Evelyn Romans | 

How I Spent Only $2 per Day on Food for a Whole Month

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I promise this can be done without a single package of ramen noodles, and I’m gonna prove it to you.

In fact, I ate fried rice, chicken soup and ground turkey lettuce wraps. For breakfast I did a lot of toast, yogurt, and a breakfast burrito. My lunches were mostly sandwiches, macaroni and cheese, and turkey burgers.

I even got veggies, wine and Olive Garden!

(So yeah, this might not be the healthiest eating plan out there, but it’s gonna be the cheapest!)

Heads up on two things: This takes a lot of forethought and planning! Also, this is based on food for one person.


1. I used Ibotta and Checkout51 to stock up on fresh veggies and fruits.

I got freebie veggies and fruits with Ibotta, and the offer resets twice a month on average. Score!

  • Total spent: $2.87
  • How many meals covered: 10-15
  • What I got: 6 bananas, 4 carrots, 2 onions, 2 zucchini, 1 red bell pepper, 2 heads of lettuce.

TIP: Ibotta cash-back rebate offers reset, so I was able to use each fresh produce rebate twice.


2. I spent $12.22 on cheap meat and used it in 22 meals.

I boiled down a chicken carcass to make broth for soup and cooked ground turkey for meals.

The first thing people think when you eat cheap is that you don’t get good meat. So not true!

  • Total spent: $12.22
  • How many meals covered: 22
  • What I got: I bought 1 Costco chicken ($4.99) and clearance ground turkey at Walmart ($7.23 for 4 lbs).



3. I got great deals on milk and yogurt with Ibotta.

I love milk. And yogurt is a good source of protein. So I didn’t skip it this month!

  • Total spent: $2.23
  • How many meals covered: 10-12.
  • What I got: 1 gallon 2% milk for $1.23 (includes Ibotta rebate), and 1 4-pack of vanilla yogurt ($1.00 for 4), or $0.25 per yogurt cup.


4. I took advantage of “moneymaker” deals on the KCL app to add money back into my budget.

What? You can make money shopping? Oh you totally can.

  • Total made: $18.29
  • How many meals covered: too many to list.
  • What I got: A lot of free stuff, plus money in my pocket.

Here are some recent KCL moneymaker examples:

  • 4 Free V8 drink at Target: +$0.61 moneymaker
  • Free bag of Popchips: +$1.81 moneymaker
  • 3 free Milka Oreo candy bars at Walmart: +$0.66 moneymaker with Ibotta rebate
  • Free Nutella (for my sandwiches) at Walmart: +$0.52
  • 5 free cheese sticks at Walmart: + $0.52 moneymaker
  • Free Tic Tacs at Target: +$0.12

There were so many more! My total net earnings, not including all the free products and food, ended up being $18.29! I’ll show you how I spent it in a minute…

TIP: Check the moneymaker section of the KCL app every day so you don’t miss a deal.


5. I deep stalked the “freebies” and “under $1” grocery deals on the KCL app.

While I was at it, I picked up a bunch of other makeup & personal care items for free as well!

Because, why not? I got free hair dye, vitamins and candy while I was already in the store!

  • Total spent: $0
  • How many meals covered: 50
  • What I got: So many things. My favorites were the free Annie’s Mac’n’Cheese, free Popchips and free Oreos! But I also got a lot of under-$1 deals, such as Yes! To soup, meatless “chicken” nuggets and fresh organic juice.



6. I bought a 20 lb. bag of potatoes for $3.24 (hey, we live in Idaho!)

You can cook a potato so many ways!

  • Total spent: $3.24
  • How many meals covered: 20
  • What I got: One bag with around 20 potatoes at one potato a day = dinner side for only $0.16 each. I used my free Frigo cheese sticks, some butter, salt and pepper to take baked potatoes for lunch, too!


7. I bought a 25 lb. bag of brown rice from Winco.

Each serving of rice was 1 cup, so I got 53 meals from one 25 lb bag. That’s lunches and dinners for almost a month! I totally still have some left over.

  • Total spent: $14
  • How many meals covered: 53
  • What I got: A gigantic bag of brown rice–healthy, high in fiber and filling.


8. I hit the Dollar Tree & Walmart clearance for cheap bread.

Not everyone realizes that you can buy bread at the dollar store.

  • Total spent: $1.48
  • How many meals covered: 15
  • What I got: 1 loaf of bread from Dollar Tree for toast in the morning (with my free Nutella), and 2 French bread loaves from Walmart for $0.24 each.

TIP: Worried about the expiration date? Freeze half the loaf! You can totally freeze bread and just toast or thaw it when you need it. Also, you can slice your French bread up to make sandwiches or use to dip in your soup.



9. I shamelessly stocked up on free salt, pepper & sugar packets.

Don’t judge.

Spices cost money and food is super boring without them. I needed some salt and pepper for all that rice.

  • Total spent: $0
  • How many meals covered: Just…so many.
  • What I got: Lots and lots of free salt, pepper and sugar. And also some ketchup and mustard packets. Oh yeah, and some parmesan cheese packets too.


RELATED: 20 Confessions of a Borderline Cheapskate


10. I refused to give up wine and bought a bottle for $1.25

It’s true: I had four glasses of wine at just over $0.30 each glass.

  • Total spent: $1.25
  • How many meals covered: 4
  • What I got: I scored a bottle of chardonnay on clearance at Target for $2.25. Combined with an Ibotta rebate for $1, I scored a bottle of wine for $1.25.


11. I ate dinner at Olive Garden twice. (No…seriously.)

Remember that $18.29 I got from doing KCL moneymaker deals? And the $12 total I got just for signing up with Ibotta ($11) and Checkout51 ($1)?

Well, I hit up Olive Garden for their “buy one take one” and got a Fettuccine Alfredo entree for $12.99. But because of the promotion, I got to take a second one to go! My “income” this month more than covered that amount.

Plus, it was enough for lunch for two days. But seriously you guys, they bagged up my extra salad and enough breadsticks to make for at least another four days of lunches.

  • Total Spent: $0 of my budget
  • How many meals covered: 3-5
  • What I got: Tons of pasta, breadsticks and salad. Don’t worry, I ate it all before it went bad.


UP NEXT: How to Shop for Healthy Food on a Budget


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