Thursday, January 27, 2011

We Are Taking The Food Stamp Challenge

 My oldest daughter and I are in the midst of The Food Stamp Challenge, hosted by Maryland Hunger Solutions.  The challenge is to eat for one week with the average food supplemental benefit allotted by the state of Maryland...$30 per person.

Dinner #1 Broiled Chicken with
rice and frozen veggies.  My daughter was sent to
school with leftovers as her luch
(which is common practice for us)

Sunday afternoon I went to the market.  I had a plan, I was optimistic, I was ready to begin The Food Stamp Challenge.  This lasted about 15 seconds into my shopping excursion.  I started in the produce section (where I always begin my shopping) and quickly realized that fresh produce is dang expensive!  In my pretty little, perfect plan I planned to spread out my purchases; $15 for meat, $5 for produce, $10 for everything else.  Yeah, that plan went quickly out the window.  One hour I spent in the market, an all time record in my books, going back and forth from isle to isle, putting things back, replacing the name brand products with generic and still I left that day with one bag, just one.

Dinner # 2 Chicken and rice soup
made from the left overs of the night

Now, when I first signed on to this challenge I was under the impression (I've never been good at reading instructions) that the $30 was for our entire family.  When I received the email on Monday stating it was $30 per person I was ecstatic.  I mean, screamed out of my dads house to the market.  Again I had a plan and again I was optimistic, after all an extra thirty dollars?  That was HUGE!  Once again I left the market disappointed.  This time, even though I had bought all staple supplies, the one bag I left with wasn't even full.

Dinner # 3 Meatloaf with frozen
green beans and rice. 
For the record, making meatloaf
without eggs really, really stinks!
 You may be thinking, "That's not so bad."  And I'll be honest, when I looked at the food I had to work with I didn't think so either.  But here we are on Day 5 and all the food has been cooked and we are looking at leftovers (sparse leftovers at that) for the remainder of the week. Here's hoping they will last. And for the record, I certainly won't starve my child should we completely run out of food ( a choice I'm feeling very fortunately to have).

Dinner #4 Chili
Used the remaining ground beef, meatloaf,
beans and tomato sauce.  This will be the
last dinner I cook as we are now out of food. 
Hoping the leftovers hold out. 
I must commend my daughter for sticking with it.  She's a real trooper and I admire everything she has done this week.  We were both at each other's throats today, bickering over stupid little things like "You spilled water on my shoe!".  We're both exhausted and hungry.  I killed me to hear her say (repeatedly) "Mommy, I'm Hungry"  and have to tell her "Sorry kiddo, if we eat now we won't have enough food for dinner." I promised her a feast of Tacos and Ice Cream Sundaes next week for all she's been through...then felt guilty because people living on Food Stamps never get that option.

How much did I spend for me and my daughter? $59.50
(and don't think I wasn't trying to find something for 50 cents all week)

What we got for our money:
  • 4.75 lbs. Ground Beef on sale at almost 50% off (75% lean...wicked healthy, I know)
  • 4.45 lbs. Roaster Chicken
  • 3 Cans of Beans
  • 1 Box of Pasta
  • Small Bag of Long Grain Rice
  • 1 Can Crushed Tomatoes
  • 1 Can Tomato Sauce
  • 1 Small Container of Grated Cheese
  • 1 Packaged Cheese Slices
  • 1 Large Bag Frozen of Mixed Veggies
  • 1 Large Bag Frozen Green Beans
  • 1 Jar Peanut Butter
  • 1 Jar Jelly
  • 1 Loaf Bread
  • 5 Bananas
  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Garlic (are they called heads of garlic?)
  • 1 Box of generic Cheerios (which weren't half bad)
  • 1 Small container of Oatmeal
  • 1 Jar Applesauce
  • 1 LB. Coffee (the only reason I pulled this off is because it was on sale for $3.99)
  • 1 Gallon Milk
  • 1 Apple (a surprise for my sad is that)

What we put back:
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Frozen Broccoli
  • Tomato Paste
  • Pork
  • The Bigger Roaster Chicken
  • Chicken Broth

What We Replaced For Generic Brands:
Everything that came with a label...with the exception of the beans (Goya was on sale)

Looking back, things I wouldn't have bought:
  • Generic grated cheese ~ It's just plain gross! Save your 89 cents and buy a piece of fruit
  • The $1 Box of cereal ~ Cheap yes, yummy yes, but this "breakfast for the week" lasted less than half a week
  • The Third can of beans ~ Yummy yes, but with the 67 cents I could have bought a second apple  


 About Maryland Hugner Solutions

"The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) established Maryland Hunger Solutions (MDHS) as a project to fight hunger and improve the nutrition, health, and well-being of children and families in Maryland. The initiative was launched in the fall of 2007 and is modeled on the successful D.C. Hunger Solutions (DCHS) Initiative that began in 2002."

Find out more about Maryland Hunger Solutions on their main site


  1. There are so many people that don't have enough to eat, and it's really so very sad. I know it must have broke your heart to hear your daughter say she was hungry.

    Kudos to you for doing the food stamp challenge. It was a long week but many people have to go through it for a lot longer not know where there next meal is coming from.

    I enjoyed reading your post and look forward to your next one. I'm following your blog.

  2. Hi Terri,

    Thank you so much for following our blog. This week has definitely been an experience. I'll be honest, the beginning of the week wasn't so bad, but around day 5 the food was pretty much gone (except for leftovers). While we certainly didn't starve, it was a real struggle to manage the money had and conserve the food we bought with it.

    I feel very grateful to be in the position I'm in.

    All the best,


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