June Food Stamp Challenge — Day 18

by Katy on June 18, 2010 · 19 comments

Today is day 18 of the June Food Stamp Challenge, and it’s officially become kind of a pain in the tuchus.

I’m taking my kids up to Seattle for the weekend, and am worried that my suddenly-bachelorized husband will blow our entire month’s food budget in a three day period. Granted, the kids and I will hardly spend any money on food, (we’ll be staying with my sister’s family) but my husband is far from a frugal gourmet. This is the man who just bought a pound of $9.99 deli meat for his work lunches and brought home four avocados because “They were only a dollar apiece!” (I still need to get the receipt from him to add to our monthly total.)

The avocados are all at the same degree of ripeness, and will therefore become overripe all at once. And $1 apiece is not a good price, and is actually highway-freakin’-robbery!

I’m worried that we’ll actually go over our $404 June food budget, and I’ll have to barricade myself in a dark corner of the basement in shame.

I am lucky that this month of extreme food frugality is essentially all in my head. If I wanted to spend $600 a month on groceries, I could. I have a good job, as does my husband and we both have jobs that offer generous overtime opportunities.

Almost one-in-five Oregonians is currently receiving food stamp benefits, and is not able to buy whatever nibbles take their fancy. Kind of a pain in the tuchus every day.

There are only twelve days left in June, at which point I’ll tally up how much money I saved and donate that amount to The Oregon Food Bank. I suppose if our savings are less than I had hoped, I can still donate extra money.

If any of you see my husband filling up the grocery cart this weekend, take pity on the guy. It’s not all that easy to be married to The Non-Consumer Advocate.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica Wolk-Stanley June 18, 2010 at 3:35 am

Well if it’s any consolation, we won’t charge you for food while you stay with us. And I’m afraid we fell off the wagon, though I have been more mindful in my grocery shopping and not been buying tasty nibbles. So expect some bland and nutritious eats here, with no snacking possible.


Beth D. June 18, 2010 at 6:41 am

This is precisely why, even though I hate to shop alone, I stopped taking my husband with me. He fills the cart with junk food that he’s never once mentioned before but suddenly it’s now his “favorite”! I think the last time I took him, we spent over 2 weeks worth of grocery money and I had to go back later to buy the actual food.


Christopher June 18, 2010 at 8:25 pm

There’s a Simpson’s episode where Homer comes back from the grocery store with a box of “Aerosmith” brand cereal.


Lisa June 18, 2010 at 8:06 am

I’ve received food stamps for years and suppose I’m just used to shopping with a budget always in the back of my mind. Yes, husbands DO have a talent for throwing a monkey wrench into things! Katy- You might consider doing penance if you go overbudget. For every dollar over you go, you might do a DOUBLE donation. How’s that for an incentive??? And don’t let Jessica fool you. Here’s a perfectly frugal tasty snack for you….homemade kettle corn. Popcorn is dirt cheap. To make it just add about a third to a half cup regular sugar (or brown) to your preheated oil before adding the grains of popcorn. Cover and pop as usual. Add seasoning for a sweet and salty treat.


Molly On Money June 18, 2010 at 8:57 am

I play your husbands role at grocery shopping. My husband banned me from my Friday night grocery run of a bottle of wine, chips, ice cream and a gossip magazine. With those few items I would spend as much as he would to feed the entire family for over a week. I’m learning quickly!


Tracy Balazy June 20, 2010 at 9:49 pm

But Molly, you were buying the essentials! We gotta have some fun shopping for food! ๐Ÿ˜‰


Karen @ Abundance on a Dime June 18, 2010 at 9:09 am

I’m glad I’ve finally got my dh pretty well trained when it comes to grocery shopping ๐Ÿ™‚ He’s the one who is regularly passing by the two discount grocery stores in our area, so I send him there with a list with the items, sale prices and amounts of each item to buy and he does a fine job. He knows not to get ANYTHING else without checking with me first, because he doesn’t always know what a “good price” is on a particular item. One day he called me from the grocery store, because he’d seen boatloads of people walking out with several 40-roll packs of name-brand toilet paper. He asked me if $5.55 was a good price for 40 rolls and I had to ask him half a dozen times if he was SURE that was the marked price because that is SO cheap. Needless to say, we got really well stocked up on toilet paper that week!

Re: the avocados, if you need more ideas to use them up, check out Kristen’s post a couple Fridays back – people left tons of awesome ideas in the comments! I’m going to try these yummy looking Avocado Corn Muffins the next time I have an overripe avocado on my hands:


Janna June 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

Oh, Katie, I hear you! In one measly trip to the grocery store or Trader Joe’s my husband can undo a month’s worth of careful shopping on my part. Last week I sent him to pick up FOUR items and he returned with two bags and a $40 receipt. Makes me crazy, especially when he looks so surprised and says, “But it’s all stuff we can use!!”


Katy June 18, 2010 at 11:16 am

That’s funny. I try very hard to keep my husband away from Trader Joe’s, even during regular months!



