Saturday, July 2, 2011

Living on a Food Stamp budget a different way of shopping



With little left in the house I did my first shopping with my budget in mind. I ran out before breakfast.

I learned something about bacon, it is not standard. Packages that appear to be the same size vary from 12 to 16 ounces, and that can make a big difference. I bought a pound and counted 16 nice slices in that pound making it affordable.

I refused to compromise on eggs. Because chickens do eat their own waste when they are in crowded conditions I wanted free range, organic from a farm I know gives them space. Fortunately I found them on sale for 2.39 a dozen so I bought two dozen.

Today's breakfast
1/4 pomegranate .50
Small pot of coffee .25
2 eggs .20
1 slice of bacon .19
1 slice dry rye toast .10

Total 1.24

I got an e mail from a reader informing me that food stamps are meant to be a supplement NOT the only source of food.

Agreed; that is what they are meant to be. Unfortunately for many they ARE the only source of food other than the food bank as their income does not allow additional purchases.

And while I have only consumed 420 calories I have had almost half the protein I need for the day and more than half of the B12.

I did a second shopping at Costco and bought much less than I had anticipated. I did not want to blow much of my months budget on large quantities and found myself standing in the aisle calculating amounts/servings/additional ingredients needed and bypassing much of what I had thought I would purchase.

My first find was a big jar of olives at a great price. The second was tea bags that would bring my iced tea cost to .03 for a big glass. 

I rejoiced when I found some grass fed Halal stew meat at a great price. The quantity was reasonable and I can easily use it all. I had someone ask me what Halal meant and she seemed offended at the explanation and called me a Muslim lover as she wheeled away.

Yes ma'am I am absolutely a Muslim lover. I've even been known to love a few Christians and Jews.

For lunch I am enjoying a split pea soup that I made using, onion, carrot, half a pound of split peas and water. I finished it with some seasoning and 2 smoked Keilbasa. 8 cups at .23 a serving.

I had two cups of this at lunch along with the other half of the can of tuna without all the extras like bread and tomatoes and it came to .65.

2 cups soup .46
Tuna Salad .65

Lunch total 1.11

Right now I am just over 800 calories and my B6 and B12 are covered as well as my protein.

I spent much of the day planning and shopping and as often happens when I focus too much on food. I lose my appetite. At dinner time I did not want anything I had planned so I ate 1/4 of a fennel bulb.

I suffer from low blood sugar and sodium so skipping meals is not an option so I finally went into the kitchen and make a quick pasta. It had similar flavor to a puttanesca but lacked the capers, to make up for it I doubled up on the garlic.

With one can of tomatoes and a can of anchovies some olives and garlic I made enough sauce for 4 servings bringing the sauce to .65.
Pasta (two ounces) .16
Fennel .25
Iced Tea .03

Total 114.

Day total 3.49 leaving me .40 to carry over into today.

I did not do a great job of covering my vitamins such as C and the day was 1,485 calories, about half what I need.

I am a chef with a nutrition background. Can you just imagine how difficult this is for a busy Mother to deal with?

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have read other people's experience on a food stamp budget and they never go more than a week.

Make sure you take a multivitamin and if you start to lose too much weight then you should not continue.

Karl Wilder, Chef said...

I do take a multi and extra C. Thank you for your concern.

It takes a pretty large calorie deficit to lose weight and I have 5 pounds I can spare.

I don't include the vitamin in my nutrition total because I want readers to see how difficult it is to meet nutritional needs while living this way.

Anonymous said...

While it can be nice to take a multivitamin, just fyi...multivitamins are not a food stamp eligible purchase. That comes out of your pocket, which is why most people on food stamps don't take them. The quality ones are expensive! Anyway, I am impressed by what you're doing, especially with the fresh foods. I think many, many people on food stamps eat a lot of highly processed foods, partially because they are really cheap, but also because they're convenient. You should post recipes! :)

Karl Wilder, Chef said...

I will be posting some recipes at the end of the pledge.

I am collecting the ones that are filling and healthy.

While I do use fresh foods please remember I am a chef with a nutrition background. The average food stamp user is working long hours at a low wage job and can't spend the time shopping or working out recipes.

scientious said...

You made a mistake in your total. You used two eggs so your total is 20 cents higher.

The cheapest meat-like substance you can buy are hotdogs which run about 80 cents per lb. Above this I can buy frozen leg/thigh quarters for about 60 cents a lb (which allowing for bones is probably about $1.20 a lb). Tuna runs about $1.50 lb and you can just get into packaged ground turkey for about $2 a lb. Most hamburger runs over $3 a lb. I'll often cook a lb of ground turkey with a lb of hamburger to get the average down. However I can reduce it even further by adding a can of mushrooms and dividing it into three parts. You can also do pretty good by buying a whole chicken which these days is about twelve servings of meat plus a bit of back meat leftover.

The cheapest foods are generally potatoes (50 cents a lb), pasta ($1 a lb), rice, and dried beans. Raw flour is also not bad.

When you are on a budget you buy margarine instead of butter and you don't buy cream. You can buy powdered creamer which works quite well in cooking for a lot less.

scientious said...

I can buy a package of 100 tagless teabags for $2. I generally use 6 to make a three quart pitcher. If a large glass is 16 ounces my cost would be 2 cents a glass so your 3 cent cost isn't bad.

If you buy a large package you'll want to put them in a ziplock bag or they'll lose flavor before you've used them up. If you don't have ziplock bags handy then a double bagging with empty bread sacks will also work.

Karl Wilder, Chef said...

Part of my goal was to live as HEALTHILY as possible on this budget. This means things like hot dogs could not be a part of it.

Margarine is another product that can ruin your health. The goal was not to run up medical bills.