Tuesday, November 18, 2008

End-of-the-week thoughts

I have to admit that I cheated at the end. I had a friend in town from SF and we went out drinking, which is, of course, not in the budget/not allowed as a food stamp purchase. I spent more in one night than I did all week.

Other than that, I think I did a decent job. I ate 3-4 meals a day with snacks of fruit & pb (although sometimes my "snacks" were pretty hefty, so that might count as a 5th meal). I actually have plenty of leftover food -- I probably could stretch the budgeted amount to 1.5-2 weeks of food. (I suppose then you'd get into the problem of keeping food fresh or multiple grocery store trips?) I even stayed away from all the free food at school.

I now have a better understanding of the food stamp "challenge" -- staying healthy while buying inexpensive foods that won't take too long out of a busy working schedule to prepare (and not grabbing a quick meal take-out!) and not being able to buy non-food necessities like toilet paper and whatnot on the government funding.

- grace

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Reflections on this past week

I typically shop for sales at Kroger and Meijer anyway, so although I figured this would definitely be a challenge, I wasn't necessarily expecting to go hungry. Kroger was having fantastic sales last weekend, and so I started my week with the following:

-a box of cereal
-soy milk
-half a pound of deli turkey
-two loaves of bread (thanks to buy one get one free!)
-a head of iceburg lettuce
-five bananas
-two apples
-a package of chicken breast
-a box of value spaghetti
-spaghetti sauce
-Jiffy corn muffin mix
-a dozen eggs
-a frozen pizza
-a bag of plain tortilla chips

All of that cost me about $26. I made the assumption that at some point in the past I would have bought basic cooking oil, salt and pepper, but other than that didn't use any condiments.

Breakfast and lunch were really not a challenge at all, although I did get tired of eating plain tortilla chips every day. Also, milk goes a much longer way when mixed with water after adding it to cereal (tricks from my childhood). Dinners, however, were just not satisfying. I alternated between chicken with corn muffins, and plain spaghetti. Often times I would end up making myself an egg sandwich with lettuce late in the evening to make it seem like I was eating vegetables. I must admit, I had $3 to spare and ended up spending it on two junior bacon cheeseburgers and fries at Wendy's. So, it was my choice to not buy vegetables, but for that lunch at least it was worth it! For the rest of the week, however...I'm feeling a bit nutrient deficient at this point.

I also have to confess that I went to a club Friday night, and ended up buying two pieces of pizza from NYPD at 3am, which cost $6. Ridiculous to think that one snack cost almost one-fifth of the total I spent on food for the week.

Anyway, this week left me wondering how being a single person on food stamps might be different than if I were part of a family on food stamps--because depending on how food stamps are actually distributed (is it weekly or monthly?), the ability to buy a larger variety of foods is definitely limited for single individuals. And finally, as a public health student and someone who usually exercises often, it hit home that food restrictions are going to have a large impact on someone's willingness and ability to exercise, which of course has important implications for health--both in the short- and long-term.

I will say that I was the only one of my friends participating in this challenge, and it sparked some interesting conversations when I told people what I was doing. Everyone thought it was a great idea, and many expressed that they plan on doing it at some point in the future because they thought it was a really important perspective to have. I agree with them 100%.

In the end, I went over budget by about $1.50 for the week. I shopped at Kroger b/c it's like the (one) grocery store in my home town (where lots of folks are on food stamps).

My personal goals were to find some cheaper foods that I normally don't eat and to eat relatively healthy. My hypothesis for the challenge was that processed foods would, in the end, actually be more expensive, so I stuck relatively close to what I normally eat/make. What I didn't anticipate was that I would be hungry between meals!

(I did actually cheat Sat nght when I went out with friends for dinner at a super cute place in Detroit... I spent over $30 for one night of dining out (with alcohol) - hah! My calculations for the week assume that I had left overs I'll have tomorrow.)

