Eat on $30 Project


I am really excited to be participating in this challenge. Tami from Running with Tweezers is our ring leader & organizer of this fabulous challenge (if you’re not reading her blog you should be, she’s fab!). She launched the first challenge earlier this year in February & is doing it again this week. The goal is to live on $30.00 for an ENTIRE WEEK. Yes you read that correctly. ONLY $30!

There are a number of reasons we are doing this. Times are tough, lets face it. Budget has become a word that even I myself have had to yes, sulkingly, thrust into my vocabulary. Most importantly this challenge will bring awareness to the food & hunger issues that many people in this tough economic period are faced with. Tami gave me some wonderful links to pass along. I was truly horrified when I read them. The national average is between $21.00-$24.00 for those receiving food assistance. That’s for A WEEK. A entire week people. That’s breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks & beverages. WOW! That’s hard to swallow.

For anyone this is not going to be easy. For ME it’s not going to be easy. I have a hungry bunch of FIVE people to feed and they like to SNACK! I love to use ingredients that for some might be considered shi-shi-poo-poo so I think it going to be especially hard. My goal is to be as creative as possible with the best ingredients that I can find.

I am going to try and steer clear of the pre-packaged products (if at all possible but let’s face it, I might have to). I want to show that budget doesn’t have to be boring or bland. We will use EVERY bit of the food and I will try to stretch it as far as it will go. I will shop at discount markets and look for items on sales. I will plan my menus around what I find & will document my journey all week. Bringing you the good, the bad & hopefully not the ugly.

I have a total of 5 people in my family so that is a budget of $150.00. We must account for everything that we use. Because for those living on such a tight budget they probably are not going to have a well stocked pantry or refrigerator. SO to keep this as real as possible, we are to account for EVERY item that we use. So, if I have a box of Pasta in my pantry & I use, I have to deduct the $1 whatnot that it cost me from the budget. A spice, YEP deduction! Get the picture? The only items that we are given gratis are: butter, oil, s/p…That’s it.

So you see, this isn’t going to be as easy as you might think. If I could use the items in my pantry/fridge without deductions the only items I think I would honestly have to buy would be milk, eggs & perhaps some bread & it would be easy peasy But we’re going to keep it real.   I might be able to clear the budget, I might not. But you of course will see & hear about all of it. So wish me luck!

Here is the list of fabulous foodies that are participating along with the challenge! Share some loving and visit them & see how they’re making out on the challenge & cheer them on! I’ve included their twitter address as well. If you follow on Twitter the hashtag is #Eaton30

Check back each day this week to see & read about what happened….Tomorrow’s post will be what we ate & spent today, Sunday, the first day of the challenge!


Okay this week I’d REALLY appreciate your STUMBLE & every other type of share lovin out there that you can muster up. We’re trying to get the word out about FOOD & HUNGER ISSUES & could use everyone’s help. It will only take a second & if we all do it, it could make a huge difference! Mwah!


  1. 1

    What a wonderful intro post! So looking forward to seeing how you navigate this week with a family of 5! 🙂


    • 1.1

      Ah, thanks so much Tami! It’s going to def be a challenge! Hopefully I’m up for it, either way you’ll hear all about it! Thanks so much for putting this together. Hopefully we’ll all be able to help bring a little more attention to it!

  2. 2

    Wow, this is so sad. It’s hard to believe that in one of the wealthiest nations we have people going hungry. My heart, my thoughts, my prayers go out to them. I will be following to see how you do.

  3. 3

    Paula – your blog makes my heart happy whenever I look at it. It’s such a thing of beauty! So glad you’re doing this challenge with me!

    • 3.1

      Okay you are too cute! Mwah. *blushing* I really appreciate that. I’m SO happy to be doing this challenge with you too! It’s going to be eye opening and a challenge but that’s the point : ) & with the help of everyone else we can get the word out a little farther!

  4. 4
    misseesippee /

    I started the challenge today, but I must confess, I thought it was $30 a DAY, not $30/per person a week… the title of the challenge threw me off. I feel guilty for using TWO whole chicken breasts! I’ll have to make Pasta Primavera tomorrow. 🙂 Good luck! This is going to be tough!

