June Food Stamp Challenge — Day 15, Eat Less, Spend less

by Katy on June 15, 2010 · 21 comments

Cookie Monster cupcakes. Om nom nom!

Today is day fifteen of the June Food Stamp Challenge and I have to say, so far so good. My family of four has spent $170.41 so far. My goal for the month is to keep it under $404, which is the average amount an Oregonian receives in food stamp benefits. ($101 per person per month.)

I don’t feel like we’ve made significant sacrifices, but I have noticed that I’ve been doing less boredom snacking than usual. Knowing that there’s not a infinite amount of food is a powerful barrier to not eating up the food that’s needed for school lunches, after school snacks and general food prep. For example, my husband buys Cliff bars for his work lunches, and I’ll usually eat a few of them per week. But I’ve been abstaining since the Food Stamp Challenge began, as they’re a tad on the pricey side and I don’t want to replace an item that blows our budget.

I am not a huge overeater, but I’m perfectly aware that my metabolism went kaput the day I hit forty. Did I increase my physical activity or decrease my caloric intake? Nope. I just bought new pants.

I don’t own a scale, but I did weigh myself at the end of May on one of the scales at work to get a number for comparison. And I do plan of weighing myself at the end of the month. Am I trying to lose weight? Not really, although I wouldn’t turn down the weigh loss fairy if she came a knockin’ at my door.

I have written before about overeating as food waste, and am fully aware that one of the best ways to spend less on food, is to eat less food. However, that is easier said than done. I like food and I like eating. I don’t do it to fill an emotional void, or some such psycho-babble. I do it because eating is pleasurable, and the meals I prepare are damn yummy! (I am also aware that carrying extra weight is related to health issues, which is an entirely different can o’ worms that shall remain unopened today.)

So will the June Food Stamp Challenge result in any weight loss?

The jury is still out, as I haven’t reweighed myself yet. But I wouldn’t be surprised to find that I drop a few pounds. It certainly won’t be enough to garner a hug from Jillian Michaels, but I’ll take anything I can get. And if I’ve broken the habit of eating my husband’s Cliff bars, then that’s just good all around.

Do you find that you eat less when your food budget is tight? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

jenniwaka June 15, 2010 at 9:44 am

“Nope. I just bought new pants.” Too funny!

Is it against your ideas of decluttering to have several sizes of clothes in one’s closet? It does take up space but I find it better than having to shop for new clothes every time I go up or down a size. I still have some dresses, etc. from back when I was very heavy which will come in handy when I’m very pregnant!


Katy June 15, 2010 at 10:15 am


I do have a stash of clothes for my sons to grown into, which I do not consider to be clutter.

And looking around my house today, no one would ever know that I even give a second thought to issues of clutter.



Laura June 15, 2010 at 9:50 am

I’m trying to maintain a weight loss, and one thing I’ve noticed is that I’m not buying or making as many of the “special” things that I have in the past for lunches; I’m just eating leftovers like the rest of the family eats. I used to get several items at Trader Joe’s that were just for me that I can’t afford this month (or that they’ve discontinued, and that’s another topic for another post), but now just eat less. I’m not losing any weight, but I haven’t gained either.


Rebecca June 15, 2010 at 11:32 am

I know that when pennies are tight, we buy fewer treats than we would normally. And we don’t have many treats to begin with. So although I am an emotional snacker, esp when I am tired, I want to raid the fridge, but the salad fixins or healthy food I have isn’t as appetizing in the moment, so I snack less.


namastemama June 15, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Can’t say that I snack less but I drink less. Was craving a strawberry daquiri on a very hot sticky day but that would require a rum purchase!
Grand total so far. $64.56 on eating out. We had a v nice dinner for $40 for 4. $157.48 on groceries. $21 on farm fresh eggs and milk. $14.82 on food for our VBS donation collection. Grand total 258.86. We don’t have anymore scheduled eating out so we’re doing good.


Tammy Bollinger June 15, 2010 at 2:38 pm

My husband just recently went back to work after being unemployed for almost 2 years. Our budget was/is cut to the very bare bones, which drastically changed our eating out habits. I didn’t think that we ate out all that much, and I definitely didn’t think that we ate very many processed foods. With that said, once I became really dedicated to eating on the very minimum amount, we all lost weight- and it wasn’t that we were eating a smaller quantity, it was that we were eating better quality. Our quantity didn’t change; just our quality. Now that my husband is working we have decided to NOT change our lifestyle, and bank the extra.


Elaine June 15, 2010 at 8:36 pm

Tammy that is so smart thinking on your part. Your family will be so much better off financially and health wise. When I have to buy only the basics on weeks when my husband’s pay is less, we do eat less junk food. You buy what you need for meals and some fruit and maybe make some cookies from your stockpile of groceries. I need to implement this more in our house.


MrsV June 21, 2010 at 5:59 am

I recently categorized a month’s worth of expenditures from my checking account (I use my check card to pay for almost everything) and I was shocked at how much of it went into the category of Restaurant Food for either my lunch @ work or meals for my husband and me. It was about 25% of my expenditures, and that did not include purchases made from my husband’s account nor the ready-to-eat food I purchased at grocery stores but that I couldn’t isolate through this method of expenditure tracking. wow! I never would have guessed it!


