Feeding America SNAP Challenge

I can’t believe it’s September already! I’ve been planning to take the SNAP Challenge for months now, and today, September 1st, is day one.

What is the SNAP Challenge? The SNAP Challenge is a yearly event hosted by Feeding America to raise awareness about hunger and food insecurity in America. Participants are challenged to eat on no more than $4.50 per day, per person (the average allowance for food assistance programs), log their experiences, and reflect on the challenges and difficulties.

 

Feeding America Logo

Why am I Taking the SNAP Challenge?

I’m taking this challenge to raise awareness about food insecurity (a topic close to my heart) and to hopefully destroy some of the stigmas surrounding people who need public assistance. Hunger spans across all races, ages, genders, locations, and education levels. Life can be unexpected and unpredictable and programs like SNAP are created to help people through the tough times and get back on their feet. While these programs aren’t the ultimate answer, they do provide temporary relief for millions of people. For more information about hunger in America and who it affects, FeedingAmerica.org has some great information and statistics. I really hope you check it out.

My other motivation is to just simply get back to my roots. When I started this blog I was in a really tough place—working a low paying job and drowning in student loan debt. At that point, I had no choice but to eat on less than $4.50 per day. Since that time I’ve gone back to school, gotten a much better job, and developed flourishing side career as a freelancer. As you can imagine, my spending (especially on food) has gotten really relaxed as my income has grown. I like the idea on eating on less than $4.50 per day, even when you don’t have to, because I think it’s important not to over consume (in all areas of life, not just food). I think this will help me refocus for the blog and, most importantly, be more thankful for what I have.

SNAP

My Goals:

I plan to record everything I eat and drink throughout the day and calculate the total cost. I will be taking the challenge for the entire month of September.

I will be posting some new recipes, some old recipes modified to fit the challenge, and using some previous blog recipes just as they are. At the end of each week I’ll write a summary report for what I ate, how much it cost, and my reflections on the experience.

Because health is important to me, I’m going to attempt to incorporate as many fruits and vegetables in this plan as possible. Yes, that will be a challenge!!

My Expectations:

Planning is going to be the number one key. There is no way to casually eat on less than $4.50/day… unless I casually just eat half as many meals. Even with all of my years of blogging about the subject, I fully expect this to be a challenge. When I started the blog, $4.50/day was easy, but grocery prices have sky rocketed over the past 5 years, so it will be considerably more difficult.

I won’t be able to indulge in some of the luxuries I’ve gotten used to in the past couple of years, like my fancy coffee (beans, not pre-made drinks). Ooo, it’s going to be tough! My morning cup of joe is one of my favorite parts of the day, but when faced with money troubles, you have to make sacrifices. I’m doing this for real. No pretending.

Snacking will pretty much be off the table. $4.50/day is only $1.50 per meal, if you eat three meals… with nothing left over for snacks. Food for entertainment is not an option at that level. I will need to make the meals that I do have as filling as satisfying as possible to curb my cravings for snacks.

If food for entertainment is not an option, I will have to find new activities to entertain myself and new ways to enjoy spending time with friends. I remember that being one of the biggest challenges five years ago when I was very broke… what did I do to entertain myself instead snacking, going out to eat, or ordering a pizza? I learned about blogging and started a blog! I’d say that turned out well. :)

Stress. Stress is going to make this hard. When I get stressed, I want cheese… or pizza. In the month of September I’ll be closing on my first house and moving. The stress of this transition is going to make this TOUGH. I’m going to want to stuff my face. I know it. But, once again, when you’re faced with money troubles you are stressed. So, this is a very real challenge that people face every day.

 

So, that’s it for now! I’m excited to get started. I’ll be cooking my first batch of meals today, so look for a recipe tomorrow and a summary at the end of the week. Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. I want this to be a learning experience for everyone!

 

109 Comments

  1. peachmelomel says:

    Something else most people don’t realize when they see the amount provided by food stamps is that sometimes it has to stretch to cover a hell of a lot more than just food. I’ve known people on SNAP who were homeless and didn’t have any food storage or way to cook their food. I know people on SNAP right now who haven’t been able to afford electricity for months and have to get ice or only shelf-stable foods. I know others who’ve had to get water for all their drinking or cooking because their water was contaminated by heavy metals.

    Living in a mixed income apartment complex, most of the residents need to use food stamps and most of the people don’t have the requisite pots and pans and kitchen utensils to cook a lot of the recipes here. Its hard to cook healthy non-processed foods when you don’t have a cutting board and something bigger than a paring knife. Buying a crock pot? Out of the question.

  2. BUT! I just realized something profound; EBT/SNAP does not allow for toiletries – I was marveling over this the other day, because, well, good hygiene can contribute to getting back into the workforce/moving up the ladder. My grocery budget now includes all our toiletries, paper towels (I know, not a necessity), cleaning products, and sometimes consumable clothing basics like socks and underwear. We still probably spend more than $5 per person per day, though. It makes it clear how much we need to be helpful on a personal and local level as individuals and not just rely on a government entity to do charity work for us; I believe they will always fall short.

  3. Tiana Kimble says:

    I think this is a great this to raise awareness, but if you do the math a family of 4 gets 126 per week for food or more than 500 a month. I wish our family had that much money to spend on groceries a month. Doesn’t really seem like that much of a hardship….

    • campmom1 says:

      We are a family of two on a very limited income and only receive $108 per MONTH. I think all politicians should participate in the SNAP challenge.

    • Cate says:

      That amount is IF you have little other income to contribute. NOT everyone gets $4.50 per person per day. For example, my husband and I, who have very little income, get $108 per month, which equals $3.60 per day – or $1.80 per person. It is not – Oh, there are four people in our family so we will receive $540 a month. It does not work that way. They take into account your income and go from there. They do not count in your bills such as credit cards you owe. They ask for your house payment, car payment and utilities – period. This amount also does not cover toiletries, paper products or pre-cooked meals. You are not allowed to buy a pre-cooked whole chicken UNLESS they have put it in the cold section – which makes no sense. There are several restrictions. Any single mother who has to try to figure out the cheap meals and then cook them after she has come home tired from working all day and then has to care for children and supper, I feel so sorry for her.

  4. Nina says:

    Thank you! I didn’t understand the SNAP challenge until I read through this completely, but had made some of the recipes and my family loved them! We chose them because they were meatless and, well, I am currently on unpaid medical leave and living on my VA disability. Our income was cut $5,600/month–no snarky comments here. I wish we had SNAP; we will probably be going to the food pantry and then I’ll be looking through your recipes for what fits what treasures we found. Hopefully we won’t be in this situation too long, but we won’t give up the wonderful new meals you have and shared with us. Thank you for this gift!!!

