$2 a day?

As most of you know, I LOOOVE seeing how far I can stretch my grocery money. Well, I’ve found a challenge that just might get the best of me. Next Thursday, December 8th I am going to see if I can feed my family  on just $2.   All day.  (For comparisons sake, I usually spend about $2.75 per person per day.)

The purpose of this nutty nearly-impossible experiment?  To spend a little time thinking about all the folks in the world who do this on a routine basis.  It is estimated that HALF the population of the world lives (not just eats) on $2 a day.

No way we can live on that little, not here in our current lives.   We are an average American family, not wealthy, not destitute. But the truth is that the average American lives like a king compared to most of the rest of the world.  In fact– I heard this statistic on the radio last week– due to better sanitation, better food, and better medicine, the average American today lives better than most KINGS did a few hundred years ago.

In this season of (often- extravagant) consumerism, I would like to spend a day on an activity that helps me and my family understand just how blessed we are.  If you are interested, go peek at the $2 Day website and consider taking the challenge yourself.   Next Thursday I’ll be blogging about the food we eat, and comparing it to an average day of food at our house.  I have a hunch that we will end the day feeling grateful for our ‘average’ life full of blessings here in America.

PS– This is not a fund-raiser to drive money towards any specific cause.  But if you choose to take the challenge, you might consider donating the money you saved toward a charity of your choice.


  1. Wow – I’m not sure could feed my family (11 still at home) for $2.00, but I’ll check it out. It’s always nice to stop by your site and see what is happening in your life!


    • Truthfully, I don’t know if I can feed 8 people all day for that either. I’m already imagining caving and giving everyone a bedtime snack since I don’t think I’m willing to let my children go to bed hungry. But I am going to see how far it goes. And I am very sobered by the thought of all the women who have to let their children go to bed hungry, because there is no other option.

  2. From time to time over here at Casual Kitchen we will have weeks where we average food spending at around $3 a day. Usually those weeks are 100% or near-100% vegetarian and they center around beans, lentils and staple foods that we make on a large scale. You’ve chosen something really ambitious and I can guarantee you’ll learn from it no matter what the outcome.

    And regarding your comments about how wealthy we are as a society, I couldn’t agree more. I think trials like this are healthy in the sense that they remind us to be grateful.

    On that subject: The USA defines “poverty” for a family of 1 at $10,890 per year in income, and for a family of 10 (like Mary’s) it’s $45,270. [The data is here: http://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty/11fedreg.shtml ] What’s sobering is that global median income per year is about $7,000. Of course poverty is–by definition–a relative term, but it’s worth noting that in the USA we’ve defined “poverty” at a level well above the global median income.

  3. What a great idea. A couple of years ago my daughter had an assignment from school to eat for $1 for one day. It was very interesting–an eye opener for all of us.

  4. I love this! I am always looking for challenges to keep me on my toes when it comes to my grocery budget. I admit, I have been a little lax lately so this may be the jump start I need! Good luck and I can’t wait to read your updates!

  5. WOW! How are you planning to only spend $2 in one day for your whole family?

  6. I was just telling my husband about this challenge, before I checked your blog, and we were debating whether it should be $2 for the whole family (9 of us, 5 adopted) or $2 per person. I thought it would be interesting to see how far we could go for $2 for the family. We have a couple of kids who have had serious issues with malnutrition, so I don’t want to stress them out. But I do have to say, we are truly intrigued by how blessed, as a country, we are.

    As my husband can attest, I have been running ideas for meals in my head. I love a good challenge!! Can’t wait to see what you have come up with, Mary!!

  7. I would love to join you in this challenge, but that day is my birthday! We are working our way through a giving calendar right now, putting money aside each day based on the blessings we have. Our goal is to purchase a cow from the Gifts of Compassion catalog. We are about a third of the way there…

  8. Our groceries cost more than the places you are trying to compare to at that $2 a day. My daughter-in-law is from the Philippines and they can buy a pineapple for a quarter, mangos for a nickel, and a full and complete fish for under a dollar. Rice to feed the whole family for a day is under fifty cents.

    Yes, I understand the challenge and the importance of teaching our families how truly blessed we are, but have found the best way for me to do that is by buying the ticket for the kids to go on mission trips that bring them to Mexican orphanages; Calcutta, India; and the shanty towns of Africa–to name a few places they have been. They have come home to the US with a great appreciation for what they have (and how to live permanently wiht less) and how to help others for a lifetime.

    • Laura, I want to challenge your comment a bit. I live in Ethiopia and tried to put together a menu for what someone who lives on this much (food only) would look like. Its not pretty. But the truth is most of the country does not even have this much to spend, yes they might make $2 each day, but they also have to pay rent, and live… Click here to read about what $2 worth of food gets you in Ethiopia. http://bringlove.in/4-days-to-go/

  9. That was the question I had. It would be interesting to see what the equivalent of the $2 would buy where the cost of living is different.

    But any challenge that would cause us to relate to eating very simply and actually feeling hunger would make us more thoughtful of what we consume and throw away.