Saturday, July 2, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp budget Day 1



I began with breakfast.

I admit to eating first and calculating costs after.

1 very small pot of coffee .25
1/2 Pomegranate .99
2 slices rye bread .20
1 oz cheddar cheese .39

As you can see even this meager breakfast came to 1.83 and put me over budget. Since I am going out tonight I will have an extra 1.33 to play with so I can make my daily budget but already I have an idea of how hard this will be.

I must admit that this toasted cheese sandwich typically would include bacon, tomato and a poached egg to dip it into. This is not an option on a food stamp budget.


When lunchtime rolled around I was hungry. I learned just how expensive a tuna fish sandwich is.

I used tuna, onion, a few olives, lettuce and tomato from the garden, rye bread and 1/2 roast pepper.

The total cost of one sandwich...1.60 (Since even garden goods are not free I assigned a value of .10 for the lettuce and tomato).

It is a good thing I am not cooking at home tonight as I would have .23 cents to carry over into dinner.

Since I am eating with Lynda and her family I can carry over those funds into tomorrow giving myself 3.89.

What I have had prior to my free dinner contains less than 700 calories and except for vitamin C which is at 94%; it is not nutritionally complete.

Keeping in mind that I typically eat 2,200 calories per day, I am going to have to do some careful thinking and planning as I go on.

I have been using food stock that was in the house and calculating costs today. In a couple of days I will (except for oil and seasonings) be shopping for new food and keeping to this budget.

At Lynda and Tom's I cooked with the kids and we had an abundant dinner. Salad with radish and avocado, two portions of pasta with pistachio pesto, that was made with garlic, oil, parsley, arugula, basil and pistachios and ice cream with raspberries. This along with two glasses of excellent Cab. (Even just a passable glass of wine will end up being one dollar's worth of food so it will be a while until I see wine again)

I am stuffed.

2,026 calories for the day (most of them off budget)with a much better nutritional balance.

I wonder how many food stamp families are so fortunate as to be invited out for an abundant meal packed with nutrition?

Tomorrow I will be balancing calories, nutrition and costs, in essence the real challenge begins.





5 comments:

truthspew said...

Around here the food stamp benefit is $200 per person, or $6.66 per day.

The woman whose masters thesis was used as the template for the food stamp program was quoted as saying she didn't intend the benefit to be that stingy, that the politicians are the ones who made it so stingy.

Put it this way, the grocery budget in this house is about $400 to $500 a month for two people. No way food stamps would carry that.

Karl Wilder, Chef said...

I am curious as to what part of the country you are in Truth?

6.66 per day is a much more reasonable amount.

As I plan my shopping for later today I am realizing just how meager some of my meals will be and that is with careful planning and food knowledge.

Anonymous said...

I am living single and think of myself as very frugal. I keep receipts and went over my grocery receipts for the past month and I spent 184.00; close to double what you are working with.

The Food Network has had a few how to eat cheap shows but I wonder if they would ever tackle living on a food stamp budget. My guess is not.

scientious said...

Clearly you are not used to a foodstamp budget when you buy $2 pomegranates. Bananas are only 40 cents a lb.

The biggest mistake you make however is your garden. Many people rent and have no place to grow a garden. I own my home and have room but still could not grow a garden for half of the year (October - March) in Indiana.

I am currently getting $200 a month of foodstamps but before this money was very tight (tight enough that 2/3rds of my meat budget was hotdogs). You don't seem to be at all aware of what is a good deal and what isn't.

I measured the most common scoop (1 1/2 tablespoon) of coffee at 0.22 ounces. I assume a "small pot" of coffee would be two 6 ounce cups. So, you must be paying about $8 a lb which is about double the cost of bargain coffee (most store brands, like Walmart's Great Value, for example). You could afford 8 O'clock coffee (Folgers, Maxwell House, etc.) at this price but not Starbucks.

40 cents an ounce for cheddar cheese?? That's $6.40 a lb. That's insane. No one on foodstamps pays that much for cheese. You should be paying no more than half of that. The imitation American cheese singles I just bought were only about $1 a lb.

Karl Wilder, Chef said...

Indiana prices and San Francisco prices are not comparable.

I use a small espresso pot and have about 2 ounce of coffee.