    • 4.1

      Ciao Missee! No worries, As you’ll read later today, I had a challenging first day with additional expenses that I don’t have on a normal basis so today I’ve got to go a little lighter myself to make up for it ; )

  5. 5
    Debbie /

    Paula, this is such a great idea! Bloggers like you know food preparation and are creative, thats a great start to saving. Its shocking how much food is wasted daily while some go hungry. My Mother- in= law is Italian and she uses EVERYTHING. I am proud to say that I have learned so much from her thru the years (ie using small amounts of meat with pasta veggies etc to round out a meal) I would like to see something done in schools to teach all our kids how to prepare/cook the basics, maybe we would see a reduction in childhood obesity and a rise in their pride when they realize they can do it! (I know I am dating myself but we used to have Home Economics, maybe bring that back with emphasis on healthy, economic food preparation) I saw a class offered here by a chef to teach young kids basic food preparation, but the fee was way too pricey for most young families Still, makes you think what a good idea if they could bring it into schools somehow! Guess I got off the topic a bit, but thanks for listening!!!

    • 5.1

      Ciao Debbie! I can’t take credit, the fab Tami of organized it, but I do AGREE it’s a great idea! There is so much waste out there. I myself cringe if something in my fridge has gone bad and I have to throw it out. I come up with a lot of clean out the fridge recipes LOL (which are to this day some of my favorite) so as not to let them go to waste & we do have a leftovers lunch during the week as well to try and help. So much can be done & I think Home Ec would be beneficial as well!

  6. 6

    Great post Paula! With a family of 5 that has got to be tough. Looking forward to hearing about your week ;D

  7. 7

    $30 a week will depend a lot on where you live. Some items are just much more expensive in some parts of the country. Here in upstate New York a conventional avocado costs $2. $1.50 used to get me an organic avocado at Whole Foods in the midwest.

    To be perfectly honest, I’m not someone who receives food stamps but my s.o. and I pretty much live on a food budget of $200 a month. And I’d say we are people who both love to eat. We eat out once a week as a treat and bring lunch every day to work.

    We are both in low paying fields and also over the years we have both been graduate students so we’ve learned how to make it stretch because we’ve had to. Sure we’d love to be able to splurge more. Who wouldn’t?

    We’re vegetarians so that helps since meat is expensive. We also rarely buy convenience foods (not presliced lettuce or carrots). Cooking from scratch is important to us. We use coupons and stock up on really good sales. We also visit a “scratch and dent” remainder type store that has perfectly good canned and boxed items. Some items are nearing their expiration date soon and others are still good for 2 years.

    • 7.1

      Ciao S! I totally agree! Food prices vary so much from state to state. I’m always comparing prices & am shocked to hear the differences. I was at the grocery just yesterday an an Avocado was $1.50/each. I was mortified because I really wanted AVOCADO! I then saw a SLIMCADO (which I have never noticed before) that was $1.79 a piece and it was 3 x’s a large as a single avocado! SCORE. I’ll be talking more about that Slimcado in my post later. Being vegetarian would def help! I’m finding it hard to squeeze in a lot of meat this week for my meat loving family. Had to scour the sale bins for what I did buy, which was fine because I’m cooking it straight away ; ) Would LOVE to have a scratch & dent store. What a fab idea!

  8. 8

    the scratch and dent place has become one of our favorites and I wish there had been ones in the other places I’ve lived. Rarely is the same item there twice so it can add variety if you get sick of eating the same stuff over and over. I got organic salsa that is good until Dec 2010 for $1!

    • 8.1

      Susan I’m completely jealous ; ) I think by the end of this week a little variety might be nice. I am REALLY using every bit of food I have to the fullest, which means we’re eating it more than once but of course disguised as a new meal!

  9. 9

    I can’t wait to follow this. My garden helps a lot but my “need” for cushy health food items would kill me….even buying thru a co op. I do love stuff from scratch. When my boys were small and things were more than tight I made our granola, bread etc. I remember one particular time I was two days to payday and thought I could just make it by doing some soup…then I found out I was out of salt and just sat on the floor and cried. After I finished my little pity party I said a prayer acknowledging that there people around way worse off that we were and thanking Him for allowing me to stay home with my kids. I got off my butt and hunted around in the cupboards. The first thing I saw was an empty bag of pretzels…which annoyed me…”Who stuck the empty bag back??” But as I looked I realized that in that empty bag was just the right amount of salt for my soup :).

    • 9.1

      Thanks so much Cathy! I rely on my herb garden so much. I only planted some Roma Tomatoes this year on my deck & they were a big hit. I’m planning on adding MANY more veggies to the “deck garden” next spring. Thank you for sharing. What a great story (although, I’m not surprised at all that you found what you were looking for ; ) Ain’t it great?

  10. 10

    What a great challenge and worthy cause to showcase. Good luck!