    • You sound like a wonderful person Nina! I wish I knew you and we could pool what we have, as I am on disability as well, and we could all eat well!! Bless you sweetheart! You’re loved! <3

  5. Jessica says:

    I dare some people who are being snarky about this to participate in the challenge.

    SNAP /is/ supposed to be supplemental, yes, but some people have nothing to supplement! I’m disabled and was getting SSI until I turned 18, and they had me go to one of their psychiatrists and he talked to me for not even 10 minutes and said that I was fine. Um.. No, I’m really not. I am much better than I was when I was a child because, well, I’ve learned coping mechanisms, but I still have problems, including debilitating anxiety attacks(that I no longer have insurance to pay for, either) that prevent me from working a regular job because they’re so random and intense. My son is physically disabled with a severe hypothyroidism, and my fiance is disabled with severe back problems, and is 75% blind and deaf on one side due to a tumor on his spine when he was young. My fiance still works his bum off at a factory, but he struggles. He really, REALLY tries his best and the only reason why he has stayed on at the factory as long as he has is because he tries so hard and goes above and beyond doing what he’s asked. Still, my son and I have both been declined for SSI and we only JUST got on Medicaid and Food Stamps. I’m sorry, but a family of three on $10/hr. is not possible on your own, and we are in a position where it’s not possible for us to get anything better. We’re twenty with a 10 month old son(who HAS to have his medicine, or it could cause severe developmental problems including mental retardation) and another on the way. We have to do what we can while we have to. I’m sorry that other individuals are too prude to sympathize with individuals who DO need it. Yes, there are people who abuse it, but PEOPLE ARE PEOPLE. There will ALWAYS be SOMEONE abusing SOMETHING. That’s just the way humanity is. Don’t ignore the vast majority of people who really do need it and discredit them. I’m not sure if cussing is allowed here, so I won’t.. But know that what I want to say to individuals like that is anything but kind.

    I very, very, very much appreciate you taking the time and effort to spotlight this challenge and to take part in it, yourself. So many people take for granted what they have, and what they can work with. It’s sad that the people who doing well for themselves make fun of, scrutinize, and insult those of us not in such good places.

    I could tell so many people of so many VALID cases of people needing help.

    I, myself, had a hard time reeling in my spending and becoming a responsible adult due to my upbringing. Even when my parents made $150k a year with their company, they would blow through their money and live paycheck to paycheck, and fail to meet bills. For a long time after they lost their company, we were on Food Stamps. My mother fed 6 children(most of whom were teens) on Food Stamps while my dad would be out doing whatever and blowing what little money he made. My mother and father divorced a few years ago after it was revealed that my father had been paying for “services”, and admitted to over 40 women. I couldn’t care less what happened to my father; I barely talk to him. My mother, however, was left with no job history in the past 12 years(my mother had to quit work when she had me, due to my problems), had no vehicle, no savings, etc. She had been living in the house I grew up in, until my dad kicked her out of it. She had no money, nowhere to go, and nothing to go off of. Luckily, all of us kids were grown at that point and my oldest brother gave her his truck, and we all pitched in to help her get a deposit to get moved in to an apartment(icing on the cake: she couldn’t take her service dog because he was a Doberman and “dangerous” dogs weren’t allowed), etc.
    Now, imagine someone in the same situation not having that support system to help them. Then imagine them not even being able to get SNAP because people decided that too many people abuse it and that it should be damn near impossible to get.

    Want another story? My mom’s best friend, E(won’t give her full name). E was a massage therapist and made good money. She knows what success is, and had it. When she married her ex-husband, he began to display his alcoholic tendencies. He would scare her and she felt lost; she turned to prescription drugs. She has gone through rehab three times(including once while she was pregnant with her youngest), and lost her well-paying job. She has not touched those narcotics in years, but the damage was done. She is now a single mother of 2 kids under 12 years old, who gets a small amount of child support that barely covers her rent, has a part-time job, and struggles. Yes, she messed up. NO she is NOT lazy, nor is she a bad mom, or a pill-popper, or anything like that. She did what she did and has moved past it successfully. She’s on her feet, but barely. She still needs help.

    People may SEEM like they’re fine. There is much more beyond what you see while someone is checking out in line with their SNAP card. They have energy drinks on the belt? Well, did you consider that maybe they have multiple jobs and need it to function so that they can afford to pay rent and bills? Or maybe that they grab as much overtime as they can, but they also have kids at home that make sleeping difficult sometimes and they just need a frickin’ boost? Seriously, quit judging people and get the heck over yourselves. You may find yourself in the same situation someday.

    • LaTrice says:

      I agree with you, Jessica because some people don’t understand what it feels like to struggle on a daily basis-especially when they don’t have enough to eat. And that’s why there’s SNAP, to help families have a decent meal, so they don’t have to worry about when their next meal would come. Also, I’m saddened by these rude and disrespectful comments that some people have posted-which to me is despicable!!

  6. Thank you for doing this SNAP challenge Beth. I hope I will get some new ideas for meals to cook for my family. We have pretty much cut all meat from our diet since it is so much cheaper to eat rice, beans and lentils.

    I’m saddened to read some of the snarky comments here about how some people see people and families that have to rely on SNAP to feed their families. Both my husband and I are disabled. He’s a disabled Army veteran yet he gets barely any money each month from the V.A. Three years ago I was diagnosed with an incredibly rare cranial nerve disorder and over the past year I’ve undergone three failed surgeries – one of which was a brain surgery. In less than two weeks I am traveling out of state (thanks to money raised through a fundraiser and working freelance jobs when my pain was not horrid) for a much more invasive brain surgery. There’s a 60% chance it will lessen my pain, which can only be described as feeling like someone is constantly stabbing me in my right ear. My disorder is also known as the Suicide Disease because it is rare that medications, many procedures or even brain surgery will ever completely eliminate the pain. Unfortunately some people simply give up fighting- for the right medication, an experienced physician, anything to ease the constant pain that alters our entire lives.

    I love to cook and bake for my family. This pain is so awful and never ending that my husband- who is due for a spinal surgery once I am healed from the upcoming brain surgery, has taken over making lunch and dinner. Trying to cook or do much of anything while in such extreme pain is impossible. I miss cooking for my family.

