Home Q&A Wednesday Q&A Wednesday: Could YOU Survive On $35?

Q&A Wednesday: Could YOU Survive On $35?

by Erika Nicole Kendall

Yesterday, Chuck Runyon, CEO of Anytime Fitness, gave an interview regarding his experiences on the television show Secret Millionaire, and the budget he was given to do his grocery shopping:

Tell us about the Survive on $35 Challenge.

On Secret Millionaire, Dave and I had only $35 each to feed ourselves for a full week, which is equivalent to what someone on government assistance receives. We did our best to show that not only could it be done, but it could be done in a healthy way.

Now, Anytime Fitness is challenging ten FitFluential Ambassadors to do the same. Can you survive— and even thrive— on $35/week? Keep in mind that for 7 days and 3 meals/day, that averages out to only $1.66 per meal! Of course, families will have a bigger budget to work with ($35 per adult, $20 per child). The challengers will strive to eat healthy and hopefully tasty food on that meager allowance.

Challengers will be judged by Anytime Fitness staffers based on budget, health, and taste. It also doesn’t hurt to get great feedback in the form of likes, shares, comments, etc.

Two Ambassadors will each win a $1,000 donation to the food shelf of their choice.

We understand this challenge was your idea. What inspired you to do it?

First, I was inspired by the show, where for a short time we experienced firsthand how difficult it is to get by on government assistance. I wanted to bring that issue into the public eye. There are so many people, especially children, who are not getting the nourishment they need due to poverty.

Second, I was inspired by one of biggest excuses in our industry, which is that eating healthy is too expensive. It really doesn’t have to be if you do it right.

Notice, I didn’t say it was easy. But, it doesn’t have to be expensive.

What was your experience trying to eat healthy on $35 a week while on Secret Millionaire?

I’m not much of price-conscious shopper in my normal life, so it was quite a change to be wandering through the grocery store, comparing prices on everything we bought.

We’re not cooks either, so we kept it simple. Yogurt, granola, whole wheat bread, turkey, etc. We had to think hard about whether we could afford a simple luxury like coffee. Like everything we did on the show, it was a total change of perspective.

And, as a FitFluential Ambassador, of course I was given the challenge.

…and, as the queen of saving my pennies (in other words, you need the jaws of life to pry my wallet open), of course I took that challenge. $1,000 is a lot of money, and I know of several places that could use it – shoot, plenty of you know of places that could use that – so, here’s what I need from you.

Are you listening…er… reading?

I’ll be posting photos of the recipes on my instagram account, which you can follow by searching for “bgg2wl” on instagram. The photos will be posting on my twitter account, as well as on my facebook page. If you like what you see, hit those like buttons! The winner is chosen by crowd participation, so you guys will be a key component of us winning!

How will I manage to make it? Well, we do have a hefty series of posts on how to save money, which will be a huge help:

Keep your eyes peeled on the #surviveon35 hashtag, and let me know in the comments what tips you’ve got to make it easier for someone to #surviveon35!

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Nae July 18, 2012 - 12:26 PM

This challenge is perfect for you! #BGG2WL for the win 😉

Keydra July 18, 2012 - 1:08 PM

Hurrah I think this is awesome..

Natasha July 18, 2012 - 1:45 PM

I believe you will do well with this. I’ve been doing this according to the formula for a family of four for a long while now. On fact, most weeks we have leftovers! Of course I do it by only buying fresh produce, honey, jams, meat and eggs from the farmer’s market; and milk, flours, butter, and sugar, and oil from the store. I make everything we eat from scratch. And I work. And at one time, I was in grad school. What?! So I know it can be done. And it can be done healthily. And your food will taste fabulous!

milaxx July 18, 2012 - 4:03 PM

I probably live on close to that. I’m currently unemployed and on SSDI, which believe me ain’t much. Additional challenges for me are multiple allergies & being vegetarian. Believe it or not I get A LOT of tips and ideas from this blog. I’m sure you can do this with your eye closed. I’ll be looking for your pictures.

Annette July 18, 2012 - 11:57 PM

Erica will ace this, it just takes planning. I am sure you will also make delicious food, since you have already been doing this.

KymberlyFunFit July 19, 2012 - 12:31 AM

Holy smokes! Looking at your past posts, you certainly do have the chops to work some healthy magic on the limited dollars. Hats off to you and good luck with the challenge!! http://funandfit.org/2012/07/the-klout-workout-perks-circuits/

Gillian July 19, 2012 - 11:29 PM

Good luck Erica,
It’s going to be tough and it will be about getting back to basics with regards to food choices, cooking everything from scratch, being imaginative with leftovers and no luxuries.

I’m sure your determination and resourceful character will help you nail it.

Fitnessbuster by Gillian Stephen

linda July 20, 2012 - 8:05 AM

You’re going to find it so, so easy, because you already peel, chop, and cook!

I do have two pieces of advice, though:

1. Dried beans are your friends.

2. The reduced rack in the produce section is *amazing*. (Americans are so stuck on perfect-looking apples…but apples are to eat, not to admire!)

The coffee thing, though, is nearly impossible to overcome…we switched to bulk tea…

Show ’em how it’s done, Erica!


Ashia July 31, 2012 - 11:41 PM

We just talked about this challenge in class (Social Work Policy for Children, Youth, and Families). My teacher, a former legislator, took the challenge and said it was extremely hard! I and my other grad school classmates agreed….but most of us have to keep to a $50 a week budget anyway. It’s super hard to eat healthy every wekk on that budget (w/o being a vegetarian). Often I have to decide if I’m going to give up fruit this week, breakfast the next, meat afterwards, etc. Oh well, hopefully one more year. Anyway, Good luck on your challenge. I can’t wait to see what you do.

Dro February 3, 2016 - 6:26 PM

Erika, this is so awesome! I normally try to keep anywhere from $40-$50 per week for groceries, but find that sometimes it’s just no doable on my budget. I find when I spend less though, my nutrition isn’t as stellar as it could be (way less protein and much more carbs than I would like!) I am super excited to see what you do with $35 a week and follow along with your tips! You always knock it out the ballpark!

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