Food Challenge: Dining for a Buck

When we heard about the two Social Justice teachers who went on a "Dollar a Day Diet" back in 2008 (they're now working on a book deal) and Rebecca Currie's follow-up project on healthy eating for a dollar a day, we thought they all must be crazy.

We can't even eat for a dollar a meal, much less a dollar a day. And if we did try to eat out for a buck, we'd be limited to Mickie D's dollar menu. Right?


Turns out there are a few tasty treats you can score around town for a one-spot. We're certain there are more dollar deals to be found, so feel free to add your fave in the comments below. 

  • Pittsburgh Willy's, the little gourmet hot dog joint tucked inside the Merchant Square Antiques Mall at 1509 N. Arizona Avenue in Chandler, has 95-cent pierogies. It's unlikely that you'll be able to eat just one of these puppies, but if you've got a little extra pocket change, you can spring for a bbq chipped ham slider ($1.50) or the Li'l Willy, a 1/8 lb. hot dog ($2).

  • It's still "buy one, get one for a buck" during reverse happy hour from 8 p.m.- close Sunday and 9 p.m.- close Monday through Thursday at Kabuki Japanese Restaurant.

    You'll have to buy an order of dumplings, edamame or sushi (or a drink) at regular price before you get your dollar dish, but if you can convince a friend to order some sake or a glass of Cedar Brook wine at full price, you can walk out leaving just a buck behind.

  • McDonald's may have started the trend, but now Wendy's, Arby's and a bunch of other fast food restaurants offer dollar menus. If there's no convenient alternative to fast food, Sonic is one of our faves, with dollar selections including a Fritos chili cheese wrap, jr. breakfast burrito or deluxe burger and a vanilla ice cream cone. Valley staple Filiberto's also has 99-cent shredded beef or shredded chicken tacos on Tuesdays at select locations.  

  • It's easy to find tacos under a buck in Phoenix, but harder to find ones that aren't greasy or made with "Grade D, But Edible" meat (don't laugh, we spotted a box of this once at a college cafeteria) at that price point. The 99-cent street tacos at El Nopalito at 2831 N 24th St. in Phoenix are a reliable choice -- decent quality meat with onions and cilantro in a soft corn tortilla.

  • If you're looking at cooking on the cheap, the Arizona Farmers Bureau puts out a quarterly list of recipes using ingredients that have gone down in price recently. They've got pretty decent selections, from waldorf salad to meatball subs and chili egg puffs. While it's not a dollar menu, if you get creative you can probably dine for a buck or two per serving each day.