SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge Week — Day One

by Katy on September 17, 2012 · 46 comments

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.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Mindy September 17, 2012 at 8:36 am

I’m not technically doing the challenge, but I am on a mission to use what we have for the next two weeks. I spent $33 at the grocery store – all produce other than coffee filters, feta and bacon – and have posted the meal plan on my blog. Here’s the link to that:

I’ll also be posting some of the recipes as the week goes on.

My goal is to not spend another dime, unless it’s like you said, stocking up on sale items. That cheddar cheese at Fred’s is on our list as well.


Katy September 17, 2012 at 9:01 am

Wow, you really do have A LOT of frozen food!



namastemama September 17, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I love this! “coffee filters, feta, bacon” These would be important in my house. I once had a trip that was cereal, ice cream and wine.


Michelle September 17, 2012 at 8:51 am

Hey Katie! I don’t plan to participate in the challenge this year, but I think I’m definitely going to modify this and do a little bit of an experiment to calculate EXACTLY how much money we spend on food for this week, and then use that calculation to see how we can improve.


Katy September 17, 2012 at 8:58 am

Great idea!



Poor to Rich a Day at a Time September 17, 2012 at 9:01 am

I am actually excited to and am participating! I actually have 2 links so far, the post of this weeks groceries at

And then the post about it last night I wrote at

Now considering I actually had to use bill money to pay for this weeks groceries, I did pretty good! Also I never meal plan , seems when I do it always costs me more money so I just know what I can spend, get ingredients then decide each day what to fix, it is a creative process for me so I will have to post menus and recipes on a daily basis.


Susan Marsh September 17, 2012 at 9:21 am

Hi Katy!

The next time you are baking and discover that you are out of eggs, try making flax eggs (assuming that you have ground flax seeds). Mix l T. ground flax seed with 3 T. water and allow to sit for several minutes. This is the equivalent of l egg. It works well and is healthy!


Katy September 17, 2012 at 9:24 am

I don’t have any flax seed. However, I do occasionally substitute soy flour for eggs in recipes. (I Tbs soy + water) Especially if the recipe is flavorful. But I was tired and liked how immediate the crispy treats were.



P. B. Bairns September 17, 2012 at 4:40 pm

For a while it seemed that every time I had a sweet tooth, we were out of eggs. So we have a small collection of eggless baked goods recipes. Nothing weird in them, it’s as though they just left out the eggs. So far we’ve not had a bad recipe cross our lips. With many vegans out there in the blogosphere, they way has been paved for us eggless people 🙂 One of my faves is Eggless Pumpkin Muffins with cream cheese/marshmallow fluff to spread on and to use as dip for apple slices…an absolute favorite breakfast around here.


michelle d September 17, 2012 at 9:47 am

I bought a bag of ground flax a while back (I’m not even sure why) so I am definitely going to try it. Thank you!


Megyn @MinimalistMommi September 17, 2012 at 10:00 am

You can even buy the egg replacer in bulk at places like Whole Foods. WAY cheaper than using real eggs. I typically bake vegan just to save money lol!


Lilypad September 17, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I’ve been using “Ener-G” egg replacer for about 5 years. It comes in a box and keeps indefinitely. I’ve never figured out a price per “egg” but it’s got to be cheaper than the local, organic, omega-3 “humanely-raised” eggs that I buy when my guys want to eat “real” eggs. (I gave up eggs 5 years ago because of how the hens are treated in commercial egg operations.)


Sharon September 17, 2012 at 9:32 am

Katy: Depending on the recipe, you can also sub mayonnaise for whole eggs. Not sure of the exact measurement, but I think it’s something like 1 tbsp of mayo per each whole egg. If you do this, remember to go a little light on whatever fats you may be adding to the recipe to compensate for the oil in the mayo.


Judy September 17, 2012 at 9:44 am

Katy, thank you for focusing on this topic again. Hunger in America is certainly an important issue and not going away. Raising awareness is so important.
Although I’m technically not participating in this challenge since we, like Mindy’s family have a super overstocked freezer and pantry right now. I plan to cook super economical meals using food we have, spending as little as possible, and not eating out for the rest of Sept.
Thanks for the reminder to make a donation to the food bank also!


