The Eat on $30 Project – Take Two October 9, 2009

30-drawing Last February, I took on the challenge of eating on a budget. A very tight budget – $30 per week. I did it for a variety of reasons. The first being…times are tough for a lot of folks these days. Living on a budget is a way of life for many, many folks. Secondly, hunger issues are the cause I most believe in. As a person who knows the joy of food and the memories that amazing meals can create, the notion that people go hungry in this country (and across the globe) is insane to me.  The national average for those receiving food assistance is between $21 and $24 a week. Even the simplest food for us "food people" is luxurious for most.We lose sight of that.

So I lived on $30 for a week…and I didn't even spend it all. I came up with inventive ways to cook simple ingredients. I used every bit of what I bought. No fancy coffees. You know what? Those are things that I have carried with me to this day – I can count the number of times I've gotten a designer coffee since then on one hand. Those are small changes but it's hard to look at a latte when you think…"That's someone's food budget for a day!"

It's seven months later and the economic outlook for many isn't any better than it was – for some, it's far worse. I've chosen to do the $30 challenge again to draw attention to the food and hunger issues that many struggle with, particularly in our current times of layoffs and foreclosures. The facts speak for themselves:

As someone whose blog gets a good bit of traffic, I got great response from people during the last challenge. It wasn't enough. My voice isn't loud enough. So I put the call out to folks in the blogsphere to join me in the Eat on $30 challenge. The premise is simple – eat and drink for $30 a week. Salt, pepper, butter and oil are freebies – everything else you have to budget for. Talk about your week, the food you cook, your feelings about the challenge. Blog. Tweet. Post your status on your Facebook.

The response was great…and we're starting the Eat on $30 Challenge on Sunday, October 11th through October 17th. You can follow me here on the blog or on Twitter – the hashtag for the event is #Eaton30. These other 10 folks have joined their time and their voices to the challenge too. Follow along with them as they take this challenge:

If you would like to join in the Eat on $30 challenge, feel free to email me your info and I'll include you in the list of participants! Thanks to everyone reading along and taking part – I look forward to the coming week and being a part of this together :)

(the image used in this post was originally found here. i'm using it again because, well, i just love it)


Patti Hauffe Oct 9, 2009 07:10 am

Could you please post your grocery list for the week for $30.00?

Paulie [eatl/ga] Oct 9, 2009 07:10 am

Good luck. I remember how difficult it was for us back then. I’d give it another go this time but my schedule is a bit out of my control at the moment.

Paula - bell'alimento Oct 9, 2009 07:10 am

I’m so excited to be taking part in this! Can’t wait to share the ride & read about everyone else’s :)

The Broke Socialite Oct 9, 2009 08:10 am

I am sooooo excited! I’m meal planning this afternoon and shopping tonight. Since there are three of us in my home, I’ll be working with $90. Surely we can do it…I think.

Susan Oct 9, 2009 10:10 am

What day are you starting? I can start Sunday or Monday for one week. This is similar to the $100 Month I did in July…a week? Well, I ‘ve been wanting to have an excuse to cut back anyway. Count me in. Susan of

Carrie Neal Walden Oct 10, 2009 04:10 am

Excited (and a little scared!)….let’s roll!

Hélène Oct 10, 2009 07:10 pm

I have to say that it can be done. My daughter and her 3 roomates have been eating on a budget of $25 a week for the past two years. They shop and cook together. She said that by doing this she has saves a lot of money and she says that they eat well.

Laura Scholz Oct 10, 2009 09:10 pm

What a great idea. Wish I could participate, but I’ll be traveling this week. What a great way to raise awareness about hunger issues.

Georgia Oct 11, 2009 07:10 am

I too love this idea. Good luck and I’ll be watching and reading.

tami Oct 11, 2009 07:10 pm

Laura, Georgia – Thanks for stopping by the blog and for your support :)

David Shirey Oct 12, 2009 06:10 am

I am very impressed with what you are doing here.
I am wondering if you will be putting together a list of the recipes you use or at least a list of the food you will eat during this challenge. I work with inner city teens and their eating habits are terrible. If there was a reference you could go to (and not have to be as food knowledgeable as the food bloggers are) that would help teach young people how to eat cheaply and healthy that would be a great benefit to many of us running programs of this type. Thanks!

Unplanned Cooking Oct 12, 2009 07:10 am

Hi! I love this idea but unfortunately I just saw your post. I’ve tried to cut back my budget as well, and we’re wasting less food as a result. We’ve also tried using less meat and upping the veggies, especially those that are in season as they are less expensive. Good luck, and I’ll be reading along with you!

tami Oct 12, 2009 07:10 am

That’s the hope is that we can help show people that it IS possible to eat well (as in not as many processed food/foods with real nutritional value). I will be cooking today and the rest of the week and am going to do my best to include a recipe in every post. Please see all the other people that are taking part – many are also cooking and posting about it!
– tami

tami Oct 12, 2009 07:10 am

“Unplanned Cooking” –
This is an exercise not only to get the word out about how much food we waste and how we take so many of our shopping habits for granted…it’s also a reminder to myself that I need to eat everything I buy and be more conscious of spending and consumption.
Thanks for stopping by :)
– tami

Anonymous Oct 12, 2009 07:10 am

Here’s a good tip–befriend the marketing director at Fifth Group Restaurants. He can always get you a great dinner at a discount! ;-) Seriously, tho–good luck!

kate Oct 13, 2009 06:10 am

I had already done my shopping & meal planning for the week when I heard about this – but I am going to give it a go for next week (Fri 10/16 – Th 10/22).

Ryan Reichert Oct 16, 2009 08:10 am

Great concept – linked here from Jimmy’s Eat It, Atlanta. Will definitely be thinking of applying this to my everyday! Thx

Amanda Mar 12, 2010 10:03 am

Is this $30 a week per person? My husband and I are foodies and we eat like kings on $60 a week for the two of us. Our staples are probably the same as yours, rice, milk, beans, baking goods, ground beef, etc. and we still take advantage of wonderful in season produce. Eating on a $30/week budget is plenty easy if you shop thoughtfully and are willing to buy big (whole pork tenderloin) and pack it away in portions for the freezer.

Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day Jan 17, 2011 06:01 pm

I don’t know if you see old comments, but I loved reading your take on your 30 dollar project.
I spend $3.33 a day on food ( or 100/month ).. It started when I was laid off from my job.
Fast forward several years. I have started my own business and am keeping things as frugal as possible.
When you said that it was hard to justify buying coffee out because that was someones daily food budget.. I know what you mean! I do drink coffee though and do not include it in my budget. I am down to one cup a day from drinking around 3.

Kelly Apr 13, 2015 12:04 pm

I try not to spend much more than $30 a week for each person in my household for all meals, but would love some new ideas and recipes!!