barely 500 every two weeks. But even then, after you think about how much utilities are heat, water, elec, etc. etc. Oh yeah, and gas to go get food, or walk like me. and right now its about -3 outside, plus we dont own a car. how is anybody supposed to survive off the money they make when you cant even get past utilities? i hear a lot of people talking different strategies and grocery tricks to cut their bill, but even then you have to remember the government controls everything, about six months ago i was reading a news article in a time magazine about how over time when the government cant raise the prices in food anymore they start taking food out, has anybody ever noticed that? look at chips(doritos) used to be 16 oz. , now its below 15 oz., so when you talk about price for foods you have to remember everything that goes with it. love your work though, i see a lot of people actually started to recognize that there is a crisis that needs to be resolved, and you guys are making that first step, so heres to you.

  37. G.Rosenblatt

    I am not sure if you have room for a garden; if you do, you can start plants (tomatoes, eggplant, peppers , squash etc) from seed ; start them indoors or even do ‘wintersowing’ -(look up that concept, lots of articles on the web on how to do it), .i.e.starting seeds in milk or soda containers in the winter can find 10-25 cent seed packets at Walmart or Dollar stores. Even if you don’t have land, you can grow a lot of stuff in pots. This should improve the quality of your food and need for fresh vegetables and freeze them for winter months; Oh yes, you can even grow strawberries from seed!

    Good Luck, this was very commentable.

  38. Johanna

    Hi, I wanted to say that I know how it is to live on a dollar a day. There have been times where I’ve only had one meal per day. This is a great experiment and I praise you for your efforts.

  39. I cannot fathem the time you both have put into such a difficult project. It amazes me that you have started this from just talking about your grocery bills.

    “Weak minds discuss people, average minds discuss events, bright minds discuss ideas.”
    –wisdom from the remarkable Eleanor Roosevelt

    Your thorough analysis in this project has given me much needed inspiration.

    If you both put such care and time in something that to some may seem pointless you have given us all a humble direction to strive towards our goals. This proves to me no matter how big or small, all ideas can all be great.

    I wish you both the best and I hope to be buying your book when it is published.

    ((I wish that you both also spark inspiration in other teachers. Student’s need less dull and more amazing professors.))

    Take care and God bless.

  40. Liz M.

    On your interview they say you guys are from California? I am also from Cali and I am wondering what grocery stores you got these prices from. My New Year’s Resolution is to do this project for one month out of 2009. I am not sure which month, as I have to get rid of all of the food in my house before I can do this experiment (I won’t throw anything out before its expiration date), and I would like to be prepared so that I am not all over the place trying to find the cheapest prices of whatever. This is actually a very interesting experiment, I’m surprised it hasn’t been done several times already!


  41. ASH

    Mixed feelings here….Those same “poor” people can still afford coffee, cigarettes, cable tv, and pets. In addition, many if not most poor people in America are overweight. You can eat healthy on a small budget but you must make it a priority and have the discipline. Unfortunately, most people do not know what healthy eating really is thanks to a USDA food pyramid that is tainted by agricultural lobbyists.

  42. alex

    well let me ask you this if i take out all the food out of your home and then give you $30.00 on the first of the month and say buy your groceries for the month with this. could you do it?

    no to get those prices you mentioned you have to buy in bulk and that’s the whole issue some people can’t afford to buy in bulk some people can’t afford to buy food at all believe me i know

    i have been homeless living in my car until my car got repossesed then luckily i had a family memeber help me out i got back on my feet and now have a home and a car and am living not well off but i can honestly say i have not been hungry in a few months

    your experiment is unrealistic i apologize not trying to seem rude but the people who really are starving out there are the ones who need the media attention

  43. Ric

    Kudos on your project..

    trying a third world diet.. with spices, spreads and sprouted millet or kenua, or bullgar?(spell?) as a veggie and filler with herbs and spices one can get at a mexican or asian market.. bulk.. or the neighborhood guarden.. Also.. what about the edible plants and leafy types most people see as weeds or something to cut and manucure.. a good portion of information can be devulged on the native greenery that can be mixed and prepared as teas, as a vegtable with other spices and filler or in times of sickness.. topicals.. ? Every town city has areas that one could explore.. and dollar store bulk produce.. (California anyway)

    Another brach off which can be looked at in regions.. east coast, south west coast, midwest.. would be restaurant bargins. Every community has places to eat 1.oo -5.00 items or quantities to split between 2-3 meal.. One way to work the super size american proportion system.
    Free Lime or lemon squeezed into tea/ or water/ w/wo sugar as a thrify beverage..

    During a Set/Delivery job I had me and a couple others saught out places to buy a meatball and sauce..(home made) with free bread and spice and butter.. and free water.. An asian buffet.. good veggies no msg.. 3 dish with egg roll for lunch special 5.00 (could feed 3 with extra side of rice)
    mexican street tacos 1.oo a piece with salsa and lime/ lemon and spice all for free and water.. the list goes on..

    Basically there is an equation to rely on restaurants small etc.. to prepare the food for you for cheaper than you will pay at grocery.. ADD the time to get.. (drive. sort and cook and clean the dishes) if time is money? for a hard working man woman.. Like in mexico and middle eastern countries. a big segment of people with out a Kitchen” appliances ” ect.. and the community will feed its own.. 🙂

    The largest cut back a centrally located person can make.. (In city .. in town..) is Alcohol.. Coffee, and smokes.. and Gas / Car .. Use a scooter.. bus or live near work opportunities like in the depression to walk..

    Very interesting ideas sprouted by your original dollar expose / experiment.. I am going to read also on the family diet of the Marshal South Depression Era, natural family experiement of living in the desert…

    FYI .. Topic of interest also “The Marshal South” 16 year Project of living natural in the Anza Borrego Desert (google it..) … on a hilltop home.. (1 mile or longer steep walk from below to home..)
    During the “Depression” .. with 3 kids.. Current book available by one of the children..

  44. Ric

    Kudos on your project..
    trying a third world diet.. with spices, spreads and sprouted millet or kenua, or bullgar?(spell?) as a veggie and filler with herbs and spices one can get at a mexican or asian market.. bulk.. or the neighborhood guarden.. Also.. what about the edible plants and leafy types most people see as weeds or something to cut and manucure.. a good portion of information can be devulged on the native greenery that can be mixed and prepared as teas, as a vegtable with other spices and filler or in times of sickness.. topicals.. ? Every town city has areas that one could explore.. and dollar store bulk produce.. (California anyway)

    Another brach off which can be looked at in regions.. east coast, south west coast, midwest.. would be restaurant bargins. Every community has places to eat 1.oo -5.00 items or quantities to split between 2-3 meal.. One way to work the super size american proportion system.
    Free Lime or lemon squeezed into tea/ or water/ w/wo sugar as a thrify beverage..

    During a Set/Delivery job I had me and a couple others saught out places to buy a meatball and sauce..(home made) with free bread and spice and butter.. and free water.. An asian buffet.. good veggies no msg.. 3 dish with egg roll for lunch special 5.00 (could feed 3 with extra side of rice)
    mexican street tacos 1.oo a piece with salsa and lime/ lemon and spice all for free and water.. the list goes on..

    Basically there is an equation to rely on restaurants small etc.. to prepare the food for you for cheaper than you will pay at grocery.. ADD the time to get.. (drive. sort and cook and clean the dishes) if time is money? for a hard working man woman.. Like in mexico and middle eastern countries. a big segment of people with out a Kitchen” appliances ” ect.. and the community will feed its own.. 🙂

    The largest cut back a centrally located person can make.. (In city .. in town..) is Alcohol.. Coffee, and smokes.. and Gas / Car .. Use a scooter.. bus or live near work opportunities like in the depression to walk..

    Very interesting ideas sprouted by your original dollar expose / experiment.. I am going to read also on the family diet of the Marshal South Depression Era, natural family experiement of living in the desert…

    FYI .. Topic of interest also “The Marshal South” 16 year Project of living natural in the Anza Borrego Desert (google it..) … on a hilltop home.. (1 mile or longer steep walk from below to home..)
    During the “Depression” .. with 3 kids.. Current book available by one of the children..