Erin N. September 17, 2012 at 10:01 am

Hi Katy:
Our family of 4 (mom, dad, kindergartener, and toddler) is doing the SNAP challenge for the first time. We have just begun to work with “nonconsumerism” and Sunday’s trip to the grocery store was a real eye-opener. Our grocery bill was $107.93 — which is about $50.00 less than it usually is (you know what they say — admitting you have a problem is the first step….) I think our main issues are going to be: (1) fighting the urge to hit up Dunkin Donuts for a mid afternoon fix (ok that’s just MY problem); (2) dealing with grandma’s inability to drive the kids past a McDonalds without stopping for “a treat”; and (3) surviving my younger child’s food issues (no dairy, no soy, general stubborn pickiness) without busting the budget.

Thanks for inspiring my family!


EcoCatLady September 17, 2012 at 10:11 am

I’m not sure if I can call this officially participating or not. I just don’t shop/cook on a weekly/daily basis like that, so trying to figure it out totally made my head hurt.

That being said… here’s my best guess as to what this week’s food will cost. The shopping’s already done, but this is a bit hand-wavey since the meat & soup are from the freezer & many of the other ingredients are from the pantry. I’m figuring a budget of $30 – $4/day for me and an extra $2 for the day that CatMan will be here.

Hopefully this is somehow helpful to someone.

I have a loaf of zucchini bread that I made last week. Total cost for ingredients probably around $1.50. I’ll probably eat a piece each morning along with a few eggs and a piece of fruit for breakfast – couldn’t find eggs on sale so that will total about $2 for the week for eggs. Fruit – peaches, grapes & oranges were all on sale for $.99/lb, so that’s probably $.50/day or $3.50 for the week. Total breakfast costs for the week: $7

Lunches will be soup & salad… plus probably some of the zucchini bread too. Soup is mostly made with beans & garden produce… at most $.25/bowl. Salads – I splurged and bought some spinach: $2, plus I have some red peppers and avocados to use up: $4 – the rest is garden produce. Total cost for lunch for the week: $7.75

For dinners, I made a big stir fry last night using a pound of organic ground beef bought on sale because it was at it’s sell by date, one onion, 4 mushrooms, 2 peppers (one from the garden one not) and some garden zucchini – add in a few cups of brown rice – total cost comes to around $6 and that will be enough for dinner for me each night of the week. Although we’ll probably have a mini-lasagna for dinner when CatMan’s here… made with garden tomatoes & eggplant… total ingredient costs around $2. Will probably roast a package of frozen cauliflower to go with it: $1. Total cost for dinners: $9

That comes to $23.75 which leaves $6.25 for condiments and an extra serving of fruit per day & some popcorn for snacks.

My first observation here is that fresh produce is expensive – if it weren’t for the garden, I’d totally be blowing the budget. Of course, I wasn’t really trying to be frugal – this is just a normal week for me. If I was trying harder I would have foregone most of the fancy store bought veggies & stuck to the garden. I also would have stuck to chicken instead of organic beef (sorta an oddity there – beef is a few times a year treat for me.) I can get chicken leg quarters for $.49/pound, so it would have been much cheaper.

All in all quite eye opening. I think if I wanted to get a more realistic idea of this I’d have to do this over a much longer time period – like 6 months to a year. We’ll see if I’m up for that sort of commitment or not – the jury’s still out on that one!


Stephanie September 17, 2012 at 10:43 am

So, I think these types of challenges are fascinating and eye-opening and extremely valuable. I just started to do my grocery shopping as the Economides family does on a monthly basis which is challenging but freeing and budget minded at the same time. I have adequate freezer space so I buy several gallons of milk and freeze them which helps cut back on the number of trips that I have to make to the grocery store. I also buy my meat from a farmer directly but I would say that buy preplanning a months worth of meals, I really do make the most of the fresh produce and ‘work’ the pantry to extend the time between grocery visits. If you’re not at the store, you’re not spending money there. Even with accounting for the pre-purchased meat, I think I spent around $300 for the month for all 4 of use – which includes all meals for me and my first grader and but does not include lunches for my husband or preschool son who both have provided lunches at work/daycare. I’m actually amazed by this method – I have cut my monthly grocery bill by several hundred dollars by doing this.


Katy September 17, 2012 at 10:51 am

I have read about how the Economides family dos their shopping and cooking, and it just seems like too much work to me. I know it supposedly vuts down in the long run, but the thought of it makes me want to take a nap.