What I learned (that I didn't know before)
* I probably get 1/3 of my calories (usually) from snacking on "bad" stuff like sweets - I completely removed this from my diet this week.
* Because I couldn't afford to snack between meals, I was hungry, especially in the afternoon and late evening...I think I was actually potentially healthier but I was short a few calories - aside from nutrition I think this is probably the biggest challenge for people on food stamps
* Many of the meals I make ARE under $2 a serving (even with spices)! But I normally eat things between meals that may cost more than my meals...
* My sweet tooth can be satisifed by grapes, sweet potatoes, and other sweet things that are actually good for you.
* Sometimes my taste buds are hungry when my stomach is not. (o:
* I spend as much on lunch as I do on dinners.
* I was cognizant of the fact that others had money to go out to grab dinner or a snack if they were hungry and pressed for time and that I couldn't. It made me want to be one of them.
* Oatmeal is significantly cheaper than the cereals I like and a great way to save money (and be healthy).
* Cheese is relatively filling and I don't need much to no longer feel hungry.
* Carrots are REALLY cheap; canned tomatoes, broccoli, and sweet potatoes are cheap; feta and summer sqush (currently) are expensive
* One serving of most vegetables is under $1
* I normally buy really expensive lettuce in a box, but romaine hearts are a cheaper way to go
* Half a box of mac and cheese with two servings of nutritious veggies is about $2
* On a limited income you really can't afford vegetables and fruits to go bad...which maybe one really good reason to stick with mostly canned or frozen items.
* Eating out is more expensive than I thought: one meal at $15 after tax/tip = more than 3 days of 3 meals on my diet for the week.

What I'd really like to find out about from others:
* Are processed foods like Ravioli in a can or spaghetti sauce (without added meat) on pasta or freezer meals ACTUALLY chaper than making a dinner (than say tofu veggie stirfry with rice)? My mac and cheese dinner did seem to be...
* Do these processed foods fill you up more? What types of food stick with you so you're not hungry after an hour? I didn't find that vegetables with carbs really did.
* Are there any other REALLY cheap veggies (or fruits?)

If I (me, not someone else) were really on food stamps, my actual goal would be to find foods with high nutrition and (sustaining) calories per $.

I'm interested in hearing about others' experiences/thoughts on Wed!


Friday, November 14, 2008

I'm glad this is almost over. I finally ate a meal that wasn't in a box last night and it was oh so good, I'm gonna take my leftovers for lunch today. Being able to buy food whenever and wherever you want is definitely a luxury that many people take for granted. But as someone mentioned in a previous blog its not always about food that makes living difficult. Its the other stuff like toilet tissue, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc that one can't afford to get.


Thursday, November 13, 2008


Today was my last day of participation in the food stamp challenge. Tomorrow, I shall go with my 8 year old son to New York, and I don't want to impose the constraints of the food stamp challenge on my son. 

The food stamp challenge has been a very interesting and overall very positive experience for me. Honestly, I have found it relatively easy to manage. During the past four days, I have sometimes felt a little weak, and I had one headache, but most of the time I felt more healthy than normal. I think this is because I had no alcohol, less caffeine, and because I cooked all my food myself rather than eating out. I felt cravings at times, but I don't think I have been really hungry. I did lose a little weight, though.

I think I approached the food stamp challenge as an exercise in mindfulness: paying attention to what my body really needs, buying and preparing food carefully, and not wasting anything. I hope that I can turn some of this mindfulness into longer term habits. 

I don't think I gained a realistic feeling for what it is like to live on food stamps. All circumstances of my life were very comfortable during this period. I had the time needed, and a very large kitchen, to prepare my food carefully. I was able go to stores such as Whole Foods to buy exactly what I wanted.  People who have to live on food stamps all the time will have a much more difficult time.

Thank you for sharing experiences on this blog, and good luck to everyone who continues for the remaining three days. 

Tilman Borgers 
Yes! It is so tough to pass up the free food... I accidentally took some snacks that were being given out in one of my classes without even thinking about it. I was halfway done eating my free chips and popcorn before I realized that I shouldn't have taken them! Oops... soo, I'm going to subtract another dollar from my total. Good thing I reserved a little.

