Frugal Living 

One Dollar A Day Meals

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Would you believe it’s possible to live on only a dollar a day in food? I didn’t. I still wouldn’t, except I saw this “little” project by Christopher Greenslate and Kerri Leonard called the One Dollar Diet Project. As if in a reverse Morgan Spurlock Super-size Me, they were going to live for thirty days on only a dollar a day in food. In true blogger fashion, the two Social Justice teachers blogged about what they did each day in September (Day 1Day 30) and it’s gained them quite some notoriety and quite a bit of knowledge. The best part is that they’ve kept on writing about it.

One dollar a day meals seems almost impossible but sometimes just setting the bar that high is enough motivation to make significant changes in your life. An example of this is when I was budgeting diligently right after graduation. I would try to maximize the number of no spend days each month. A no spend day was a day in which I didn’t spend any cash or charge anything to my credit cards. I still “spent” money because I still drove to work and I still ate, but the idea was to create a metric I could use to motivate me to not spend money. My all-time record was eleven days (in a 31 day month) and the longest streak was three days. I believe both metrics were made higher because I was tracking them and competing against myself. It probably saved me a little bit of money too, which was helpful when it came time to make a down payment on a house.

Try setting your own “one dollar a day” goal or a no spend day goal and you’ll certainly benefit from it somehow, someway.

{ 10 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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10 Responses to “One Dollar A Day Meals”

  1. studenomics says:

    This sounds almost impossible, I would love to try it but the least amount I could get away with spending in a day is $10. Simple because it costs $5.50 in public transportation just to get to school and back. I always buy my own groceries and I still find it difficult to save. The main issue would be the fact that I train at least 3 times a week, therefore I need some solid protein in my system.

    • jim says:

      It does sound impossible and that’s why they gained such notoriety for doing it, I think just an attempt would do anyone some good. You might not want to risk your health and cutting out proteins, which are the most expensive things anyway, but maybe cut out other things outside of food?

  2. tom says:

    I am glad you brought this article to our attention.

    I went out yesterday and almost ended up blowing a few hundred dollars, which I could use for another purpose.

    I thought about it for a moment and said that I should go slow, and make the money first and then buy it.

    Your article is great because it talks about how we can train ourselves to be frugal and committed.

    • jim says:

      I think the 5 day or the 30 day rule for purchases really does help. For some, a “moment” is all it takes for you to contemplate whether a purchase is good or not. For many, you need a longer “cooling off” period before realizing whether or not it’s a smart move. Either way, a minute or a week, taking that time to think about it can save people lots of money.

  3. Matt says:

    Thanks for the article, Jim.

    I hadn’t heard of these two. That’s a little surprising, since I do some work on the poverty line that their experiment is based on.

    For what it’s worth, the World Bank’s main International Poverty Line is actually $1.25 (in 2005 dollars). But of course, that $1.25 goes toward not merely food but ALL necessities–housing, health care, clothing, etc. And, according to the Bank, about 1.8 billion people live under that line–many substantially under it.

    The IPL has been pretty sharply criticized. For more, see some excellent work by a Columbia economist and a Yale philosopher: The bloggers do a pretty good job of showing how absurd that level of income is. Kudos to them.

  4. carla says:

    This is really interesting, but I don’t think its really possible for me. Food intolerances doesn’t allow for cheaper foods such as grains(!), beans, soy, sugar and a few other inexpensive food. If you can fill up on beans, tofu, very little fresh fruit and veggies, that may be possible. I’d rather grow all my own food, raise chickens, etc than eat an unhealthy (for me) diet.

  5. Karla says:

    It certainly can be done!

    We’re proof, as well…although a bit challenging!

    I invite each of you to come check out our progress – doing what billions of people do each day….survive on a buck!

    Our “Dollar-A-Day” Challenge brings patience, understanding, education, awareness, and humility.

    We are using this social experiment as an educational tool as well as a fundraising effort to support my upcoming missions trip to Zambia; a country where living on a dollar a day is the norm.

    Additionally, we have other challenges coming up – February’s project is revealed in our blog tomorrow morning!

    I thank you…


  6. aua868s says:

    1 dollar a day for food? seems impossble but interesting

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