SNAP/Food Stamp Challenge Week — Day Two

by Katy on September 18, 2012 · 31 comments

Today is DAY TWO of the SNAP/Food Day Challenge and I’m feeling pretty good about being able to stay under my $112 budget for the week.

I saw that Fred Meyer (Kroger) had some screaming good deals in their sales circular, so I decided to pick up these particular items and let them guide my meal plan for the first half of the week.

Here’s what I bought:

  • Ten-pound bag of potatoes — 98¢
  • Bunch of organic kale — $1.50
  • Two-pound block of Bandon cheddar cheese — $3.99
  • 16-ounce tub of cottage cheese — 99¢
  • Bag of six bagels from the day-old section — $1.39
  • Tray of chicken thighs, marked down to 79¢/pound due to being close to sell-by date — $3.67
  • Dozen eggs — $1.69
  • Two broccoli crowns on sale for 79¢/pound — 77¢
  • Two roma tomatoes — 73¢

I got 10¢ subtracted from my bill for bringing my own reusable bags.

Total — $15.66

$1.50 organic kale? Yes, please!

I will be able to put four dinners together from these ingredients:

  1. Restuffed potatoes from Molly Katzen’s Moosewood cookbook. (It calls for mayonnaise, and I am all out, so I’ll substitute sour cream, as my husband bought a huge tub of it last week.) I will prepare a second batch and pop it into the freezer for another night.
  2. Baked chicken thighs.
  3. Chicken soup made from the leftover chicken bones and any uneaten chicken.
  4. Kale pesto, made without nuts, as I didn’t have any in the house.

Cooking based on what food is on sale is way cheaper than sticking to a menu plan that disregards random available deals. This method not only encourages seasonal eating, but serves as a creative challenge. Potatoes were insanely cheap, so yes, I will be preparing some potato-tastic meals. (I’m thinking that I might take any money leftover from my $112 budget and buy as many 98¢ bags of potatoes as I can and take them to The Oregon Food Bank when the week is over.)

Dinner last night was a mustard chicken which got rave reviews. (Sprinkle curry powder, paprika and pepper over chicken, then mix up a marinade of mustard, honey and apricot jam and let sit for a few hours. Bake at 350° until done. I also steamed the broccoli and made a batch of oatmeal cookies that did not include any raisins or nuts. (It’s okay and frankly cheaper to keep things simple.)

Here’s a shot of the marinating chicken:

Breakfast this morning was bulk-purchased instant oatmeal with brown sugar for my younger son and I, (half a cup oatmeal + one-cup water + 90 seconds in the microwave) eggs and toast for my older son and I’m not sure what my husband ate. (Cereal?) We all drank a cup of tea.

Lunches were bagels with cream cheese or peanut butter and jam, oatmeal cookies and a pear for the kids. (Pears were given to me as a thank you for having a friend’s son over last weekend.) My husband is attending an all-day work seminar, which includes both breakfast and lunch. (Yay!) I have enough bagels for two more school days, and hopefully enough cookies until the end of the week. (Although I have a sneaking suspicion they’ll get inhaled before then.)

Dinner tonight will be the restuffed potatoes and red lentil soup.  I expect to have leftovers, which will serve as after school snacks for the kids and lunches for me. I will prepare an extra pan of the potato dish for the freezer and will likely serve it again next week.

I already mixed up the kale pesto, (Roughly chopped, steamed and then whirled in the food processor with olive oil, parmesan cheese and salt. I had no nuts, so I omitted that ingredient) and my husband will prepare some kind of kale pesto dish on Thursday when I work.

Isn’t the pesto pretty? So dark and rich! That single bunch of kale made enough pesto for at least three meals.

Mmm, kale . . .

Although I am using some ingredients from my pantry, I will be replacing anything we use up, as well as buying ahead to take advantage of sales. (For example, I didn’t really need the cheese, but it was too rocking a deal to pass up!)

How are you doing? What meals have you prepared and are you cooking and shopping differently this week? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Click HERE to read Day One.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

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

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{ 31 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike | Homeless On Wheels September 18, 2012 at 9:38 am

Aside from staples and other “must-haves” most of my grocery shopping is opportunistic. I buy what’s on special or what catches my fancy, and the result is what determines my menu for the next week or two. And you are right — it is much cheaper than planning meals first and then buying the required ingredients at whatever the price happens to be. I also like to do some creative substitution, using different but similar ingrediants (like you did substituting sour cream for mayo) and sometimes the result becomes a new favorite!


