$20 Challenge: Could you live off $20 in a week? - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

$20 Challenge: Could you live off $20 in a week?

Watch Mary Gibbons $20 a week experience (videos above). Watch Mary Gibbons $20 a week experience (videos above).

By Ryan Nobles - bio | email

RICHMOND, VA (NBC12) - These unstable economic times are forcing many people to make difficult choices.  Many of these choices are directly connected to the way we eat. NBC12 gave one local person a reality check -- forcing her to buy all of her food for the week with only $20.

Mary Gibbons has never really stuck to a strict budget. But for one week -- that all changed -- as she agreed to live on only $20 for seven days.

She prepared in advance, researching prices at the grocery store, and making a list. After a 30 minute trip into the store, she returned with a cart full of groceries and only 23 cents left.

Mary's shopping list included foods she hoped would keep her nourished. Chicken, peanut butter, pasta, milk and fruits and vegetables. Her hope was that she spent each cent wisely.

"I was just really nervous the whole time, you know I was walking around with a calculator the whole time, hoping I wasn't over-spending with tax," says Mary.

From there, she was on her own, she documented her experience with her own video camera (see the video clips above). Some days were better than others.

"I am super hungry, because I haven't eaten that much, so I haven't had time to cook," says Mary.

Mary's plan was heavily reliant on cooking for herself. If she couldn't do that, she didn't eat. The same choice many people who live on a tight budget like this make every day.

By the middle of the week, her food supply and her tolerance for the same basic stuff was running thin.

"I don't have a lot of stuff left and I have been living on rice and chicken, so I am going to try and make some rice pudding because that would be kind of filling, but kind of a dessert, too," says Mary.

Mary was glad to see the seven day experience come to an end. But, she didn't go through it without learning about the value of food and money.

"You have to plan every meal, think of what your eating and it's not necessarily good so you're not excited about it," says Mary.

If you'd like to learn more about Mary's experience, including the food she ate, and a video journal of her experience click the above videos or read her daily thoughts about her experience below. You will find an in-depth day-by-day look at her Spartan life over the past seven days.

If you have a reality check you would like Ryan to investigate, e-mail him at realitycheck@nbc12.com.

Mary Gibbons met the $20 challenge. She shares with us her experience living off $20 for a week (read below for her candid daily thoughts) and watch the video journal of her experience.

Last night, 10/29/08 

  • 1 Peanut butter sandwich on whole wheat bread and two celery sticks  322 calories

Thur. 10/30/2008

  • Breakfast: 1 cup oatmeal with milk and 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 390 calories.
  • Lunch: 1 peanut butter sandwhich and 1 celery stick, 321 calories.
  • Chicken soup with carrots, celery and brown rice (homemade)  304 calories.
  • Total 1,015 calories for Thursday. 

Here's my diet for today 10/31/08

  • 1 cup oatmeal with milk and 1 tablespoon brown sugar 390 calories
  • 8 oz. of chocolate milk (I used Hershey's syrup that I already had in my fridge, Ryan said it was ok to use my condiments and spices). 150 calories.
  • 1 Peanut butter Sandwich (2 slices of bread and 2 tbspns Peanut Butter)
  • Chicken and Rice with Sweet and Sour sauce, 290
  • 3 celery sticks with Ginger Miso Sauce(from my fridge) 133 calories  total 963 calories
    I felt good today.  I woke up and ran 7 miles, halfway thru my run I became really hungry.  But I ate like 20 minutes after my run and then had my sandwhich and chicken at work tonight.  The only problem I'm finding so far is planning enough time to cook or prepare all of my food throughout the day.  It took me 20 minutes to get my meals together today, which isn't bad at all.  And since tonight is Halloween I got a bunch of FREE candy!!

Saturday, Nov. 1, 2008

Okay so day 3 was really hard!!

  • I had 1 egg and 1 piece of toast for breakfast , 150 calories
  • 1 peanut butter sandwhich for lunch, 240 calories
  • Homemade Chicken soup for dinner and Sagay was nice enough to give me fiber plus yogurt so about 300 calories for dinner.  

    Like I said I was REALLY hungry today especially before dinner and I feel really tired a lot of the time.  I guess since I didn't run today I didn't have extra energy from that.  It also really hard to stay awake because I don't have any coffee and I'm used to drinking a cup today.  Otherwise I'm okay:)

Sunday, Nov 2, 2008

  • 2 eggs 1 piece of whole wheat toast 330 calories
  • 1/2 Peanut butter sandwhich with celery sticks and miso ginger dressing 375 calories
  • 1 cup rice pudding  250 calories

    I felt good and I didn't do a whole lot during the day just cleaned around the house so my energy wasn't used up like on days when I'm working. 

Monday, Nov 3, 2008

  • 1/2 cup rice pudding  125 calories
  • 1/2 peanut butter sandwhich 1/2 cup peach yogurt,  270 calories
  • 2 oz whole wheat pasta with chicken, 1 fried egg and homemade peanut sauce  400 calories
    I felt good throughout the day, I was really tired at work though and I was really hungry right at dinner time.  I couldn't finish all of my dinner, it was really filling and the sauce I made was really salty.

Tuesday, Nov 4, 2008

  • 1 cup oatmeal with milk and brown sugar, 390 calories
  • 1 peanut butter sandwhich, 250 calories
  • 3 oz Whole Wheat Pasta with Hunts Spaghetti Sauce 450 calories

    I was super tired and really hungry at the end of the day, I felt like I had zero energy. I can't wait until wed is over!!

Wed, Nov 5, 2008

  • 1 egg and 1 piece of whole wheat toast 250 calories
  • 1 peanut butter sandwhich  250 calories

    I'm done!! I can't wait to eat a real meal.  I was hungry all day and felt really lethargic.  I'm just glad its done!!

    Copyright 2008. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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