  45. I want to try this diet so I can lose some weight. I over eat and this diet seems to bring discipline.

  46. Kelley Alunni

    Absolutely loved this blog. I saw you on TV and was curious to see “IF” it could be done. Thank you for showing that there are other ways to live out there other then SPEND, SPEND, SPEND. Many people in our country are faced with economic hardship and are struggling to just survive.

    It is sad that in some countries there are families that survive on less but I think that some of the posters here need to take into account the cost here in the USA is higher. Food, energy etc. Which made this even more interesting to read!

    Thank you for the glimpse into your 30 days.

  47. Ashley

    I am so glad that you guys did this, and I hope the diaries and expericences you guys have spread all across the world so people can see how poor people live and how the ones that are too “proud” to get food stamps suffer. Also, it shows that our society is too much! Exapecially the “healthy stuff”. How does Bush and US expect for us to be “healthy” when we can’t afford the “healthy” food?

  48. Lexie from Idaho

    Hi, just wanted to comment on your experiment.. your experiment has opened the eyes of middle income families to really see what lower income families go through. My sister, her husband, my two stepsisters and my 20 month old niece and I have been through a nightmarish year most can’t even imagine. Three of us lost our jobs, and can’t find new ones. It’s been eight months and we live in the lower southern half of Idaho where jobs are non existent. We make roughly, in one household, about 900 a month if we are lucky. Two of us are college educated but dropped out due to lack of time and financial stress on tuition, and my sister is now pregnant with her second. We all live on about one meal a day and I work now as a nurse part time in a long term facility. I can’t begin to tell you how hard it can be to work as hard as I do daily on so little. To not eat, to feel dehydrated, and to come home to a cold and cramped house with little heating is very very hard. I want to be happy for my sister, but with congratulations comes worry about how to feed yet another. We live this way on heating and housing assistance, part time income, and Wic/food stamps. With all this help from the government and living in America, we still struggle as many families like ours do. Multiply our family by millions and you are getting a picture of gigantic proportions and a national crisis. The question we must all answer from this amazing and eye opening project you are doing is this: how hard must we work, and how many families with children have to suffer before prices go down? Before big companies stop their greed and see that actually helping millions of lower income families will boost our national workforce and their production? Before we see our economy gain strength? Remember that those of us who work hardest are also the foundation that runs this country. We do the work nobody wants to do. From my family of five– thank you. Thank you so much for starting a small revolution in the minds of the influential that can do so much good.
    Thank you!

  49. Monica

    I eat oatmeal and honey everyday with herbs to work with digestion. Then I warm up the leftovers in a steel thermis so that it is warm for lunch. For dinner I will cook Mungbeans and Rice with seasonal veg. I pick fruit from trees and bushes. For those who have a neighbor that has a cow you can make your own cheese, butter and ghee. We grow our own veg using biodynamic food methods to save on the cost of water and land.

    Mother nature is always around us and times are hard and the harder that they get the more that I am reminded of the grief that I feel in my heart from pulling myself away from mother nature. She will feed us, clothe, lend us knowledge if we open ourselves up to her many blessings. Lets come together and work as partners in the new
    rev love ation!

    OATMEAL – You can add: cinnamon, raisons, cranberries, applesauce, apples, any fruit, green chilies, brown sugar, yogurt, coconut, vanilla flavoring, almond flavoring, chocolate chips, nuts, etc. again, anything that you like.

    2 cups mung beans until soft and mushy.
    1-1/2 med onion
    3″ ginger
    6 cloves garlic
    3 zucchinis
    1-1/2 tsp black pepper in 1-1/2 cups water.

    2 cups rice in 5 cups water with:
    1 Tbls ghee (make ghee at home)
    4-1/2 tsp turmeric
    3-1/2 tsp cumin
    1-1/2 tsp coriander.

  50. Great job on this!

    I am surprised that cans of cheap tuna did not make the cut. They are 2/$1.00 at the dollar store.
    Split in 1/2…that’s 25 cents each for protein.
    Cans are 6 oz each…3 oz is a “serving” of meat.

  51. Rich

    I don’t know the cost of food in San Diego, but I can eat much healthier. I shop at the farmers markets aka Asian grocery stores. Seem to be much cheaper

  52. VeganBella

    Wait, are you guys vegan? That would be cool!

  53. Gen

    I also live in San Diego area and am inspired by your experiment. Having been a single parent and stuggled with the cost of all basic needs, I applaud your attention to this matter for everyone to see just how it can be done. I would suggest that you try to create more from scratch. My midwestern family upbringing taught me who to make “something” out of nothing. I really like the suggestion of one responder about making your own soy milk, great idea. And so it goes. A small bag of potatoes (only $1 at the .99 store) can be made into many different meals, all for pennies a day. I fed myself and child on a bag for a whole week at one point. Potato pancakes for breakfast, fried potatoes for lunch and baked for dinner with toppings of somekind. Be creative people. Look to your ancestors and see how it was done during the Depression, great famine and other times of real hardship. These are not new ideas, we have just lost them along the way. I will say, I didn’t eat or feed my child the same exact ingredients everyday. But a pot of homemade speghetti is filling, nutritious and can last all week for pennies. Try a new idea each week and give your body a little variety and better nutrition while your at it. A can of cooked chicken at the dollar store is $1, along with many other items. Maybe not all brand names, but tasty and nutritious just the same. I appreciated the writer who shared the info on all the stores who throw away food. Is anyone gathering it up and using it, or giving it to those in need? Anyway, good luck in 2009 and thanks for the forum for sharing and learning. Take care!

  54. Marcy

    With all the talk about spending, what about growing? My parents and grandparents have grown a garden on their land throughout my life. They always had too much food and gave away food from the garden. They grew so much I cannot list it all. I understand some limitations for people, such as no yard, ect. But a lot of people could grow their own things. This is a huge money saver. It takes time and hard work, but it is rewarding and a way to get back to nature. The one thing about living in today’s world is the COMPLETE reliance on big companies and chain stores to survive. We cannot clothe, feed, or warm/cool ourselves. It is sad. I, too, and this person. I wish it could be different.

  55. Maggie

    A dollar a day may keep you alive, but not healthy. How about some free ways to stay healthy….

    Greens are readily available during spring/summer/autumn months in yards/neighborhoods/and open spaces just by knowing which to pick that are healthy and nutritious. Dandelions (thought to be weeds by some) are very nutritious. Wild mustard also are very nutritious plants.

    If anyone here is old enough to remember Victory Gardens from WWII, people grew the variety of fruit/vegetables they needed to maintain health.

    Has anyone heard about gleening? That is where you go out after a crop has been picked by farm machine, and pick the rest for your family and friends. Not much trouble there, just don’t get caught.

    Another way is cooperatives…during the spring and summer, you spend the extra time and work to cultivate the land you have (goodbye decorative lawns) and put it up for later. Share with your community and everyone has enough for the winter.

    All of the above ways take WORK and self responsibility. The world doesn’t owe you a handout – the government isn’t your papa. If you want to eat, you need to work for it.

  56. m

    i think this was a smart idea and if i didn’t do so much stuff like 3 sports i think i would definitely try this.

  57. Pinkee H.

    I grew up in Philippines and i completely understand the idea because I have tried it. There are so many struggling families there and students who are trying to get a Degree in college yet they also have to manage a very tight budget. I eat a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast ( no sugar ) with milk . Vegetables ( varieties ) , lean meats ( fish or chicken ) with half a cup of rice for lunch,a bowl of soup for dinner and a piece of fruit for snacks. NOTE: I am strictly NO SODAS!!! but just water or fruit juice and milk. NEVER SMOKE OR DRINK ALCOHOL ( they only add up to your budget and they are harmful to your health also ) . And exercise at least 15-20 minutes before I start my day. I avoid junk foods too. And I lost 20 lbs in 3 months!!! I was able to save and also glad to know that I am eating healthy foods as well, instead of eating fatty foods and damaging your health.

  58. Ray

    I would like to know if you can come up with a healthier plan for people on a tight budget? For example 2 or 3 dollars a day. How much would it realistically cost for a couple or family of four to eat a healthy diet per day or per month? Also assuming they don’t have the ability to to buy in bulk from a warehouse store, how much would it cost for food from the neighborhood grocery or a small grocery in a rural community?