Lesley September 18, 2012 at 9:39 am

Katy: Are eggs always that expensive? Here in the Midwest I get them at Aldi for 72 cents/dozen all the time.

Also, count me in as another person who consider plain oatmeal cookies to be a perfectly acceptable “starch” for the meal. Healthier than pasta if you ask me.

Love the photo, love the personal details that you share. Yours is my first blog of the morning! Keep it up.


Katy September 18, 2012 at 9:45 am

I usually spend more for eggs, as I normally buy the cage-free New Season’s eggs, but am trying to keep it as cheap as possible this week.

Wow, 79¢ per dozen? That’s crazy cheap!



Poor to Rich a Day at a Time September 18, 2012 at 10:58 am

Yeah it is crazy cheap, in my area in Michigan they are 1.43 a dozen for just regular medium eggs! , once in a blue moon they go on sale for 99 cents a dozen So looking forward to my chickens starting to lay eggs here in a few more weeks!


Reese September 18, 2012 at 11:02 am

I was complaining because my Aldi sells them for $1.39 /dozen! I’d love to find them for cheaper… but I’ve sort of gotten into the habit of going for the brown mixed eggs because they’re from a local source. They cost just a touch more.. ($2.00) and I’ll happily pay it!


Lesley September 18, 2012 at 11:07 am

Love those brown eggs. I am a recent convert to Aldi so I’m in that honemoon stage of being totally amazed by their prices! My son’s golf team golfs right nearby the Aldi, so I make sure to Batch My Errands. 😉

Lesley September 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

Katy, eggs here in Iowa City are 72 cents per dozen. Should I make a “cheep” chicken joke here?

Also, a totally random aside: I would love to read more about your mom’s guest cottages, especially if she’s thrifty like you and has insider trade secrets (like does she use vinegar for cleaning instead of pricier things, etc). I know you often benefit from the foods left behind … are there other thrify benefits?



Stacy S September 18, 2012 at 11:48 am

Wow, I’m in Atlantic Canada and eggs are normally $3.29 a dozen here! I can get them as low as $2 if it’s a super sale.
I have been reading your SNAP challenge with great interest. Here in Canada we don’t have anything like food stamps, we just have Food Banks where you can go get free food if you need it (I think it’s based on income?!). I’ve been clicking on some of the commenter posts, and am astounded at the food prices. Here milk is $8 for 4 L (roughly a gallon) and never goes on sale below $5.49…
I’m keen to continue reading about your week Katy, and about all the participants who comment.


Trish September 18, 2012 at 2:43 pm

wow! any idea why food is so expensive in your area? and do you have any insight as to the efficacy of just handing out food vs food stamps?

Alison September 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I hear ya Stacy, I am in western Canada and pay a whole lot more than Katy and these other folks in the US for food. I am still inspired by these posts to look for ways to make more inexpensive meals. Eggs for $.79 per dozen? I think I would faint if I ever saw that! Thanks everyone for your ideas, and Katy, where can I find your recipe for the kale pesto?

Steph September 19, 2012 at 3:01 am

Hi, I’m from the UK and 12 medium free-range eggs cost $3.24. That doesn’t seem particularly expensive to me. What kind of conditions must hens be kept in to make a profit out of 70 odd cents a dozen?

gettingthere September 19, 2012 at 3:25 am

Stacy, I want to join you in your awe of the egg prices! I’m also in Atlantic Canada and pay roughly the same price for eggs (approx. $3.35/dozen). Someone commented that Katy’s eggs at $1.69 a dozen were expensive. LOL, if I could buy eggs at that price it would be like winning the lottery. Alot of stuff is quite a bit more expensive here, and I think it would be difficult to participate in the SNAP challenge. I am enjoying the comments though, and am really picking up alot of tips and food ideas. Thanks Katy and all the participants!

mrs.p September 19, 2012 at 10:00 am

I am from Michigan eggs here is around 1.29. I found brown cage free eggs for 1.79 a dozen.


Paula in the UP September 18, 2012 at 10:57 am

I am so impressed with the great food prices you have in your area. Maybe it’s because I’m in a small town surrounded by lots of other small towns, with no national chain grocery stores in the area. We do have a Super Walmart, but find they don’t always have the best prices and have the least selection.

