Food Stamp Challenge 2011

Welcome to the new edition of the Food Stamp Challenge!

Can you feed your family for $2 per person, per day?  Can you feed them healthy, real food?

I know you can, because I already do.  And I’ll show you how.

SNAP Statistics:

SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  Most people call it food stamps.

45 million Americans are on food stamps.

That’s 1 in 7.

The average benefit a food stamp recipient in the US received $133.79 per month, or $4.45 per day.

My Food Stamp Budget

I’ll be shopping on half that amount.

My new food budget: $175.00 per week (11 people. $2.25 each. 7 days. I rounded up to make it even.)

My total household budget: $200 per week, and includes food, paper products, diapers, soap, and miscellaneous household goods.  The extra $25/week will go for stocking up and miscellaneous non-food expenses.

I use cash to stay in budget.

I use coupons, but I am not an extreme couponer by any means. I don’t spend hours clipping and matching deals.  If you have the time to do that, you can save even more.

Yes, I’ve done this before, posting 40 weeks of Food Stamp Challenge shopping in 2009.  Food prices are rising every week, I thought I’d tackle the challenge again.

About My Family:

  • My 6 month old is mostly breastfed. This makes her food cheaper, but my food more expensive.
  • My 13 year old is on a special diet. No MSG, no food colors.
  • My husband works at a physically demanding job, often outside.
  • I will be feeding 2 adults, 4 boys (age 13, 12, 9, and 4) and 5 girls (age 10, 7, 5, 2, and 6 months.)
  • I will adhere to my Real Food Manifesto as much as possible.
  • My husband is a grown man and I don’t tell him what to eat.  Expect to see Gatorade on my grocery list.
  • My son is on free lunches at school, but since food stamp recipients automatically qualify, I think that still counts as being within bounds of the challenge- feeding my family on (half) the food stamp budget.
  • I will be using items from my pantry, but this will even out as I purchase items to restock.  In my menu plan, I’ll note pantry items which weren’t purchased with Food Stamp Challenge dollars.
  • We are a busy family.  We have the equivalent two full time jobs and two part time jobs between us plus the time it takes to run a household and be Mom and Dad to nine children.  I don’t bake my own bread anymore and I do use convenience foods.
  • We are not currently on food stamps, but I do have a tiny food stamp budget.  We do receive WIC.

Expect to See:

Meatless meals.

Easy breakfasts. I’m not a morning person.

Luxuries, like coffee, chocolate, and the occasional treat.

Easy scratch cooking recipes.

How to stock a deep pantry on a budget

Are you grocery shopping on a tiny budget?  If you have posts in the spirit of the Food Stamp Challenge, link up your posts in the comments!  And feel free to ask questions.

AUGUST Food Stamp Challenge:

Week 1 $181.08 on food, $1 on household goods.

Week 2 $174.38 on food, $21.89 on household goods.

Week 3: $116.13 on food, $14.45 on household goods.

Week 4: $234.96 on food, $31.49 on household goods.

Total spent: Food, $ 706.55 Household $68.83
Weekly average: Food, $176.64 Household, 17.21

Linking up:

Works for Me Wednesday

I love comments. Tell me what you think!

  • Stacy September 2, 2011, 8:50 am

    This really is not a fair assessment of the SNAP program and this is a disingenuous exercise. The average benefit is $133 PER PERSON.$PP.htm

    For a family of 4 that is $532 per month, $17.00 per day which even at Whole Foods is not a bad amount. Are you going to be able to have steak every day? No, of course not. You have 11 people in your family, at $133 per person you would be spending $1,463 per month on food. And there is a reason it is called “supplemental” because it is meant to add to money you already have to buy food with. If you don’t have extra money, you get a larger benefit. It is disingenuous and mildly ridiculous for you to cut in half the average benefit and not supplement it with additional funds. That being said, it’s your life and your family/food and if that is your budget then who am I to naysayers it. But it is misleading to call this a food stamp challenge.

    Last night, 40,000 children died of starvation. Take a cereal bowl out of your cupboard, fill it with 3/4 of a cup of rice, a sprinkling of dirt, vermin droppings and a handful of bugs. When you go to cook the rice, don’t use tap water, go out to your friendly neighborhood mud hole, scoop out the cleanest water you can and use that to boil the rice with. Take a good look at what comes out of the pan and imagine having that (and only that) to eat each and every day of your life.

