Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

On a Dollar a Day book review and giveaway

I got this book, On a Dollar a Day: One Couple's Unlikely Adventures in Eating in America, a few weeks ago and wasn't sure whether or not I'd like it. Since I was home sick last week I decided to read it and was surprised at what an easy and engaging read it is. The first section covers how this couple, two San Diego high school teachers who are fed up with their high grocery bills, decide to try to feed themselves on one dollar each, per day.

The rules for the dollar a day project were as follows:

1. All food consumed each day must total $1 for each of them
2. They could not accept free food or "donated" food unless it was available for everyone in their area (i.e. foraging, samples in stores, dumpster diving)
3. Any food they planted, they had to pay for
4. They would do their best to cook a variety of meals; ramen noodles could only be prepared if there is no other way to stay under one dollar
5. Should they decide to have guests over for dinner the guests must eat from their share; meaning they don't get to eat their own dollar's worth of food

Review
Yes, it's as crazy as it sounds. In the first section, authors Kerri Leonard and Christopher Greenslate describe how they did it or, rather, how hungry and under-nourished they were on $1 a day each. This was the most interesting section and I was surprised to see that the whole "dollar a day" project was wrapped up within the first third of the book.

The second section discusses their attempt to try to live on essentially the Food Stamp budget (now called the Thrifty Food Plan), carefully following the USDA nutritional and food planning guidelines. This was particularly difficult for the couple given the fact that they are both vegan and the meal planning was very meat based. This was not too dissimilar to the Sustainable Food Budget Challenge we did last year, except that they could buy unsustainable and crappy foods.

The last section covers how to eat well, but on a limited budget and covers such topics as how food companies "short size" packages so that you pay more for less food, why one tablespoon of salad dressing costs as much as a whole orange, how grocery stores auction off foods past their "sell by" dates and why it takes so long for food prices to drop, even after fuel and shipping costs go down. Most compelling is how 36 million Americans have limited food options, even during a national obesity epidemic.

Overall, I liked the book and found it entertaining and informative although Kerri ends up looking like a saint and Christopher, well, struck me as a selfish jack-ass. But, that's just me. I would be pretty pissed how he enforced such strictness and guilt on her, yet was occasionally lax in his own diet.

Giveaway
If you would like the chance to win a copy of this book, please add your name to the comments of this post. You have until Saturday, March 6th, at midnight PST to enter. Good luck!

72 comments:

Sarah said...

me! pick me!

Robb & Nancy said...

I'd love to win this book. It sounds interesting and a good read for my book group.

shannon said...

I'd love to read this book. Thanks~

Surviving and thriving on pennies said...

Would love to win this. Not sure why I ever sign up for these kinds of things cause I have yet to win anything but hey what the heck. This looks like my kind of book to read. Real and boring is what I like.
Fact Junkie!

Paige said...

I'm interested in the third half, it's always interesting to see how I can feed my family of 6 on less money, and do it healthfully. Right now I'm going through our pantry and freezer to come up w/ meals, without added shopping except for milk and fruit/veg. So far so good. Tonight we had black beans and wheat berry burrito's, they were awesome and very healthful.

Nonie said...

Sounds interesting :)

Carrie at Rhubarbsky said...

I'm intrigued.
rhubarbsky at gmail dot com

Tracy said...

i'd be interested in reading this!

Aimee said...

Yes please!

Katie @ makingthishome.com said...

interesting. I hadn't heard of this book. Fingers crossed!
Katie

Sparkless said...

This book sounds like a good read. Drop my name in the hat please.

Glenda said...

Throw my name into the hat, please.

Megami said...

As a vegan who often feels 'left out' with these kind of books, which assume you consume animal products, I would be very interested in reading this book. And since I am on a 12 month book-buying ban, this might be the only way I get to before 2011!

Lil said...

You made me very curious, I'd love to read this book now !

owlfan said...

Sounds interesting. The dollar a day does seem awfully difficult. I'd be more interested in the 2nd and 3rd bits I think.

Tree Huggin Momma said...