As an example, a typical good sale price for us would be 98c for a 5# bag of potatoes and $3.99 on a 1# block of cheese, 99c for 8oz cottage cheese ……


Poor to Rich a Day at a Time September 18, 2012 at 11:01 am

Paula, I lived in the UP for many years and yeah food is a bit pricey up there, same with rural Mid Michigan unless you want to drive 40 miles or more. Yeah a lot of it is due to all the small towns up there but the other factor is that they UP ships alot of it’s produce in since the growing season up there is so short, so the higher prices are a reflection of the fuel and costs to ship them in.


Paula in the UP September 19, 2012 at 8:42 am

You are probably one of the few people who knows what “Paula in the UP” means!! LOL!

Yes a lot of the Farmer Markets vendors get their produce from downstate and it’s often the same place our super markets get their “local” produce from.

Oh well there are other benefits of living in the area I live!!


Poor to Rich a Day at a Time September 19, 2012 at 9:07 am

Yeah there is, I lived in the Keweenaw area for 11 years, miss it terribly somedays it was so beautiful! And loved all the snowmobile trails for whole day hiking!


Paula in the UP September 19, 2012 at 12:16 pm

Wow you were way up there, we’re on the WI border. Yes lots of outdoors to enjoy!


Poor to Rich a Day at a Time September 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

Katy, I did not change the way I shop for this challenge, I spent the $45 I had for this week and based it on the ingredients I wanted to work with this week. Yesterday and today are not the most creative as I did something in the middle of my back that for some reason is actually causing it very painful to breath in the front! So meals have been on the easier side. I have chronic back issues so try to keep ingredients around for simpler meals on days I am just not up to snuff in the kitchen.

Me and my hubby do not eat breakfast and I homeschool so my children are here to eat at every meal.

Yesterday I made corn bread for breakfast , oatmeal/carrot spice muffins for lunch ( made 2 13 x9 pans for more than one meal) and simple chicken and brown rice stir fry with fresh tomato slices from the garden for dinner.

Today kids had the muffins for breakfast, tomato sandwiches for lunch and I am making black bean burgers tonight served on slices of homemade bread with sauteed onions on them and tomato slices from the garden.

The dog has been getting her oatmeal with codliver and brewers yeast in it, or oatmeal with cooked eggs and dandelion greens and chicken with brown rice and cooked carrots. Today I made her, her chicken stew that lasts a few days.

Your photos looks absolutely delicous!


Mindy September 18, 2012 at 11:30 am

I posted one of our, use-what-you-have, meals last night. Chicken Primavera – on oldie, but a goodie. Here’s the link:


Mary September 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Last night I made chili for my husband with 1/2 beef from freezer and veggie chili for me and my teen daughter with 1 cup reconstituted TVP (textured vegetable protein bought in bulk from Whole Foods…very cheap). I combined one can of diced tomatoes and one can of red kidney beans with one chili spice packet from Aldi, then divided it among the meat and TVP. Voila…dinner and lunch for today for hubby and teen. They like a bit of shredded cheddar over it, too. I also served some homemade bread and peach smooothies (frozen peaches from Aldi) for Monday’s dinner. I had slow cooker risotto leftovers for lunch that I made on Sunday. This rainy afternoon, I made a big batch of refrigerator potato bread dough mentioned in the Tightwad Gazette. With about 8 cups of flour in it, needless to say, it lasts all week! I also made some Scottish scones with rolled oats for breakfast…my daughter loves dishes like this…not a big cereal person. I am finding myself thinking about food prep a lot…cooking SNAP-frugally takes lots of mental energy and time!


Erin September 18, 2012 at 12:54 pm

Chiming in on egg prices…I’m extremely excited, because my husband got a new co-worker who raises backyard chickens. He has agreed to give us some eggs in exchange for our table scraps to feed the little guys!

On a more general note, I opted not to participate in the SNAP challenge. We moved into a new house and a new town just this past Sunday, and I hadn’t grocery shopped in a while preceding the move, so I bought quite a few staples yesterday.

That being said, I spent $58 for two people, so I almost made it anyway. Looking at what I bought, there were definitely a few things I could have cut out to meet the challenge (chocolate chips, an extra block of cheese, extra tomatoes, peanut butter).