Stephanie September 18, 2012 at 10:04 am

I know, that’s what I thought at first too and it caused me a lot of anxiety the first month I did it ‘would I really have enough or everything I needed’ – but I did and by the 3rd or 4th weekend of not spending time making my list and going to the store, I was SO enjoying not having to do that!! Plus, as the month goes on you sort of just make do with what you have if your planning didn’t work out exactly like you had hoped. Anyway, you might be surprised that you like it you give it a shot.
I will say, that I don’t do my cooking/chopping at one time like they do. Once a month cooking/freezer cooking really isn’t my deal although I have tried it.


Lucy September 17, 2012 at 11:08 am

I’m going to trudge along making the usual, tracking how much it actually cost and also what it would cost to buy it this week. New purchases made will be added into each total. I’m geeky like that! Should be interesting to see how it compares.


tammy/psmflowerlady September 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

OK – so I did my shopping last night for just what I needed. I was guessing less than $20 – ended up right at $40, for my teen daughter and I, we have $56 budgeted – this includes all meals. $6 was for 2 containers of Ball Salsa seasoning that I use to make salsa from home-canned tomatoes (normal price $5.69 – on sale for $2.99 ea.). My daughter requested lunchmeat (turkey) rather than tuna salad I had planned for lunches. I bought larger sizes (for better unit price) of the lunchmeat, chocolate chips and bought 2 pounds of butter instead of one. Besides the salsa seasoning, my unplanned purchase was small cottage cheese on sale. All that said, I was surprised at how much over my planned amount I was.


tna September 17, 2012 at 11:12 am

Some good buys I found on produce for this week were:
29 cents per avocado
99 cents per pound fresh broccoli
79 cents per pound red grapes

…all at Aldi. At the library I was reading Consumer Report this month and it reviewed store brands against national brands and many store brands were as good or better and they are cheaper.
I don’t make my own mayonaise so someday I will try the mayonaise at Aldi.


Jen September 17, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Wow… I am happy when avocados are $1.50 ea. here which is the cheapest they ever get!


Megan September 17, 2012 at 11:22 am

my blog is linked above, but here is the specific post for today.

From what I can tell already, planning is a huge part of budgeting! The menu I came up with is typical for us, but it actually more than what we actually spend due to garden produce, canning, buying on sale, etc. I did alter the rules for me a little (sorry!) so that I wasn’t allowed to use these things, because there were so many posts that a stocked pantry wasn’t possible for most people that would be subject to this tight budget. I simply priced everything out when I went to the store, but I didn’t buy it if I already had it at home.
I am going to try to come up with a meaningful post about how to spend grocery money wisely and to get ahead with the pantry stocking issue. I’m not an expert by any means, but I hope folks can find it useful. Stay tuned!


Ashley S September 17, 2012 at 3:25 pm

We’re in! Spent $80 cash today between 3 different stores, and typically for our family of 5 (kids are 2, 4 and 6 years) that would be it for the week. We do get WIC, and I used $80 in vouchers today, mostly for supplements as my youngest child has health issues and is medically labelled as ‘failure to thrive’. The $80 in WIC items I got today will last 30 days, so if we didn’t get WIC it would add about 25% to our weekly budget . Wednesday we will be going to the farmer’s market and using WIC vouchers for produce. My DH usually has a thriving garden, but this year we’ve had several issues with it and haven’t been able to harvest much.


Mary September 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Yes, my family and I will be participating. We are two adults, one teen girl (and one college girl who may be home for part of the weekend…I’ll add her into the budget at the end once I know her plans.) I have been budgeting our meals with this challenge in mind since I first found your blog about 18 months ago and explored your archives. It is really hard to spend so little! This week I am commiting to baking all bread products, making soup and snacks. I will try to prepare all meals from pantry items and keep track of what I spend (necessities only)this week to round out our menus. I also plan on averaging what I’ve spent during the month of September once the challeng is over to account for the pantry. I have been totally re-energized in my efforts due to your blog, Katy, particularly the recent request from one of your readers for hard core tips to get her thru some tough times. Food insecurity is a problem that keeps growing and I am grateful for this opportunity to learn more, helping my family and others.


Katy September 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Thank you so much for sharing!



Ruby J. September 17, 2012 at 4:09 pm

I just did a big “stock the freezer” shop at Aldi and Save-A-Lot this weekend, but will try to follow along by counting the cost per serving of various ingredients. (Hanging onto the receipts really helps in doing this, so thank goodness for a very organized husband.)