    My husband and I have become used to the glares and nasty comments we get while we’re paying for our whole food ingredients at the store – wheat flour, rice, beans, fresh fruits and veggies, and a lot of very expensive goat milk that WIC helps with, as my youngest is allergic to all but goat milk. At times I think about turning to the people behind me and explaining the pain my husband and I are fighting each day to get healthy meals made for our two children and ourselves. We are embarrassed that we need assistance – we don’t need to be made to feel worse by people who make assumptions about who we are and how lazy we must be because we use SNAP. Our lives have been severely altered by the rare disorder I have, the extreme pain we are both in, and numerous failed surgeries. I know the people who make nasty comments here or at the store don’t know anything about our disabilities or disorders, but is saddens me that people are so quick to judge others instead of being compassionate. I did not ask to be in severe pain every moment for the past three years, just as I did not ask to be born 4 months premature with cerebral palsy. I hope the people that make critical comments about my family and I are grateful for their health and good jobs, because I lost mine in an instant, and now, yes, my family and I use SNAP to make sure there is food on the table and in the fridge.

    We don’t buy junk food with our SNAP card, but truthfully even if people do, that is their decision. No one has the right to be the SNAP- use police and make rude assumptions and comments about folks who buy energy drinks or sugary, salty, processed food with their SNAP card. If they do that’s their own choice- I don’t see how it affects your life and why it gives anyone a right to judge them. We all make poor decisions in life- if a person in line in front of you is buying Rockstars with their SNAP card, and that’s the worst thing they’ve done, I’d give them a pat on the back, because I’d bet that the other people in line have made a worst health decision that day. Perhaps we should each consider what we can do to be healthy ourselves instead of being the critical voice against all SNAP users because one time you saw someone buy junk food with their card. That’s their business- not yours. It does not represent every person that uses SNAP to buy groceries, just as the guy buying a case of beer in front of me in line doesn’t mean I should judge him as a worthless drunk.

    I ask that people not judge because they do not know the whole story behind why I use SNAP and WIC, and they don’t know why the person in front of them at the grocery store is either. Let’s be kind to one another, please. Life is hard enough without making people who are struggling feel bad about getting a little bit of help to make it through the hard times. Thank you!

    • I agree with you 100%! Thank you for sharing your story and opening up a window to the inside for those who can’t see it. I admire you for staying so strong. :)

      • Thank you for your kind words Beth. I am a long-time lover of your blog and I love trying the new recipes you post. Thanks for the amazing recipes, your book which I can’t live without, and for taking on the SNAP Challenge. I follow so many blogs, as I try to find my own voice and stories for my new blog, and you are one out of a hundred who took on this challenge. Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing ways to make a limited grocery budget work, and for helping erase the stereotypes that follow those of us that use SNAP. You are an amazing blogger and person, and I’m so glad to learn some new, cheap recipes and read your compassionate words.
        My second brain surgery is in exactly a week. I can’t describe how terrified I am, knowing the not-so-great statistics for this type of brain surgery, but I feel I owe it to myself, my two young girls and my husband who has waited these long three years for his spinal surgery to help ease his daily, horrible pain to try to get better and lessen my constant pain. I want to get back to the person I was before this horrific disorder took hold- playing in the park with my girls, cooking and baking every day. Your blog taught me how to cook years ago- thank you so much for that! I look forward to returning to my kitchen and getting back to living my life after I heal from this surgery. Thank you again, for inspiration, and the many meals my family and I have eaten together and enjoyed from your blog and cookbook. I can’t wait to get back to my family and my kitchen!

  7. Serena says:

    I’ve been following your challenge, and contemplating doing it myself. My only hesitation is that I did the “SNAP challenge” for 2 years while I was a single parent going through nursing school. Still a single parent, but now on a nursing salary.
    One of the best things I did during that time was buy a Sam’s Club (we don’t have Costco) membership. I could buy bulk rice that lasted months for just a few dollars. Buy cases of veggies, tomatoes, and mushrooms. Bulk containers of spices and bullion. Chicken breasts for 1.75-1.99 a pound. I could even afford fruit snacks some months because I had so much on hand from previous months. Bulk is the way to go on a budget, but your blog helps a lot, because you add a lot of international cuisine for cheaper than take-out, which breaks up the monotony. Thanks for that!

  8. breeanna says:

    Here recently, my husband and I have become more and more intrigued with living a life of simplicity, and the area of food is definitely one we tend to over-emphasis, over-consume, and really just take too lightly. For the longest time, we have been selfishly concerned with the number of calories we should eat in order to lose a few extra pounds, when really we should be thinking of how we can sacrifice and save money that could be spent toward more beneficial areas in society. Thanks for sharing this challenge and opening our eyes to the possibility of eating less while spending less. We love all your recipes and look forward to your next book. :)

  9. Rebecca S. says:

    I love that you are doing this challenge. Food insecurity is a topic that I’m very interested in and I’ve read a lot of articles and watched a lot of documentaries on the subject. I’m curious about the idea of being able to eat healthy and meet a person’s nutritional needs on a SNAP budget. For many people who rely primarily on food assistance programs, nutrition can be a huge problem. Healthier foods are more expensive than high-calorie processed foods. Those who are fortunate to live in areas where fresh produce is available can cook healthy meals, but definitely sacrifice quantity for quality. Obviously your meals are health conscious. As you are doing this challenge, are you tracking your nutritional input? How many calories, and how much protein, vitamins and minerals you are getting? Are you able to get enough of everything on a very small budget?

    • I’m not tracking it, but I will touch on that in my weekly summary… I definitely don’t think I met all my nutritional needs in week one. :)

  10. Teresa says:

    It would be GREAT if when people are enrolled into SNAP they also receive information on how to prepare meals that fall within SNAP guidelines. Perhaps that will be one of the byproducts of raising awareness within the general public about the program. Many people did not grow up with good nutritional habits and simply lack knowledge that would be beneficial to them and their families. There will always be people that look for loopholes, but I think the majority of people that require SNAP are good, decent folks who are not looking for a handout. If someone handed me 5 a day with which to eat, I’d need some ASSISTANCE on HOW to do that. Kudos to you for taking the challenge and bringing your creative ideas to the table.

  11. Samantha says:

    I’m so interested and want to share this topic with our student reporters at the college where I work. Talk about a teachable moment! Thank you and keep up the good work.

  12. Beth, I’m so happy you’re doing the SNAP challenge. I live in a very low-income neighborhood, many of my neighbors are part of the SNAP and it’s such a struggle for these families to get by day-to-day, especially when, often, we don’t know how to cook very basic meals, were never taught how, or were just thrown some leftover McDonalds because it was cheap and easy growing up. I can’t wait to try all your recipes, and share them with my neighbors here!