Paula in the UP September 19, 2012 at 12:32 pm

I’m curious about others who get eggs from back yard chickens. We were able to get a few dozens a few different times from friend who had chicken. We got eggs with blood in them, some smelled or just looked icky. It totally turn us off to this sort of fresh eggs. Was it these particular chickens or what they were fed? I hear people rave about them so I’m thinking it was an unusual experience.


Rachel September 18, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I am calculating all the items I am using as I use them (quantity used and price to replace) so it will be interesting to see how much it ends up being.
I did a $100 challenge mock up last year ( and since have pretty much been able to come in at about $130-$140 per week for groceries – including personal items, paper products and cleaning items.
Interestingly, I am planning a few of the same meals this week as I used for my challenge last year. Oldies but goodies.


tna September 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Today I toasted some corn tortillas in the oven until they were crunchy then topped them with spicy taco beef, chopped tomatoes, avocado, and a squeeze of lime…yumalicious. Even my roommate couldn’t resist and scarfed down a couple.
That kale pesto looks so pretty and is something I have never tasted before.


joan September 18, 2012 at 5:45 pm

I am so impressed! And I’m learning a lot. Thank you.


Shelly September 18, 2012 at 7:07 pm

Since I had already planned this weeks meals before I knew about the challenge I just stuck with my meal plan. I usually use what I have on hand and stock up on what is on sale. So I have been calculating the cost of our meals. I have been pleasantly surprised at how inexpensive our meals cost to make. Here is my post of our meals from today.

I am going to go out to Fred Meyers after the potato deal and the cheese (I am the only one who can eat cow’s milk so it will last quite a while at our house, I buy goat or sheep cheese at Trader Joe’s for the rest of the family). We love to have kale at our house too. I saute it in a little olive oil with garlic and then add water to finish cooking it. I wish I would have grown some in our garden this year. I think it is too late in the year to start it now. We also were given some pears from a friend of mine so I made some pear jam and I have some sliced and drying in my food dehydrator.


Suzan September 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm

As usual I am stunned by the US prices. Australia is not cheap but at least I have food to buy etc.

I love that you were able to buy such great deals for your challenge. I would be making scalloped potato and gnocchi to stretch stuff. That you for the inspiration.


Barb @ 1SentenceDiary September 19, 2012 at 5:19 am

I’m not doing the challenge this year — too much going on and I just can’t add one more thing to think about this week — but I am really enjoying your posts, Katy, and all the comments. Thanks to all for your great ideas!


Ruby J. September 19, 2012 at 1:57 pm

We had already done our shopping before I joined up, so I’ve been figuring out price per serving for myself.

9/18 breakfast: .76 (raisin toast with peanut butter, coffee with milk)
snack: .39 (yogurt)
lunch: $1.97 (tuna-egg sandwich, carrots, cantaloupe, store-brand diet soda)
dinner: $1.83 (leftover pot roast, veggies and green salad, same as for 9/17)
dessert: .50 (ice cream sandwich)
total: $5.45

9/19 breakfast: .70 (shredded wheat, strawberries, milk, coffee)
lunch: $1.77 (tuna-egg sandwich, carrots, 1/2 peach, two slices cheese, iced tea)
snack: .20 (1/2 store brand yogurt)
dinner: $1.83 (same as for 9/17 and 9/18 — yay! for leftovers!)
total: $4.50


patti September 20, 2012 at 4:23 pm

I am not following the challenge exactly because I have been trying to “eat down” my stockpile and freezer for awhile. Today I made a crock pot chuck roast which looked a bit freezer burnt ( I now have a vacuum food saver so hope not to have this happen in the future). I put spices on it and beef broth and an onion. By the time it had cooked 8 hours, it was tender as could be. I usually serve with rice, but today I used some bow tie pasta we already had cooked earlier in the week. I added green beans on the side and cooked a little broccoli I had. Normally I would have kept the broccoli in the refrigerator trying to decide what to do with it until it was so wilted I would have thrown it away. I am trying to reduce my food waste so I went ahead and cooked it even though it was just a cup. BTW, I find eggs for 99 cents sometimes at Walgreens. I always buy several dozen when I do find eggs cheaper than Aldi. I love this post as I am always interested in frugal, healthy eating.


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