Eating On $3 a Day

Hello friends!

Well I don’t know about you, but I am happy to greet October.  I love the fall weather, the food, Thanksgiving (as a Canadian), and my birthday.  And now that our place is painted, furnished and purty, life can resume.

Before we get into the blog stuff and just for fun, I’ll show you around the place a little bit.

We have a tiny dining area, so a while ago Michael decided to maximize the space by building a shelf around the table.

Looking good, eh?  Maybe a little lonely and empty, though.

Not lonely and empty anymore!

While we were painting, our place looked like this…

The horror.  Oh, the horror.

But it was worth it!

Why hello there, music corner.

Hallo, comfy Kijiji couch.

Being settled is a good thing, I’m liking it.  I’ve moved at least 10 times in the last 10 years, so I’m eager to just stay put a while.  We’ll see how that goes.


As we all know, moving is expensive, especially when it’s across the country.  So in order to cut costs, Michael and I have decided to embark on a challenge this month – not eat at restaurants and spend only $200 CAD on groceries, which is $100 per person, which is about $3 per day, per person, so about $1 per meal.  Intense, eh?

So certain luxury foods are out, like storebought non-dairy milk, nuts, plant meats, plant cheeses, storebought bread, and so on.  What we did is budgeted about $100 for pantry staples, which will allow about $25 for fresh produce each week.

In case you’re curious about more details, we purchased about 7 quarts of dry beans and lentils, and about 15 quarts of dry grain (mostly brown rice and steel cut oats, but a few others for variety).  Other staples we purchased are yeast (haven’t adventured into sourdough yet), tahini, peanut butter, and sunflower, flax and pumpkin seeds.  All of those purchases came to about $85.  Since we already have stuff like apple cider vinegar, oil and tamari, we didn’t factor those in this month.  Same goes for vitamin D and B12 supplements, and a small calcium supplement since we won’t be consuming fortified milk this month (and we can’t afford to eat a crapload of greens).

We spent $20 on fresh groceries this week (who knows if they’ll last the week), which included 2 heads of cabbage (one for making ‘kraut), 3 pounds of carrots, some potatoes, bananas, parsley, lemons, ginger, cauliflower and two big bunches of collard greens.

Throughout the course of the month, we plan to experiment with things like bread baking, soy and rice milk making, and expanding our repertoire of bean/grain cooking.  Instead of thinking about this experiment like deprivation, I’m choosing to think of it like an opportunity to learn new skills.

The only exception to our frugality is Thanksgiving and my birthday – otherwise, we’ll be posting about our eats, trials and tribulations.  Hope it ends up being as educational for you as it will be for us.

See you soon!

  • Joey

    Congrats on the new place – long may you remain removal van free! And hopefully those cocktail glasses have already been out?

    Good luck with the challenge too – as long as you can make a cake on $3 a day, you're golden in my book.

  • janet @ the taste space

    Sounds great. I look forward to seeing what you make. I could always use more bean and grain recipes. 🙂

  • Sarah

    Congrats on settling in, your place is so cute! I love your music corner 🙂 I am looking forward to hearing how the budgeting goes. I always want to spend less on groceries but I get mostly fresh produce which can get pricey. Looking forward to seeing your meals!


    Happy October, you guys, I can't believe it's your birthday month – Happy Birthday sweet Allysia! I can't to read about your birthday post and the Thanksgiving one!

    I really like your post title – we have been also eating on a $15 a day in Buenos Aires because there are condiments, spices, beans, and grains we don't have in the kitchen. So it adds up. We have about a month left here…so we will make it. I honestly can't wait to go back home in Oregon.

    Awesome "Before" & "After" Photos, I feel like I'm watching an awesome vegan TV series on room makeover. The dining place looks cozy and I love these shelves, they are all different sizes! Did I see an electronic piano- who plays it? Piano is one of my favorite musical instruments – I played the piano when I was 5.

  • Allysia

    Yeah, I know what that's like. Normally I don't worry too much about spending money on food, because it's the best thing to splurge on. You're from Portland, right? It'll be nice to be home for sure, but I'm still excited to read your travel adventures. 🙂 And I'm the piano player, and also piano teacher for years. 🙂 Do you still play at all?

  • Allysia

    I do love spending money on fresh produce. 🙂

  • Allysia

    Not the cocktail glasses, Joey, but the wine ones for sure! 🙂 And baking is super cheap, right? Flour and sugar and whatnot.

  • Maggie Muggins

    Yay for October! It's all down hill after that 😉 I'm looking forward to seeing all the fall/thanksgiving recipe pop up on people's blogs.
    Nice job on the apartment, it looks great! I think we bought a really similar paint colour for our place….although its been sitting in the basement for months now…
    $1 a meal? That's craziness! Can't wait to see what you come up with, it wouldn't kill me to eat cheaper too.

  • Jolene – EverydayFoodie

    Wow, that's a very intense plan, but I think you guys will manage to do it!! Christopher and I spend waaaaayyyyy too much money on groceries – it's a little ridiculous.

  • Hannah

    Wowee! Go you good things!! Let me know if I can ever help out with a delivery of vegan baked (or raw date/nut) goods. Will that be allowed? 🙂

  • Kari

    Congratulations on the decorating! Your place looks great and I love the shelf around the table 🙂 Also, your challenge is the sort of thing I love hearing about and would love to do myself at some stage, although it would probably be solo as my husband wouldn't be keen unless it was necessary (and then, he'd probably just live on straight pasta 😛 ). Good luck for it and I will be following!

  • Allysia

    Hell to the yes that's allowed!

  • Allysia

    Ha ha ha, I definitely wouldn't do it unless it was necessary, I love splurging on food. 🙂 But it's good to put ourselves through, because there are so many healthy staples that we just don't usually cook most of the time (like a lot of beans and grains) since we're lazy!

  • Jared Bigman

    Best of luck, can't wait to see what y'all come up with! Sounds like a great challenge.