About the free food... how interesting that we, many of us people of privilege, have all this access to free snacks, free coffee, free meals. Yet people who are actually struggling with getting enough to eat don't have that. Or the places they can get food (e.g. churches, other agencies) carry a stigma, might be hard to access via public transport, or require a ridiculous amount of paperwork...

- Sarah

Struggling, but Surviving

Hi all,

I just figured out how to post, but I'm also on day four of the challenge. I saw that other people bought their groceries at once, so I tried to do the same with less success. See, in my home (which I am the only one doing the challenge,) my girlfriend usually makes the grocery list if we are buying to eat for an extended period of time. Since I shopped on my on, I kinda panicked and bought some canned veggies (corn, spinach,) fruit (peaches, fruit cocktail,) spaghetti stuff and rice-a-roni type deals. When I was done shopping, I went over by like 50 cents, because of a discrepancy over a sale. Anyways, I have run into two problems: first, I'm vegan, so it is difficult for me to get enough protein without getting my soy products (didn't think about tofu at the time.) Two, I bought two rice dinners (red beans and rice and black eyed peas and rice) that had beef and chicken fat in them (which I didn't see at first.) So, I had to swap those dinners out with enough ramen noodle packages so that the money would be equal. I'm definitely not eating as well as I'm used to, but I think I can make it alright until Sunday. Although I have always been aware of the struggle that welfare recipients go through, but it's really hard to be a vegan and be on this budget.

Is it just me, or has everyone been invited to an unbelievable amount of lunches, dinners and have been offered more food than ever before? Or maybe it's my hunger talking....

~Jason Smith
Hi everyone, this is Rachel again. Things have gone alright. I find my challenge is the not taking free food thing since I usually thrive on this. Just like one of the other bloggers mentioned, not having time to prepare your food puts you in a bind sometimes. I had a bag of granola that I got on clearance that is in my school bag because it was the only thing I could see to grab with the five minutes I had to leave the house this morning. I find that I have to eat way less healthy because I don't have time to cook and prepare food as often as I need to. I can see the awareness that this exercise is building, but I don't think that a lot is accounted for. I also feel cranky sometimes because I don't think I should be depriving myself of my free coffee or my free lunch at school or my free anything given the fact that I never seem to have enough groceries to get through the week. Not only do we have less choices because we have less time to cook, but I think that this breeds a sense of desparation among the family members so that they fight boldly over the last cookie or devour a box of cereal in one day. Even though I bought so much, they eat it up very quickly. This is something I think should be a consideration when looking at the effects of living on a limited budget or foodstamps.

- working families and single parent homes have less time to prepare food which results in pre-packaged foods and less healthy alternatives.

- having limits put on food amounts breeds a sense of urgency in people to eat the "good stuff" before others get it all which causes over eating in conjunction with bad food choices.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Meal habit changes

Things are going well. I've been setting aside a little more time to cook so I can make lunch the night before, or cooking more for dinner to have leftovers for lunch. I'm also trying to be more creative with my cooking since my variety of veggies is less than usual (and no meat!).

I've noticed that I'm eating smaller meals but I'm eating more meals a day (4-5). Is this because I'm eating mostly bread, cereal, and pasta (carbs) so I fill up faster but burn through it more quickly?

- grace

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

today was whack i didn't have time to make my lunch so i was hungry all day until i got back to my apartment and breakfast did not tie me over. dinner was whack too tv dinners don't hit the spot at all. so basically I'M STILL HUNGRY. i ask myself why am i even doing this challenge? i have money in the bank to order food and on top of that i grew up on welfare I know exactly what its like to live on food stamps I did it throughout my childhood and the only way we made it was because of handouts from family, church, whomever. Maybe I will take back something so I can get some pasta since apparently that's fills you up pretty easily. Then I'd be a lot less cranky.


$5.71 to spare - for now.

