Friday, December 24, 2010


When Ashley first mentioned her challenge to herself I never dreamed how it would snowball. Why I don’t know, I mean everyone is wanting and needing to save money these days so I shouldn’t have been surprised. But I was.

Of course a lot of people had a lot of questions, which is a good thing. It helps us sort through our planning process as well. So in this addition to my ongoing blogging I’ll try to answer a few of those questions.

The number one question asked was

Q: Is that $1 per day period, $1 per meal or $1 per person.

A: Ideally it would be $1 per day per person in your family. I say ideally because costs on various items differ in different parts of the country. Plus each of us has different likes and dislikes, AND allergies or sensitivities so you may have to go slightly higher.

Q: What is a “loss leader?”

A: A loss leader is a sales ad item the grocery store will run to entice you into their store in hopes that while you will pick up that on sale item you will also pick up several more things that are more expensive. It is ran at below their actual cost for a limited time only. Often there will be limitations on how many you can purchase as a result. It’s a sales gimmick, but you can make it work to your advantage if you resist that urge.

Q: Besides loss leaders how can you get food items down to a more manageable cost?

A. There are numerous ways, including coupons, price matching, rebates, gardening, raising your own animals and bartering. I’ll expound on this more on another post.

Q: If you raise animals either for their meat or their eggs, or you garden are you going to include those expenses in your $1 per day?

A. There are currently four of us doing the blogs and many more who have accepted the challenge and we are each answering this one in our own way. I myself am not including those, nor am I including the cost of food storage or cooking because I’d be doing those things anyway. I have a budget for animal feed for my birds, they are our pets plus they are great organic pest control and supply fertilizer for the garden. I also have a gardening budget because we garden normally as well. Others consider the animals are being raised for food and therefore must be included in the overall cost. So you will have to make that decision for yourself. I personally would never eat Magellan and the gang, but I will eat Mama Sarah’s eggs, they are a bonus of having some great characters to write about.  The cost of those eggs will be listed as $0 in my cost portion of menus as a result.

Q: How do you calculate the cost of per serving/meal?

A. That is going to be a blog all unto itself, because it will require a long explanation. I will post it soon I promise.

Q: How about nutrition and eating healthy?

A. Some people think you cannot eat healthily while eating cheaply, but actually you can. It has to do with proper portioning and good choices. I’ll go into more detail on that now.

Eating healthy while eating cheaply can be a challenge, but it can be done. The first step is to realize what eating healthy truly means. Let’s start with the Food Pyramid.

When you really look at this it seems surprising that it actually suggests you eat more breads and grains daily than other things. Breads and grains are generally some of your cheapest groceries. Ideally you would want those to be whole grain items.

Moving on up the pyramid you have fruits and vegetables, followed by proteins, dairy and lastly fats and sweets. Unfortunately we as a nation tend to have those fats and sweets down with the breads and grains proportionally.

But say you do follow the pyramid to some extent and do eat the foods in that order, what size are your portions? Ahh therein lies the rub. When you go out to eat if your plate at the restaurant is not full you feel cheated. After all you are paying for a full meal right? Who doesn’t love an all you can eat buffet?

I know when we visit Walt Disney World on vacation Gary and I usually will split the meals and still have excess on our plates.

At home you are told to “fill your plate”. Plus we tend to comfort food eat.

However, if you look at the food pyramid you will see the portions are far smaller than you think. Heavens there are even commercials that tell you that you can’t eat as many fruits and vegetables in a day as needed so it’s better to “take a pill”, but they are wrong.

For a vegetable it is suggested you eat 3-5 servings per day. Wow! That sounds like a lot doesn’t it. Until you realize that a serving is:

1 cup of raw LEAFY vegetables (seriously who eats just a cup of salad?)

½ cup of all other raw vegetables. Which all cooks will tell you will cook down to about ¼ cup in size

Or ¾ c vegetable juice.

Spread that over 3 meals and 2 snacks (as recommended for your daily food consumption) and it’s not a lot. That’s ¼ of hash browns for breakfast, a SMALL salad for lunch and a small V-8 to drink during the day.

On to fruits now.

1 medium apple, banana or orange

½ cup of chopped, canned or cooked fruit

¾ fruit juice.

Again over the day that’s a fruit juice for breakfast, an banana with our lunch or for a snack and ½ cup of applesauce with dinner.

If you study the pyramid you will see that the portions in each section are actually pretty small. You spread those portions out over your day and you can eat healthily at a reasonable price. Again it’s all in the way you go about it.

If you don’t hit the food pyramid perfectly each and every day you will not die. We are all living proof of that already, but if you do try and get reasonably close you will be better off for it.

I know my family for one would lose weight (remember we like our sweets and fat). So in my section of the challenge I am going to try to find a balance between following the food pyramid faithfully and keeping my family happy with the down home cooking they so dearly love.

BTW, as of this morning there are now four of us blogging on this challenge. Angela has joined, Ashley, Alyeen and me in the challenge and will be blogging from another part of the country.

Here’s the location of the other three blogs:




Please join us as we work on this challenge during the next year.

Jan who is off to make Pecan Pie Bars (w protein servings—nuts and egg, too much sweets and fats, one grain--or more) for tonight’s dessert in OK


  1. I can't believe how much it has snowballed either!

    Great job, Jan!


  2. My own opinion about the food pyramid is that it's a mess. Grains and other starchy foods, whole or not, should be eaten in small quantities, especially by those who are predisposed to diabetes, high blood pressure and high lipids. At any rate, you're right that most of us don't eat just a portion of something. Once I started paying real attention to portion sizes I was amazed at how much I was overeating.