  13. I’m glad you’re doing this to raise awareness! I love your blog and the recipes you come up with–it’s definitely helped me with my budgeting! That being said, I spend about $100/month on groceries if I’m splurging and had no idea I was living well under the budget for food stamps. I guess I will be continuing with that through this month!

  14. Pam Patrick says:

    Have you seen the SNAP inspired cook book by LeAnne Brown titled A SNAP Cookbook Good and Cheap? You can download a free PDF version.

  15. Danielle says:

    I like the idea of this challenge. I’ve been following your blog for a while and love many of your recipes. Today though my husband and I sat down to do our budget and we have $175 for 2 weeks for gas and food for our family of 6 due to some unexpected expenses. I look forward to see what recipes you present and hope I’ll be able to use them in our very tight meal plan for the next 15 days!
    Thanks for all you do!

  16. Kach says:

    If you’ll be posting your summary at the end of the week,then my family will do this too! A week behind of course, and possibly with a few modifications for the ever-snacking toddler (real snacks, not packaged). I’m looking forward to your progress! I believe access to wholesome healthy food is a disparity that also works to keep the socioeconomic gap in place.

    • Well, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be successful each week because it really is an experiment. Now that I’m mostly through this week I will definitely do things much differently next week! :) Soy, you may not want to follow exactly. :P

  17. Marie says:

    I cant wait to do this, I’m hoping to do it next year. I’ve either been pregnant or nursing every challenge for the last three years. I know nursing and pregnant moms qualify for extra subsidies In the U.S. ( I’m Canadian). I cannot imagine how much stress this would add for moms, especially when stress can inhibit milk production. Formula can be insanely expensive. We don’t spend much on food, but we are lucky because our base has a program for military families to buy vegetables at wholesale prices.

  18. Samantha says:

    My spouse and I have been eating on $4/per person, per day for about a year now. I’m not saying it hasn’t been difficult, but we were trying to become debt-free. (We will pay off our last debt NEXT WEEK!)

    Anyway, this really surprised me that we were eating on less than we would have received in food stamps! I had no idea. I know I am feeling the crunch, we can almost never go to a restaurant, or buy anything that is not for a specific (cheap) meal. I would love to raise this spending amount to $5 – $6/per person, per day, in order to be able to splurge once in a while, but I completely agree with you that “it’s important not to over consume”. We are definitely anti-consumers and will need to find a new balance soon!

    • Congratulations on paying off your debt!!

    • Sarah says:

      Samantha,
      Congratulations on paying of your debt! What an amazing milestone. I am inspired to keep chipping away at our final debt- a large student loan.
      Beth, your blog provides so much inspiration too! Eating healthy food that tastes good (and is inexpensive) is so important to my family. Thank you.

  19. Laura says:

    I think it’s great that you’re raising awareness about this. My young family was on SNAP for bit until my husband’s job converted to full time. Before we applied, he was virtually starving himself to keep the food budget low enough. We were living on less than $3 per person per day.

    I hope that people take the right message away from this “challenge”. The point is to empathize with the plight of the nation’s poor, not to feel good about the bargains you’re able to score.

    Beth, I appreciate your comment about the cooking resources (not) available to many on SNAP. Browsing tips on “living frugally” can be very frustrating for someone who literally does not have enough money at any one time to purchase in bulk, does not have access to more than a small freezer, has limited access to transportation to buy food in multiple places, etc.

  20. Michael says:

    As a 105 pound 5’11”, eating too little can actually be a little dangerous for me. I’ve found areas to cut back like saving gas by riding a motorcycle (speaking of dangerous >.>), drink tons of water instead of other drinks (Which does mean I lose out on some calories, but I can replace them with foods), and various other things. I could probably cut back food a bunch, especially since the cooking relapse of going to college, but too much will not end well.

  21. Allison says:

    I’m so excited to be a long-time reader of your blog, so I can read your experiences during this challenge. I wish you all the best!

  22. Higgy says:

    Is the $4.50 a day per person? I kinda hope not because I just did the math and I only spend about $3.90 a person a day (we are a family of 3) but I do use tons of coupons and stock up on meat markdowns and stuff. I’m torn between feeling sympathetic towards people on SNAP because on one hand my family was on it for a short period of time when my daughter was born and I know how much it can suck but on the other hand it makes me sad and slightly jealous. I am a cashier in a grocery store and see how much money is wasted by some people on SNAP. Did you know you can buy energy drinks of SNAP? Yeah you can and people do. I’m not saying EVERYONE wastes it but it seems like there is a lot going on.

    • Nicole says:

      There are a lot of loopholes in SNAP that need to be covered. I’ve used SNAP at 2 different times in my life (both while un/under employeed) and it is frustrating. In m

    • Rachele says:

      I think you’re missing the point of the challenge.

      Also, grocery costs are not the same nationwide and it costs far more to feed a teenager than a toddler. You’re costs are not the litmus for everyone’s grocery budget.

      • Higgy says:

        You’re right about it costing depending on where you live. I can’t get a gallon of milk for under $4.50 anywhere abut apples are super cheap. Also I know it costs more to feed a teen than a toddler. My husband is a big guy not fat but tall and bearish. He eats what 2 normal people would eat in a day. So I guess You could say I feed 3 adults and a toddler for the same price. So like $2.93 a person a day. I’m doing better than I thought.

  23. LaTrice says:

    When my sister and I moved out of our parents’ house last year, we were going to the grocery store everyday! My mom gave us some advice, and suggested that we should go to the store once week, and save money. My sister and I would spend $250-$300 on groceries. Although there’s nothing wrong with trying to save some money, it’s important that you don’t starve yourself-as well as cooking meals that are satisfying, and NOT sacrifice flavor!! I’m looking forward to looking at your progress with the SNAP challenge! I’ll be rooting for you, Beth and GOOD LUCK!!! :-)

  24. Courtney says:

    Good luck and sorry to hear food costs are so high where you are. I’m in AZ and I get $347 / month for me and my son. We eat three meals a day, snacks and can do holidays and have never used the full months amount. From calculating, we get $5.78 each a day, not the lower $4.50 listed. I could always try the challenge for a month and save the extra for a really nice meal.

