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!