  59. Pingback: One Dollar Diet Project - Christopher Greenslate And Kerri Leonard Experiment Spending One Dollar A Day On Food — Trendite

  60. Yads

    I am also in california across the street from a huge mexican grocery store and thats where I buy my groceries, because I’m mexican and because they’re cheaper, and you don’t have to buy in bulk to get the same good prices. We also found that asian markets also have really good prices even produce.

    Just a quick tip on the beans, If you bought them dry you could make 5 times more for the same price than canned

  61. hi my name is david im 18 yrs old and im content and impressed that people in america and more industrialized countries are experimenting with this type of “lifestyle” . I know first hand because im coming from mexico im a U.S citizen, my family could only spend 2 dollars or 20 pesos of food everyday due to bills and other problems. the type food that my family consumed the most were beans rice and tortillas , and it felt like christmas when we had a chance to drink a coke or juice or when we went out to eat. So as i watch other people try this and see first hand how it feels to live and eat with a limited amount of money i think it sparks a light and shows people how much money they are wasting and how much food is thrown away without the consent that there is people who have not eaten for days.

  62. Rebecca

    My husband and I have three kids and one on the way (due 2/2009). We manage to get buy on $150 a month on groceries. We do this by not buying “junk”: chips, soda, candy, ice cream, cookies. We make larger batches of things, such as spaghetti with hamburger, things that don’t spoil quickly, but will get eaten in a resonable amount of time, generally within the week. As I am the person who works outside of the home, I don’t bring a drink to work for my lunch. I drink water at work, all day long. Saves money and it’s good for me. We drink primarily milk at home, so we go through about three gallons a week, plus our youngest daughter, who still drinks whole milk, which is a gallon a week and a half. It is possible to get by on less, and we do if necessary. The point is that no one with a family smaller than, say 10 should be spending anywhere near $ 500/month on groceries!

  63. rose

    Which high school in San Diego do you guys teach at?

    I think this is especially interesting since you guys are from San Diego, where average housing prices were once in the $500,000 range (lower now because of the economy). I like the statement you guys are trying to make, so best wishes on your book deal from a fellow San Diegan!!

  64. Thanks, this site is awesome! It is very informational. It is a challenge I’d put myself too if it weren’t for making sure the kids get all their nutrients and I have to be an example of that. But it sure teaches me there are things I can do differently. I shall start with learning how to bake bread! I have made a list of things we could do differently.

  65. jonatan in florida

    I think it really good what guys did you can help other good luck

  66. susan

    A lot of people being kind of critical.

    They just did this as an innocent experiment. Not to signify what it is like to be poor. Take it for what it is.

    Congrats to you guys for sticking to this for a month. I would have just done it for a week then lied about the rest.

  67. Anne

    For protein may I suggest tinned fish? Sardines, herring, tuna, salmon. A tin of sardines can be .99, and provied the portein for two or three meals.

    Good luck with your endeavor.

  68. Kelsey

    I just wanted to say that this project you both did amazes me. I am actually considering trying to the exact thing. I am not doing this to lose weight, or to prove something to the world… but I just think this project is a complete test of whether or not you have self control. It must have surly tested your mind and body very greatly and it would be very interesting to see if I am strong enough of a person to try it.

    Thank you for introducing this to me, I look forward to trying it. 🙂

  69. Looking through your food list index, it made me wonder if you guys were vegan at all? Anyways, I think it’s cool that you can spend so little money, but still get what you need. I definetly going to try that because I need to spend my money more wisely… 😀

  70. dat

    This is a typical belief in the establishment mentality. Everything your buying is processed and full of preservatives. Most of it was shipped in from other countries and had a shelf life. The important “fresh” produce you could not afford would easily grow in a garden for pennies. A hunting license would enable enough meat for a year for around $25 Fishing is the time to dig up some earth worms which if farmed help mulch the garden. The US got to this point by living off the bounty of the land. The civilized establishement poured concrete and drove the game away … Now the establishement provides convienence by gro cery stores at high prices for everything that with a little effort is available right in front of each and everyone. Unbelievable. Listen, as the system around you collapses and more jobs are lost, learn to live with the land instead of ontop of it … it will provide as it did for your forefathers. As for the establishement, read the labels on the food you’re eating. That right there shows the concern for your health from the manufactures. Their concern is how to call it peanut/butter but have those ingredients be the least amount involved, rather preservatives, taste enhnacers and color appealers so they can get shelf life – it enables them to manufacture in third world countries for pennies and charge you $$.
    Best of luck.

  71. Steven Sheriff

    After reading all the comments I,m hungry! But, I promise that the sandwich I make will be much smaller than originally planned. I am certain this project will allow many individuals to ponder the basic day to day necessity of food, and if “we of great fortune” would just all slow down enough to realize all this world will ever give us is food and shelter, and maybe a glimpse of something better to come, then the “we of great fortune” will be overwhelmingly compelled to assure all men of this very basic necessity-FOOD-
    I loved that E. Roosevelt quote!
    Live the dream!
    Feed the masses, even if it cost a dollar and a nickle.

  72. Hi guys,

    Your experiment is interesting and, as you know, others have done it before.

    To me, some of the foods on your list are alarmingly unhealthy. Margarine for instance, that’s in the category of suicide-foods. As is Top Ramen. Each is high in trans-fat, which screws up your cholesterol levels and inflames your arterial walls. Result: Atherosclerosis.

    Many of the other food items looked healthy though. I think if you were to get good at this, you might spend $2 per day and yet still eat more healthily than most Americans.

    But I’d strongly suggest that you take a course in Nutrition — it will be a huge eye-opener!


  73. Pookii

    Helloo — ooo dumpster diving? It’s free and you get over the gross factor when you’re hungry enough. I know it’s not available in all countries, but a dumpster could be a great source of free food. Just use common sense — closed packages, non dairy, not moldy, peel and boil the fruits or veggies.

    Oh yeah, most fast food restaurants toss food. Ask them what time they toss it and be at the back door to ask for it.

  74. jazmin

    The poor people on food stamps or those who have lost their jobs (therefore have extra time on their hands) should try growing some of their own food. It’s healthy and cheap. Processed food is WAY more expensive than truly fresh food. I can get local milk (in returnable glass bottles), fresh eggs (no such thing as a cage-free or organic egg), and fresh produce grown locally and seasonally way cheaper than white bread, chips, and soda. Oh, I also cook my own food and when I do go out I eat at a restaurant that serves only local food and they pass the savings on to me as the customer. Those of you on food stamps or out of a job obviously have access to a computer so do some research on the true cost of food if eaten in season and on the local level. Participate in the production of your food. I work in a school and it’s sad to see how many kids think food ‘comes from the store’. Wrong…fresh food comes from your garden or a farm nearby whether it’s produce or meat. All of those bananas and bunches of broccoli you see in Costco, Safeway, Kroger etc. is NOT fresh in the middle of winter. Most chains don’t even sell fresh produce in the summer. The farms near you may be producing broccoli, but chances are Costco got it from it’s warehouse who got it from a farm 1,000 miles away. You are wasting your money on most organics as large organic farms are allowed some pesticides and pesticide drift and the nutrient level of organic foods grown somewhere else and shipped out of season is the same as any other produce grown and shipped out of season. Our bodies are made to devour the fresh stuff during harvest time and eat the starchier, easier to store foods in the winter.

  75. Aimee

    This experiment is so interesting! My family went through lean times when we ate mostly beans and homemade wheat bread (with peanut butter and jelly). I got so sick of this diet, I ate just enough to keep hunger at bay. Once things were better, I didn’t eat another bean for about a year. Yes, not the most nutritionally complete diet (I remember salivating thinking about celery sticks) but adequate in the short term.

    What I take from this is not the need to eat for the least amount possible if its not necessary, but rather to be grateful when we do have more and to try to help others. This experiment demonstrates how hard it is to eat a balanced diet on the income so many must live on. As Colin Powell said (I think it was him), there can’t be peace while people are starving.

  76. Cassandra

    I read some comments that write about utilities and I just wanted to let people know that solar ovens are free to use and cheap to create. You might have to do a couple of prototypes, but basically you need a box and foil. I baked brownies in one before.

    Prices of food are different in every store; it’s all about where you shop.
    Growing stuff is nice too. It tends to taste better anyway.

