Sunday, January 19, 2014

SNAP

I'm going to do this. Not this week because I need to go to NY, but the following week. I have an acquaintance who is doing it, and reading about his experience has drawn me in.

The SNAP Challange summons one to meet one's food requirements on just $4.50 a day -- an amount typical of what a person receiving SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits is given.

I will pledge to take the challenge for 7 days, a full week. I've decided to take my regular food budget--such as it is--minus the SNAP amount of $31.50 for the week and give the difference to a soup kitchen or other such program. Care to join me? Please do.

According to the rules, one must not use food currently on hand. I guess that leaves out my cupboard of staples. That makes it hard. I'm going to have to purchase a handful of necessary staples and that will cut into the budget. I have the advantage of not eating meat, but on such a low budget I'm tempted to put some sort of meat on the list if I can get humanely raised; but that's expensive.

Already, the one thing I noticed is the amount of time it takes to plan on such a budget. I tend not to think too much about the food budget; I go get what I need keeping extravagances down to a reasonable amount. But for this challenge, I've already spent a few hours this evening coming up with eating plans and a shopping list.

Here's what I want to buy to feed myself for 7 days:

milk
oatmeal
eggs
potatoes
pasta
sugar
bread
flour
1 canned tomatoes
1 canned white beans
1 canned corn
vinegar
vegetable oil
cucumbers
tomatoes
lettuce
1 onion
garlic
2 cans tuna
rice
boullion (if possible)
hot dogs or Spam* (if possible)

If there's any money left I'd like to get a bottle of the cheapest wine I can find. If we had Trader Joe's I'd get a bottle of their "2 buck chuck". Iffy.

* Hot dogs or Spam (no, I don't mind it). I'd very much like to keep to my ethical standards, therefore hotdogs are preferable because I can get Applegate's which are made from humanely raised animals. Spam will be an absolute last resort. Problem is, hot dogs are expensive, especially humane ones.

From that list I could come up with the following meals:
Breakfasts
- Oatmeal
- Eggs
- Toast
- Pancakes
Lunches
- Lettuce & tomato sandwiches (I love them!)
- tuna sandwich
- soup
- maybe hot dogs
Dinners
- Tuna patties
- Baked potatoes
- Hot dogs (maybe with beans)
- Salad
- Soup

It's not so easy! I did some on-line shopping by going to my local supermarket's web-site and looking up current prices on several items on my list. It's clear that going with the store's brand will cut costs considerably. Store brands are a lot more meaningful all of a sudden. I could buy my staples for a total of $8.24:
- Quaker Oats $1.99 for 18oz.
- Store brand rice $1.19 for 16oz.
- Store brand cider vinegar $1.29 for 16oz.
- Store brand macaroni $.79 for 16oz.
- Domino sugar $1.99 for 32oz.
- Store brand flour $.99 for 32oz.
Dairy--so far--will come to $6.26:
- Store brand butter $1.99 for 8oz.
- Store brand milk $1.88 for 64oz.
- Humanely harvested eggs $2.39 doz.
Canned foods: $3.68

Current total: $18.18 leaving me with $12.32 for boullion?, hotdogs?, bread, and the list of vegetables. Boy, a jar of peanut butter would be nice to have. When I'm at the store I'll keep my eyes open for good buys, but I think something's going to have to give. Now thinking that since I'm not a meat eater to begin with, I should scrap the hot dogs and get peanut butter and more beans maybe.

I'll be posting my results and experience here. Stay tuned.

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