I think the hardest thing for me about the food stamp challenge is that I like to eat out a lot - or I like to at least have to option to go out to eat, if I'm invited. So I tried to save a little bit of my money to have that option. I went to the Dollar Tree so I could get a little variety for cheap. When I was separating my food items from my other items, the cashier asked if they were on the food stamp card. I was already filling the role of a food stamp recipient, I guess. Anyway, here's what I bought (don't judge):

- a good sized box of cookies
- strawberry cereal bars (when I opened these up, they were gross. The package made them look like nutri-grain bars. They're not. I'm eating them anyway.)
- a small container of milk
- four single-serve cups of apple sauce
- a box of peanut butter ritz bitz
- a small bag of shredded cheese
- instant coffee (7 single-serving packets, perfect)
- a can of spaghetti sauce with mushrooms
- a can of green beans (deal! only 50 cents, not a dollar. It's a big can too, so I'll have leftovers.)
- a box of pasta
- a bottle of orange juice (I'm picky about my juice, so I had to go with the smaller container to get 100% juice)

$10.50 for all that. I made some pasta with spaghetti sauce and cheese for dinner today, which was quite good and I had lots of leftovers. That'll get me by.

I also calculated the price of some items I had on hand:
- a box of macaroni and cheese
- half a jar of peanut butter
- part of a container of margarine
- 3/4 loaf of bread
- half a bag of carrot sticks

$8.50 was my estimate for all that... I usually buy the store brand anyway, so it didn't set me back too much.

I already spent $4.24 today on a bagel, cream cheese, and coffee at Panera because I had plans to meet a friend there. So worth it.

So, I'm at $5.71 and realized that I had a prior potluck engagement this coming Sunday. I'm thinking I should be allowed to eat there provided I'm bringing something too. Fair? I don't know, but I'm doing it anyway. I guess my $5.71 will go toward that, not going out to eat again.

- Sarah

Living on oats, rice and lentils

It is the end of my second day on food stamps. Things have gone well, and I have mostly lived on oatmeal, apples, rice, lentils, broccoli and tofu. This was extremely cheap, and I liked the food. I think I have to add some dairy and some other fruits tomorrow to make my nutrition more balanced. I have also been wondering how I should price cayenne peppers and herbs that we have grown in our garden. I will probably use some herbs tomorrow to add flavor to my meals. Are they free?

Yesterday, I was at two events where food was free, but I avoided taking any. This was a little awkward. I missed being able to snack during the day. But what affected me most was that the tea bags that I am using to make my tea do not give me as strong tea as I usually get from the coffee shop. I suffered some symptoms of caffeine withdrawal. I woke up this morning with a headache that I attribute to the caffeine withdrawal. The headache went away later, and today this seems to have gone better than yesterday, either because I timed my tea better, or because the body has become used to the lack of caffeine. 

I had some interesting conversations with my kids where they calculated the price of their breakfast and compared it to the price of my breakfast. My son thought that he was "winning" because his breakfast was more expensive than mine. 