    I’m not sure on the price of eggs or frozen peas and carrots, but they both are tasty in ramen.

  77. Jim

    I recently cut back on groceries myself, my wife and I ate pasta for dinner and lunch(leftovers) and plain oatmeal for breakfast, we did this for 14 days. I made a giant pot of sauce for about 10 bucks, I froze it in quart size freezer bags. Pasta is cheap, you can usually get store brand for less than a buck. I large can of instant oatmeal was about $2.50. Although I only spent about 30 dollars total for two weeks of chow, this was not sustainable, I am an avid runner who usually consumes 3000 plus calories a day just to get through my workouts. I am a very experienced runner, I know my body so I was able to recognize when fatigue was setting in and cut back. I wouldn’t suggest a diet like this for somebody who A. Spends alot of time exercising or B. Has a physically demanding job. Probably not safe.

    The reality was that I needed to get a part time job, I now work delivering pizza two nights a week, I apply my tips directly to groceries and take home “undeliverable” pizza whenever the oppotunity presents itself. I have all but eleminated by grocery bills all together.

  78. btrfly

    hi, definitely gets you thinking about how much you spend, and ways to be spending less. i personally have been really trying to focus on spending much less where i can, whenever i can, well cause i have too, but also so that when i am able to save, even if its pennies, that i have it for down the line. i’d venture (as others have) that these costs are based on whole-sale/bulk places like costco…and i don’t wanna be picky (which means i’m gonna be…) but if you really can’t spend more than $1/day on food in your life, you likely can’t afford to even buy at bulk prices (shell out $10 for tons of potatos, or other thing)…but also to shell out the cost of the memberships required by those places. but if possible, it proves to be cheaper in most cases.
    However, i do wanna point out that buying bulk isn’t always cheaper. I’ve started doing this, albeit slightly ocd thing, where i note in my cell phone the cost of items i purchase regularly…i write the store i’m at, item/qty, and price…that way i know when i’m at other places what the comps are so i get the best prices…i also focus on unit/prices…yes something may see cheap but when you sort it out it really may not be as good of a bargain as you thought. Also, buying store brand (generic) often will save you much more too (though again…not always)…especially with otc meds.
    I personally have big-time health probs, which messes with my ability to work, thus bring in enough money to support myself…it’s funny (well, lack of better word)…but i’d bet i’d be able to live on $1 or 2 at day of food…but my rx meds, at $174/mth (thats with insurance, without i’d be you know what’d) puts means I average about $5.80/day just in my rx med costs…just interesting when i put it into that perspective.
    I hope people take away from this that people do have to live like this, and that we all CAN do it…but i hope that people who read this (or hear about your porject) don’t start “poor bashing” (as i’ve seen here)…meaning, saying that those who can only afford so little on food are in wrong cause they are heavy/obsese and spend it in the wrong ways (sorry to say…but it you can take your family to someplace like mcd’s or wendy’s and buy a full meal for everyone for like $2-3, even if it’s unhealthy, if you knew it would help keep them fed, wouldn’t you do it?). Also, hope some people who say that those who aren’t working should stop being lazy and make gardens realize that thats not always a reality (some people aren’t working for different reasons)…sigh…this is long…sorry. interesting blog. thanks

  79. Colleen

    We live in Oregon and food stamp allotment here for a family of 2 is almost $300. I have no sympathy for those on food stamps since I see those families eating captain crunch cereal for breakfast and take and bake pizzas for dinner.

    It’s harder to be working and not making enough to buy food but making too much to qualify for assitance. There are months where we don’t have money for groceries because our basic housing needs are higher than what we made. And we don’t have extras!!!! Rent, electric, gas to work. That’s IT!!!

    The reality is there are poor people getting assitance and then there are poorer people working full time. Families in America eat on $1.00 day every day. My husband and I are one of those families!! (who knows what we’ll do when the twins arrive)

  80. neb

    Interesting site. My wife and I have been doing similar methods for over a year and I believe we have perfected a way that suits our needs. It’s interesting what you can come up with only 75 cents a day when your absolutely broke. It started when I lost my job and living off of unemployment that barely covered rent. I loved to cook so I figured out a way to eat without starving. Since we were fortunate enough to live in a place that have Farmers Markets and Organic Co-Ops buying everything you need in bulk was simple.

    For example, I started to make made simple flat breads from organic spelt flour (Bulk for 25 cents a cup), Baking Powder (Bulk for 5 cents per TBS) a pinch of salt (free) and filtered water (Bulk, 35cents a gallon). With the rest of the money, all Ten bucks of it, had to last till the next pay period before we had at least 5 bucks to look forward to.

    I believe we became rather delirious with desperation when I started to come-up with multiple variations I could whip up with just Flour, Water and free condiments found in various locations; Scones, Pizza, Pasta, Gnocci, Rolls, Pancakes. We also live in a location, when the season was right, fruits, nuts and various herbs were free for the picking. We stayed strong and survived through winter.

    Today, I have a very successful career and my wife and I have become wiser and healthier. Although we can now afford to spend $20 a day for food, we still have a budget that rarely touches that amount. We still eat bulk foods and organic. What really saved us was imagination and hope.

  81. Pats

    I’m going to keep it bold and simple.

    You inspire millions and millions of lives all through out. More power to you two.

  82. Bob

    Some comments:

    Whole grains and beans should be the bulk. Add the cheap vegetables: onions, cabbage, celery, radish, turnips, squash …

    Avoid any processed food, the result is Metabolic Syndrome and expensive health bills.

    Don’t forget to sprout some of the grains and while you’re at it, learn how to make Essene Bread.

    Use Masa Harina (nixtamalized or lime treated corn, i.e. tamale flour) instead of cornmeal to avoid Pellagra.

    Olive oil blend? Probably contains very little and very poor quality olive oil. Cheapest fat is probably manteca. Canola is an option, but some people get pretty excited about that, even though it’s probably very healthy. Sunflower and corn oils are probably cheap, maybe even peanut. Soybean oil is also cheap. I’d avoid any “blends”, who knows what’s been “blended” in.

    Original Syrup? That can’t be good for you. You should eliminate your addiction to the excitotoxins in that kind of product. If you really have a sweet tooth, make syrup out of raw sugar. Too sweet? Caramelize it a bit. Still not real healthy put probably much cheaper and better than “original syrup”.

    I can’t believe Tang is the cheapest form of Vit C, but maybe it is. I’d be concerned about the other ingredients in it. There are lots of other ways to get plenty of C, so research. Fresh ginger root is one of many great sources. Fresh sauerkraut is another. Rose hip tea is another …

    Learn how to make, use and maintain a sourdough starter. All that’s required is knowledge, flour, and water. The result adds some flavor variety (who doesn’t like sourdough bread or sourdough pancakes?) and is probably healthy for you as well.

    If you eat mostly whole grains (brown rice, whole oats, hulled barley, hominy …) you’re in pretty good shape nutritionally, way ahead of the typical American (on the way to Metabolic Syndrome) diet.

    Do your research, there is plenty of information on this topic. Also if you’re hungry (really shouldn’t happen with whole grains and beans) and just want a cheap filler, use bran or Psyllium husks, which is actually good for you anyway, just make sure to drink plenty of water with it.

  83. Medavina

    I’m disturbed with the amount of criticism people are giving you. You two have already stated that it was for a personal challenge and the parameters were that you were basing the $1 on the food itself. It’s not as though it was a report to be published in an academic journal where you had all these variables accounted for (cost of electricity, cookware, etc.), nor were you trying to simulate a third-world environment. It seems like so much negativity is weighing down the potential good that could come from your experiment.

    Anyway, although you didn’t start this project with any intentions other than a personal challenge, it’s obvious that you did start the discussion on some major social issues. Whatever attention you may be getting can help those with economic problems, like some of your commentators–and who may not be getting as much attention as you are.

    At San Jose State University, a study of what food is sold on campus is found and started the Healthy Campus 2010 initiative. Unfortunately, the findings included the fact that healthier foods (fresh fruit, etc) did cost more than unhealthy ones (fast food). [But there are ways to combine both: I toss the broth from Top Ramen and throw in veggies like someone else suggested. =)]

    Many people interviewed through the project also stated that, in their experience, organic food and others that were healthier also tended to be more expensive. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods are seen more as a “yuppy” middle- to upper-middle class markets. I have noticed that Asian and Mexican markets do tend to be cheaper. We’re lucky that we have a farmer’s market during the summer/fall where I can get fresh fruits/veggies for $1/lb.

