Ground Rules

It’s the end of day 4 of this personal dare, and so far I’ve managed to stick within the $1.25/day limit. I decided to set a few parameters up front to be consistent throughout the month…

  • Water is a freebie, but the cost of all other beverages must be factored into the $1.25 (including coffee and tea).
    • Note: I am hesitant to restrict my water intake given that it’s summer and {having grown up in the desert} I am accustomed to drinking quite a bit. While I have the luxury of choosing how much water I want to consume, water scarcity and inadequate access to appropriate sanitation is unfortunately an issue for over a third of people on this planet. See for more information.
  • Gum, candy, mints, cough drops, and vitamins all count toward the $1.25/day.
    • Millions of people are chronically malnourished from their diet and don’t have a multivitamin to make up for their nutrient deficit – I think I’ll survive a month without one.
  • Money does not roll over from one day to another.
  • Spices, sauces, and all other seasonings count toward the $1.25/day.
    • I didn’t really see a point in making certain food items an exception.
  • No food donations or foraging for food.
    • Assuming that in impoverished communities neighbors wouldn’t have an excess of food to offer each other and in drought- or famine-stricken areas there wouldn’t be much to forage, I’m going to stick to whatever I can purchase with $1.25.

So what can I get for $1.25 per day? Well, animal products and most produce are pretty much out of the question. To get the most caloric bang for my buck twenty-five, I figured that I need to get at least 100-200 calories per 10 cents spent. Helloooo potatoes, pasta, rice, legumes, and oatmeal. These put my daily intake in the 1,250-2,500 calorie range, with around 30-40 cents per meal. However, the only way I’d even come near to eating 2,000+ calories is if I ate pasta all day, which is highly unlikely. So far, my daily caloric intake has averaged out between 1400-1500 calories, and I haven’t gone hungry, although my energy level has dropped a bit. My total grocery bill for the items pictured above plus some mini avocados and canola oil (not pictured) came to $27.44. I might not eat all of this in a month (certainly not all of the canola oil), so that leaves at least $10.06 for when the bananas and onions run out. 🙂

Because I am barely able to reach at least 2,100 calories per day and have an inadequate diet (given the lack of fruits, vegetables, and variety), I would currently be classified somewhere between “food insecure” and in an “acute food and livelihood crisis”. Check out for a really awesome infographic with a straightforward and streamlined definition of what constitutes “food insecurity”.

For me, trying to plan all of this out was an interesting challenge, but trying to stretch a severely restricted budget on a daily basis requires effort, and over a prolonged period of time (i.e., if I didn’t have an end in sight), this would be really stressful. More on that later, though.

For now, I’ll leave you with a couple of articles I came across on poverty in the United States. 

This one’s a great piece on rural economies and generational poverty:

And this one is a really eye-opening post on minimum wage and people who would be considered “working class”:

Much love ❤


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