Tilman Borgers

Food Stamp Memories

Since I am "chronologically advantaged" (i.e., OLD) I actually remember the early days of the food stamp program. Currently, as you probably all know, food stamps are provided on a debit card. Some types of food cannot be purchased with food stamps- hot foods and prepared foods are generally not allowed, for instance. In the early days, there were many more restrictions.
( For those interested in a more objective history of the Food Stamp Program, Wikipedia has a nice article. )
I applied for food stamps in 1968, when I was a 17 year old single parent (in those days, we were called "unwed mothers." ) Although the current application process is quite intrusive (I hope you will all have a look at the online application) in those days it was much more so. My living situation was quite unstable- my daughter and I lived in tent her first summer and slept on various floors when it got cold- so the first challenge was finding someone who was willing to let me use their address and, worse, to allow a caseworker in to check to see that there were cooking facilities. (In those days, certification for most social welfare programs required at least bi-annual home visits.) Also, since I was not related to anyone in the household, I had to prove that I was paying "rent" for a "room with cooking privileges." Eventually, one of the families for whom I occasionally babysat agreed to do this.
There were more challenges to come. First, foodstamps had to be purchased at one of two banks in town at a special, and clearly labeled, "food stamp window" that was open only once a month for a few hours. Food stamps in those days were not free. You paid a small amount dtermined by your income and received a larger amount of stampts, which was, again, determined by your income.
A second challenge was findnig stores that took food stamps. The town where I was living had 2 big locally-owned grocery chains with multiple branches. One of these supermarkets was locatd in the black community: That was the only one that took foodstamps.
Food stamps were actually paper coupons in those days. They came in books. Each book and each coupon had to be signed before it could be used. "Loose" coupons - coupons detached from the book- were not accepted. Cash change was given only up to 50 cents. A food stamp identification card had to be presented and checked each time.
Since this slowed the shopping process and required additional cashier training, the supermarket that took food stamps had a special-clearly marked- lane for food stamp shoppers. However, at busy times "ordinary" customers also used these lanes. I was living in quite a conservative community, so my visits to the store with food stamps were often marked by individuals behind me critiquing my purchases, commenting on "food stamp people" and so forth.
Because food stamps were part of an agricultural subsidy program, they could not be used to buy imported food. Unfortunately, my purchases tended to include things like brown rice. Some cashers regarded this as "imported" food; some didn't. Early on, I tried pointing out the US origins on the labels of foods that I was purchasing- ths usually set off calls to the manager, and comlaints from angry shoppers behind me in line. Eventually, I found ways to get cash to pay for questionable items.
Food stamps could also be used in those days to buy vegetable seeds. Eventually, I found a trailer on a commune out in the country, saved my food stamps to buy seeds. and grew a garden. Eventually, the garden enabled me to get off food stamps.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thank God Kroger had a ton of items on sale this week!! Well that and coupons. So I bought some yogurt for the week. Luckily with my coupon I got $1 off so that came to $2.50. Some kiwi for the for my yogurt to add some flavor $1.00. Then I got some turkey bacon which was 2.99. Like I said luckily this week Kroger had a tight sale if you bought ten of these selected items you got them for like dollar so I took the liberty to stock up. so i got a ton of Stoffers entrees 5 to be exact for $7.50 of course i mixed it up with the paninis, flat breads, and mac and cheese, rigitoni with chicken, etc. But to maintain being healthy I got 2 healthy choice steamers for $4.00. I had one for dinner tonight and let me tell you that thing only had 3 pieces of meat. I was highly upset. Any who I also got scalloped potatoes for $1.50, cheerios for $1.50, a bag of these rice cake things for a whopping $.50, milk for $1.39, an enchilada kit for $2.00 and by then I could only afford some frozen chicken for $4.42 bringing my total to $29.3o. So my plan is simple breakfast yogurt and turkey bacon, lunch cereal on the days when i can go back to my room otherwise I'll have to heat up one of my tv dinners to take with me. For dinner my enchilada kit with chicken for one night. Use the leftovers for one of my lunches. With the remaining chicken cook that and the scalloped potatoes. As a snack I have my rice cake things. So hopefully this gets me through.

Ok, I got a GREAT deal on groceries this week. I have included my entire allottment for a six person family because we eat collectively and use a lot of leftovers for lunches so it would be impossible for me to separate out my $29.35 from our family groceries (or nearly impossible). so my total that I COULD use for the week would be $176. I spent $123. I use coupons and discounts avidly so my bill was much higher before the discounts/coupons were applied. I understand that having access to a weekly paper with coupons may not be something that all people utilize. Here are some of the things that I purchased and meal combinations.

Meal 1 - Tacos
Taco Kits (2 for $4) $4.00
Lettuce $1.29
Ground chuck (1lb @ $1.99 a lb) $2.00
12oz of shredded cheese (2 for $6) $3.00

Meal 2 - Hot Dogs
Ekrich cheesy sausages (the kids fav) $3.00
hot dog buns $2.50
Mac and Cheese $1.00
(butter already on hand) $0.50
Frozen California Mix Veggies $1.00

Meal 3 - Roasted chicken
(2) whole chickens $10.00
(seasonings on hand) $ 0.50
Curly Fries $2.00
Frozen Florentine Veggies $1.00

Meal 4 - Chicken Soup
Soup stock with chicken (leftovers) FREE
Carrots $1.29
Celery $1.00
Onions and seasonings on hand $1.00
Homemade Bread (breadmachine) $1.00 (amount of onhand ingredients)
butter $0.50