For me and my husband, the thrifty plan from the USDA cost of food website allows us $74.70 for a week, or $37.35 per person, or $1.79 per meal per person. Tonight’s meal of pot roast, veggies and salad cost $11, but will serve the two of us for at least three hearty suppers, so that comes to $1.83 per person. Yikes, we’re already 4 cents each over budget.


namastemama September 17, 2012 at 4:57 pm

We’re in.. sorta. Because my hubby was off work on Friday I had already done the grocery shopping. Had an impulse stop at a Mexican food store. $35 and then spent $100 at Aldi. Plus $10.25 at the dairy. I would have made some different choices to fit in the SNAP budget for 4. So we already blew the budget before you announced the challenge.
Plus we make a twice a year organic chicken purchase that equals several hundred dollars each time. I would have to figure that in.
I am not buying anymore food this week. Tonight was meatless Monday and we ate red lentil soup! So yum.


Liz September 17, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Sub for eggs = 1 Tablespoon ground flax + 3 Tablespoons water. Stir and let sit for a few minutes. Acts as a binder in baked goods. A little different texture from eggs but works in a pinch (and for vegans).


Pat September 17, 2012 at 5:37 pm

Well, today was leftover day. Yesterday we had a lovely roast of beef( chuck boneless roast, cooked with potatoes, onion, chopped up, and carrots. Everything done in the roaster. It was heaven! I had bought the roast a couple of weeks ago on sale for $2.98/lb. It was just over 3 lbs. So I had lots left. Today lunch and supper is, Beef barley soup! I just added 1/3 cup barley, 3 cups water, pint of the left over gravey. !/2 the left over beef ( with fatty scraps going to the dog for a little treat). plus some extra chopped celery, a shake of garlic powder, 1 small 69 cent tin of stewed tomatoes, and a couple of extra potatoes in the fridge that needed to be used up, oh and of course all the veggies from around the roast that didn’t get eaten last night were chopped up and added plus a hand full of frozen green peas. The soup is wonderful!
We have had it for lunch and supper and enough for sometime tomorrow. Tomorrow will be thin sliced beef sandwiches with mustard and mayo. and a side salad of 1/2 english cucumber ( gift from neighbour), one medium size tomatoe (chopped into bite size pieces) and 1/4 of a large flat onion ( not as strong as some, and the 10 lb bag was only $3.98!), sprinkled with italian dressing. We will each have a big glass of milk with this for supper. ( We mainly drink coffee (am, and dh all day), me water rest of day, but supper is always a glass of milk as we need the bone help and both love our milk). I will have jello with fruit in it ( I got a lot of tins of fruit at 99 cents a tin and use the liquid and fruit instead of the cold water in the jello)for our evening snack before bed ( that is dh favorite night time treat!)
Milk is one of my major purchase each week for 2 seniors . At $4.99 a gallon and we use 2 a week. ( If I get to the States I can pay from $1.98 to 2.49 a gallon, such a treat to get such cheap milk!).
So far still working on food in the house. Need to make bannock tomorrow, and took a full bag of flour out of the freezer and filled my pail ( 10 kg bag _ 22 lbs aprox). I bought the flour on sale at $7.99 in July. That’s the only way we can eat well on a tight budget.


Maddie September 17, 2012 at 8:19 pm

Hey Katy,

I like your blog and this post makes me think of “Live Below the Line,” which I am assuming is the New Zealand equivalent to SNAP. People are encouraged to spend 5 days with $2.25 to spend on food per person (which is the poverty line). I think these kind of things are really good for awareness (even Jonah Lomu, possibly the world’s most famous rugby player is participating this year), and they not only show us about global poverty but about poverty in our own countries. I found this article of a family’s experience in last year doing Live Below the line really good:


Shelly September 17, 2012 at 8:55 pm

I am excited about doing this challenge too. I have never participated in a food stamp challenge before. I just went with my meal plan I had already for this week as I try to plan a month at a time when doing my meal planning. I also plan my meals from my pantry items and just purchase the sales and fresh items each week. So I am figuring my food cost for each meal. I am excited to see what others will be cooking to get some new ideas for meals. Thanks for hosting this challenge.
Here is the link to my post for day 1


Linda from Mass September 18, 2012 at 5:27 am

This is not something I will participate in because my food bill for 4 (well my oldest is in college but I still buy food for her dorm room) is about $40-$60 per week. I do have a stockpile of food that I got with coupons and sale items, so this week, I only spent about $10 for what I needed (2 doz eggs, strawberries, grapes, cantelope, lettuce for salad, onions, 6 cans of veggies on super sale, mac & cheese) Definately not a balanced diet but we have plenty of meat, bread, canned foods, pasta, rice, milk, juice, fresh fruit/veggies (tomatoes, potatoes, apples, etc). This can get us through at least 2 weeks. The way I shop is not conducive to the experiment.


