Eating Well On $1 A Day

Jeffery, the owner of the blog Grocery Coupon Guide made a bet with his sister that he could, through judicious use of sales and coupons, eat healthily on $1 a day for a month.

And he did. With $2.92 to spare. The retail value of his purchases? $597.96.

Here’s his grocery list for the month:

1 package of raisins
3 Power Bars
10 Deli Selections lunch packages
3 ears of corn
1 package of chicken breast deli style (1 lb)
5 packages hardwood smoked turkey franks
1 package of veggie spiral pasta
1 salt and pepper shaker combo
1 bag of salad
1 package of macaroni and cheese
3 sample packs of Maxwell House Vanilla Carmel Latte
4 sample packages of Wheat Thins Sundried Tomato & Basil
3 packages (small) Fig Newtons
1 jar Miracle Whip
1 potato
1 mystery purchase
1 lb ground beef
6 tomatoes
3 broccoli crowns
2 loaves of bread
2 jars of Classico pasta sauce
2 Safeway brand pasta (spaghetti and rotini)
1 celery stalk
2 bags tortilla chips
5 cans tuna
1 bottle Welch’s grape & peach 100% juice
1 bottle V8 Fusion fruit / vegetable drink
1 bottle V8 spicy vegetable drink
2 boxes of Caprisun fruit drinks (10 packs)
1 jar of salsa
1 bag of black beans
3 half gallons of milk
36 boxes of cereal
3 dozen eggs
2 avocados
20 bananas
2 boxes of Quaker Instant oatmeal
55 packs of Philadelphia Cream Cheese Minis
1 package of Knudsen Light sour cream
20 apples
2 lbs of carrots
8 boxes (small) of Wheat Thins
2 jars of Skippy All Natural peanut butter
2 cans of pork and beans
1 bag of long grain brown rice
2 packages of Mission 100% whole wheat tortillas (10 count each)

Color me very, very impressed. His list of the 10 things he learned from the challenge is useful for anyone trying to trim their grocery budget.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, ,
Alex Knapp
About Alex Knapp
Alex Knapp is Associate Editor at Forbes for science and games. He was a longtime blogger elsewhere before joining the OTB team in June 2005 and contributed some 700 posts through January 2013. Follow him on Twitter @TheAlexKnapp.

Comments

  1. James Joyner says:

    Impressive, indeed. Although I’m not sure that a steady diet of processed luncheon meats, breakfast cereals, and wieners counts as “healthy.”

  2. John S. says:

    I don’t think $300 a month for 1 person is cheap…take out the crackers, sugary drinks, processed meats, canned food, and replace them with fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, and you can get by on $200 a month for 1 person…without coupons. This guy did mention though that he hated cooking.

  3. john personna says:

    Well, his strategy is to highlight the coupon opportunities, and it does that. Now someone show me how to get my phone bill back below $1/day 😉

    Being frugal with food is so 19th century.

  4. john personna says:

    I just found an interesting site. It seems to average consumer spending patterns for a place and demographic:

    http://www.bundle.com/everybodysmoney#/agdata_bbViz_getCatSpendData/LOSANGELES,%20CA/0/0/0/0/201003/100_101_102_103_104_105

    If I add up the bubbles for LA, it seems the average household is spending $35K per year. According to this tool the typical “coastal city” dweller spends $79K, the typical “central oregon” family $33K

  5. John S. says:

    Wait…so apparently according to me there’s 300 days in a month…

  6. J.W. Hamner says:

    It’s pretty impressive, but yes I think calling it “eating well” would be a stretch for some. He admits that he’s a poor cook and doesn’t even like cooking, so it would be cool if a good cook repeated it trying to totally skip processed foods and work mainly with fresh ingredients.

    The key bit of knowledge is that to save any real money on groceries you have to learn to cook things from what’s in your pantry/fridge and only buy things that are on sale or you have coupons for. While he says that it doesn’t take very much time once you get used to it, it seems to me that it would be quite a task.

  7. tlaloc says:

    “Well, his strategy is to highlight the coupon opportunities, and it does that. Now someone show me how to get my phone bill back below $1/day ;-)”

    That’s trivial. Give up cell phones and get a cheap landline. Mine comes free with my cable internet service. Long distance costs nothing either since they use essentially a VOIP system.

  8. drew says:

    Heh. So tell me again about that reliably recycled liberal claptrap about the poor, or elderly, having to eat dog food……….?

  9. john personna says:

    “That’s trivial. Give up cell phones and get a cheap landline. Mine comes free with my cable internet service. Long distance costs nothing either since they use essentially a VOIP system.”

    Out of curiosity, what is the monthly damage for that “free” phone?

    (I do get that if I wanted to be really frugal I could drop my new “needs,” like my iPhone, and internet, and go back to an analog land line. Really though the reason $1 a day for food matters so little in this day is that people are spending so much elsewhere. Or, put another way, people aren’t “homeless” because they can’t buy food at $1 a day.)

    BTW Drew, this guy’s method requires mobility, good health, and mental acumen.