    I think it’s great that people are giving recommendations for how to cut down costs, like growing your own garden, making most of your food from scratch and so forth. But I think part of the problem is the lifestyle that people lead: working (at least) 40 hours/wk and costs of living (housing, transportation, taxes, etc.), not to mention school, taking care of family…all of these factors make such changes difficult. Cost of food and supporting yourself on $1/day is part of a larger system that would take a whole other project to cover. =)

    Anyway, thanks for your project. Looking forward to your results this upcoming year!

  84. Joan

    I was once in a situation where I had to live on very little – my staple foods that I depended on to keep up my nutrition were eggs, frozen vegetables and bananas. Powdered milk was my best friend, as was the bulk food store where I bought cheap pasta, rice and eggs. My best recommendation now to save money is to shop at Asian markets.

    I am also a teacher, and once had to talk with a high school student and explain to him what he needed to do to feed himself on his very scarce funds. Most of us have forgotten how to eat consciously; it takes a lot of time and effort to adjust to living on such a really tight budget. Thanks for raising our awareness!

  85. Dawn

    A comment above (by Reiko) stated you can get food from restaurants or vendors that throw their food away daily anyway. This happens across the country, wasted food! Problem in New York at least, is that some fool years ago sued for getting bad food and now restaurants won’t give it to shelters or food pantry’s for fear of being sued! I worked in a restaurant and it made me sick to see what was thrown out each night!

  86. Michael

    This is an every day thing for most of us. I live in the mid-west “WI” and I choose to live below my means “Non-consumerist” or “minimalist” the USA is vary spooled and still can not take care of the whole. For me; house is paid for, grow my fruits/veggies, raise my meat-rabbet, heat is wood-mostly free & solar coming, vehicle fuel is biodiesel, and soon to come solar/wind energy. This is all done on less then a 0.25 acre. When the solar/wind systems are up and running the only utility I will pay for are water/sewer “no choose” in this one live in town. See list below

    2 apple trees
    4 varieties of raspberries
    2 varieties of strawberries
    Numerous vegetables “rotation is plus”
    Numerous herbs
    6 rabbit pens

    If you are good you can make money with the left over that you have. Rabbits are good for this; waste, hides, meat.

  87. Ashley


    Really interesting. I’d love to know where you’re getting the Yeast at. I’m paying 1.69 for 3 tiny little packages of it and you’re telling me I could be getting 5lbs of it for 3.79! Wow! I am missing out!!!!

  88. kb1

    This is a very interesting and enlightening project. However, I have noticed that many of our nation’s poor can not even get to the local grocery store because of transportation. Therefore, they are shopping at convenience stores which have outrageous prices.

  89. Kels!

    I’ve only read the top few comments, and have something to reply to those people.
    You have to consider, when they say “cornmeal, 19cents” this means per serving. Im assuming they bought a decently large amount of the cornmeal (or whatever else is on the list) and made it last for a couple of weeks, maybe even longer.
    It is also possible for them to share meals, such as one oatmeal package between both of them, one serving of beans, etc.

    Anyways, this is very inspirational. I am only 16, however I would love to try this sometime. Right now I’m in college, making that next to impossible with how many calories I burn daily, but over the summer I will definitely have to experiment. It really goes to show how expensive it is in the US to eat healthy.

    Great job guys!

  90. SebrinaS

    For years my best friend and I have talked about doing this… now with current economic conditions I sort of am.

    I live in a household of 7 and we spend about $400 dollars a month in food. That’s about $1.90 a day per person.

    The thing is, we aren’t starving… to the contrary, we still eat veggies and meats and all the other good stuff… you just have to plan ahead before you go grocery shopping. We don’t buy everything in bulk but we only buy what we absolutely need and have a reason for using. When meats go on sale we’ll stock up and store them in a large freezer (by large freezer I mean those huge ones they sold back in like the 60’s when you get it for free by buying a whole cows worth of meat… yeah it’s that old)

    We only buy veggies that are in season, for instance right now you can buy 3 avacados for a dollar and 5 lemons for the same price. We’ll buy six avacados, add some home grown tomatoes and onions and a bag of 2 dollar chips, make guacamole and feed the whole family lunch.

    Living in an agricultural community really helps b/c we can always find cheap citrus fruits and a wide variety of vegetables for little or nothing.

    Also another thing I noticed was that I didn’t see any eggs in your list of items. Eggs are still surprisingly cheap and they can be very good for you. Plus there are so many ways to cook them that you are less likely to get tired of them.

    As regards you guys getting tired and the lack of energy, you really need to calculate what your bodies required calorific intact is. Some people can survive on as little as 1000 calories a day, including myself. That’s me at a healthy weight and intact for my body, plus when I eat within that amount I maintain my weight and feel more refreshed than if I overate.

    So many people aren’t into counting calories or watching portion sizes anymore, but if you did so, not only would you be leading a healthier life but you would also be saving a lot of money. Besides you don’t have to cut out a lot of foods you love b/c now they just last longer…

    I think this in an incredible project b/c it does raise awareness of the problems of malnutrition in the world today.

    I feel so fortunate b/c I live in a region that is very strongly influenced by community support. When you have money you share, when you have food you share… this week maybe it will be myself you feeds everyone I know… but next week they will do the same for me.

    The sad truth is that the main cause of malnutrition in the world is greed. Rich people want to keep everything and they don’t share.

    The scary facts are that there are 170,756,480 acres in Texas(the 2nd biggest US state) and another 101,571,840 acres in California(the 3rd biggest US state). Combined that’s 272,328,320 acres. For more space let’s throw in NM, NV, and AZ. That totals 493,866,880 acres in those 5 states. Divide that amongst the 6.7 billion people on earth and that means each family (let’s say 4 people per family) gets .3 acres to live on… the majority of the world’s population lives on less. And now you have the rest of the planet to use as agricultural land… can you seriously tell me that our planet cannot produce enough food to feed everyone living on it? Then where does all that wasted food go?

  91. Michael

    The effort you are making reminds me of the Secretary of Agriculture, under Reagan, as I recall, who disingenuously had his family “live” of a typically welfare food allotment for a month. As many of the earlier posts have noted, when one has a job and is making a decent income, has health insurance, lives in a nice home, and does not have to make the hard decisions between paying for food, education, medical care, transportation or utilities. A more interesting experiment would have been to look at the entire unverse of costs you both incur over a month, or maybe longer, say over a year, to minimize total impact, having to pay attention to these kinds of trade offs.

    Ultimately, as the world’s population approaches 9 – 12 billion humans over the next century, as down side of the the oil peak takes its toll, how can we more justly share the world’s resources with the poorest of the world, who do live in abject poverty? I think the main benefit of your experiment is that it focuses on the personal level, to think about what can I (we) each do to minimize waste and environmental harm. Perhaps it can also focus our attention on the politics of the issues and demand more responsible programs and policies from our political and corporate leaders!

    FYI – I refer you to the “Make Room, Make Room” SF novel by Harry Harrison (the basis of the Charlton Heston movie of the 1970s, “Soylent Green”, and to an article in Sci. Amer. several years ago, which studied 1st & 3rd world food waste. As I dimly recall, in the 3rd world something like 30% of crops were lost to poor farming, transportation and storage practices. In the 1st world, about 30% was wasted due to end use wastage / spoilage… just think of all the wasted labor, fuel, fertilizer, water etc. is wasted in poor management of foods system-wide!

  92. Cecelia

    Wonderful, eye opening project you have here.

