7 days on food stamps – Day 0: The Menu

Last week my girlfriend and I were chatting about how hard it must be to live on food stamps. Not being one to just leave a contradiction unexamined, I proposed that we try to live on it for a month… which turned into two weeks… which became 7 days. Nobody seems to worry that food stamps aren’t enough to live on, but if you ask them to try it for a week, they’ll immediate say that it is totally crazy. I tend to think this is very difficult to do, even for a short period of time. Food stamps are more like fasting than they are living.

Healthy menu for living on food stamps for 7 days

The federal government provides $133 each month for food, if you poor and fill out a ton of paperwork. The District of Columbia adds another $30 or so, giving one person $170 a month. Only, if you have a roommate, you cannot both apply. So we must share this $170, or $42.50 for one week.

My girlfriend (she who shall not be named, because she is shy, not because she is Voldemort) prepared a useful spreadsheet with the cost per serving for the $49.70 we spent on groceries tonight. We don’t expect to eat everything, so we can still hit our budget.

Our Groceries Listmenu for 7 days of food stamps - costing 49.70

49.70 of food

49.70 of food too

With the table of food items below, we aimed to achieve all of these goals:

  • Stay under budget for two unmarried people living in Washington, DC on food stamps ($42.50 for one week)
  • Eat healthy, minimal processed foods
  • Buy no foods containing high-fructose corn syrup
Brand Item Size Cost Sale
Item
Serving Size Number of Servings Cost per Serving
Giant Frzn Broccoli Florets 32 oz $2.50 1/2 C 11 $0.28
Nature’s Promise Brown Eggs 18 ct $3.69 1 18 $0.21
Giant Black Beans (dried) 16 oz $1.49 1/4 C dry 9 $0.17
Giant Pinto Beans (dried) 16 oz $1.49 1/4 C dry 10 $0.15
Giant Garbanzo Beans (dried) 16 oz $1.67 yes 1/4 C dry 10 $0.17
La Banderita Grande Burrito Flour
Tortillas
10 ct $2.89 yes 1 10 $0.29
Hodgson Mill Steel Cut Oats 18 oz $2.69 yes 1/4 C dry 13 $0.21
Chi Chi’s Salsa 16 oz $1.50 yes 2 Tbsp 15 $0.10
Barilla Whole Grain Linguine 13.25 oz $1.00 yes 2 oz 7 $0.14
Hunt’s Pasta Sauce 24 oz $1.29 1/2 C 5 $0.26
Smucker’s Natural Grape
Fruit Spread
17.25 oz $2.24 yes 1 Tbsp 26 $0.09
JIF Creamy Peanut Butter 16 oz $3.11 yes 2 Tbsp 14 $0.22
Kraft Classic Catalina
Dressing
8 fl oz $1.92 yes 2 Tbsp 8 $0.24
Giant Carrots 2 lb $1.99 1 10 $0.20
Chiquita Bananas 2.16 lb $1.27 0.59/lb 1 6 $0.21
Sunkist Oranges 2 $2.00 yes 1 4 $0.50
Sweet Potato 1.25/lb $1.24 0.99/lb 1 2 $0.62
Garlic .50 each $0.50 5 $0.10
Sweet Onion 1.06/lb $1.26 1.19/lb 1/4 onion 4 $0.32
NewStar Spinach raw 16 oz $2.99 2 oz 8 $0.37
Giant Russett Potatoes 10 lb $4.99 1 30 $0.17
Arnold 100% Whole Wheat
Bread
2 loaf $4.29 yes 1 slice 32 $0.13
Apples 1 lb $1.69 1.69/lb 1 4 $0.42
Total: $49.70

This is what we think a typical one-day meal plan will look like:

Breakfast
Oats $0.21
Egg $0.21
Banana $0.21
Total $0.63
Lunch
2 bread $0.26
PB $0.22
Jelly $0.18
Apple $0.42
Total $1.08
Dinner
Burrito $0.29 Linguine $0.14
Beans $0.15 Sauce $0.26
Salsa $0.10 Broccoli $0.28
Broccoli $0.28
Carrot $0.10
Garlic $0.02
Onion 0.02
Total $0.96 $0.68

Total: $2.67 per person per day (with a max budget of $2.83)

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