Meal 5 - Baked Spaghetti
Noodles $0.50
Sauce $2.00
leftover cheese from tacos FREE
1lb of ground chuck $2.00
crescent rolls $1.00
Frozen Brocolli $1.00

Meal 6 - Chicken Strips
Chicken breast strips (breaded) $4.00
Frozen Corn $1.00
Crescent Rolls $1.00

Meal 7 - Hamburgers and Leftovers
Hamburgers with cheese (leftover) $2.00
Buns $1.25
Frozen Carrots $1.00

Bread (2) $2.00
PB $1.67
Jelly $2.00
Turkey $3.00
Mayo $2.00
Fresh Fruit (apples/pears) $3.50
Chips $1.67
Snack Bars $2.00
Pre-packaged frozen meals $11.00
24 pk of soda $6.00
Juice boxes/bags $1.67
Soup $3.00

Eggs (2 doz) $2.89
Cereal $6.00
Milk $9.00

Coffee $4.00
Kool-aid $1.00
Sugar $1.89
Candy Bar (bogo) $0.68
Clearance Rack goodies/supplements $4.70


So I went to the Meijer this morning, and this is what I bought:

My food may horrify some people, so I will attempt to legitimate it. First, I am a runner, so I eat a lot of carbs. Second, I love chocolate, and Hershey bars were on sale. Third, I wanted PB&J sandwiches and I figured it was cheaper to buy a PB&J combo than to buy each one separately.

The total was $21. I also have some oatmeal, which was unopened and cost about $3, and I will be eating that for breakfast. I'm planning to do PB&J sandwiches and bananas for lunch, and veggies and various kinds of pasta for dinner. The butter is for my pasta - I like it plain, without sauce.

We'll see how it goes!


Shopping trip!

Hello there! I went grocery shopping at Meijer for the week. Apparently, variety is not your friend. I attempted to stay fairly healthy rather than live off ez-mac for the week.

14oz Cheerios $3.00
Lactaid lactose-free milk (intolerant!) $3.99
Skippy peanut butter $2.99
loaf of bread $1.59
butter $1.50
2 pears $1.16
2 apples $0.99
orange juice $3.00
green pepper $0.66
green beans $0.81
green onions $0.50
rotelle pasta $1.16
macaroni pasta $1.40
pasta sauce $1.59
vegetable oil $1.95
groceries total: $26.29

We almost always have free lunches (usually pizza) at school, but I'm trying to avoid taking advantage of those this week. I also get a refill cup of coffee every morning on my way to class, and I just found out (only took me two months!) that it's only $.50 in the snack bar instead of $1.25 in the lounge, so I'm adding in $2.50 for the week. That takes me to $28.79 total, with $.56 to spend on... gum? Or an extra cuppa joe.

- grace

Day One

Last night I prepared for this week by making a pot roast in a crock pot. I bought the roast for $5 last week, and used a half bag of carrots that I bought for 99 cents and some manager special mushrooms for $1.49. I figure I should get four meals out of that. I'll be working with some foods I already ave at home and am still figuring out how much those costs per meal, but I know it's within budget. Ack, I hate math!

I'm not sure if this counts as cheating, but I was provided pizza/pop/cookies during a working lunch today. I know in the past when I was low on money, I never turned food away, so I ate up.

I also resolved not to drink beer this week, since the rules said it's not in the budget. I know, not a major sacrifice, but one nonetheless. My best to everyone in this journey.

-- Jillian

Michigan Daily Writer Blogs about Food Stamp Challenge

Kara Morris, a writer for the Michigan Daily, is participating in the Food Stamp Challenge. You can follow her experiences on her Michigan Daily blog.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My first shopping trip

I will join the food stamp challenge on my own, living in a family with 4 others who don't participate. It will be interesting to live in the middle of abundance of food without being allowed to eat it. 

I will participate only for the first four days: Monday - Thursday. On Friday morning I go on a trip to New York with my son. This trip is a present to him, and it seemed that this trip would be less enjoyable for him if I continued the food stamp challenge while traveling with him.