Linda from Mass September 18, 2012 at 5:31 am

Sorry, I was still typing when my response went through.

We are really fortunate that we do not need to be on assistance. My husband has a good job that pays a fair amount, not a lot but enough for us to pay all the bills and I have my own business that helps me stay home for my daughters. Of course, with college bills, we are having to tighten our belts more. I have always been thrifty and always had a low food bill. Blogs like this one have helped me stay on track. We are working towards getting my girls through college without any loans for them or us…without leaving us without a retirement savings.


mrs.p September 18, 2012 at 5:36 am

I so glad I took the time to meal plan this week. I used to do then I stop but with me making a meal plan I only need eggs at the store. Now if I can just grab eggs an leave.


Kathy September 18, 2012 at 6:03 am

I’m not technically doing the challenge, but would like to someday. I’m very interested in reading about how your week goes and hope to glean some tips on reducing the ever-rising food bill. I admire your philosophy and am working our family towards a more frugal way of living.


emmer September 18, 2012 at 7:56 am

i have the good fortune to be somewhat paranoid about the potential for disasters in my life. my parents were both born into poor rural families and reached their teens just as the country sank into the great depression of the 1930’s. there have been a couple of long-term financial disasters in my life that taught me to use the skills they modeled and was grateful for the food stamps we were eligible for.

one result has been that in better times, i have amassed an awesome pantry and freezerful of food, which means that my grocery shopping is mostly stockup on the best priced deals. rather than having a cart full of the varied things to make a weeks worth of meals, my cart may have a dozen containers of my fav orange juice at half price, a case of my favorite tea on sale, a 25 lb bag of rice, a dozen boxes of breakfast cereal, and large quantities of whatever else is well priced or marked down.

i do use coupons. yesterday, i shopped at fred meyer, stocking up on the sale goodies, and couponed my way down from $109 to $92. i’ll never be a “coupon queen” tho, because those bargains are mostly on prepared and convenience foods, but i can do about 15% on “real” foods consistently. we also purchase food from a bulk food buying club, buy canning quantities direct from farms, keep a community garden plot, trade with friends, and can about 80 quarts of fruits and veggies annually. at this point i can use nearly my whole grocery allotment towards bulk buying whatever is low in the pantry or is at the best price.

i am so fortunate to have this cushion to fall back on. i hope that many folks who are still in a decent financial position, put aside a few extras every shopping trip to build up you stores. well, that and stash money in the mattress…

and write a check to your local food bank to help the folks who aren’t so fortunate. here in oregon, a major agricultural state, about 17% of people use snap to be able to eat. food pantries all over our area are running short aand could use you check and your extra garden produce (fresh produce is in short supply in food boxes).


Katy September 18, 2012 at 9:07 am

Actually, 22% of Oregonians are receiving SNAP benefits.

I usually just keep a stocked pantry and cook from that, but am shopping differently this week.



John Benton September 18, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Katy, I have been reading your blog now for a couple of months. I get a chuckle out of it. I see quite a contrary image to what you are trying to portray. I see a person that is addicted to shopping finding ways to rationalize the habit by telling themselves that they don’t do it. I see you driving all over town getting supposed deals and thrifting a lot. In reality your carbon footprint is absurdly large. You expend a great deal of resources in your quest for frugality. (By the way I don’t believe that carbon dioxide is a poison or hurting this planet, it in fact is a plant food).

