Trouble With Toast

Eat on $60 – Day 1 | October 12, 2009

On Sunday, October 3, my husband and I started the Eat on $60 challenge.  For those who are unfamiliar, you can read my intro post here or you can visit running with tweezers for some further background and info.  Basically, in order to draw attention to the food and hunger issues faced by many people in our so-called “developed” country, a bunch of bloggers are attempting to eat on $30 per person for a week.  Most of the participants are actually DOING the challenge from October 11-17, but due to travel and other commitments, we decided to take part during the previous week and then post our experiences after the fact.  The week was incredibly eye-opening, so I hope you’ll stay tuned for all of the stories.  Here goes!

All weekend, I was thinking about Sunday the 3rd and what the strategy would be for the Eat on $60 challenge.  It was a fairly low-stress start, as we were up at Big Canoe with my parents and were provided a huge, free breakfast to sustain us until the evening.  But, we did have to plan our first (and quite possibly only) trip to the grocery store, so I spent part of the morning looking at the supermarket sale fliers and cutting coupons.  We did our shopping at Kroger, since they seemed to have a number of items on special that I thought would be helpful for the week’s meals.  Among the things we purchased were whole chickens, frozen veggies, potatoes, apples, grapes, cucumbers, eggs, some mixed bone-in pork chops, bread, and some assorted store-brand dairy and condiments/seasonings.  Almost everything in our cart was on sale, or I had a coupon for it, or both.

Because I ended up using (and accounting for monetarily) a lot of items I already had at home, my total grocery bill for that trip is a bit misleading.  However, I did note a couple of interesting things: 1) I spent WAY more time at the store than usual, because I really had to think about both the menu planning AND price implications of everything I purchased; 2) my cart seemed very empty, because I usually just throw items in there with reckless abandon and don’t worry about how they are going to be utilized; and 3) I spent less on that one trip to the supermarket than I think I ever have before, barring those quick one- or two-item trips for things I forgot.  Also, at the bottom of my receipt, I noticed that the coupons (some of which were doubled) and specials had saved me almost $20.00.

After our shopping excursion, I set out to make dinner and calculate our totals for the day.  I had seen a recipe in my most recent Cooking Light magazine for pan-fried pork chops and homemade applesauce, which they said could feed four for under $10 (the figure they gave was $2.43 per serving).  The recipe called for bone-in center-cut pork chops, but those were $3.99 per pound!  Instead, I bought 6 mixed-bone-in chops for $5.85, working out to $0.98 per chop.  Instead of pan-frying them, I simply grilled them up with a little bit of salt and pepper (both freebies for this challenge, by the by).  We had to cut a bit more fat off of them than we would have with the center-cut chops, but other than that, there was no noticeable difference in flavor.  The homemade applesauce was REALLY good.  Like, I will make HUGE batches of this when the challenge is over, good.  The tart Granny Smith apples countered the sweetness of the sugar, and the texture was much less watery than pre-made applesauce.

  • 1  tablespoon butter ($0.12)
  • 3  apples, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped (on sale, $0.50 each for a total of $1.50)
  • 1/2  cup water (free)
  • 3  tablespoons sugar ($0.03)
  • 2  tablespoons fresh lemon juice ($0.17)
  • 1/8  teaspoon salt (free)

Total for the whole batch: $1.82

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add apples to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 cup water, sugar, juice, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover and cook 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until apples are tender. Mash gently with the back of a spoon.

Eat on 60 pork and applesauce

We split the batch into three servings, so the applesauce came out to $0.61 per serving.  Jason and I each had one pork chop and one serving of applesauce, and we both drank water, so the whole dinner ended up costing $1.59 per person.  Not too shabby, and like I said, the applesauce was a delicious surprise.

Due to the kindness of my parents and a well-planned and well-budgeted meal, we rounded out the day having only spent $3.18.  I went to bed that night feeling satisfied and confident.  At least for the moment…



  1. I’m doing Eat on $30 this week, and I swear the hardest part is the math! Looking forward to reading the rest of your experience.

    Comment by Susan — October 12, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

    • Susan, the math is killing me! It’s definitely worth the brainpower, though.

      Comment by bettyjoan — October 13, 2009 @ 1:10 am

  2. Great Post! I’m happy to be doing the challenge as well. DEF eye opening. I too spent WAY more time than usual at the store! LOVE homemade applesauce. Made some myself for the kids’ snacks this week! Can’t wait to read the rest of your posts!

    Comment by Paula - bell'alimento — October 12, 2009 @ 2:57 pm

    • Thanks, Paula! It’s amazing how much time this challenge takes, between the planning and the shopping and the cooking and the math…

      Comment by bettyjoan — October 13, 2009 @ 1:11 am

  3. Betty,

    Even if you figured in the cost of breakfast, it would have been inexpensive. I got the pound of bacon on sale for $1.79 and you only ate about 1/3 between you Jason, and Jack. 4 eggs are cheap! and the english Muffins were buy 1 get one free so that would come to about 50 cents for your english muffins. So breakfast for the two of you could not have been more than $1.35

    Comment by Mom — October 12, 2009 @ 4:20 pm

    • Probably true, as you are the original super coupon clipper and sale shopper. 🙂

      Comment by bettyjoan — October 13, 2009 @ 1:12 am

  4. This is such an awesome challenge. I can’t wait to read more about it!

    Comment by Beth — October 12, 2009 @ 5:12 pm

    • Thanks, Beth–it definintely got more interesting AND more challenging after Day 1.

      Comment by bettyjoan — October 13, 2009 @ 1:13 am

  5. One small chop and a big dollop of applesauce is dinner? That looks like a $1.50 meal.

    Comment by Barzelay — October 12, 2009 @ 9:23 pm

    • Yes, it was dinner, and yes it was $1.50. We were plenty satisfied afterward. It wasn’t earth-shattering, but it was tasty and involved fresh fruit. Maybe not up to your culinary standards, but that’s not really the point.

      Comment by bettyjoan — October 13, 2009 @ 1:16 am

  6. Really curious to see how it worked out for you since you are time-warped a week ahead of the rest of us 🙂 I too spent forever and a day at the store(s). New appreciation for the people who make it work every day of their lives.

    Comment by Jen Yu — October 13, 2009 @ 3:53 pm

    • I am excited to read all of YOUR posts as well! I felt all alone doing the challenge a week early, so now I get the payoff of learning everyone else’s tricks and tips.

      Comment by bettyjoan — October 14, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

  7. […] first and most importantly, I challenged myself (and my husband) to eat and drink on $60 for an entire week, and it was an incredibly eye-opening experience that I hope to try again in the coming […]

    Pingback by 2009 – Full Throttle, Full Circle « Trouble With Toast — December 29, 2009 @ 1:28 pm

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