    I work in schools and am appalled at how much the average school child tosses in the trash uneaten in the cafeteria, choosing only to eat the dessert part of the meal. I see families who appear to be poor at Walmart filling their carts with TV dinners, snack foods, cigarettes, beer, cases of drinks made of only sugar, water and food coloring. I’m sure there are many families who are poor who can afford to spend more than a dollar per day on food who are still coming up hungry at the end of the month due to poor shopping choices. All of us have been programmed via years of TV advertising to equate junk food with happiness, and I think we all need to be re-educated about what is good food and what is not. I did a project here in NY two summers ago, where my summer school students and I grew 13 of the most eaten foods in our diets, (wheat, rice, peanuts, potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, lettuce, spinach, corn, sugar beets, peppers, beans, broccoli, and most of them (even a few adults) had never even seen the vegetables or grains on the plant they came from or even what the vegetable itself looked like unprocessed. We grew in recycled restaurant-sized buckets and the kids got to take home their plant at the end of summer school. Many of the students are from low income families, and were thrilled to be able to take home a plant that makes food all by itself. I think we need to “plant seeds” in the minds of the young that we can grow our own food and teach them how to do it, as the economy is sure to worsen over the next several years. Victory gardens are common place in Europe and they can be here also.

    As far as the $1 a day diet goes, most people don’t leave the house with one dollar in their hand per day to shop. If one takes the welfare, food stamp or paycheck money and invests in bulk size packages of foods that are high in calorie value right then, the cost per serving goes way down and more money can be spent on vegetables and protein sources. Here in NY, I got a 25# sack of Jasmine rice for around $17 (the price went up from $9 a sack about 6 months ago due to shortages world wide) that provides 227 servings of rice which makes it 7 cents a serving. The rice will keep for months uncooked in a cool dry place. If one can get to a food coop or a store where they sell bulk foods, one can get oats for about 75 cents a pound. That boils down to 15 servings for 5 cents each. Dried pasta, peas, lentils, beans, quinoa and wheat are much cheaper than processed and yield much more food per pound. They keep for a long time on the shelf and have protein, vitamins and other nutrients in them. If one invests up-front in a variety of these foods when the paycheck comes in, there will be more food over a longer period of time, and left-over funds from following paychecks can be spent on meat, fish, fresh vegetables, etc. Spices, garlic and onions do wonders to make bland foods more exciting. Rice and beans together makes a complete protein, as do many other grain/bean combinations. As our economy worsens and more people are forced to make tough choices of how to spend what little they have for food, intelligent planning will go a long way towards stretching the funds and assuring that nutritional needs are met.

  93. Meaghan

    I think a lot of people are missing the point. These two did not set out to solve world hunger, folks! It was a personal little experiment that snowballed. I think they have done a lot of good (intentionally or not!) by bringing these issues to the forefront of a lot of people’s minds, but it isn’t their job to solve poverty, world hunger, etc. And I think it is funny (funny sad, not funny haha) that after all of this, someone STILL posted about how “poor people” can afford cigarettes, cable, etc. We all probably know at least one person who complains about not being able to buy groceries or pay the electric bill but CAN afford to buy a pack of smokes every day. But that isn’t EVERY poor person. It’s wrong to make those generalizations. Kudos to the two of you for making it through your 30 days. I am certain that I could never have passed on those free cookies! I just came across your blog tonight and read all of it in about an hour. My husband and I have 5 kids and thought we were doing well to get by on $75 or less per week at Aldi’s!

  94. madi

    that was really cool you guys thought to do this. there are alot of people in this country who live off of just about a dollar a day. Chipotle, for example, pays its employees (IN THE USA) i think its 30 cents for every 32lbs of tomatoes they pick. their wages have not risen since 1970.
    it would be cool if you guys did an experiment/project to see how much it costs to eat 100% USDA organic produce and free-range, vegetarian fed, no hormones or antibiotic meat for every meal for a month. its going to be alot of $ but it would be interesting to see what you come up with. (fyi 1 organic red pepper is $3.99 in boulder, CO versus 1 convential red pepper for a little more than a dollar!!!)
    good luck!

  95. Coach Melvin

    Hi Christopher & Kerri,

    There is no problem living on $1.00 per day, as I do it quite often. I buy a $1.00 box of cooked chicken from a Chinese restaurant; believe it or not, it can last me for 3 meals, but since I eat just 2 meals a day, I usually eat a portion for breakfast, a portion for lunch, then the last 3rd portion for breakfast the next day. Plus I drink half gallon of fresh water (spread out) per day. When I can’t obtain fresh water, I take tap water, let it sit in an open container for 30 minutes and all the chlorine will dissipate.

    I must admit, though, I DO take a whole-food, all natural, organic vitamin supplement with the two meals. I use vitamins from New Chapter called EveryMan, which are Kosher and can be swallowed on an empty stomach.

    I would recommend Christopher and Kerri to take vitamin supplements in order to supply all the cells of your body with the nutrients it needs that you WILL NOT obtain from the sparsh amount of food you eat.

    Kind regards,
    Coach Melvin
    Heaven’s Palm Boxing Association

  96. JDG

    I dont’ know if it’s sad or not but I already sort of do this. It is a blessing from God that I’ve always loved PB&J. I don’t know what cost there is in a bowl of cereal/milk per bowl but I’d look into it. I eat a lot of general mills bag-cereals, but only one’s with the highest vitamin/fiber contents. You get protein, milk fat, and a lot of vitamins you wouldn’t get without the cost of expensive produce.

    When I’m eating my cereal breakfast and PB&J lunch/dinner I’ll be thinking of you guys.

  97. Shavon

    I am so blown away right now by not only this experiment but also some of the feedback you have received. First I’d like to mimic what Medavina said, this was not about the amount of electricity needed to cook the food or blah, blah. What you have done is raise our awareness of how truly frivolous and entitled some of us have become. I pride myself on being an avid coupon clipper but after reading your blog and other comments, I know there is much more I could do. Beginning today, I am going to work on significantly cutting food costs for myself and my family. Thank you, thank you bringing much needed attention to this issue, especially as we face such uncertain times. God bless all those families who have been doing this for years and have no other choices….

  98. Holly

    I am a college student at Mercyhurst in Erie Pa we are doing a paper on childhood obesity and who is to blame. Your project makes an interesting point. What doesn it cost in america to eat healthy? I know just from doing my own grocery shopping most of the time it is cheaper for me to go to the processed unhealthy foods then to buy healthy or even organic foods. So, is it ALL the fault of parents and advertisers and schools? Or is the cost of eating healthy too great for average families? Just some food for thought.

  99. Angela

    I think what you did is amazing, my husband and I aren’t your average family though, we have 7 childern combined. On average I can get away with spending about $60 a week on groceries to make sure that the kids get something homemade and nutrious in them. It’s amazing that in most homes they spend much more on crap that kids don’t need and thats probably why there are alot of obese childern in America. People should cut the extra, save it and give it food pantries and help out families in need. Don’t get me wrong I buy the extras too but i.e. I buy popcorn kernals and pop them on the stove, little things like that will save a bundle, the kids like it better, its healthier. Even dessert I bake cookies (buy cheap icecream) and make icecream sandwiches. When it comes down it most people in America are too lazy. You need to plan meals ahead. I am not a stay at home mom, but I still make time to make sure my family is taken care of. Our children are healthy & happy.

  100. Jenni

    As far as fresh fruits and vegetables……were I live there’s 1 store that when produce is damaged ie bruised….they package it and super reduce the price. Red peppers here are normally 1.50-1.85 a piece at this place you can get 4 red peppers for .99 when they are available. They do this with several types of produce. I also look at the clearance section in supermarkets. They have some great buys there too.

  101. Nancy

    There was a comment from Kim a while back about the cost of utilities in cooking food. If you have a slow cooker, this is less of a concern. Slow cookers use very little power, about as much as a 25-watt light bulb (or so I’ve heard). They are great for cooking beans and soups, whole grains, potatoes and carrots, and cheap cuts of meat if that is your thing. They also have the advantage of preserving nutrients that are boiled away in normal cooking.
    That being said, this experiment makes me realize
    in the context of this experiment, my “cheap” pea soup (1 bag dried split peas + 2 carrots, 2 stalks celery, 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic, salt & pepper= about $3.00 for 8 servings) is actually a luxury for some.
    An experiment of this sort was conducted using policemen in New York City in Dec 1916-Jan 1917.
    For more information, search the NY Times web site for “diet squad.”

  102. julie

    I hate peppers, but love gazapcho. Can not grow tomatoes (have to fight off birds, squirrles etc) but can easliy grow peppers (apparently they don’t like peppers either) and lots of them. Large can of Tomato (or V-8) ) low sodium or not), dash of vineger and olive oil. Gazpacho is made.

