Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Food Stamp Challenge: Day 2

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Before getting into the logistics of the Food Stamp Challenge over the past two days, we wanted to share something with all of you.  Although many before us have done this challenge, we do not take this lightly.  The word 'challenge' may evoke the sentiment that this is a 'game' to us, simply testing if we can live on $32 worth of food for a week.  That is not the case.  We see this challenge as a source of enlightenment and representative of the real challenge that millions of Americans go through on a daily basis to feed themselves on a minimal amount of money. This is our way of raising awareness about hunger in our community and deepening our own perspective on how difficult it can be to subsist on food stamps. We welcome your comments and opinions! Please let us know how you feel!

Now, back to the regularly scheduled program!  On Saturday, Liz and I began to plan for the week ahead.  We knew we would need to plan for our meals for seven days: breakfast, lunch, dinner and any snacks. Despite some of the recipes you've seen on this site, eating healthy on daily basis is very important to both of us. We knew it would be challenging to eat healthy on food stamps, but wanted to incorporate as many fruits and vegetables as possible. 

In addition to planning our separate meals, to keep our costs down we planned to make a baked ziti and split the costs. We weren't exactly sure how that would figure into our balance for remaining purchases. We thought  (hoped) we'd have a few dollars to pick out some healthy snacks.    

Some of our food for the week
Let me just say, shopping on such a low budget is incredibly challenging. Even with all the pre-planning that we did, it still took us almost two hours at the grocery store. We circled the store aisles three times, compared ingredients and prices, and crunched numbers to figure how much we could buy and what we'd have leftover.   

One thing was immediately apparent, healthy food is not cheap.  We seriously debated the value in a $4 box of granola bars compared to cookies for $1.50 (and they were buy one get one free!).  Liz really wanted to purchase apples for the week, but had to put them back when they priced out over $4.  

Ultimately, we were able to get a decent amount of food for our money, but we did have to sacrifice.  Because we made healthier meal choices, we have almost no snacks and definitely have to exercise portion control.  This was a very different grocery trip than either of us were used to, and the number of limitations we faced with such a tight budget was eye-opening. 

Our friendly, patient friend Kym at Harris Teeter
With our provisions, we were able to come up with individualized plans for the week. We actually came in under budget at $31.50 each! 

Amanda's Week: 

  • Oatmeal and bananas for breakfast
  • Rice and Beans Salad or Grilled Cheese for lunch with carrots
  • Baked Ziti or Chicken and Pasta with broccoli or squash for dinner  

Liz's Week: 

  • Oatmeal and bananas for breakfast
  • Lentil Soup with whole wheat bread or Grilled Cheese for lunch
  • Baked Ziti with Broccoli or Chicken, Spinach and Pasta for dinner

We will be sure to keep you posted throughout the rest of the week!  For live updates, be sure to follow us on twitter @fooDCraveblog.

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