How to Eat For Only 1 Dollar a Day

by Simplify

With prices rising and inflation going up, many people are worrying about how they can cut their budgets. Things like food, rent, mortgage, and transportation are essentials, but when it comes to food, there are still ways to cut corners. This meal plan allows you to eat for only one dollar a day.

It’s an extreme food budget. And there’s not a lot of veggies, or variety, in there. But, it may be helpful for a one-off occasion where you just need to save money fast.

If you are struggling with feeding yourself or your family on a regular basis, call 211 for information about food pantries near year. Meanwhile, here’s the one-dollar-a-day meal plan:

This plan relies on you purchasing the following essentials, which cost around seven dollars altogether:

  • a box of dehydrated mashed potatoes
  • two cans of black beans
  • one can of mixed veggies
  • one can of diced tomatoes
  • a pound of lentils

You can add salt or cheap seasonings as you like, depending on your specific budget. These essentials allow you to cook enough of one breakfast, one lunch, and one dinner to last seven days.

Potato pancakes

For the breakfasts, cook up the potatoes nice and fluffy. Then, fry them in a pan with a little salt. You have crunchy, tasty potato pancakes. If you have a waffle maker, you can use that instead to make the pancakes.

Mashed potatoes

Black bean burgers

For the lunches, you will need your black beans. Drain the cans most of the way, but retain some liquid. Then, add half a cup of the mashed potato flakes. They will soak up the bean liquid. Mash the mixture until it's creamy. Then, fry them up to make black bean burgers.

They have a great texture and you can eat two a day on this extreme one-dollar-a-day food budget.

Shepherd’s pie

The dinner for the week is a layered shepherd’s pie with lots of protein. Make the lentils in a pot. Then, add the diced tomatoes and canned veggies to a bowl and mix them together.

In a casserole dish, layer first the vegetable mixture, then the cooked lentils, and finally the protein on top.

1 dollar a day

These meals are filling and provide you with the essential proteins and carbs you need to get by. They only cost one dollar a day. What other extreme food budgets and recipes have you seen? Leave a comment and let us know.

For more frugal living ideas, discover these money-saving thrifting tips or the underrated items you can find at a yard sale.

To see more videos, check out the Flourishing Miranda YouTube channel.

Join the conversation
2 of 5 comments
  • Jeffrey Jones Jeffrey Jones on May 22, 2023

    This sounds really good but my room mates would never go for it ,but I would try it just for myself and maybe convince them to go along with this money saver later thanks for this wonderful idea

  • Russell Russell on Nov 17, 2023

    This will get you through a week in a pinch, but it only adds up to about 530 calories a day, assuming no fats like oil or lard are added in the cooking process. That's well short of the recommended calories. Even on a fairly reduced calorie diet, 530 is way too low, and for most adults, you should be well over double, even possibly over quadruple these calories. By my calculations, the cost is about $7.55 before tax at Walmart, so you'll be a bit over $1 a day, but that's inflation for you.

    Like I said, if you're healthy otherwise, this might work in a pinch, but this would be dangerous to try to live off long term. It's nearly impossible to live off $1 a day for food in America, and $1 a meal is far more realistic long term to get the kind of variety that would make a normal person happy.

    If you want to get enough calories in a day and still live off $1 a day, you best nest is buying 20lb bulk bags of long grain enriched rice, pinto beans, 10lb bags of russet potatoes, one gallon containers of vegetable oil, bulk 10lb bags of chicken leg quarters, and cans of green beans and sweet corn, mixed vegetables or frozen bags of various kinds of cheap vegetables. Those will be the cheapest, most calorie dense foods that will give you a fairly well rounded diet with most or all the necessary vitamins, minerals and amino acids, and enough calories to sustain life.

    But that's not medical advice, because every person is different, that's just general nutrition information.