Saryn June 15, 2010 at 2:47 pm

I definitely eat less when the budget is tight…I remember the days of being a single parent who was a fulltime employee/ college student and trying to make ends meet. There were many days where I would skip meals so that my child did not have to go without. Snacks were not an option. Now, we can “afford” to purchase anything we would like but I find that I stick to a weekly amount of $35 for 2 (includes toiletries, pet and household items) plus our CSA which is another $64 per month. We do eat snacks ocassionally, but not often and stick to 3 meals each day. We try to eat organic and I make many things from scratch (although this is definitely a learning process). I remember how difficult I found it to obtain eveything we needed at the time. Five years later, it “feels” much easier to stick to the same budget from the old days. I am not sure if that is due to experience or the fact that we are not as restricted budgetwise.


WilliamB June 15, 2010 at 3:03 pm

I thoroughly approve of your strategy for kaput metabolisms.


magdalena June 15, 2010 at 4:03 pm

My motivation is that I don’t want to drive to the store to buy more groceries, so I make it do longer! We ate leftover split pea and sausage soup tonight instead of the frozen burgers I’m planning for later in the week, which we kind of craved. I could have frozen the soup, but I don’t want to replace the burgers with something else, such as the pork chops in the freezer I’m planning for Sunday…you get the picture. I’ve had a sedentary winter looking after my husband and my friend’s little girl, so I gained a bit, too – Plain dress is very forgiving, but I had to add a piece of elastic to an apron waistband to make nicely comfortable!


Pamkenn June 15, 2010 at 5:33 pm

I think your observation about your husbands power bars say it – it is about thoughtful eating. This is something we tend to learn when times are tough and is oh so easy to forget but soo much better for our health and our budget!


Marie-Josée June 15, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I understand from your post that you don’t consider yourself an emotional eater, but I am offended that you boxed this issue as psycho-babble. I overeat when I’m bored, stressed, frustrated or anxious. Food does fill an emotional void for me – a habit I developed while I was being raised by my cold and immature grandparents. Food was safe and comforting. Now I stop and ask myself if I am really hungry when I raid the pantry or fridge an hour after supper. Often I will grab a fruit: I recognize that I’m not really hungry, but limit the damage by eating an orange or an apple.


Tammy June 16, 2010 at 4:35 am

My snacking at work just stops when the budget is tight like in this challenge (and I’m working on budgeting beyond too). Home is another story. Me and a fridge full of leftovers is not a good thing. Especially since I have been cooking from scratch lately – dang I’m a good cook! I know it’s not related to budgeting, but I find it helps me to not snack at home if my dishes are clean and sink empty. We haven’t been using our dishwasher for 10 months and I must be incredibly lazy cause I’d rather skip snacking than wash a dish. And with made from scratch food, a dish is almost always required (as opposed to much junk food with is hand-ready). Another observation I’ve made is that I significantly increase my water intake when I’m on a budget. No more $1.25 pop from the machine @ work – plus the water helps me feel fuller. Wait that’s a lie (the feeling fuller part) – but it’s what all the experts say, so I’ll keep acting as if it’s true.


Tracy Balazy June 16, 2010 at 4:57 am

“I’m perfectly aware that my metabolism went kaput the day I hit forty. Did I increase my physical activity or decrease my caloric intake? Nope. I just bought new pants.” hahahaha, that would be my strategy, too! (I’m 42.)

I was laid off from my copy editor job in December and find that I do less snacking in unemployment because I’m more active, riding my bike, walking the dogs, doing housework. When I was stuck in cubicle land all day, I ‘grazed’ throughout the day.


Molly On Money June 16, 2010 at 6:57 am

The snacky-processed-easy to eat foods went out the door first. I don’t know if I’ve lost weight but my husband has and we are both eating healthier!


Marianne June 16, 2010 at 8:17 am

Morgan Spurlock (of Super-Size Me fame) has a series on planet green called 30 days. In one of them, he and his fiance lived for 30 days on minimum wage. They ate a lot of rice and beans for dinner and he mentioned that he was not eating as much in general as he normally did. They didnt have the extra money to go buy Starbucks or stop for a snack. So he felt himself being hungry more often.


Emma L June 16, 2010 at 9:38 am

Thank you for the post about over eating. Huge realization for me! Big shout out for you on my blog. Thank you Katy!


Deb June 16, 2010 at 8:04 pm

Laughed hilariously over the `om nom nom’ cupcake photo – THANK YOU!

I heartily admit that when $$ isn’t an issue, I do tend to purchase more `crapola’ to graze on. When times are tight or we’re working towards a financial goal, we really reign in on anything processed or the extras, mostly sticking to the well stocked basic pantry items and imagination.

But do not ever consider trying to deny me my weekly Kit Kat. It’s cheaper than therapy, people!


Bankruptcy Ben June 16, 2010 at 9:04 pm

When I was really trying I got my food bill down to $20.60/week. I’m a vegetarian though. I’m not so tight at the moment probably spending around $30/week. Food waste was the biggest factor, can’t waste anything


The Prudent Homemaker June 16, 2010 at 10:07 pm

My family has been living from our pantry and garden for the last 3 1/2 years (with about 9 months of shopping last year).

We haven’t lost weight (thought my husband has eaten less). Of course, I started that time with a new baby, and I’ve had 2 more since then (bringing our total to 6 children, currently), so that makes losing weight a bit hard!

I can’t imagine having the luxury of $101 per person to go shopping with! That would be $808 a month for my family.

Dinner tonight cost about $1.50 for my whole family.

Snacks lately have been apricots and figs from our trees. When we had higher income and were buying food on a regular basis, apples were a regular snack for us.

Come on over and see what we’re eating! I’ve got four months of menus (one for each season), plus two weeks of menus from pantry-only foods (including snacks!).


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