I did my first shopping trip today, and spent $13.94 out of the $23.38 that I can spend over the next four days. I bought oats, rice, lentils, black beans, tofu, and some fruit and vegetables. I found the oats, rice, and lentils to be cheap at Wholefoods because I could buy just the quantity that I need. I plan to live on some of my favorite foods. I love cooked oats for breakfast, and rice, lentils, and beans for lunch and dinner. I also bought tea, because I am addicted to strong tea. The tea and the rice were the two most expensive items.

Tilman Borgers

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Family of 6

Hi everyone, My name is Rachel Reyst-Carroll and I haven't gone shopping yet for this event because I do my grocery shopping on Sundays or Mondays but I will post my list then. I shop for a family of 6 so my allotment will be $176.10 for a weeks worth of groceries. Honestly, this is about $76.10 more than I usually spend including things you normally would not be able to purchase on food stamps, like toilet paper and cleaning supplies. Having lived with family who make ends meet on foodstamps or the EBT card (bridgecard) as it is now known, I know that the challenges are not actually having enough to eat but surviving in other ways. For example, if you are on WIC and getting a food allottment for the month, that doesn't give you things like toiletries or even diapers for your child. How can you afford these things? I have known a lot of bartering to go on because the food stamp amount is more than needed and other items are not purchasable with it. Some of my family members spend their whole check on eating out and cigarettes and still have money left over at the end of the month on their bridgecard in which to buy ME groceries in exchange for laundry soap or babysitting services. Even though I think that this challenge has a social work spirit attached to it, the problem runs deeper and is more systematic as usual. Food is not the issue for those who qualify for the program. Now the fact that many who used to qualify for food assistance no longer do could be an issue, but since we are not focusing on that right now, I will not dwell on it.

One thing I noticed in the rules is that you are not allowed to take free food. I practically live on coupons and free deals througout the week. There is a Biggby coffee shop near my house that offered free tall specialty coffees yesterday and how could I pass that by. I understand if you are avoiding the challenge by just eating at your friends and relatives house that it would be wrong, but taking advantage of free items in the community should not be cheating. You can bet I told everyone in my family about the free coffee as soon as I noticed it.

So if anyone would like to comment on my thoughts in this process, I would be glad to hear what you have to say.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Sample Meal Plan #1

Provided by challenge participant Leslie.

Grocery List:
14oz Cheerios Walmart $2.87
96 ozApple Juice Walmart $1.97
Austin Crackers Walmart $1.67
Great Value Tuna in H20 7.05 oz Walmart $1.48
1/3 16 0z. Extra Wide Noodles Walmart $1.54
1 can Mushroom Soup Walmart $0.60
Dole Singles Hollywood $1.50
Cucumber Hollywood $0.79
Green Onion Hollywood $0.67
Green Pepper Hollywood $1.44
Tomatoe Hollywood $0.60
Celery Hollywood $1.00
Eggs Hollywood $1.69
Milk 1/2 Gal Hollywood $2.19
Shredde dcheese Meijer $3.85
Hurst 15 bean Soup Meijer $0.89
Onion Hollywoood $0.49
Garlic Hollywood $0.36
Bacon Meijer $2.69
Bread Meijer $1.25

Meal Plan
B: Eggs and Bacon, apple juice, toast
L: Soup
S: Austin Crackers
D: Cobb Salad w/ Boiled Egg

B: Cheerios; apple juice
L: Soup
S: Austin Crackers
D: Quiche and salad

B: Cheerios; apple juice
L: Soup
S: Austin Crackers
D: BLT and salad

B: Cheerios; apple juice
L: Soup
S: Austin Crackers
D: Tuna Noodle Casserole

B: Cheerios; apple juice
L: Soup
S: Austin Crackers
D: Quiche

B: Cheerios; apple juice
L: Soup
S: Austin Crackers
D: Leftovers

B: Cheerios; apple juice
L: Soup
S: Austin Crackers
D: Tuna Noodle Casserole