Food stamp budget in action – July 2016

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that we receive food stamps to supplement our income.  You also probably know that I have particular standards for what food we eat.  There are many examples on the internet about food stamp budget challenges to help people understand what it is like to live on such a budget.  Since this is something I have done every month for nearly 13 years, I thought I would share what a month of food looks like in my house.  According to food stamps we should be able to feed our family on $218.20/week, or $872.80 for four weeks.  Why am I counting four weeks instead of a full month?  I do my grocery shopping on a weekly basis rather than a monthly basis.  I went shopping five times in July since there were four Saturdays, but that would be misleading.  Instead I am using weekly numbers to try to paint a more accurate picture.

The Meals

I use meal planning to set my shopping list each week.  Sometimes I forget to write it on my calendar, and then I lose it, or sometimes I just skip shopping and use up whatever we have on hand.  We do not eat out more than once or twice a year.  So here are the meals we had (and that I wrote down) in the month of July.

  • Chili with rice (x2) (recipe will be forthcoming because it is delicious)
  • Roast Chicken with potatoes (x2)
  • Cookout (4th of July, all my kids came home with their boyfriends, my mom came, it was a lovely potluck – we provided the hot dogs and hamburgers and buns for them)
  • White Bean Cheddar Melt
  • Honey Sriracha Chicken
  • Mac and Cheese (homemade, of course)
  • Sausage and Peppers
  • French Toast
  • Pizza (x2)
  • Stir Fry
  • Dill Baked Fish
  • Midwest Chowder (recipe forthcoming)
  • Chicken Pot Pie (recipe forthcoming)
  • Clean Out Refrigerator Night (CORN)
  • Salsa Chicken and Black Bean Soup (x2)
  • Quiche
  • Meatloaf
  • Herb Baked Fish
  • Chicken Parmesan
  • Pulled pork

One day we attended a wedding and dinner was provided, and the remaining days I can’t tell you what we ate because I forgot to write it down.  I did have a curry recipe planned, but I never got it made.  Breakfasts consisted of tomato soup, oatmeal, bacon, eggs, sourdough pancakes, yogurt, leftovers, and once A had tuna fish salad for breakfast before summer school. Lunches (when I remembered to make something) included sandwiches, mac and cheese, hot dogs, quiche, salad, and more leftovers.  L often made herself a bowl of rice.

Food budget numbers

So now for the grocery record.  I have four primary shopping spots, as I mentioned before.  There is a higher priced supermarket much closer to me, and I will go there sometimes if I just need one or two things.  The cost difference is outweighed by the gas difference.  Since the list is so huge, I have decided to just link to a PDF.

The total bill came to $893.84. This is $21 over budget, which isn’t too bad.  Yes, I drew on pantry stock that I had, but I also replenished some of the pantry stock, too.  We had two large purchases, a half gallon of syrup and 50# of rolled oats, that will last a good long time.  This was a pretty normal summer month of grocery shopping.  You may notice the numbers for the farmers’ market don’t quite tally up.  That is because we took advantage of the doubling program, getting $20 of tokens for $10 of food stamps.  We also paid part cash for the syrup at the farmers’ market.  The chart shows the asking price for each item, but the total takes the doubling into account.

Your turn

Have you done a challenge like this before?  What did you discover about your eating habits?  Do you want me to do this again next month?

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