  25. I’ve recently started saving EVERY SINGLE receipt and entering EVERY SINGLE ONE into a spreadsheet that calculates food costs, (with a separate sheet for household costs, utilities, etc.). I always kept a budget, but not down to the individual receipt, and doing this is very, very helpful. I paperclip each month’s receipts together and keep them filed. Then I can go back and see exactly how much I paid for an ingredient so I can calculate costs for individual meals like you do on this site. Obviously some things were bought before I started doing this, so I have to go by current price and estimate, but overall I’ve been able to keep a much tighter hold on my expenses, especially food costs. I imagine you do something similar so that you can calculate costs for this site, and it inspired me to do it myself! It does take a TON of time to do this, but it definitely pays off if you have the time and the computer to do it (which not everyone does). I also, like many people, check the sales for my 5 or 6 regular grocery stores and write out a list of intended purchases at each one so I can meal plan around them. Most of my stores turn over their sales on Wednesdays (Target is Sundays), so on Tuesday night or Wednesday morning I scan the ads to plan for the week. Breaking it up this way also helps me track my WEEKLY spending. Again, this takes a lot of time, and it also requires Internet access unless you can get your hands on paper ads from every store every week. It also requires having access to multiple stores in my area, reliable transportation and a way to carry things home, etc. But if one can make those things work, it really helps.

  26. Congrats on the purchase of your new house (yes, stressful, but ultimately gratifying!)

    I look forward to following your SNAP Challenge adventures.
    mb

  27. You may have already heard about the new SNAP cookbook, Good and Cheap, but in case you haven’t, here’s the info. You can download the entire book for free. It looks pretty great, whether or not you’re on SNAP. (There’s a link in the article.)

    http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/01/337141837/cheap-eats-cookbook-shows-how-to-eat-well-on-a-food-stamp-budget

  28. i can’t wait to follow along with this! so inspiring.

  29. Austin Lance Butler says:

    This is awesome!

  30. Marijah says:

    I lived the SNAP challenge for 5 years while I was going through college with my son. During that time, I found this awesome website and used the heck out of it.

    But I also found that it is much cheaper to buy in bulk at the first of the month and freeze items. By shopping at Costco, I can get nearly a months worth of cereal for $4.00-ish if I buy what they have on sale. I can get six pounds of chemical-free chicken for just over $20. And the bulk food section of Sprouts is a great stop off, too. There you can buy more expensive items in just the right quantity that you need, so you’re not paying more money for an excess of food you don’t need. I can get an entire reusable shopping bag stuffed with fresh, organic produce from our local farmers market for $20. And our bakery outlet, which I believe is owned by Sarah Lee, has organic bread for $1.89/loaf. It’s close to expiration, so it has to be frozen until you’re ready to eat, but considering it’s nearly $5 a loaf at Krogers, it’s one heck of a savings.

    I found that by doing it this way, I could keep us fed every meal of every day, snacks included, on the SNAP benefits. It takes me five different trips to five different stores (Costco, Sprouts, Kroger, the Farmer’s Market, and the Bakery Outlet), and an entire weekend of meal prepping, but it’s worth it.

    And for snacks, since I saw a few comments on that, popcorn is an awesome treat. If you buy it in bulk and cook it on your stove, it’s practically free. And this is a great recipe for bars that will keep you full in between meals: http://www.oprah.com/food/Sesame-Fruit-and-Nut-Bars The nuts are can be changed to whatever is on sale, and I used craisins (Sprouts bulk) instead of cherries because they’re much cheaper. The coconut butter can be expensive, but I used it so much for household products and other recipes that it was worth the purchase in bulk from Costco for me.

    Anyway, good luck on your challenge. I hope this brings a lot of awareness to a major issue.

  31. Rebecca says:

    Looking forward to your recipes. When I think of or try things like this all I can figure out is made from scratch bean soup, rice and hamburger helper without the hamburger…I have been very fortunate to not need to live this way, but I’d like to know I could if I had to. You are doing a very awesome thing and I am going to try to follow along.

  32. Chloe says:

    I did the snap challenge about a year ago. It was difficult, especially psychologically. Hope it goes better for you!

  33. I think this is an excellent challenge. As a student myself I try to keep my food budget as low as possible by planning my meals, buying reduced food and following your recipes of course! I find snacking a problem too so I’m looking forward to seeing how you deal with it.

  34. Emme says:

    Another vote to check out the SNAP double buying power at Farmers Markets. I live in Missouri, and all the FMs here participate. Searched for markets in NOLA, and found the home page for Crescent City. If you look in their Projects section, it’s called Market Match. You can purchase up to $20 with a SNAP card, and receive up to $40 in market tokens. They scan the card at the same place folks use their debit cards to get tokens, since the majority of vendors aren’t set up to take debit cards.

    Since you won’t have a SNAP card, you’ll have to fudge a bit by purchasing, then halving the sum for your calculations. But the farmers market could be a big help in keeping you in fruits and veggies.

    Also, our markets participate year round. With hoop houses, farmers keep greens and such going practically year found. In NOLA, certainly more would still be available in the winter months. What’s available during September will be fantastic. :-)

  35. Holly says:

    I will be following your posts for added ideas BUT I am a single person household and spend below $4.50/day on food stuff – like $20-25/week on all food, household AND cat stuff. Nearly half of what I spend is on FRESH produce (I have tracked it) so I am eating health w/5-10 servings of fruit & veg/day. I do eat a lot of chicken but veggie 2xweek and fish 2x/week (rotating weeks of inexpensive tuna and various fillets).

  36. Belle says:

    I’m looking forward to see what your creative mind thinks up. I looked at the budget and figured I would just eat rice and beans the entire month.

  37. -if you have an air popper you might be able to get away with having some popcorn as snacks if you need it since plain corn kernels are very inexpensive yet are a good source of fiber & protein. I don’t want you to literally starve this September; also, bulk bins are always great and brown rice is inexpensive and filling with beans too…

    Good luck!!~

  38. Sanny B says:

    Have you seen or heard of this cookbook by Leanne Brown? It is super neat and due to a kickstarter campaign totally free! It is geared towards those that are on benefits, but anyone looking to eat on a budget can definitely learn from it. :) http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/08/01/337141837/cheap-eats-cookbook-shows-how-to-eat-well-on-a-food-stamp-budget

  39. Once when I was learning to cook, I set out to make a nice meal for the family (there would have been leftovers too.) Well, being a novice cook I ruined it. Completely inedible, throw it out ruined it. I can’t imagine if that had been my entire food budget. I was pretty upset as it was.
    Tl;Dr sometimes prepared food is cheaper if you ruin the from scratch food and don’t have the money in your budget to practice cooking.

  40. Lindsay says:

    I think the premise of this challenge is fundamentally flawed. People who get the *average* amount of SNAP benefits are those the program judges to have some other income that could be allotted for food. The *average* SNAP benefit is not *intended* to be enough to buy all one’s food! If the program determines you really don’t have any other money to buy food, you receive the *maximum* amount of SNAP benefits, not the average amount.

