I have been conducting an experiment lately to see if I could feed myself a healthy diet on $1 - $2 a day. My definition of healthy means that each daily menu has to:
1. Provide at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables.
2: It has to meet my Nutribase nutrition software program's recommendations for the daily values of all trackable minerals and vitamins, including calcium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B12.
3. It also has to stay within the salt and fat guidelines and meet or exceed the fiber guidelines.
4. Not include any refined sugar, canned food, or commercial cereals with BHT as a preservative (which excludes most commercial cereals except those marketed to health food foodies.)
I have found that this is actually pretty easy to do, even without using coupons. They key is to stockpile staples either from warehouse stores or when they are on sale at retail stores as loss leaders. Under $2 a day is easy. A dollar or less gets tricky but has still been achievable.
The foods I have stockpiled include rice, wheat flour, corn flour, corn meal, nuts, dried fruit, pasta, dried beans and cheese. I have a stockpile of frozen meat, poultry, clams (for vitamin B12) and cheese. Fresh fruits and vegetables are bought based on weekly specials either at retail stores, warehouse stores, or ethnic markets. I have a stock up price for every staple when I can find it at a good buy.
It is hard to eat for $1 the first week but gets easier over time. Each week there may only be a handful of items at great prices between all of the different stores ads, but over time after you stockpile these items then nearly everything you are eating is getting bought at a rock bottom price.
I don't stay on this diet all of the time. It is actually more of a hobby for me just to see if I can do it. I stockpile the inexpensive foods and plan a variety of menus in advance based on my stockpiles. Then on selected days I follow one of my menu plans and take pictures.