Healthy Eating on $4/Day. We Did It!

Today is day 30, the last day of my month in Bankhead of eating healthy on just $4/day. The idea was to see if it is possible to afford healthy food in an area where accessibility and cost are great issues. For the sake of this particular blog I am focusing solely on the issues of cost and accessibility and leaving aside the other issues such as time. I will get into that still in other blogs and in the guide that I make but I think it is wise to just discuss the issue of money in this particular blog which is a big enough barrier in itself for many people.
The following are photos of almost all of the food that I purchased this month. Some is missing but this comprises about 90% of it and represents it all very well. The photos show the cost, the store I purchased the food at, and the date purchased.

$17.26 Family Dollar 07/08

Eating Healthy on $4 per day food 1

$73.92 Publix 07/09 

Eating Healthy on $4 per day food 2

$36.09 Walmart 07/12

Eating Healthy on $4 per day food 4

$19.42 Save-A-Lot 07/20
Eating Healthy on $4 per day food 6
$14.89 and $9.00 Piggly Wiggly 07/26
Eating Healthy on $4 per day food 7
$36.98 Walmart 07/27
Eating Healthy on $4 per day food 8
$0.50 Henery’s Food Mart 07/28
Eating Healthy on $4 per day food 9
$17.50 Publix 08/02
Eating Healthy on $4 per day food 10
$2.60 a garden 08/01
Eating Healthy on $4 per day food 11
Total money spent at stores
$17.26 Family Dollar 07/08
$73.92 Publix 07/09
$36.09 Walmart 07/12
$27.06 Walmart 07/15 (not pictured)
$19.42 Save-A-Lot 07/20
$0.96 Save-A-Lot 07/20
$4.93 Publix 07/24 (not pictured)
$14.89 Aldi 07/26
$9.00 Piggly Wiggly 07/26
$36.98 Walmart 07/27
$0.50 Banana at food mart 07/28
$17.50 Publix 08/02
Additional calculations
$5.05 07/12 (added 1 cup oatmeal $0.17, 1/4 cup flax $0.25, 1 cup lentils $.53, 1 lb honey $4.00, and $.10 ginger from food that I had left over when arriving) 
-$10.00 07/15 We prepared dinner with a family of 4 to show them how they can eat healthy on $4/day and used our food  (-5.33 for their dinner plus we left the kids with sunflowers and apples that they loved!)
$8.48 apples 7.5 lbs. 07/19 (got them for free but counting as I would pay at store based on price at Aldi- 3lb. bag for$3.39)
$2.60 red onions 2 lbs. 08/01 (got them for free from abandoned garden but counting as I would pay at store)
$3.75 Blueberries 1.5 lbs 07/30 got them for free gleaning berries left on bushes at farm but counting as I would pay at store based on price at Publix that week)
$1.50 Peaches 1 lb. 07/30 got them for free gleaning fruits left on tree at farm after harvest but counting as I would pay at store based on price at Publix that week)
Total spent $269.89. That is $29.89 spent over the budget of $4/day each or $120/month each. That is $4.50/day. However we didn’t eat nearly all of the food that we purchased. Some of it is unopened and some of it was just partially used. So to get a better idea of how much it cost to eat in this manner for the month I am deducting the following:
$6.88 Grapeseed oil (100% unopened)
$1.99 Garbanzo beans (100% unopened)
$0.83 Split peas (100% unopened)
$0.99 Big cinnamon (100% unopened)
$1.04 Oregano (100%)
$5.32 Coconut oil (50% left)
$3.00 Apple Cider Vinegar (50% left)
$2.15 Flax (50% left)
$2.00 Sunflower seeds (50% left)
$0.50 Mustard  (50% left)
$1.50 Curry (75% left)
$1.75 5 lb. bag of rice (50% left)
$3.00 Olive oil (30% left)
$1.00 Sugar (50% left)
$2.75 Cabbage (1.5 heads left and they were $3.70 between the 2)
=$34.70 + $1.39 4% tax
=36.09 to deduct
 
$269.89 – $36.09 in food left over = $233.80
That puts us at $6.20 under budget or at $3.90 per day just $0.10 under the budget of $4/day each.
For people who are using food stamps, they don’t pay tax on food though. So if I deduct the 4% tax on $233.80, which is $9.35 then the total spent would be $224.45.
That puts us $15.55 under budget or at $3.74 per day, just $0.26 under the budget of $4/day each.
Update: Here is a photo of all the food left at the end of the day. It’s actually substantially more food than I had calculated so the total dollar amount of food eaten for the month is likely even lower than I had calculated by about $10.
Eating Healthy on $4 per day food left
I am excited to say that it is possible to eat very healthy on under $4/day even in an area such as Bankhead where access to healthy food is a great challenge. The reason I chose $4 is because that is what the average American receives in SNAP/ food stamps. SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and as the name implies it is not supposed to cover the full budget of someones groceries, rather it is supposed to supplement it. This month shows that it is actually possible to eat quite healthy just on SNAP. Of course there are other huge barriers for people to eat healthy in the USA but money may be less of a barrier than many people think after all. Coming into this month I didn’t know if I’d even be able to afford fresh fruits and vegetables but I’m very excited to say that we were able to get more than the recommended five servings per day. We made it through the month without purchasing anything with preservatives, chemicals, or unnatural ingredients. We ate an almost 100% whole food/ unprocessed diet.
I will be putting out a PDF book with a lot more resources in the upcoming month to help people who want to eat healthy on a budget like that. I can’t stress enough that I know the challenges to eating healthy are much more numerous than just cost and accessibility and I will be covering more of them. I also don’t have all the answers but can offer some good help through the work that I have done. In the upcoming month there will be a 30 day meal plan, recipes, shopping lists, price comparisons of different stores around the country, tips to reduce time in the kitchen, and the success stories of people who actually live in food insecurity. There will also be a guide on how to grow your own healthy food almost for free and a video on how to ferment foods at home.
Please comment and let me know your thoughts. Ask questions and let me know how I can be of service to you in helping you to eat healthier!
P.S. Here are the receipts for anyone who is interested:
Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 1
Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 2-1 Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 2-2 Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 3
Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 4 Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 5-1
Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 5-2
Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 7 Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 8 Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 9 Eating Healthy on $4 per day reciept 10