Today is Day One of The Non-Consumer Advocate SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge, and I am super excited! This may sound odd (and frankly, privileged) to be excited to be spending a set small amount on food for my family, but I am looking forward to exploring the issues related to food insecurity in the U.S. and beyond.
My family of four includes two teenage sons, who both run cross-country five days per week and play soccer, so keeping them fed and sated is like a practical joke at times. I am curious how this week will go for them.
I have a number of ideas swirling around my head for the week, which include hosting a potluck, bartering for garden produce, shopping the sales/using coupons and time-honored simple cooking without expensive ingredients. I worked all weekend, and was too tired to put together any kind of meal plan, but I think this is a realistic way to forge into the week. I made sure to let my grocery stock dwindle a bit, and am currently out of eggs and mayonnaise; and almost out of flour. I do have a healthy supply of fruit and vegetables as a friend gave us fruit as a thank you for having her son over, and two of my co-workers brought garden surplus to work to share. I planned none of this, so I am going to include it.
How much will we budget for the week? $4 per person per day, which works out to $112 for the week. This will include my husband’s work lunches, the kids’ school lunches and all meals, snacks and treats.
Some readers have wondered how to allow for food already purchased, to which I answer to do what feels right to you. If you wish to calculate the cost of a cup of flour, half cup of rice, etc, then please, do so. I am going to cook food both using what we have, and will also replace any food that gets used up. (Keep in mind, that I do not have a stockpile of food to begin with.) I will also buy ahead to take advantage of sales like I would normally.
For example, Tillamook-owned Bandon cheddar cheese is only sale for $3.99/2-lb loaf, so I will buy one, even though we already have half a brick left in the refrigerator. The stock-up-while-it’s-on-sale method of food shopping saves us thousands of dollars, and is an important key to staying on budget for my family.
I also plan on making from scratch some food items that we normally simply purchase, such as yogurt and mozzarella cheese. (My sister gave me a mozzarella kit a few years ago, and I’ve been wanting to try it but have been scared.)
I am suggesting that participants donate any money saved to their local food bank, but it is not required.
So far today I packed the kids’ school lunches which were leftover homemade macaroni and cheese for my older son and a tuna sandwich with homegrown lettuce for my younger son. Both kids got half of a peach and a wedge of rice crispy treat, which I made last night using a bag of puffed rice given to me by my Japanese host family. I had planned on making oatmeal cookies without nuts or raisins, but discovered that we were out of eggs. Water is always the beverage, whether at home or at school.
Are you participating in the SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge Week? Please add your name to the comments section below. And if you’re blogging about it, please include a link. (I will try and get a widget up and going by tomorrow.)
Let’s together get the conversation going about food security and how we can serve healthy delicious meals despite a small budget.
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”
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