My family is a little more than a day in to our SNAP Challenge and so far, so good. Like many things these days, this is an exercise in "doing more with less" and planning ahead. And already, it's been eye-opening.
Let me start with the eye-opening reality check. Last night, our kids' school held a fundraiser at Ben & Jerry's -- a portion of the night's ice cream sales would go back to the school. So, after soccer and swim practice, we stopped for ice cream. My son and daughter each had a small cup. And at $4.25/cup, that was pretty much their "food budget" for the day. Now, we'd factored this into our pre-challenge shopping budget, because we didn't want our kids to miss out on a school event. Tough choices... reality for many families.
As for the doing more with less part, we knew that would be the case when we went into this. We tried to buy groceries that would be versatile -- things we could use for a number of different meals. And we've tried to make meals that would last. For example, take the soup my wife made over the weekend:
- $1.20 chicken breast (1 of a "Family Pack" of 6 on sale for $7.08)
- $1.25 of ham steak (1/2 of a steak that was $2.50)
- $1.20 of kale (1/2 of a bunch that was $2.40)
- $.60 of an onion (1/2 a $1.20 onion)
- $.88 of tomatoes (1 can)
- $.12 of boullion (1 from pkg of 6 which was $.49)
- $.50 of white beans (1/2 bag that was $1.00)
- $.25 of pasta (1/2 a box that was $.50)
And water... which is free
By my rough math, the soup cost about $6.00 to make. My wife, daughter and I had it for dinner last night. And my wife took a serving to work for lunch. And there are at least four servings left. And there is still chicken, ham steak, kale, onion, beans and pasta to use for other meals. In fact, my son -- not much of a soup fan -- had 1/2 a plain chicken breast and pasta with some frozen vegetables for dinner last night. And I took the other half, in a a tortilla with a little cheese, for lunch.
My family is taking this challenge seriously -- and with the builk of the week ahead of us, it is a certainly a challenge. But we also understand this is merely a simulation... and the reality many familes face -- not just for a one-week challenge, but every week of the year -- is difficult to duplicate.
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