    I just think this challenge does SNAP a disservice by misrepresenting it. No one, especially the administrators of SNAP, expects someone to be able to live on nothing but the average amount of SNAP benefits, so it really shouldn’t be surprising that people have so much trouble when they try. It would be much more accurate to write about living on nothing but the maximum amount of SNAP benefits.

    • Sally says:

      I agree! I’m a single senior and live in a senior housing community. At least a dozen of my neighbors receive SNAP benefits and none rely on it alone for their food purchases. The aveirage benefit is about $20 weekly and most spend at least $40-$50 weekly for food (including the SNAP benefit) and some spend more.

      I think those who use SNAP benefits only for their food purchases are the exception and not the rule.

      • janmaus says:

        Although the only legal use is for food purchase!

        • Marina says:

          I think Sally is referring to people that only use SNAP benefits to buy food without any additional money being spent on food. For example, there is $20 on the ebt card so I can only get $20 in food. Not $20 on the ebt card plus $5 from my own pocket. Also, if there are none food items on the ringout, the amount of the food is the only thing the computer sends to the ebt account. It is not possible to buy anything other than food. The registers at most commercial grocery stores divide up the items into categories for food and non food items. The cashier usually has to authorize a food stamp total. Many times this is just a button that says EBT, food stamps, whatever. If there is say, paper plates on the ring up list, the food balance would be sent through and the cashier will see a notice of a remaining balance owed.

    • Beth says:

      I don’t think the premise is flawed at all. I agree, the SNAP program is designed to be supplemental, but the reality is that for a lot of Americans, it is the only source of income for food. While they could spend additional money on food, they do not or cannot. Plus, SNAP benefit calculations assume that if an individual pays less than 50% of his/her income on rent, he/she is not eligible for a deduction that would increase his/her SNAP benefit levels. Many, many Americans, especially those in large cities and living in poverty, are “rent burdened” and paying between 35% and 49% of their very limited income on rent, leaving not much left over for other necessities.

      I work with a lot of individuals who receive the maximum SNAP benefits for a single person, which is $189 a month in New York City, or $6.30 per day. They have no other source of income due to a variety of circumstances, and many live in a homeless shelter, single room occupancy housing, or doubled-up with family or friends. And this is where it gets particularly precarious: for a lot of people, particularly single individuals living in cities (where the largest number of those in poverty are concentrated), there is little to no access to a kitchen or to cookware. This means no stove, no refrigerator, and no storage. As a result, individuals have to purchase prepackaged foods that can be heated in a microwave, or food that can be eaten raw or uncooked. Food is purchased on a day to day basis due to lack of storage, so there is no discount for bulk purchasing.

      Given this, $4.50 a day for an individual who has access to multiple grocery stores, storage, a fridge and freezer, and all the tools to make a lot at a time seems like a more than reasonable estimate. I think it’s an absolutely terrific endeavor, and I look forward to watching the progress!

      Thankfully, New York also has the farmer’s market matching funds, which is a terrific program!

  41. Karla says:

    I’m very much looking forward to following this…due to some issues my family is currently in the ironic position of having very little funding (thank goodness for previous savings) but being “too highly paid” to get any sort of assistance. Hopefully you can help me cut food costs and we can still have a decent Christmas this year.

  42. Solana says:

    What a great idea for a challenge! I calculated the monthly cost for my family of 6 to live on 4.50 per day, and with 30 days, that’s $810/month, but we spend only about half that. I always record the total amount spent on groceries each month (including toiletries, laundry and dish detergent, and other consumables), and our average cost is $450 per month, so I think I’ll change my family’s challenge to under $400 and record it differently–instead of adding up grocery bills, I’ll add up each meal’s ingredients since I rely a lot on long term food storage that is bought in bulk and rotated (my average monthly grocery cost includes purchase of that long-term storage). We eat really well even on that budget, in large part due to some great recipes on your website! Some main differences between how we eat and most people are some of the following (aside from cooking most things from scratch, as you teach): we don’t purchase beverages except milk (no coffee, soda, juice, anything), we don’t waste hardly any food but plan carefully to use up leftovers, and we don’t buy many snack foods or desserts (we make homemade desserts some times). Our snacks are usually homemade things like popcorn popped from plain bulk kernels, banana bread or zucchini bread, cheese sticks cut ourselves from the block, smoothies made with frozen bananas and other fruit, random leftovers, or raw fruit or veggies. I’m always looking for tips to further reduce our cost and improve our efficiency, so I look forward to your findings.

  43. Lucy Snook says:

    Congrats on your house!! Moving can be the hardest and most expensive time for eating. If it helps, since we are on this budget, I mostly use half the meat you say and add beans/lentils to pretty much everything and it works really well! Also, bananas and smoothies make good cheap snacks :) You don’t have to avoid snacks, just the cheese (and oh I know this is the hardest part!!)

    Blessings!
    Lucy

  44. Conchexpat says:

    Add my voice to those who appreciate people with a public profile taking the SNAP challenge, then writing or speaking about it. I’m disabled, and receive SNAP benefits. They do not cover my entire month’s worth of food, but it sure helps!

    One thing that helps, especially during the summer, is the Double Up Program, which doubles your SNAP benefits at the farmer’s market for locally grown food. It helps me to eat healthier foods, and helps local farmers too. It’s brilliant!

    • That’s an excellent program! I had no idea it existed. :)

      • Conchexpat says:

        I live in Michigan. I don’t know if other states have programs like it or not. Many markets participate. It’s a real win-win. And a lifesaver.

  45. Bessie Malek says:

    I, too, am looking forward to reading your blog this month. I did live on a food budget like this for about 2 and 1/2 months while I was unemployed, but I had a car, I had time to plan, I have a well-equipped kitchen, and I like to cook. Kudos to all the people who must do this week in and week out with fewer resources than I had. Randall? Thanks for that recipe. I never imagined mixing popcorn in with chili. Beth? About coffee. Mee likum java too. Have you considered instant? I never priced it, but I wondered if it would be more budget friendly.

  46. Krista says:

    I am really looking forward to reading about your journey and getting inspired! What a wonderful thing to do and spread knowledge about…thank you for sharing.

  47. Addi says:

    What you are doing is inspiring and admirable. Way to go!!

