Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Food Stamp Challenge

Early this week someone posted a photo on facebook that I found to be utterly disgusting. I won’t get into the specifics but the basic point of it compared people accepting food stamps to animals being fed by humans.  

The reality is that in 2010 46.9 million people in America were living in poverty.  6.7 million American households are considered to be food insecure. Food Stamps are useful supplement to those in need. In arguing against the attitude in the picture that was mentioned above, I happened upon a food stamp challenge.
The challenge inspired me. So I embark this upcoming week (starting on Monday) with these goals
       1.  Can I live a healthy plant based diet on $40 a week? (with limited processed foods. 
       2.  Though I have been pretty poor in the past, food security was never really something that I was conscious of. So I will get to see what it’s like to live on such a limited budget. 

       3.  I want to bring awareness to the fact that so many everyday Americans are going without food.  

Here are the rules for the challenge, I did tweek them slightly to account for California’s standards and to make it a little more realistic.

1.       A maximum of $40 per person can be spent on food for the week (based on California standards for a 2 person household)

2.       If possible do not use the food that you have at home, though this may not be 100% feasible given the timing of our challenge. Please try to keep these limited, herbs for seasoning and condiments don’t count.

3.       You can only buy Groceries at locations that allow food stamps this includes grocery stores, convenience stores and some farmers markets which can be found here

4.       Restaurants and beverages count in your budget, however food stamps are not allowed for use at fast food restaurants or on precooked foods (ie: those chickens you find at the grocery stores)

5.       You can buy foods for the household including;
a.       Breads
b.       Cereals
c.        Fruit
d.      Vegetables
e.      Meats
f.        Fish
g.       Poultry
h.      Dairy Products
i.          You can also buy seeds and plants to produce food.
j.        Processed foods such as hamburger helper, mac and cheese is not covered

6.       You cannot buy:  (for the purposes of this challenge these foods will be excluded)
a.       Food that will be eaten in the store
b.      Beer
c.       Wine
d.       Liquor
e.      Cigarettes
f.        Tobacco
g.       Pet Food
h.      Soap
i.         Paper Products
j.        Household Supplies
k.       Vitamins
l.         Medicines
m.    Hot Foods

7.       Keep track of everything as you go.

Today I did my grocery shopping for the challenge. I hit up a local produce stand and Ralphs. I am happy to report that as of right now I am under budget. But there is no way I can afford to eat out this week. The grocery list is as follows:

Produce Stand:
1 large zucchini $1 (this is going straight into Zucchini Bread)
1 eggplant $1.25 (a little bummed because I saw them for .99 at Ralphs)
Snow peas $.98
1 head of broccoli $1.00
1 spaghetti squash $2.33
5 Limes $1
4 heads of garlic $1
6 tomatoes $1.16
Total Cost of Produce: $9.72

1lb Polenta  $1.87
1lb Couscous  $2.39
4 Bricks of Tofu $5
1 can canned beans $1.59
Enriched wheat Bread $1.00
Brown Rice $2.69
And my splurge 10 yogurts for $5

Total cost for groceries: $32.75

I could have gone with white rice instead of brown rice, it would have saved me $1 but I REALLY don’t like white rice. It’s highly processed and tastes funny to me. The only time I eat it is with sushi.

From home I plan on using:
Wheat:  $1.00 (est. cost for 3 cups of use)
Brown sugar: $1.00 (est cost for 1 cup use)
Egg: .25 for use one egg in a recipe
Applesauce: $2.00 (If I am going to open it to use it for a recipe I might as well use the whole thing)
Baking soda and powder: we’re looking at about .50 cents worth.

Total Cost for food this week:  $37.50 (hmm, i may have some room for peanut butter and jelly  this week!)

I have a feeling that every day I am going to find something new to look into. Today’s research topic is: Why does organic have to be more expensive than the regular stuff? For example; organic yogurt at Ralph’s was 99 cents, while the yogurt I bought was 50 cents each.  Though I prefer my dairy to be organic, I had to choose did I want organic or did I want yogurt this week?
This afternoon while I have time, I will be making this zucchini bread recipe from the Vegetarian times.
I am leaving out the pecans because nuts in general were just too expensive for my budget.

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