I am always up for a good read. How many more people have to prove that it is next to impossible for a struggling family to eat well on foodstamps budget (except in my area where food stamps recipients get market tokens and more than they get in foodstamps for shopping at the public market with local vendors, only local vendors can accept them). The biggest issue with the food stamps budget is that for it to work on good foods a parent has to have a lot of time to make foods and know how to make foods, if the food stamps recipient is not working then they aught to have time (now if the areas would offer courses in cooking and good nutrition), and if they are working they don't have the time.
The problem as I see it is food manufacturers have to much say in food stamps, I doubt it is coincidental that the food stamps alotment stears parents toward "cheap food" afterall someone has to buy this junk and keep thesse businesses running. I personally think when it comes to Food Stamps it should be required to be used on nutritionally sound food item (oh wait here, it was done that way until people started crying that it negatively impacted the mental well being of their child to never have cocoa puffs or potatoe chips like their classmates, funny I grew up without those things, and without food stamps, although we would have qualified, and I am just fine, or so they tell me.

Rachel B. said...

Sounds like a interesting book! Pick me, please!

Rebecca B said...

Would love to read this. Thanks!

Lisa said...

Great review on a book I'd never heard of (and likely never would've) were it not for you! Thanks and good luck to me (plus everyone else)!

Prairiemom said...

This book sounds so interesting. Since we started transitioning to a greener lifestyle I have seen our grocery bill skyrocket. I have heard that it doesn't have to break the bank to eat healthy, but that hasn't been my experience. Our grocery bill for my family of 4 is $200. a week! And we will have a new mouth to feed coming in late April. Living on a dollar a day is very intriguing.
Sign me up!

DiElla said...

I read their dollar a day blog and it was interesting, but it sounds like they cover much more in the book. I would love to read it.

karen said...

I would like to win this book. Always looking for ways to save with food. A while ago I found a great blog written about eating on a food stamp budget. It is very well written with lots of great recipes. Here is the link:
http://www.rebeccablood.net/thriftyo/2007/04/the_organic_thrifty_food_plan_1.html
Enjoy! Karen from CT

Lisa Y said...

It sounds interesting, though honestly I find it challenging to just spend a dollar a meal. I don't know how anyone could do a dollar a day.

Mama Mama Quite Contrary said...

Sounds fascinating. I thought I was doing well on $100/week for my family!

Sarah said...

Sounds like a good read.

Scout said...

would love to win this one :)

Brad K. said...

Yes, please consider me.

The best I did was a loaf of $1 Italian bread and $1.25 pound of bologna. With the bottle of mustard and tub of butter I had three meals that day.

My new 6-cup rice cooker makes a 1/3 batch nicely, with a (usually chicken) boullion cube. Dumped over heated veggies (on days when lunch was fried crap) or short can of beans&weiners, that makes a nifty supper. With either water, or some times a glass of box wine mixed 35%-50% with water. And the ramen noodles aren't so bad, with a short can of beans&weiners on top. Or the 4 oz snack pack serving of veggies that Wal-Mart sells in four-packs. A bigger meal might be a can of pork n beans, with a can of vienna sausage, with bread and butter.

I work a few hours a week at a local movie theatre. And claim the "empty" buckets of coconut oil (we haven't gone to the boxed package like other theatres) - that usually contains a quart or three of colored coconut oil. Works great for greasing a skillet, adding a bit of oil (and yellow color!) to rice.

Thanks!

Laura said...

I would love to win this book, mostly because I'm currently working towards living off of a few dollars a day for food. So far, I'd say I'm at $5.00 a day total. Sounds like a good read.

Stephanie said...

Sounds interesting...please enter me in your drawing.

Mandy said...

Amandla B
for the giveaway

swiggett said...

Emily for the give away

Sounds very interesting. I vaguely remember reading about this book before, and being amazed then at the dollar-a-day attempt.

startofsomethingfrugal.blogspot.com

Heather said...

This sounds really interesting! Hope I win! If not, maybe the library has a copy...

Farmer's Daughter said...