Your involvement with trying to live within SNAP guidelines is really hypocritical. What are you trying to prove? So what, that you have skills that enable you to live on less than $4.00 a day per person. The point is that a lot of poor people don’t. They don’t have ready access to the internet to surf for sales and deals. They don’t have transportation to get them to the stores that offer the deals. Let’s see you take the bus to Fred Meyer to purchase your Bandon cheese deal. It would cost you $5.00 for the round trip. I see this real smugness of showing that you are somehow better than the disadvantaged. What you don’t get is that after your month of playing the game you have the financial resources to do whatever you want. You and your family can go on a vacation; you can afford to do most anything you desire. The disadvantaged can’t. They live in poverty and drudgery every day. They have no other options and it is not a game for them. It is not a fun experiment or a challenge. When one is down trodden for ones whole life, one may not have the energy, enthusiasm, skills or will to budget, meal plan because everyday is a fight of survival.

May I suggest that instead of doing this exercise once a month every year, you instead volunteer at a food kitchen, or deliver meals on wheels, and give 20 hours or so a month for a year.


Linda from Mass September 18, 2012 at 4:43 pm

I do not believe that you have really read this blog for the past few months. Katy walks to a lot of her errands, take public transportation and is thinking of going to a one car family! She works part time as a maternity nurse and lives frugally because of her concern for the environment AND to be able to take vacations with her family.

I do not think you are the right person to judge her. By doing this challenge, Katy is bringing awareness of the problems of hunger in American and the difficulty of eating on a limited budget. By her creative cooking and using what is on sale and in season, she shows people how to eat on this type of budget. Plus, she is encouraging everyone who is doing this experiment to give the extra food money in their budget and donate it to a food bank.

I like finding out how Katy deals with this challenge and I do not find her participation in this challenge “hypocritical”.


Rachel September 18, 2012 at 5:05 pm

John Benton – If you have indeed been reading this blog for a few months, then perhaps you’ve just been skimming it and have missed the spirit of the whole site. I commend Katy for providing her blog readers with a welcoming and friendly forum to discuss and learn about how we can all make our dollars go a bit further. Life and frugality are both learning processes, and Katy seems to embrace that.

Comments such as yours are bound to come up as the blog draws a larger audience due to her recent interviews and articles. No matter what or how anyone does anything in life, there will always be those who feel the need to judge and criticize what has been done. I read this blog because Katy is not one of those people who feels the need to judge and criticize others. Nor does she seem to have any particular need to put on any certain image of herself, as you suggest. Rather she comes across to me as an open, honest blogger.

Katy – Thank you for your blog, and thank you for your gracious style!


Lindsey September 20, 2012 at 7:50 am

I see your point in the SNAP being hypocritical. We own & manage a small apartment building in a rougher part of town. Most of our tenants do not have cars, and the city’s bus system is pretty crappy. Some have internet, others don’t. Most receive food stamps. They work near-minimum wage jobs, and many are single mothers. They do not receive coupons in the mail. Within reasonable walking distance (<1 mile), there are 2 expensive convenience stores and several ethnic stores (African, Asian). The closest traditional American grocery store is 2 1/2 miles away.

A better challenge would be to also include the cost of getting to/from the store, and the time spent. A single mom with no car is going to go to the most convenient store when she can. She can't plan out a shopping trip to several stores over various days to take advantage of different sales when she is relying on the bus or a friend to take her (and her child) around. She also may have to pay for the bus passes or for gas for her friend's car.

You also have to remember that many* people on food stamps have come from a cycle of poverty. They don't know how to live frugally, because they have never been taught. They grew up in the cycle and when you don't know anything else, you get stuck.

*Disclaimer – I know not everyone on food stamps grew up with them. But, and I've seen this with our tenants, some people just see it as way of life and that is all they know.


Greta September 18, 2012 at 3:00 pm

John Benton,
If you’ve been reading Katy’s blog for a couple of months then you know she always bundles her errands so she doesn’t have to “drive all over town.” She also walks and bikes much of the time.

Do you really think that getting a kick out of hunting for bargains is the same thing as being “addicted?”

Let’s not be such a sour puss. Nobody’s perfect and Katy does not claim to be.


AnnDenee September 18, 2012 at 6:04 pm

When I came across your blog a year or so ago, I was so excited to find not one, but a whole slew of like-minded folks!! So you just keep on doing what you’re doing and we’ll just leave the trolls at the bridge.


amanda May 28, 2013 at 3:10 pm

Hi, I just started a blog at

I’ve read alot about this topic and think it’s very possible as I’m practically already doing it just to survive. Note I don’t recieve nor qualify for assistance. Anyway I’m recording my journey, recipes and such as I go. Please be patient as I add new stuff as I said I’m new to the blog world.


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