  • Milehimama September 2, 2011, 3:56 pm

    We actually were on food stamps a while ago, and our benefit (for 10 people) was $1286 a month. I don’t think spending the “half” amount is ridiculous. I did that to show that you can eat healthy even on a small budget, and also because many people receive foodstamps but are “working poor” and don’t receive the full amount that is allotted to others, because their income is a little too high or for whatever reason.

    $133 divided by 30 days is $4.43 per person per day, and half that is $2.21. $133 divided by 30 days, cut in half, then 11 people times 7 days per week is $170.68. So $175 per week on food is very close to half the average SNAP.

    I’m not sure why you think it’s misleading- you think it’s not a food stamp challenge because I should spend more money? Honestly, I find $1286 or $1463 to be a ridiculous amount to spend on food. That’s more than we pay for housing! Admittedly, we do have the means to eat more frugally -i.e., working stove, kitchen skills, and equipment. I’ve lived without a kitchen and know how not having a stove/oven or equipment can really add to the cost of food.

  • Wenchypoo September 4, 2011, 9:40 am Reply
  • Wenchypoo September 8, 2011, 5:05 am

    I pulled my response down because I’ve moved onto how to frugally take care of your health instead of mundane frugal tasks (such as eating on the cheap). If I get invited to take the challenge again next year, I’ll repost it for a brief time (like I did this one).

    Meanwhile, here’s a semi-permanent post about how to improve your health on the cheap: D-I-Y Health Care Reform

    Who needs Obamacare? We certainly don’t!

    Here’s another: The Cholesterol Shuffle

    Who needs Lipitor? We certainly don’t!

  • Wenchypoo September 8, 2011, 5:51 am

    And if things couldn’t get any worse on the food stamp front, I find this news story this morning: Fast Food Restaurants to Start Accepting Food Stamps

    Now you see why I made the switch to health issues!

  • jeaniene Church January 4, 2012, 9:05 pm

    want to make the children happy…so wanted to leave a comment…I am very busy..and don”t have alot of time…so hoping to learn alot from your site..instead of researching all the other many sites!!

  • Leslie March 31, 2012, 10:52 am

    I’m glad I found your site. i’m hoping it will help me. I’m feeding myself, my father, my 11 year old son and 18 year old daughter on $288 a month. I work part time and I’m in school full time. I should be better at budgeting food and such, but I’m not. I hope you’re site will give me some good ideas on how to keep our meals healthy but not over my budget. Thank you for having this site.

  • shannen July 2, 2012, 9:06 am

    I am hopping on here for some food budget/shopping advice and all of the examples and comments are very helpful. I have a budget of $400/mo. for six of us. My hubby is on a G-free diet, so that hikes the food budget up some. I am a homeschool, SAHM too, so am providing snacks and three squares a day for all of the kids. I look forward to reading more and gleening more insight in the time to come. Thank you for doing this!

  • Jupiter July 3, 2012, 9:32 am

    Hi…I’ve included this is my page about food stamp challenges on my blog. Do you mind if I use the photo button from this post? I’ve already included in in the page w/ a trackback to here but I can take it down if you’d rather I not use it. Thanks!

  • Jupiter July 3, 2012, 9:32 am Reply
  • Rhonda Banner July 7, 2012, 5:00 pm

    Stacy posted: “This really is not a fair assessment of the SNAP program and this is a disingenuous exercise. The average benefit is $133 PER PERSON”. In Indiana, that number goes down to $117.50 per person. Which averages out to about $2.25 per person per meal per day.

  • kevin burke February 2, 2014, 3:31 pm

    i am on food stamps however i workout and need to eat healthy i need a plan maybe a written plan to follow

  • pineapple peeler August 18, 2014, 7:29 pm

    Hellko there! I could have sworn I’ve been to this site before
    but afte reading through some of the post I realized it’s new to me.
    Nonetheless, I’m definitely happy I found it and I’ll be book-marking and checking
    back often!


About Milehimama

Desperately thrifty mom of 10, sharing my frugal tips, easy shortcuts, recipes, and thoughts on natural living and real food.

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