When I first heard about the Food Desert Challenge and how to eat for $5 a day, I was excited to try it. Although it did seem quite daunting, even for someone like me who is a food planning – food prepping – coupon clipping diva! I’ll run through the plan, the menu (including organic!), the cost, the lessons learned, and the results. Oh and PS – if you are here thinking it’s a food dessert challenge, please don’t be disappointed – it’s still good information!
The challenge has been done several ways – one with $5 TOTAL spent on food per day, and one with $5 per person per day. I added my own spin on this, as I also wanted to show how to eat HEALTHY on $5 a day.
Assumptions and Constraints
I bought main food only. Things like oil, spices, etc were not included, as the assumption they would already be a pantry staple. I also assumed that someone would have at least one basic blender or food processor available. You will see on the receipt that I added in the oats. We had so many at home, it would have been wasteful to purchase another container of them. Additionally, we had fresh kale growing in the garden, so I used that. Don’t have an outside space for a garden? Grow food in a container on your porch or even inside your home!
Purchase one large meat. Meat is generally cheaper in a bulk size such as a whole chicken or beef roast. Dried beans, rice, and oats. Three of the most economical, versatile, and filling foods on the planet! Fruits and vegetables. Mix organic with frozen and fresh. Purchase produce in season as it’s less expensive. Each food needs to supply two or three meals.
Almond milk – $1.99
White rice – $1.00
Black beans – $1.09
Cage free eggs – $2.79
USDA Certified and Non-GMO Project Certified Frozen Green Beans – $1.69
Whole chicken – $4.53
7 Peaches – .89/lb – $1.86
1 lb Carrots – $0.69
2 Avocados – .89/lb – $1.78
5 Tomatoes – .89/lb – $0.63
Celery – $0.99
2 Sweet Potatoes – .59/lb – $0.79
Oats – $0.89
Kale – free from the garden
TOTAL = $21.71
Pre-Night Prep – Soak beans over night in water. Drain and rinse in the morning.
Breakfast – Peaches and cream oatmeal. Soak oats and almond milk overnight. In the morning, add peaches and cinnamon, and heat up to eat. Scrambled eggs on the side.
Lunch – Black bean, rice, tomato, avocado salad
Dinner – Roast chicken. Green beans. Rice. Kale salad.
Day 1 night prep – cut off all of the chicken from the bones and store. Place the carcass in a crock pot, cover with water, and heat on low overnight.
Day 2 morning prep – drain the crock pot, keeping the broth and discarding the carcass, fat, and bones. Clean the crock pot, and then add back in the broth, half of the leftover chicken, celery, carrots, and rice and cook on low until lunch.
Breakfast – Oatmeal with tomatoes and green beans, with a dippy egg.
Lunch – Chicken soup made with carrots, celery, kale, and rice.
Dinner – Chicken meatloaf. Add chicken, beans, and oatmeal to the food processor, along with some salt and pepper and cilantro or parsley. Sweet potato mash. Kale salad.
Breakfast – Veggie fritatta. Eggs with green beans, tomatoes, kale.
Lunch – Sweet potato salad with black beans and avocado.
Dinner – Fridge blast! Plan for leftovers and even if it’s only a few bites, keep everything and bring it all out on the third day for everyone to pick and chose and enjoy.
Blend black beans, olive oil, garlic, and cilantro in a food processor until smooth to make a black bean hummus. Eat with celery sticks and carrots.
Peaches are in season, so each person also gets one peach a day.
Plan your menu! It is difficult to put together together a plan for the first time. But once you get the basic gist, it’s super easy to recreate with different foods.
Stretch each food as far as you can.
Meal prep like it’s your job. You will have to soak the beans overnight, cook the meat, and actually prepare your food. If you want food that is convenient, you will have to pay for it.
Buy produce in season.
Look for coupons and sales. One of my first drafts included purchasing some kind of peanut butter or sun butter. Although it was scrapped for the final version, I did stop to check out the prices. Simply Jif was on sale for $1.00. So even if it was on the list, it would have been a low cost addition. Add a coupon and it’s even cheaper.
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