  48. Becky D. says:

    We’re a family of 5 (3 adults 2 children ages 2 and 7) My actual budget goal for September for food was $600/$20 a day which is right about at the SNAP goal considering the kids don’t eat as much as the adults. We’ve been working on budgeting more the last 6 months and this is some of the things I learned. I must pay attention to sales and price match at Walmart or go to more than one store each week. Small things can add up for me it’s better tea stevia packets instead of regular sugar greek yogurt and I prefer the kids have organic milk but it’s really too pricey. Also for my area chicken breast is cheap (almost always $2 lb on sale) so beef and especially fish are less frequent meals. I’ve volunteered at our church’s soup kitchen before and from talking with the coordinator transportation to stores storage and equipment and just plain cooking skills all can make frugal meals hard for many needy families.

  49. Krystal says:

    Thank you for bringing awareness to food insecurity.
    Even though I’m in Canada, it is a serious issue here also, as others have already mentioned.
    Years ago, as an unemployed single parent, I found one what helped, especially when buying produce, was to avoid shopping at the big chain grocery stores. Instead I’d frequent the small mom-and-pop stores where the variety was greater, often locally-sourced and priced anywhere from half to a third what Safeway charged. However, I am blessed to live somewhere where fresh grown produce & other farm-to-table items are easily/readily available. So many others don’t have that option.
    Once again find myself in financial straits, so your blog is invaluable…and this challenge will likely be highly inspirational! I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing your updates!

  50. I’m so thankful that you are doing this. Our family spends a little more per person, but not too much more. I am looking forward to this series. Congrats on closing on your home!

  51. Cherie says:

    Good luck on your journey.

    I have considered doing this challenge from time to time, we are, thankfully, in a comfortable time in our lives but remember well having been extremely tight in times past.

    But lately I’ve been thinking that instead I will spend some time putting together my food pantry donations more thoughtfully. I’ve been making purchases more carefully for donation, trying to think about healthy basics that will morph into many meals.

    But I think these challenges are always interesting to read about and are wonderful for raising awareness – looking forward to reading about your experience!

  52. So many things came to mind as I read your post and the comments. You have already raised my awareness!

    $30/week per person. That was my exact food budget … 30 years ago!

    I looked at the SNAP website and was encouraged by the fact that there were recipes. Then I looked at the recipes. A LOT of canned food and some of the chicken recipes called for boneless/skinless breasts ($$$ – although I know all meat)

    I got to thinking about the canned food and Randall’s comment above. And please know, I am not being critical, but I thought about the fact that using dried beans gets you a lot more meals for the same amount of money. BUT, then I considered that you need to know how to make/use dried beans, you need some spices ($$$), you need the pots, pans & utensils. That is an advantage that you, Beth and I and most of us NOT currently in need of assistance have.

    So, it got me thinking further that it is not just $$$ for food that is needed, but in some cases it could be what is required to prepare food and the knowledge that would allow a person or family to do scratch cooking/baking if they desired and had the time.

    The cost and time components of 1 serving of beans are summarized nicely here: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/dry-beans-or-canned-beans-a-cost-effective-comparison/

    A Canadian blogger has several programs going to fight hunger in her area. One of them is a cooking class for children: http://inpursuitofmore.com/2013/04/08/spiced-lentils-indian-chapatis-food-bloggers-against-hunger/

    Thank you for sharing that part of your motivation is to use less. I certainly have all and more that I need but I have been consistently paring down and using less and hope to stay on track with that in all areas of my life.

    I’m still thinking and will be thinking about you as well as reading the blog.

    • Yes, I agree with you on all points! :) I have so many advantages here, and even still it will be difficult. I plan to outline all of the advantages I have, so that people realize just how difficult it is for all those people who are not nearly so lucky. If I were a millionaire, I would open food stores in areas that have no decent grocery options, stock them full of basics, and hold classes on how to cook these staple items. :) I’ll keep dreaming and maybe it will one day come true.

  53. Thanks for doing this. And thank you for acknowledging the privilege many of us bring to it. I’m a grad student who makes very little money and has to squeeze my food budget as low as I can get it while still trying to remain relatively healthy. But I have a family who could buy me some groceries if I really were in a tight spot, or could help me out with a medical bill if need be, etc. I also have the time to plan all this out, a computer and internet access to more easily compare sales and research recipes and nutrition, a car to take me to sometimes 5 different stores in a day (all in the same area, but 5 stores nonetheless) and transport it all home. I also have a full kitchen in which to store and cook these ingredients. I don’t have any major food allergies or medical conditions that seriously affect my ability to eat certain things. (I do have acid reflux, so I have to be mindful of that and avoid certain foods, but it is generally not too difficult financially to get around it.) I don’t have any kids or other dependents to feed. I live in a major metropolitan area where I can shop a huge variety of markets within easy distance of me. My race and my education level, etc., also give me a leg up. Plus all kinds of privileges I haven’t even mentioned or probably even thought of. And even with all this, it’s REALLY HARD. I can’t even imagine what it’s like for a single parent household, someone with a disability, someone living in a food desert without access to transportation, someone without a safety net like I have, etc. So it’s easy to poo-poo the SNAP challenge as misguided tourism by people who don’t have to live with true poverty or food insecurity, but I really think it has value as a personal exercise, if not an exercise in empathy.

    • Yes, exactly, thank you. :) I’m not in any way trying to say that what I’m doing is comparable to what others have to experience, but it’s a good exercise and I think it will at least make people stop and think. That is my hope, anyway. :)

  54. Emily R says:

    Really interested to see how this goes for you, and kudos to you for taking the challenge!

  55. Diogo says:

    Congrats for spreading information about FoodAmerica organization =)
    I’m very excited with your experience. Today I have a really good job and love a good meal, but over the next year I’m going to study abroad. I’ll have to completely change my lifestyle due the short money, but I’d like to eat well as much as I can.

  56. That sounds really challenging, but I’m looking forward to reading the creative solutions you have for cheap food! I assume you’ve seen recipe book Good and Cheap? https://8b862ca0073972f0472b704e2c0c21d0480f50d3.googledrive.com/host/0Bxd6wdCBD_2tdUdtM0d4WTJmclU/good-and-cheap.pdf

    • I haven’t read it yet, but I did help spread the word by sharing it on social media when the kickstarter was still going! It’s a great idea!

  57. Karen says:

    Snack food: homemade popcorn! Dirt cheap

  58. There’s been a good deal written here in Canada recently about our lack of food stamps and the need to rely on what is donated to food banks it’s very interesting. And not a little bit scary. It’s made me rethink my own donations to food banks. Here’s one that resonates strongly with me:
    http://hofemergencyfoodassistance.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/mo-kd-mo-problems/
    I’m looking forward to watching how this plays out. We went to the grocery store with a short list yesterday, and I couldn’t believe how much things cost! I can’t imagine $4.50 a day.

