Food Stamp Challenge

All this talk of the food stamp challenge got me thinking. Gweneth Paltrow's fail was pretty amusing. Some journalists got in on the act too and just plain embarrassed themselves. To be fair, if you live in California, it's probably impossible to live healthy on $31 per week for food. California is incredibly expensive. You could live on crap food at that price, but fresh or healthy is off the table.

But pretty much everywhere else that is a luxurious allotment of food monies. And I live in a pretty expensive area. The Jersey shore is not known for its low cost of living. Our food prices are pretty substantial. Evenso, I think $29-$31 per week is more than ample. That is if you don't eat meat. That's the trick. Fresh produce is affordable, in vegetable form, not so much in the fruit variety.

The bitter irony being that for most people the food stamp challenge is just regular, everyday life. With or without public assistance, most of us have to live on a tight food budget.

What none of the previous articles account for is that when you buy a bag of rice, it's good for many weeks. Same with cheese, eggs, cereal. The cost of these items really ought to factor in how long they will last. Which would be much longer than a single weeek.

But to keep things simple I will just pretend I'm starting with nothing and need all those staples.

I do not shop at Wal-Mart because I don't like them. Food might be cheaper if I did. Aldi is also a great choice, but how many stores can one person go to. I use Pathmark, Shoprite and Target.

Dozen Eggs $1.99 (Shoprite and Pathmark)
White, Wheat or Rye Bread $2.00 (Shoprite, Target, Pathmark)
16 ounces Goya Lentils $1.29 everywhere. Green lentils are cheaper than other colors.
3 cans beans of your choice $2.40 (Shoprite)
4 packages Ramen $1.00 (Shoprite)
1 package sliced cheese $2.54 (Target)
Half gallon almond milk $3.00 (Target)
16 box of Wheat Chex $3.39 (Target)
1 1/2 lbs. Romaine Lettuce $2.50 (Shoprite in spring and summer only)
3 lbs Green Cabbage $1.50 (Shoprite)
0.4 lbs spanish onion $.070 (Shoprite)
Garlic $0.40 (Everywhere)
Jalapeno Pepper $0.20 (Everywhere)
Carolina yellow rice 5 oz. $0.89 (Shoprite)
Can of coffee $2.99 (Supermarket sale price, you may have to wait for it)
Hummus $2.99 (Target) you can get it cheaper on sale at supermarkets.
White vinegar half gallon $1.29 (Shoprite)

Total $31.03

I came in at budget, but I was able to splurge on coffee, cheese, hummus, better cereal and almond milk. I also got a lot of food. A bunch of which will last longer than a single week.

Some of these items would be gone within a week, while others would carry over into the next week or two.

There's definitely no room for soft drinks, meat. yogurt or fresh fruit unless you want to go hungry.That stuff is pricey. Although canned tuna would be a viable 'meat' option.

Plain rice would save some dollars and last longer. Alternating between flavoring plain rice yourself and buying preflavored adds variety and conveninece without a lot of expense. 

Butter would be nice to have, but isn't neccesary. Hard cooked eggs don't need grease and we tend to eat one at a time instead of the usual two with scrambled. Thereby doubling our sustenenace yield from the dozen we purchased.

But it's important to realize all these food are prett healthy. There's no junk food on this list. It's all pretty good for you and also boasts a nice variety of foods.

These items would probably only really feed 2 people for the week. Half the size of the average family. The price wouldn't double for twice as many people, but you'd have to sacrifice some splurges to add more bulk.

Cheaper cereal, cheaper milk, cheaper faux cheese. No hummus.

Meals I would eat with these food are diverse though. Bean sandwiches are filling and satisfying. Bread, hummus, onion, beans, cheese, lettuce. Yum!

Yellow rice with lentils, cabbage, garlic and jalapeno.

Sald with romaine, cabbage, onion, beans, egg, vinegar and hummus.

A plain old bowl of cereal with almond milk is not a bad way to go. Have an egg after for protein.

America needs to rethink the way it eats. The emphasis on meat is killing us and the environment and our pocketbooks.


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