Sounds like a very interesting read. Did they do anything to evaluate their overall health before and after the experiments? I'd like to see how their weight, nutrient levels, etc. changed (or didn't). Did they take a vitamin?

Anonymous said...

sound like a great read, please enter me in the drawing!

diana in CO
(FB friend)

one lumen said...

Sounds like an entertaining experience - to read about! I don't know if I could do it. I've been working on going gluten-free and that alone is giving me an aneurysm!

Deb(bie Debbie Doo) said...

sounds like an interesting read - right in line w/ my food budgeting goals of spending less - but eating more 'real' foods at the same time.

dee dee said...

I read a review of this book awhile ago and thought it sounded really interesting...I wondered if they grew any food. That can certainly lower grocery bills. Please add my name to the hat.

Di Hickman said...

Is this the same couple that did the blog? I love the concept but really don't see how that would be possible for us, esp buying organic.
I'd love to win this, then once read I'd giveaway on my own blog :)

Cassie said...

Sounds great! Hope I get the chance to read it!

http://seenonflickr.wordpress.com/ said...

A dollar a day, that's intense. I read a blog called Thirty Bucks a Week about spending that amount on food. (Seems a bit more reasonable.)

http://thirtyaweek.wordpress.com/

tortuga said...

fascinating! thanks!

Robj98168 said...

I find it hard to believe that they could live on $1 a day, so pick me! I love Ramen noodles but reallu

Amanda said...

Sounds interesting. I'd love a chance to read this.

Oldnovice said...

I'd like to read that one, too.

shadow_elan said...

Wow, I can't imagine living on $1 a day! That's incredible! I'd love to read this book :)

Kim said...

This sounds like an interesting concept. Throw my name in the hat, please!

Sylvia said...

sounds really interesting

Nina said...

Interesting! I'd love to read the book.

Jennifer C. Rodland said...

Please enter me in the drawing.

AnnMarie said...

I can't wait to read ths book

kidk4m said...

Please add me to the drawing!

KLund said...

Sounds like an interesting read. Count me in!

Frodannah said...

would love to read it!

Michelle said...

Thanks!

chewbear said...

Sounds like an interesting thing to do. Do they talk at all about global poverty and how many people actually have to live on a dollar a day?

Mugen.no.Kaze said...

This sounds like an interesting book. As a poor college student I might learn some valuable tips! Pick me!

contenda said...

We would love a copy of this book that we can then pass along to our families to open their eyes, too.

My husband was out of work all last year and we almost lost our home. Luckily, after a detour as a truck driver, he regained unemployment, but our view on life will never be the same.

We LIKE being on a budget and find that it can be fun! Plus, I don't think I will ever relax again and think "we're set." In this economy, no one "has it made." The only security there really is, is what you know to sustain yourself, and your spiritual life.

contenda said...

oops.... I mean, he gained employment, lol!

The Nurturing Pirate said...

What a timely post! My dh and I were just in a restaurant that was supporting the San Diego Food Bank. As I sat there reading the info on the table, I was amazed that $1 = 3 meals. I couldn't believe it: *3* meals per day!? How do they do it?

I guess I could read this book to find out...

Alison said...

I'd love to read this!

Anonymous said...

Since I am currently unemployed and recovering from an accident I have plenty of time to read. Oh, and I would love to learn what they did.

Veiled Glory said...

Been following their blog for a while ~ I would love to own their book. Anna CC.

BarbCohen said...

Please pick me. This book sounds interesting and I will try to get a copy to read if I don't win.

Indigo Cycles said...

I would like a shot at the book! Thanks!

Melissa Anderson said...

I've been looking for something good to read. This sounds like it fits the bill!
Melissa

CodyGirlScout said...

Jen and Tris!

Sarah-Anne said...

I'm interested and keeping my fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

this does sound like a fascinating read...pick me or I am off to the library!

Rachael said...

I would like the book!

Ashleigh said...

I'd love to read this book!

Carolyn said...

I'd love to read this. Sounds good.

Jeanna said...

I would love to read this book.
Also I love your blog. I agree with so much you write about.

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