2 Dollar Day

One of the most interesting books I ever read is called Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. It features photos of families from all over the world surrounded by one week’s worth of food.  Details are given regarding the size of the family and the price of the food purchased, and as you can imagine, there is a disparity between rich countries and poor ones.

Still these days there are people all over the world who feed their families for $2 a day. Two dollars.  The whole family.  Could you do it? I decided to join in with some other bloggers  (click) who are taking this challenge to see just how far it is possible to stretch $2 to feed a family.

I wasn’t quite sure how my family would feel about the challenge.  When I talked to John, he thought it was a great experiment.  However he is working a 13-hour shift today, so I am not including him in this challenge.  I was also pleasantly surprised by the kids’ reaction.  Along being slightly uneasy about the idea– what will we eat? will we be hungry? –they were also very intrigued. When it came to making choices regarding trade-offs, they gave me smart advice.  For example, when I asked if we should cook less rice so that we can have sugar on our oatmeal, they advised me to go with plain oatmeal.

I spent quite a bit of time pondering what to cook today.  I expected that beans would make the list.  But when I compared prices, split peas were a better deal.  Rice was not as inexpensive as I assumed.  Oats were an absolute star– 3 cups for only 35 cents. And a medium loaf homemade bread would give a huge boost to meal quantities for a small bit of money– 35 cents of ingredients should make a large loaf.

Here’s what we ended up with:

  • Oats- 1/2 lb (3 c.)
  • Split peas- 1 lb (2.5 c.)
  • Rice- 3/4 lb (2 c.)
  • Oil- 4 T.
  • Barley- 1/2 lb (1 c.)
  • Carrots- 2/3 lb (3)
  • Potatoes- 1 lb (4)
  • Onion- 1
  • flour – 1 lb (4 c.)
  • yeast- 1 T.
  • sugar- 1 T.

This is $2.47 worth of food.  In a way it seems like a tiny bit, especially for 8 people.  But when you compare it to a meal at McDonalds, it becomes obvious how much more you can get for your money by choosing ingredients carefully and cooking at home.  For 8 people this will be skimpy– a little more than 900 calories per person.  But it would easily feed four.  Here’s how it stacks up nutritionally:


And here’s our menu:

Breakfast- Oatmeal

Lunch- Split peas and rice

Dinner- Barley vegetable soup and bread

I could keep it right at $2 by taking out the potatoes and half the rice, but frankly, the above is as bare as I am willing to take it. And already, even just at the planning stage of all this, I have new insight into how a mom would short herself to put a little more in her kid’s stomach on a daily basis.  Also, I suspect there may be bedtime snacks in my kids’ futures today.

Because I can.  Unlike so many people in the world who take this challenge, for real, every single day, with no reserves.

Already, I am more thankful.  We will see how the day goes.


For more on this challenge visit 2 Dollar Day.  And here’s the blog of the founder of this challenge  Bring Love In.



  1. Wow. That’s a challenge. I can already predict that at least a few of my kids would have a very hungry day, since I’m sure they would rather not eat what was prepared. Maybe by dinner though, with no cookies or other snacks in between meals, they’d be ready to eat what was put before them. I’m ashamed to admit I won’t take the challenge because I’m a big chicken. I will file it away to bring out again when I don’t have to contend with a 2 yo, 5 yo & 8 yo who would most certainly drive me to the brink with their whining — bless their spoiled, unaware hearts.

    My husband has traveled to Egypt several times & always comes back with a broken heart for the people who live on virtually nothing. Without seeing/living it, it is so hard to comprehend. Thank you for doing this, Mary. You have given me much to think about regarding what I think of as necessary for a meal.

  2. This really rocks.

    I love seeing the visuals, nutrition facts and meal plan.

    We own “Material World” which has families from all over the world with their treasured possessions surrounding them. Extremely fascinating and really tells (generally) about the values and economic status of many different cultures.

  3. So is there a web site where you can input your ingredients and it gives you the nutrition info? What site did you use?

  4. So blessed by this idea! We are in the process of adopting two children from an orphanage in eastern Europe and I had been praying about making our other children eat like they do for a few days before we fly over to give them an idea that they can really grasp for what life is like there. Then I found this – WOW. Kudos! Can’t wait to jump on board and help spread awareness outside of our home … but also to change the hearts inside our home.


  1. […] at how Mary from Owlhaven is doing the $2 a day challenge. Could you feed your family with just two bucks a […]