Queen Lucia June 18, 2010 at 11:06 am

My husband does OK when we’re shopping together, it’s when he’s on his own that I have to worry. He thinks nothing of stopping at the grocery store every night of the week, depending on whatever whim takes him. I have explained a million times that extra trips add up to way more money than you expect to spend, and he gets it, but he doesn’t GET it. He was enthusiastic about the food stamp challenge until I pointed out that it included extra trips to the store and his daily coffee – then he just looked confused.


Linda H. June 18, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Wow, my hubby’s the complete opposite. If I send him to the store, he’ll only get EXACTLY what is on the list I give him and I mean exactly. I have to write down the size and brand of everything or he gets thrown. I usually do the shopping, so when he goes I always tell him to look around and get some things he would like. I always thought it would really please me if he went off the list and made some of his own food choices… but after reading some of these comments, I’m not so sure! ๐Ÿ™‚ The man knows how to stick to the budget! He does sometimes forget to use the shopper’s club card or the coupons I send with him though.


The Saved Quarter June 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

I don’t send my husband anymore, either. I sent him while I was sick a little bit ago, asking him to get a can of chicken soup, a half gallon of orange juice, and cough drops. He came back with four kinds of soup, including the $$ kind from the deli, two HUGE jugs of orange juice (I rarely buy any!), chips and ice cream, and a little bit of everything from the cough and cold aisle, none of it on sale, no coupons. I took all of the unopened medicine but the one package of cough drops back, but the food we had to keep. It was a pricy lesson!


Magdalena June 18, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Ooh, boy, husbands in the grocery store! My father was always the sharpest, most frugal buyer, but my husband…and I do take him with me sometimes. He’ll spend more on snack nuts than I will spend on meat. It doesn’t help that since his stroke last year, a lot of the old filters are gone, and money doesn’t mean much to him. But he was always a bit extravagant with what he liked – as long as I filled in the gaps with real food. I have actually taken food out of the cart as he put it in and reshelved it, much to the amusement of the store staff.


Carol June 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm

I have been reading the posts for you and others about the Food Stamp Challenge and I have to say that I commend you all for trying it. But there is one thing that I would like to point out. I do not see many staples in what you are buying because you already have well stocked pantrys. There is a waiting period after you apply for food stamps and by the time most people get them their pantrys are almost empty so they have to buy stalpes and well as the fruits and veggies and meat. One more thing, the high dollar amounts quoted in the food stamp guide are for people with no income coming in at all. So most people in fact do not get the high amounts of food stamps listed.

I hope you understand that I am not trying to put down what all of you are doing. Like I say I think it is commendable. I just think you might not have the full picture of what it is like for a family to find themselves suddenly having to depend on food stamps or the fact that with the prices of food, people on food stamps have a hard time stocking and keeping a well stocked pantry.

I been there a few times and it is no picnic believe me.


Katy June 19, 2010 at 6:32 am


I kind of addressed the issue of whether or not to include the staples in the cupboards earlier in the month. I decided the only way to do it without making overly complicated rules was to continue to stock up on staples. Even though this method inflates the grocery bill in the short term, it keeps costs down in the long term.

I am already at the “no picnic” phase of the challenge, and am ready for the month to be over. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (And not just because Oregon has hit an all-time record for June rainfall, and it’s only the 19th!)



Ann June 18, 2010 at 6:59 pm

Wow, I feel for you…but, maybe you could simply remove this few days from your food stamp month and add them on after June 30. It is an experiment, right? And is your husband “on board” with the challenge…your “What Will Katy Buy New” discussion indicates that you are the only one participating in The Compact, so your husband can be off the hook here. I think what you are doing is very interesting and noble – and I believe you when you said it is becoming a pain. It takes a lot of effort to live within a finite amount. An absolute finite amount.


Christopher June 18, 2010 at 8:27 pm

Katy, please remind Dale of my “snare a rabbit with an old piece of wire challenge” (coincides with the food stamp challenge, conveniently). It’s frugal, keeps him occupied/distracted, and could theorhetically result in meat. I have a recipe for wild rabbit and mushy avocado stew.


Carla June 19, 2010 at 5:02 am

Yet another here with an overspending hubby. And, sigh, he just retired, is always available now, and cannot STAND it if there are two items on the grocery list I have started. He will have to go get them when he runs into town รขโ‚ฌโ€ and also get whatever else he fancies, which can run into multiples of extra dollars. I want to do the grocery shopping, thank you; PLEASE let me do it! We’re going to have to have some kind of rules and I’m not yet sure how to go about it.


Rebecca June 19, 2010 at 6:02 am

I think the thing that stands out in this post isn’t the splurging hubby, though I know we all have those; rather its the understanding that having enough money to buy a months worth of food for your family and not have to worry over every penny is a luxury. A luxury too many in this country don’t have.

I would love to not have to nickle and dime my way through my grocery budget, but then I can’t pay the electric bill.


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