Like I mentioned on Thursday, I took a challenge to live off the SNAP budget for 5 days. So I made a plan (that went to hell, but more about that in a minute) and went to Walmart with $22.50 in my pocket.
I knew if I was going to stay on that tight of a budget (which $4.50 a day for us is pretty tight. We budget $75 a week for food, so going down to $22.50 was quite a change) I was going to need to have a plan. I decided on two proteins, cooked various ways to keep it interesting, and went with Chicken and Beef, because they are easy. Add in eggs for breakfast to have a protein filled day, pepper in some veggies and voila! This was going to be EASY!
So I walked into Walmart (which is not where I normally shop. So I walked in a lot of circles trying to find stuff) I headed straight to produce. I pulled up the calculator on my phone so I could keep track of what I was spending. I wanted to stay under $20 pre tax so I knew I wouldn't go over with tax. First I grabbed 2 roma tomatoes (for a salad I was planning), a head of lettuce, two ears of corn, and a pound of my favorite string beans. I was feeling pretty good, that was about $5 in produce so I knew I could get meat and grains for $15. So far, this was EASY!
Then I grabbed my meat. I got chicken tenderloins because they were $2 cheaper than breasts. And I got 93/7 ground beef because even tho it is a little more (almost $6 a lb) I thought it was worth it. Then I started to run through my list in my mind, noting that I only had like $4 left and I freaked. How could I get eggs, bread, rice, and cheese on $4! I couldn't! So I had to put stuff back. I have put stuff back on shelves before, like the cookies I REALLY didn't need, and felt no shame, but something about having a calculator in my hand and putting back LETTUCE I couldn't afford felt different. I put back the lettuce and the tomatoes, and the corn (which I later grabbed again) and rethought my plan. Peppers were cheap, so I kept those, and decided to make stuffed peppers, each pepper making 2. I could be boring and have chicken with green beans and rice for lunch every day. Its easy to heat up, doesn't really take prep work outside cooking the chicken and putting it all into containers. So I felt okay there.
I didn't have enough to do stuffed peppers EVERY night (plus the idea of eating the exact same thing for 5 days straight didn't sound like something any average person would do. At some point, you are going to crack, so I grabbed some whole wheat spaghetti to make spaghetti and meat/ pepper sauce. So 3 nights I will have that, 2 nights I will have stuffed peppers, and eggs for breakfast. That looks way different from my original plan, but it is what it is.
Here is my receipt of what I got:
And a photo:
The good news here is those green beans. A pound of green beans is a LOT of green beans. And for $1.68 a lb, you really can't beat it. Its way cheaper to buy them fresh than canned or frozen. Same thing with the other veggies. I spent $3.44 cents on the produce. That really is a fraction of my budget. It is fresh meat that took up the majority. Maybe the lesson in this is its cheaper to be a vegetarian? lol I am obviously kidding, but I think it is noteworthy how much I spent on a fair amount of vegetables.
So we will see how the rest of the week goes! The only prep I have had to do so far is grill the chicken, which took 15 minutes, and while I did that I boiled that box of eggs. I think even a very very busy person can spend 15 minutes (okay maybe 20 with packaging) cooking breakfast and lunch for a week. I grill my chicken by cutting it into cubes and skewering it, if that helps anyone...
And I just season it with salt and pepper. Then I divide the cubes into 5 equal portions (I use my 21 day fix red container, but I have learned a lb makes 5 cooked portions) and add 1/4 cup of rice and a hand full of green beans to each container. add a little water, microwave for 1:30 and tada- lunch.
I feel pretty prepared but I am excited to see how the rest of the week goes. I will have an update for you all on Friday. If you want to learn more about SNAP go here, and about your local food bank, google "local food bank" and do what you can. And here is info from Feeding America about the hunger crisis and how we can help. And last but not least, info on the SNAP challenge, and how you can participate.
I hope that if nothing else this challenge can raise awareness and help shed light on a huge problem in America.
AND in case this wasn't clear, I am doing this because its a cause I believe in. Feeding America and SNAP and all that don't know who I am. I am in no way being paid to do this, or anything like that.