    And the most expensive food it the food you buy and don’t eat.

    Great website. Hopefully, I will always be able to afford food but it should never go wasted. It is also about self-reliance and teaching self-reliance. It is handed down through many generations, but if children do not get the information there, they need to get it early in school.

  103. Basic Nutrition

    A bean and a grain makes a complete protein.

    You should be able to find some bean and some grain locally for about $.50/lb and even cheaper. Check the USDA nutrition database, beans and grains are about 3.5 calories/gram or about 1,500 calories per pound, so $1 gets you 3,000 calories, way over the 2,000 average rda.

    It wouldn’t hurt nutrionally to add a small amount of oil or fat, go through the same calculations and figure out the calories/dollar.

    In order of priority: calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals. You will find that a bean and a whole grain and a small amount of oil covers most of this ground.

  104. To be honest……..I amazed that many of your items are MORE expensive than what I pay? I have been working for years at whittling down our grocery bill. Last year when the best paying job my hubby could get was $7.50 an hour, we went on food stamps for the first time. We end that this month. I just do not want to be in this program, in SOME ways it is more of a hindrance than help. We have 4 children and were receiving $367 a month. I just cleaned out my pantry, never made it to fridge and freezer, and do you know that on this budget…….we have 2’s 3’s and 4’s of most anything we buy saved back! And the reason…….I have started the odyessey of making everything I can from scratch! It’s worth it! I’m NOT worried about being on food stamps or the coming economy. And let me tell you a secret……my family of 6 has NOT given up meat, because my husband WON’T! And we don’t eat beans, because my husband WON’T. We eat things like chicken parmesan, lasagna etc. If my husband worked with me more on what he was willing to eat, we’d save even more. I am excited about your idea, even if I can only apply it to my own eating. It is a great thing that you two are in agreement over this as it makes it much simpler. If everybody would just take the time and dedicate them to this……they would see that would they think their own food crisis is…….isn’t so bad after all.

  105. L Zufall

    Love the thought, $1 per day – which for most is not even obtainable. I just heard the Salvation Army ad for the holidays that “a $100 donation can feed a family of 4 for one week” – I thought that I feed my family of 4 for that each and every week. I use a ton of coupons, read coupon blogs, and utilize smart shopping to keep our panty full. I share with our local food banks, as well.

  106. Julie

    Hello. I’ve been eating macaroni and cheese or mashed potatoes with butter for lunch and I thought that was cheap.

  107. Doug

    Saw you guys on Fox (like everybody else) and am intrigued by what you’ve done. I’ve always tried to be frugal and economical while not compromising healthiness, and to that end order staple foods in bulk.

    I’d love to learn the source for your bulk purchases of oatmeal, pintos, flour and corn meal, as I’ve been searching the internet and while I’ve come close (, and cost for shipping totally wrecks the savings.

    If anybody knows a good source to buy staple foods in bulk, please let me know.

    Also: I’ll be making regular trips to the Hunts Point Produce Market, should anybody in the NYC area like to coordinate a cooperative effort my email is:

  108. Manchuria from Singapore

    Hi! I chanced upon your project from my local yahoo site. I think you have done a fantastic job and raised awareness for a good cause.

    Food prices are escalating all over the world, not just in the US. I was shocked to see that the olive oil you bought was so cheap. Here in Singapore, 1litre (0.265 gallons) would cost us USD$10!

    dont talk about eating out.. its cheaper having student value meals at fast food outlets than having hot meals at cafes and little eateries which will set you back by a minimum of USD$15.

    But we do have somethign unique in Singapore- food centres. Essentially, its a wet market cum food stalls selling hot dishes located in every neighboorhood estate you can find. Its a good initiative cos for USD$2 and up a meal, you can get a bowl of steaming hot noodles or rice mixed with chicken/veg dishes.. etc etc. mostly consists of local food though now western options are croppin up. perhaps its an idea other countries could adopt!

    anyway, i think you’ve done a fantastic job and more importantly created the much neede awareness. Perhaps if im game for it, i may try living on $1 a day in my own country! But the sheer thought of it.. Aww!! Mental nightmare 😉

  109. Rochelle

    I live in upstate NY and teach a community education class about how to save on groceries and eat more healthfully at the same time. Our family of 5 lives on $2 per person per day (including treats), which is up over the past year due to the reverberating effect of increased gas prices. We are very healthy (rarely ill) and eat a varied diet. Consumer Reports and Prevention magazines have posted articles on which foods should be eaten organic (or at least washed very well), and which can be eaten conventionally grown without fear of pesticide contamination.

    Although I do not benefit from it, I go to a food bank every other week to gather food for several needy families in our community, which is delivered through our church’s food pantry. It’s catch as catch can, but we usually can provide healthy foods. Produce and bread is free, and refrigerated salvaged foods are .16/lb. We assist 12 low-income families this way. It is a supplement to their diet, and helps to reduce their grocery bills. Some of the families qualify for WIC as well. We also have Sunday church dinners, so everyone gets a hot meal that day. The ladies take turns cooking, and split the bill.

    For one of my daughters’ Girl Scout Silver Award project, her troop is teaching 7-9 year old girls about cooking techniques (including foil ovens, and other camping methods) as well as the food pyramid and how to have a balanced diet. They will then be able to produce and provide camping cookbooks (which they are writing) including instructions on the cooking techniques, sanitation guide, how to prevent waste and reuse materials, etc. They will also purchase propane camp stoves that our Girl Scout service unit can check out for a nominal fee (to maintain and replace stoves as needed) along with a copy of the cookbook. We test recipes at each meeting to determine their simplicity, ability to make them on a camp site, cost of ingredients, palatability to a large audience, whether the ingredients can be easily transported and stored, and are ensuring that the cookbook provides a healthy balance of recipe options. Their project advisor is a Home Economics teacher.

    Everyone can have a part in making sure that people are educated about nutrition and food choices, and that they are eating properly. On one of the posts I noticed that someone paid $5 for toothpaste. I always get it for free by combining sales, coupons, and rebates at pharmacies in my area (CVS and Rite Aid). I send dozens of tubes to soldiers overseas via Operation Adopt-a-Soldier.

    For those who choose to buy a lottery ticket, I say save your $10 and buy a $2 Sunday paper with coupon inserts instead. I “win the lottery” just about every week that way. The enclosed ads are where the real gold is found, so I know where to shop that week and what to plan for meals based on the SALES, not the other way around! Best wishes on your endeavors.

  110. Tianyun

    Hi, good determination! Now that you have find out the pros and cons of living on a $1 food budget, I hope in 2009, you will experiment with a slightly increased budget and a healthier diet that is more workable for Americans. Cheers!

  111. I LOVE this project! Thank you!

    I like Reiko’s point – finding out which stores have to get rid of produce regularly and forming a relationship with them could be very valuable. Being a Freegan has a lot of great perks! Also, I hope you will consider growing your own food as well! Not only is it basically free but it’s fresh and organic too! There is a fun new website for urban gardeners – that offers connections to like minded folks.

    I look forward to reading about your next adventure and all the thought provoking comments they inspire.

  112. Most of US food prices are in the packaging which is why bulk is cheaper. Still, your prices seem very cheap. My 50 pound oatmeal bag recently went up to $45 ($74 if organic). My friend lives in rural Alaska where they have to fly everything in so on top of high Alaskan food prices they have to add the cost of shipping. The village gets together and charters a plane a few times a year or they take a chance that it won’t get ruined by mailing at the post office for smaller orders.

  113. Congrats on The Effort!
    I Live in Winnipeg Manitoba Canada and I Have been able to produce a Meal for $3:00 & Under for over a year & a Half every day.
    Not Easy anymore; The Changing economy & Inflation take a Bite.
    I’m just an ordinary guy that cooks. I Believe that anyone can do this; You have to Want to Try.
    Best of Luck on Your Next Effort.

  114. Ken

    Good study. I saw a local news program with a long line of people waiting for food at a local food bank. I noticed that many of the people who are supposed to be on the poverty level are overweight. Maybe the USA is the only country where those at the poverty level are overweight. Many people say it is because these people eat too much “fast food”. Maybe. But, it is not what you eat it is how many calories you eat that make you fat. You don’t have to wolf down 3 low-priced burritos at Taco Bell. One is enough.

