Four days, four dollars.

I had a friend who ranted on Facebook about the proposed cuts to the food stamp program asking how anybody could possibly eat on $4 a day. My husband is out of town this week, so I am feeding just myself so I decided to just see if I could eat for $4 a day. It ended up being just four days for the experiment due to extenuating circumstances.
It was a mixed bag. So to speak. What I found is, it’s possible, but not easy.
Breakfast– Cereal—-.64
Lunch– Frozen dinner–$1 .98
Dinner– 1/3 package of salad mix
1 flavored tuna pouch–$1.32
Snack– String cheese–33 cents
Total=. $5.38

Ok, this is going to be complicated. And I can now see I should have gotten a cheaper can of tuna and saved the other half for another day.

Breakfast- Cereal–.64
Lunch– Ramen noodle cup–$.36
Dinner– 2 egg rolls out of a package of 4- $1.46
Broccoli, price matched to .99/lb–$.63
Total=. $3.09
Snack– Someone brought a cake to work so I ate some of that.
Much better this day.

Breakfast- Cereal–.$64
Lunch– Ramen noodle cup–$.36
Dinner– Frozen pizza–$1.36
Snack– Frozen fruit bar– $.66
Total=. $3.02

Breakfast- Protein bar– $.65
Lunch– 2/3 bag of salad mix– $1.60
1 yellow squash, price matched to .99/lb.– $.39
Snack– Great value yogurt, one from a 4/pack– .$87
Dinner– Progresso soup–$1.25 can.
Total=. $4.76

I used a few pantry staples, salad dressing, a sprinkle of cheese here and there, sun dried tomatoes. Walmart also does ad matching, matches the advertised price on anything. I started out with about a half gallon of milk and have at least a fourth of it left, so I’m not sure how much of that I used on cereal. The cereal is Great Grains, more calorie dense and nutritious than most sugary, well advertised cereals. My beverage of choice: water. That is normal for me, I don’t usually drink sodas.

If I was doing this long term, there are a few things I would do–back when I was single, I would buy a pound of ground beef and cut it into thirds and freeze 2/3 of it. Buy in bulk and freeze a lot. Canned beans are a source of protein and I would eat more of them. What I ate was high in sodium and some was high in carbs, not really a healthy diet. I also admit to feeling hungry sometimes. I would lose weight eating this way which is not a bad thing. But I can see how a carb heavy diet would make you gain weight. In cooler weather, I would eat more soups.

Conclusion: it can be done, you just have to be careful and be willing to eat things that aren’t necessarily healthy. Ramen noodles will keep you alive, just maybe not healthy. And tuna too often will leave you with an overload of mercury.