  11. 11

    good luck! I envy you and I don’t….LOL. sooo…I spose that includes all 3 meals. My junk food husband would have a fit if he couldn’t eat his fast food lunches during the week while at work (eye roll). You go girl!!

    • 11.1

      Thanks Danielle! YES it’s every meal & every snack (including beverages). Hubs came home today for lunch (bc he forgot to pack it) Yep, it’s going to be tough this week!

  12. 12

    A wonderful cause and a great idea. Hope this raises awareness of this significant problem…

  13. 13

    This is such a great challenge. I’m going to be a spectator on this one, but would love to participate the next time it comes around.

  14. 14

    This is definitely a sad reality… that’s for sure!

    Good for you for participating, but honestly, I have no idea how you can manage that with a family of 5!!

    Looking forward to hearing all about it in the coming days =)

    • 14.1

      Yes Leyla it is. I’m just doing it for a week & I can’t imagine how people live with this on a daily basis. I will def take away lots from this challenge & hope that it brings awareness to many others.

  15. 15

    Wow, I don’t know if I could handle that. Very cool that you are and I look forward to seeing your creative choices in the days to come.

    • 15.1

      Thanks Tony! We’ve gone from Mexican to Asian and now finally onto ITALIAN : ) Getting very creative!

  16. 16
    Dee /

    Great site! In our household we spend far to much on groceries. I would be embarrassed to say how much – so I am ready for the challenge of slimming down our budget especially with only one of us working. Thank you so much for forging the way!

  17. 17
    Pangur /

    April was a special month of experiment for me. I live alone and I’m going to be renovating my kitchen in a couple of months, and decided I needed to get rid of a bunch of food rather than pack it up or throw it away. Note: every few months I do go through my canned goods and toss those whose expiration date has passed. So I decided not to buy anything at the grocery store in April except for fresh vegetables and a little bit of dairy–yoghurt.

    In my kitchen I had a freezer full of chicken, meat and fish, and in my pantry had a big box of dried milk and instant breakfast, Slimfasts, dried and canned beans of many kinds and ages, canned and frozen vegetables and fruit, cans and half cans of coffee–caff and decaff, ground and whole bean, all kinds of tea, all sorts of couscous, many dribs and drabs of rice (a handful of one kind, a handful of another), kasha, cracked wheat. Jello, cocoa, canned fish (tuna, sardines), olives, tomatoes, sauerkraut, pumpkin–you get the picture. I stuck with my plan and made some very creative and quite good meals. I realized that I had occasionally bought a large piece of meat or chicken that was on sale, for example, and frozen it with the intent of serving it for company. But of course, when that company came I always bought something fresh. So in April I defrosted a couple of chickens, cooked them, cut them up and sometimes refroze part of them for later. Ditto for a large pork roast. The only really bad part was when I ran out of coffee on Saturday, April 24. So I drank tea for a week, just as several billion people on our planet do every day. And didn’t buy any new wine–drank several bottles of not-so-great gifts (actually, some of those found their way down the drain rather than my throat, but that’s okay–why should I be making room for something that isn’t good?).

    My freezer, refrigerator and pantry are now clean, I’m very cautious about what I buy now, and my experiment cost me about $40 for the month. I’ve vowed that I’m only going to buy stuff that I actually like to eat, and in small enough quantities that I will be able to finish all of them (e.g., canned and frozen goods) before the expiration date. I don’t want to throw away any more food because it’s out of date, just because it was on sale and it seemed like a safety item. I live in downtown Chicago with several grocery stores within a few minutes’ walk. I’ve realized it’s simply irresponsible to buy as though I had a family of 10 and lived miles from town. But I may slip, and so I might need to do another month (or week) of no purchasing next year. It was a fascinating, useful, cost-saving experiment with lots of possible variations–I strongly recommend it.


  1. bell’ alimento » Come+Together with Macy’s and WIN - [...] all about bringing attention to those in need right now. In addition to participating in the $30 Challenge this…
  2. bell’ alimento » Eat on $30 Project - Day 2 - [...] day 2! Here is the link to the Introductory Post to the Eat on $30. Read this if you…
  3. bell’ alimento » Pasta alla Norma - [...] sure what this is all about? Click the LINK HERE to find out all about it. It will also…
  4. bell’ alimento » Eat on 30 Project - Day 6 Rollatini di Pollo {Chicken Rollatini} - [...] tuned in to my little corner of the web & are wondering what all this Eat on 30 talk…
  5. bell’ alimento » The Nutella Challenge - Frozen Banana/Nutella Pops dipped in Coconut - [...] came up with my entry while I was doing another challenge last month The Eat on 30 Project. We…

Leave a Reply