  115. Amanda

    There is something to be said about reducing what you spend but there is also eating sensibly for your health to consider. It sounds liek you are doing ok but….

    Wheat products, Glutens, Processed Sugar (Tang, Ramen), Margarine and Popcorn are all terrible for your digestive system.

    I’d be curious know how you are rotate your foods. Eating the same ingriendient everyday can cause allergies. Allergies that you may not know about b/c they do not have standard symptoms.

    It is aready a challenge to balance the $1 a day and I am impressed.
    I’ll be more impressed to see you apply rotation principles (eat it 1 day and don’t eat it again until day 4) and take on the cons that occured thorugh you experiment.

  116. D'Anna

    Due to hours being cut and not having enough money to buy food, I have not been “grocery shopping” in over 4 months now.

    We used to live week to week, but now it’s day to day. My teenage daughter and I eat one meal per day. I used to be able to atleast afford to eat something twice a day, but now it’s down to once a day.

    Our diet mostly consists of homemade chicken soup or ramen noodles for the times I cannot even afford to make the homemade soup.

    I can make a huge batch of chicken soup with noodles and vegetables to last a whole week for approx. $8.00. And a couple of gallons of homemade unsweet tea. We each can eat and have something to drink for less than 75 cents a day for BOTH of us.

    Is this healthy? No. Is it filling? Somewhat. Are we tired of it? Absolutely.

    All of my life I have heard about “eat three square meals per day”. What a joke. I/We have NEVER been able to eat three meals a day, EVER! It used to be two meals atleast, but it has been down to one meal for quite some time now.

    In order for you both to eat on about a dollar day for 30 days which should equal $60.00 total, you had to buy $156.47 worth of supplies to do so and your costs seemed to be very low. Where can one buy a 10 lb. bag of potatoes for $2.99? Or a 6 pack of romaine for $2.79 or 25 cents an onion? etc. etc.

    Even if people can find those kinds of prices many/MOST people can not come up with that kind of money up front to begin with.

    If it’s $14. a week for two to live on a dollar a day, why not try seeing what one can get for just $14.00 and see how many meals can be prepared then, as many of us just do not have the luxury of being able to shop in bulk once a month.

    And in order to be able to eat on $60.00 that month, it had cost you $96.47 more! At that price you should have enough left for another 45 days worth of dollar a day meals, but produce will not last that long so whatever meals you would have left to make would be very limited.

    It would have been a much more interesting experiment if you would have only started out with just the $14.00 needed for that week or even the $60.00 needed for that one month, which would truly have been just a DOLLAR a DAY! (per person).

  117. I like your approach to this diet.
    I practice it as well.
    I use a lot of sprouted beans, they are really nutritious and super easy to make.
    I follow the principles of raw food mainly.
    and I have recipes also for meat eaters.
    For me the most important thing is to not sacrify the quality and explore new ways of cooking.
    I don’t use flour, sugar, eggs or butter.
    I’m not against that, but I’m a fan of easy digestion 🙂
    I have a history of deaths and cancer in my family caused by excess and quality of food.
    I don’t want that for me and anybody else, so I keep it cheap and safe.
    come visit me
    thanks a lot guys.
    You really rock

  118. connie rios

    what about sprouts — the most nutritious, least expensive food. Period. Even if you BUY the sprouts, & especially when you sprout seeds/beans themselves. Also, beans & grains are WAY more nutritious when sprouted, & take a fraction of the time to cook (more $$ saved on electricity/gas costs spent on cooking). The ‘extra’ time it takes to soak/sprout grains & beans, is really just remembering — to soak ’em at night, rinse ’em in the morning — cuz that only takes a few minutes. BUT it takes off 20 or so minutes of cooking time, lots more if it’s lentils you’re cooking — which even organic, are only about $2 lb (lots less if you buy bulk bags) — & provides a complete meal-full of uber-digestible protein & nutrient.

  119. K

    Ken –

    The obesity of the Americans in line for food is a known problem in the States. Carbohydrates and junk food are incredibly cheap in America, where healthy food isn’t as inexpensive. If you’re poor here, you risk getting fat. For $5 I can get 5 double cheeseburgers, and that’s a whole day’s caloric intake. But $5 at the grocery store doesn’t buy a lot of ingredients for good home cooked meals. Wierd, huh?

  120. good project! I am all for saving money!

  121. Crickett

    For me as a solo person it is hard to live efficiently on the packaged world. Lots of waste since everything is packaged for 4. A simple loaf of bread goes to waste for me. I make my own bread instead. It’s tastier, easier than you think and cheap as all hell.

  122. Kelly

    Where are you shopping that you find a pound of organic pop corn for .95 cents or a gallon of olive oil ( even a blend ) for 9.99? I live in Kentucky which is a poor state with a lower cost of living and I would pay much more.

  123. Smart and Final for the Olive Oil…and we buy the popcorn in bulk from our local natural food store.

  124. kris24morris

    It’s an interesting project, but I’d like to see the cash-flow requirements of it. All of this costs much more than say $1/day to start the diet; albiet $30.

  125. Peanut butter? Cholesterol? Are you commenters kidding? Only animal products have cholesterol, and vegans don’t eat any animal products.

    Their diet was very low in fat – I would have been hungry all the time eating that little fat, but everyone is different.

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  127. Kay

    I love this project you did, for years I have cooked like this as a single and as a mother. I moved from a highly populated area to a small town with not many resources but I use internet bulk stores to keep my food budget low (blue chip group is a good place to start).

  128. Coley77

    My husband and I are eating less than this list right now. I don’t know what to do with a lot of the items on your shopping list. I am sooo sick of Ramen noodles and pb&j. We are tired all the time now.

  129. Brandi

    The true cost of food isn’t really represented in this country because of enormous oil subsidies. Someone, somewhere pays this price, even if it isn’t reflected on the grocery store tags. How is it possible that strawberries grown in California and transported to Virginia are cheaper than those grown in Virginia? Answer: the quality of the produce is awful and the oil is paid for by taxpayers. Eat what you grow; grow what you eat.

  130. Dialectic You

    this project might seem borderline insulting to poor people. So says my brain anyway.

  131. Sheila

    Thanks for the opportunity to read of your experiment. I felt the need to pass along a helpful link to anyone interested, especially as our economy is going down the toilet. It’s called Angel Food Ministries, and is open to anyone willing to use it. They also do not require one to be a member of any religious organization, for those who are not. They do NOT distribute old, stale, outdated or overstocked items…everything they distribute is restaurant quality, fresh/frozen, high quality food items!

  132. JOINSTA

    I really think this is great it is a wonderful idea and should be used by as many people as possible……….Keep up the good work!



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  135. Theresa

    Anyone who have money shortage should go to food programs for free foods.. but be careful.. Most of them are out of date like two years ago. I did but for my kid only..

  136. i like your writing style btw .. 😉

  137. Great Article , I thought it was wonderful

    I look forward to more interesting postings like this one. Does your website have a newsletter I can subscribe to for new posts?

  138. I live in Virginia, USA. This website is a huge help for my family of 5. I lost my job in Feb. 2009 (10months ago) and have yet to find another one. My husband is our sole provider. We have had to ask for free lunches at school because of my income loss. Thank goodness my kids have lunch at school since there are times we have nothing for breakfast or lunch at home. I am praying that with the help of this website we will have extra money to buy Christmas presents and birthday presents this month. Thank you!

  139. Norman

    This is a great project but!!!! I think is time to update your price list.
    I’m up the coast from you in
    Oceanside and I don’t think your pricing is right on your products.

  140. I hope you would not mind if I placed a part of this on my univeristy blog?

  141. Hey I discovered your page by fluke on ask while looking for something completely irrelevant but I am really happy that I did, You have just captured yourself another subscriber. 🙂

  142. I am saddened by so very much of what I see about how animals are being treated. We have to take care of them. Somebody I know produced a site to seek to inform about puppy mills in his area. Each little bit helps.

  143. Hey, i’ve been reading this blog for a while and have a question, maybe you can help… it’s how do i add your feed to my rss reader as i want to follow you. Thanks.

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