Private Private
Public Public

Taking the $29 Gwyneth Paltrow challenge to Coachella 2015

After learning about the New York food bank’s ration of $29 dollars a week living expenses from food stamps, Gwyneth Paltrow was publicly challenged to live one week off of this budget. She took the challenge easily but received a lot of criticism on her food selections. However the most important thing was that she did complete the challenge without cheating and raised awareness using her own name to gather interest.


I found this effort to be compelling, and wondered if I myself could also live off of this small portion by making better choices of where my money was spent and what was actually gained with that amount. I think the reason Gwyneth chose her fancy organic vegetables and fruits for her dietary restraints, was because she was keeping authentic to her lifestyle and not modifying the grade of her produce intake. She wasn’t well versed nor prepared how to budget and wasn’t showing how to complete the challenge for the modern day person. The person living off this $29.00 challenge on a real-life basis isn’t aware or cannot afford to know the difference in quality of produce. Therefore this challenge needs to be met realistically where these items can be purchased with a maximum gain and maximum item collection. That’s why when I participated in this challenge I chose to do all my shopping at the 99 cent store only.


Shopping at the 99 cent store doesn’t limit some diet restrictions or healthy choices. The 99 cent store often gets brand new products to test to the masses before bringing them to major markets. On my trip to purchase my $29 allotment I was able to buy items that were gluten free, Organic, pure ingredients, reduced to fat free, GMO free, and non perishable.


The price breakdown:

Some of my items were 2 for 99cents, 3 for 99cents, and 1 bottle of wine was exactly $2.99 so I ended up with exactly 29 items at $28.57 with 36cent tax coming to $28.93 total! Its great that food items in California incur no tax as means to survival. Also to avoid that 10 cents per bag rule I brought my own bag from home. Below attached is a picture of all the items and a detailed receipt of what they cost:

$29 challenge


I’m taking the challenge to Coachella with these items listed:

Deluxe mac and cheese shells (SchucksMac&ChseMicrowvCup2.4- [email protected]), Mountain trail mix (PremiumOrchardMountainTrailMx5o- [email protected]) , Apple-bits multigrain cereal (GoldenFoodsCerealAppleBits/7o- [email protected]) , Fat free milk (SaraFarmsFatFreeSkimMilk/32oz- [email protected]$1.19), Italian dressing (WISHBONE-DressngRobustoItalia- [email protected]), Organic romaine lettuce (ROMAINE HEART-3ct- [email protected]), Gluten free chips (GuerreroPepitoYellwCornChip7&- [email protected]), Chunky salsa (LaVictoria-ChunkySalsa/Med8oz- [email protected]), Pepperoni (HORMEL–OrigPepperoni/1.75oz#- [email protected]) Extra thin honey ham (Buddig-HoneyHamOrgDeliThn4oz#- [email protected]),  9grain golden bread loaf (WholesomeMealBread/16oz- [email protected]), Bag of oranges (FreshOranges/#32561- [email protected]), Red grapefruit 4-pack no GMO (Dole-RedGrapefrtInFrtJc4ct4oz- [email protected]), 3 string cheeses (Bordan-MozzrllaStrngChese.833- [email protected]), Bag of natural pretzels (PENYSTICKS-MiniPretzels/12oz- [email protected]), Bag of jelly beans (JellyBelly-JellyFlopsCandy4.7- [email protected]), Two coconut waters (Maui&Sons100%PureCoContWatr8.- [email protected]), Three little miracle lemongrass tea (LittlMiraleOrgLemngrssTea11.- [email protected]), Three little miracles organic energy green tea (LittleMiracleOrgEnergGrnTea11- [email protected]), Pound of grapes (FreshGreenGrapes- 2.72lb @99cents/lb), Bottle of Covery Run Columbia Valley Riesling (CoveryRun2009ReislingWine750ml- [email protected]$2.99), and a Tiki torch (BambooTorchStand&OilCan13Asst- [email protected]) to light the way!

Erica Moore and Friends
Erica Moore and Friends

Needless to say, between me and my two camping buddies for the Coachella Festival, over two days, morning and night, we had plenty of food to share among 3 people. The challenge was a success as far as capabilities to feed and live off of. However, the unexpected challenge was to get from the festival to the tent or car, where we were storing the food, without exhausting ourselves. We had a car parked in lot 16  which is almost a mile from the festival, and our tent was in the back row at 135th and Main so another good mile. The two days of walking back and forth just to eat and hydrate proved grueling and wearing. In hindsight I would have brought my daily supplies along with me to store them in a locker on festival grounds. But not wanting to miss the final shows of Florence and the Machine, back to back with Drake, and keeping the same position without walking back so I could obtain ultimate closeness to the stage, I willingly failed the challenge by purchasing food on hand in the festival. Surprise surprise, two food items and a lemonade came to almost $29! This actually just proved my point that it is manageable to do at home but in a festival they have created it almost near impossible not to spend and spend again.


I have decided to re-challenge myself with these same exact items but eating from home. I made some changes to perfect this cause by taking out the camping torch and replacing it with strawberry Jam of the same cost. I repurchased $29 of food from the 99 cent store to start over the challenge. I kept over 50% of the items the same but adjusted some purchases to better fit cooking from home.

$29 Re-challenge

Also I will be doing a daily blog of my meals and what was consumed each day for the 7 days challenge. TUNE in for this starting April 22nd. Also I’m not counting any free-bies given without request. This is reflecting  Real life and I’m happy to accept the occasional freebie or comped cocktail beverages when struggling on a budget!


The Latest In Your Scene: