|# In household||Average daily $ per person||Total food budget|
|5 or more||$3.39|
Daniella: Can I Come Over for Dinner?
I never thought I would make it. This is the last day that I have to eat the foods that I purchased. To my surprise there is still a lot of rice, chicken, and peanut butter left over. After eating these foods for the past five days, honestly, I probably won’t be eating them ever again (in reality probably just for a few weeks). I ate my usual for breakfast and lunch, however I did cheat at dinner. I went over a family members house to eat. In fact, that is probably what I would do more often. This experience opened my eyes to what people that are struggling financially for a variety of reasons have to face. I had no idea how hard it would be. I am sure when I am shopping for the upcoming week, I will price compare, use coupons, and put more thought into the foods that I am purchasing. I will indulge in some of the extras a little less knowing what else I can purchase. My drink at Starbucks is usually around five dollars. On this limited budget that would have cost me over a days worth of food!
What did I learn from this experience besides being socially aware of the challenges people face? Fruits, vegetables, and nutrition foods are much more costly that I realized. Unhealthy foods are much more cheaper than I realized. Purchasing 10 of anything may be a good deal for some, but if your budget only allows you to purchase 1, it’s not a good deal. Any way you plan it, $20.30 is not enough!
This has been eye opening and I am glad I participated in this.
LeAnne and John: Bumpy Ending to the Week
I received a little grief from someone at the start of this. I was told that participating to raise awareness was noble, but not realistic. Basically this person said that trying to do this for a week was fine and all, but try doing it for a MONTH, or FOREVER. THAT is a real challenge. People every day are living with food insecurity and so many people are completely oblivious to the plight.
Not having to worry about food insecurity is a blessing for my household. I grew up in need and this just reminded me how fortunate I am and strengthened my resolve to keep working with agencies like Three Square and Feeding America to do as much as I can to educate, inspire and motivate people to get involved!
Erin: Feeling Incredibly Fortunate
Along with learning so many valuable lessons, I was also able to share my experience with others and raise awareness about the issue of hunger in our community by participating in this experience. Each time I had to turn down a free breakfast or lunch at a meeting, or explain to friends or colleagues why I couldn’t eat the food at a fundraiser, I had the opportunity to explain to one more person about SNAP. After this experience, I will certainly be more involved in fighting legislation that could impact SNAP for those who rely on it…even though it seems like so little to us for the week, for some it’s everything they have.
Daniella: The Break Room
I have turned into the person that eats all of the junk food out of the breakroom. Usually I would pass on these treats as they are typically cookies, donuts, cinnamon rolls, etc. But instead of looking at them as being unhealthy, they were free so I helped myself. I look at the food choices that some of my coworkers have in comparison to my sandwich and vegetables and am not only envious, but in my head calculate the cost and know that it would never fit into my budget. One of my co-workers had a salad with chicken, avocado, tomatoes, nuts, cheese, lettuce, eggs, and pears. Nutritionally, this salad was a gold mine. But there would be no way I could purchase those ingredients and still have enough food for the rest of the week. This is sooo much harder that I thought it would be.
Erin: Hungry Haze on Day 4
Today was the hardest day for me. I couldn’t get rid of my headache, couldn’t seem to focus, and by the end of my long work day at 8pm, I almost felt as if I couldn’t see straight! As so many other bloggers have already noted, I think the lack of nutrients and being hungry finally caught up with me. But as bad as I felt, I couldn’t help but think about those on SNAP for an unlimited amount of time. For me, it’s only been 4 days…imagine those who don’t have an end date or have to survive on this indefinitely. I guess this experience has served its purpose…I am truly humbled by doing this.
Deppensmiths: Smaller Portions Contributed to Weight Loss
My husband and I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see if we lost any weight during this week. I lost six pounds, my husband lost seven! Removing the treats, butter, oil, and soda made a very, very big difference. I'm sure our portion sizes were a factor, but some nights we had more than enough. We are very glad we went through the SNAP experience and hope that our stories make a difference.
As our experience comes to a close we are reminded how fortunate we are that we will be able to grocery shop for next week's meals on a looser budget. This week brought to light how much food we as a family simply waste, throw out, don't use, don't want. I know we need to be more mindful of what goes in our basket, not just health value, but monetary value. It does take work, and I think we are willing to put in the time.
Marvalyn: Finishing My Week With a Treat!
My menu consisted of the following for today 1/27/12:
Glucerna Shake -- Cost 1.65 per can
Two Burritos .76
V-8 Juice .58
COSTCO's Hot Dog/Drink 1.70
Karen: Zero Points Does Not Equate Zero Dollars
Well, today is my Weight Watcher weigh-in day; I lost 1.6 pounds this week and achieved my weight loss goal. This is a very happy day for me! I worked hard last weekend to make a meal plan that was both SNAP and Weight Watcher friendly. Weight Watchers allows you to eat almost every fruit and vegetable for zero points. As we’ve all learned good for you, “zero” point foods are far from zero dollars. I think if I continued on the “SNAP diet” as one of my co-workers called it, I would eventually gain weight because I would be tired of all the work to find deals, etc. and I would have to have a sweet treat. I relied on tea and fruit for that this week, but it’s not sustainable for me.
Tess: The Cost of Milk
This has been such an experience for my daughters and I.
Actually, I remember the days years ago when I would have to ration cookies, cut paper plates in half for snack time, water down milk. My girls reminded me, tearfully, how much they learned from our struggles and how they value each. and. every. single. penny. on. their. paychecks.
This time around, though, some items were more costly, but the range of generics was much more broad. The cost of milk is frightening, with our without reliance upon SNAP and other programs.
Daniella: Don't Watch Cooking Shows During SNAP Experience!
I changed the menu around to try and provide more variety. And to be honest I am a little tired of eating so much peanut butter. I used the extra chicken breasts to have a chicken sandwich for lunch instead of a peanut butter sandwich. But there was no delicious mustard, mayonnaise, tomatoes, or cheese to add to it. I baked carrots in the oven with chicken for dinner which actually tasted pretty good. Though they would have tasted much better if I had butter, honey, or garlic to put over them. I am tired of the limited food choices and can’t wait for the end of day 5.
I have found myself looking at pictures online and making a mental note of what I am going to eat at the end of this experience. The funny thing though is as I look at the food items I am much more aware of what the dish would cost. This is different from how I usually think as calories and nutrition have been the factors that I always pay attention to first. Many people would not have this luxury. I have not found myself being overly hungry like some of the other people participating in this experience. Just very bored. And watching the Food Network is not helping.
Deppensmiths: Cooking for Visitors
Temptation was placed in my lap - literally! My mother has arrived for a visit and she admires our experience - to an extent - as soon as we picked her up from the airport she requested that we stop at Capriotti's so she could pick up a Capistromi sandwich for lunch (as we had nothing to offer). I thought it was most unfair for me to have to place the order on her behalf and not enjoy one bite! LOL. It makes me feel like we are dieting - unfortunately it's driven from a completely different origin - the reality of food shortage.
We've done very well on this meal plan except for the one factor I was hoping wouldn't come in to play - my daughter's nutritional shakes. As she is not a big eater (to say the least) she is very dependent on children's nutritional shakes for her nutrients and calories. This morning we ran out so I stopped by the store and spent $7.88 on a six-pack. I'm bummed that we couldn't make it to the end on the allotted amount.
I was so excited to make tonight's meal! I prepared chicken, rice, and vegetable soup and it was delicious!!! Satisfying, healthy, and plenty to go around! This is definitely a meal I will be putting in our regular recipe rotation.
Marvalyn: Day Four
Stayed within budget, but I have lost 3.5 lbs this week!
- Glucerna Shake $1.65
- Green Tea
- Chicken Sandwich
- Healthy One (6 Slices) .50 (2.50 for container)
- Orowheat Thin roll .24 (Pkg 24 at Costco for 5.99)
- Lima Beans .43 (1/4 of a frozen package @ $1.29)
- Rice .25 ($1.00 Box for Grocery Store; Approx 3 cups cooked in box)
- Burrito .38 (Walmart $3.00 --8 in a pack)
Kate: We're Gonna Make It After All
"We’re gonna make it after all..." I have the last line from the Mary Tyler Moore show theme song running through my head. It’s almost over and we’re going to make it!
If there are no changes to today’s menu (a stretch, I know, but we have wiggle room on some items), our weekly expenditures on food are coming in just about right. In fact, if you take out the loaf of sourdough bread I bought at the airport when my plane was delayed on Monday, we actually came in under budget, at $51.35 out of $54.45. However, you factor that in and we’re over budget at $55.24.
That said, if you look at our daily expenditures that are calculated on a per serving basis, we did far better. We had $10.89/day for the three of us and spent between $5.43 and $6.82/day, except for Monday when that loaf of bread sent our daily number up to $8.64. Regardless, we were still well under the daily cap. The reason for this is simply that certain foods come in packages that are larger than we could consume in a week, so we have leftovers.
Tonight’s breakfast for dinner will be a bit of a celebration of the week’s frugality – scrambled eggs with melted American cheese, roasted potatoes, toast and butter.
McGraw Family: On Budget, But Dad is Skipping Breakfasts
Wow day four is winding to an end and we are starting to get irritable with each other! We are not counting calories, but I don't think we are getting all of our caloric intake. It is not easy to stay on budget, but I think we are going to make it.
Our total for the week so far:
- Mon- $13.70
- Tues- $7.64
- Wed- $9.27
- Thurs- $12.47
- Bountiful basket (fruit and veggies) $15.00
Total for four days- $58.08; Less than $10.00 for tomorrow. Yikes!
Edwina: If It Is To Be, It's Up To Me
A cliché, yes, but this is the reality of surviving on SNAP Benefits. As we approach the final day of the SNAP Experience, I’m personally satisfied that I been able to survive the week on my SNAP allotment. I’ve learned this week that it can be done, but it is a challenge.
In addition to controlling impulses, the challenge requires time, effort, skill and creativity to plan, budget, shop wisely, and prepare satisfying meals. To further complicate the challenge, hunger can be satisfied with a bowl of beans and rice, of which I ate several. But that alone will not produce a healthy body. Fruits, vegetables and dairy products are comparatively expensive but necessary for good health and I missed the mark in these areas.