Food Stamp Challenge: Day 2

November 28th

I am surprised by the incredible response from this little experiment. Many of you have either used food stamps at one point in life, or know someone who has. Several of you have suggested ways I could have purchased more food; others have said I’m crazy for trying this. Agreed.

A few comments I’d like to discuss:

~ I didn’t buy my groceries from Wal-Mart because I was recently informed my habit of using my own cloth grocery bags was “slowing them down.” This came from a manager, after the clerk was very rude to me when I wanted to bag my own purchases. Fair enough. I left and haven’t returned. Other groceries are happy to meet my “let me bag my own stuff in my bags” policy with glee. I free up their baggers and they give me a $.05 credit for each bag. I may have spent more money at Fry’s, but I didn’t put more bags in a landfill.

~ This family also did a food stamp challenge. I love what they wrote in their summary after coming in under budget for the week:
Our grandparents knew how to do all this stuff, but there has been a tragic collapse in the transmission of heritage food information across generations in the United States. Classes are needed to help people learn how to plan menus, garden, preserve foods, cook meals from basic ingredients. And people need to talk to elders while they remain with us and conserve as much information as they can. Oral histories are a great way to do this.
So true! I should have called my Grandma Max before starting this. She can stretch a meal like you wouldn’t imagine. Note to self: talk to grandparents about this challenge and hear what they would have done with $20 for the week.

~Another reader mentioned the United Kingdom is now offering a program to trade food stamps for fresh fruit and veggies. Wow! I’m on day two and I have to say, I spent the majority of my budget on fruits and veggies and am still missing my normal dose.

~Want suggestions for how to cut your grocery bill and make more food from scratch? This woman has it down to a science. You’d think some of that giant budget on national security would go toward teaching Americans to cook for themselves. Self-sufficiency is a rather important form of security, don’t you think?

~Yesterday’s food included:
1 packet of instant oatmeal
1 4 ounce container of yogurt
1 hard boiled egg
1 string cheese
1 apple
1/2 cup of brown rice
1/2 cup of stewed lentils
1 cup of steamed spaghetti squash
1/2 cup of red kidney beans
1/2 cup of spaghetti sauce

I’m not hungry, but I am seriously missing my caffeine. I am about to leave for a meeting at a coffee shop and I’m pretty darn sure today’s budget is going to be wildly thrown off course while I swim blissfully in a large cafe Americano.

Posted in
Journal, Public Health
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13 Responses

  1. I always bring my own bags….we have so many collected over the years and now the grocery stores I frequent TOTALLY know me and ASK for my bags.

    I don’t think WalMart’s food is that cheap. Some is but I find their produce kinda expensive.

    However, produce is VERY CHEAP at Sunflower Market.

  2. i wish my grandparents were still around to ask them. i must say that once we move into the new house a garden will be grown. even if my two black thumbs have to read every gardening book known to man to get through it.

    and i agree that the country should do something to teach people gardening, canning, and the proper way to cook something.

    i’m just fortunate that i am not one of those that takes my family out to eat every night.

  3. I am so glad you’re doing this! I’ve got so much to say on the subject I don’t even know where to begin šŸ˜‰

    And you’ve just given me further reason to hate Wal-Mart. (Like I needed another reason.)

    We have Sunflower here too. It is WAY cheaper than any of the major grocery chains.

  4. Blow your budget and buy an espresso machine. A decent one can be had for not too much money and Americanos are very easy to make. In the long run you will save. If you need any beverage assistance drop me a line, I worked at Starbucks for 2 years šŸ˜€

  5. I really admire you for doing this challenge. I have never tried anything like this but I can imagine that it would increase my appreciation of the many blessings I have.

    I can’t believe that WalMart would treat you that way for using your own bags. Oh…wait. I can. It’s WalMart!! My husband and I avoid shopping there whenever possible. I think I only end up in one if it’s the only thing for 50 miles around…

  6. Oh bastard Wal-Mart, how I hate thee. Now I have yet another reason to LOATHE that place.

    I have to say though, at stores other than Trader Joe’s, I’ve gotten the stink eye from the cashier when I reminded them to PLEASE USE MY CLOTH BAGS. I always put them in front of my groceries on the conveyor belt and 9 times out of 10 they push them to the side and try to bag my stuff in their plastic ones.

    Uh, no, I don’t care that my bags don’t hang conveniently from your little metal rods so that you can overhand my tomatoes in there on top of my lettuce. USE THE OPPOSABLE THUMB THAT THE GOOD LORD GAVE YOU AND OPEN THE BAG.

    Clearly, this issue irks me.

    Good job eating on $20. My mom says you are free to email her if you have any questions on government aid or food stamps. She’s also a whiz at stretching a food budget. Just ask her how many ways she can disguise turkey. This is the reason I hate leftovers.

  7. The WalMart story – incredible. Just incredible. And I love that they are currently trying to remarket themselves as more concerned, more eco-friendly, and green…. And then they wonder why we aren’t buying this new party line…

    What I love about you doing this challenge is that you are still working to eat healthily. I’m so glad that you didn’t just buy 10 bags of ramen noodle, and a few more of Mac&Cheese and call it a day. Keep up the good work. (Oh, and thanks for the link to the hillbilly housewife! I’m half in love with her already!)

  8. Dude –

    I think it would be interesting to get us all to do it. I would sign up in a heart beat. I so rarely even just try to stretch what I already have in the house before I buy new. Matt and I could definitely learn from this.

  9. give it up for oatmeal!

    and really, that’s reason # 428 why you shouldn’t go to wal-mart, isn’t it? although really, it would probably be a more authentic experiment in poverty if you did haul your $25 worth of groceries home in 11 separate plastic bags.

    on a related note, a co-worker and i have suggested to our local co-op several times to offer a ‘weekly food basket’ of low-cost whole foods that would have a fixed price — like, $20 for the bag, whatever it contains each week. like the CSA model, only for dry goods.

    oh, and also? i heard that some insurance companies are reimbursing for participation in CSAs… but not mine. yet. (ahem)

    keep at it!

  10. Sounds like I’m not the only one who hates WALMART. I will not, repeat, will not, shop there. I will drive by three Walmart’s to pick up one item, rather than shop there. Their stock is down and their produce sucks!

  11. Hmm.. I must have a jewel in the Walmart world. Granted, as a company they are not Mother Nature. But the Walmart I shop at is always fully stocked with more variety than the regular stores around here and I’ve always had wonderful experiences with their produce, and I find them less expensive (more expensive than the farmers’ markets here, but only by a small amount).

    And again, my point is that the average person who really is on a this budget probably won’t have the luxury of driving past 3 Walmarts because they don’t like their corporate persona or whatever. I’d love to save the world as much as the next person, but first I have to make sure that my husband, daughter and I can manage to not spend more than our budget on groceries.
    I grew up in a family that was pitifully poor. Kelli, that website you posted, HillBillyHousewife? That was us! No joke. Somehow when you’re trying to figure out where the next weeks worth of groceries is going to come from, you are suddenly not so concerned with how environmentaly friendly the company is..

  12. this is a good experiment and that is the only thing that it should be. how can anyone live healthy on such little. it is not right.
    growing up in a communist country, waiting on food lines and having very little is my experience. perhaps that is what lead me on my path of eating healthy.
    i would include seeds for sprouting to this list. it is amazing how tiny little seeds, sprouted, can give good energy and health. of course that takes education, the government with its lack of education needs to look into this.

  13. what a cool project. i can’t wait to read more.