For six weeks, The Wall Street Journal columnist Brett Arends spent about $4 per day on groceries. He ate healthier than most and even gained a couple of pounds, thanks to an over-fondness for peanut butter. Below are the highlights of his recent article, which is posted in full at

Stephanie Convey, a nutritionist and nurse practitioner in Lynn, Mass., says eating very inexpensively requires knowledge, planning, and transportation.

Brett equates eating reasonably well on $4 a day to solving a puzzle; it became surprisingly manageable. He didn’t eat out and said “no” to packaged or processed foods and energy bars. He avoided cheap carbohydrates, like white bread and noodles, because they’re empty calories. For caffeine, he carried tea bags (cheaply purchased in bulk). In sum, Brett returned to the days when food was prepared, not ready-to-eat.

Good-value proteins were the diet’s foundation: peanuts and peanut butter (~$2.50 a pound), eggs (20 cents each), and pulses or legumes, like split peas and lentils (~$1 a pound). He rarely ate meats or fish (too expensive).

Courtesy: The Wall Street Journal
Courtesy: The Wall Street Journal

For healthy carbohydrates, he had oatmeal, whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, baked potatoes and sweet potatoes, and whole-wheat bread—which, made at home, cost just over a $1 for a 1½-pound loaf. He ate plenty of bananas (sometimes 20 cents each), frozen peas, corn, and other mixed vegetables for around $1.30 a pound. He also had a cup of milk—about 25 cents—each day.

Not owning a car, Brett took the subway to the bigger supermarkets and hunted aggressively for deals. He avoided perishables and foods that required very much preparation. Dry and frozen foods offered more flexibility. Brett remained in good health, going to the gym three or four times a week. He was never faint or hungry. His doctor said the diet was perfectly healthful and probably better than the way most people eat. So did Donald Hensrud, M.D., the chair of preventive medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., and the editor-in-chief of The Mayo Clinic Diet.

Brett no longer eats for $4 a day, but he remains amazed at how cheaply one can eat well—and mortified at how much he spent needlessly over the years.

Question: What if this ministry’s supporters each borrowed some of Brett’s tactics to reduce their food intake by $1 per day, ate healthier in the process, and relayed the savings to our work for the Lord?

Answer: Our budget would double, and this outreach would grow more amazingly than ever. (Plus, donors who didn’t overindulge in peanut butter would be slimmer!)