  59. We don’t have food stamps in Canada, and our grocery prices are considerably higher.

    However, I’ll join you in this, as best I can. I’m going to start tomorrow, however, since this is the first I’ve heard of it :P

    So, if you’re interested in a Canadian perspective, and what we can whittle down to, let me know!

  60. Randall says:

    Hello Beth, I wish you much success in this adventure. As one who has to live everyday figuring what I have to eat today. There are day, where I have only popcorn to eat. I get to go to the grocery store about once in three to four months. I buy as much as I can on sale. Most of the time I may have a $100 to $125.00 to spend. I make a few $ from doing surveys which buys most of my dry goods from Walmat.com and Amazon.com. They are a life saver. They have allowed me to eat for less than 3.00 per day. But it’s getting harder as the thing gets higher in prices.
    One of the dishes I fix is take a 25oz can of chili without beans, I mix pinto beans and 4 pints of unsalted popcorn with the chili. The dish will make me three meals. That’s cost me less than 2.00 per meal. Good Luck!

  61. Lettrine says:

    Hi,

    It’s such a great project !!! I didn’t know about it. I’m glad you mentioned it.

    Good luck with your challenge.

    Best regards

  62. I did the SNAP challenge two years ago when my husband was unemployed. It wasn’t really so much of a challenge as our new way of life. I just did the calculation: $4.50 per day x 6 people x 30 days = $810. We got a bit over half of that because he was getting unemployment. Even though we had a little “income” coming in, our only grocery allowance was food stamps. We were able to pull it off and I don’t remember it as the worst time of my life. I actually remember it fondly and often wish we could go back to that summer. Even now, as a family of 7, we spend about $600 a month on groceries. About $150 of that is produce. I am looking forward to your assessment of your adventure. :-)

    • Thank you for sharing your experience! I hope that being more vocal brings attention to the issue.

      • The worst part wasn’t how to get what we needed, but rather the emotional issues and the shame from relying on it.

  63. Beth,
    Not sure you heard about this now-closed kickstarted, https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/490865454/good-and-cheap, but her recipe book is a free download. Same passion – learn to make wise choices and cook good food on SNAP dollars. Good and Cheap: Eat Well on $4/Day by Leanne Brown.

    • Yes, I haven’t read it yet, but I did help spread the word about the kickstarter via social media. It’s a great project!

  64. Peggy says:

    I’m really excited to read about your journey. Hopefully it will inspire us to rethink how and how much we eat. With excess income comes a sense (or comfort?) that we can eat excessively. Food costs have been on the raise and our budget is being squeezed. Best wishes and kudos!

  65. Rebeca says:

    Beth, I think you’re pretty inspirational-thank you.

  66. Katy says:

    I have a pantry that’s decently stocked. Do you count the cost of stored food? (I assume, ‘yes’ but wanted to clarify). And if you are using stored food, when making calculations, do you use today’s cost of that item, or… I totally have no idea how much I paid for some of my canned goods/dried beans.

    Anyway, this seems like a great challenge.

    • Yes, I’m definitely going to include the cost of my pantry items that I use, because they certainly weren’t free. :) Luckily, because of the blog, I have a running tab of how much each item costs, so it’s really easy for me to go back and see. Most of my stuff is fairly new, so I’m just going to use the price that I purchased it at.

  67. Rebecca Newport says:

    I find these SNAP Challenges fascinating. As a family currently using SNAP, I marvel when the average is 4.50/person. Ours works out to be about $2/person per day. There are 10 of us here at home…including 5 boys ages 15 down to 6. It is so hard for me to make our benefits last the entire month. Often I am dipping from some other place so we can eat healthy at the end of the month.

    I love your blog(s) and can’t wait to see what to see what you do with the challenge.

    • Wow, thank you for sharing that, Rebecca! That’s really heart breaking. One of my first reflections was “I’m a small person, what would someone twice my size or with a very physical job do? They’d need twice as much. Teenage boys definitely fit that category as well!

  68. michele says:

    I study food insecurity for a living (in part), so I’m thrilled to see you mention stress: this is really HARD. it requires a lot of mental/financial gymnastics to feed a family on this type of budget: it is work, in itself. Often this type of work is invisible to other family members and to society on a larger scale, so it isn’t calculated when considering how much time the person in charge of food work spends on their role. It far, far exceeds the time to simply prepare food and shop for it. Often, the populations in this category are already strapped for time and under significant stress that isn’t food related all, which has a compounding effect. Planning, in itself, is a bit of a luxury.

    Thanks for helping call attention to this, especially the aspects of food insecurity that are often excluded from the conversation.

    • Agreed! That was one of my first thoughts, too. Not only do I have the time to plan, but I have a lot of knowledge, practice, and training in doing so. The average person would have a very hard time with just that step.

  69. Super excited to see how this goes! Your blog was a gateway to me cooking and paying attention to how much I spent during grad school on my teeny budget! And now that I’ve started a business and gotten married, I’m back and keeping count again!

  70. I am very excited to read these posts! I do have some questions: are you single? do you have children?

    My family and I were more recently than not on SNAP. I was the primary breadwinner, and I was laid off. We were over the limit while I was receiving unemployment, but when that ran out and I still didn’t have a new job, we qualified for the full amount we were allowed for a family of 3… and that was not $4.50/person/day.

    It was a challenge to stay within our monthly SNAP allowance, especially since we like eating produce a LOT. We don’t buy pre-packaged foods, but to help cut costs, we did eat a lot of rice-based meals.

    Leftovers, I think, will be your saving grace. Make a big pot of soup, homemade bread and a huge salad and this will stretch a long time! Bakery thrift stores for sandwich bread is a good option (bread without HFCS is there); we ate a lot of PB and Js with homemade jam we made the previous summer. Breakfast was a lot of eggs from Nana’s chickens (or organic from the store if we were out) and a fruit smoothie made at home.

    Meals were simple and portion control helped stretch everything.

    Good luck and God bless!

    • Yes, I am single with no children and I think that is going to be my biggest advantage. I just don’t know how families do it! Bless you for keeping it together. :)

  71. I am really excited to follow your journey! I love your recipes and your approach to food. I used to work at a social service agency with a food pantry and so I saw first-hand how tough it is for people to make ends meet. I applaud you for taking this challenge and I’ll be supporting you the whole way!

  72. Allison says:

    I was all set to try this challenge. Then I did the math for my family of 6, and realized that we already feed ourselves (and buy toiletries) for over $100/month less than the $4.50/day/person max. I have house guests until late September anyway, but October is definitely going to be grocery budget challenge month after the costs of feeding 4 extra adults for a month.

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