7 days on food stamps – Day 1

My first day sticking to a food stamps diet went well. In preparing our breakfast the night before (oatmeal in a crockpot), we had to face a trade off. A recipe with coconut milk would have been twice as expensive. To stick to our $2.83 a day per person budget, all we could afford was an apple slice and some free sugar packets from Wendys:

2014-02-10 08.53.24

In spite of Christy’s hours of planning and research, we were not able to afford any milk, meat, sugar, or dairy in our food stamps budget.

Christy       Marc    
Breakfast       Breakfast    
Item Serving Cost Item Serving Cost
Oatmeal 1/2 C $0.10 Oatmeal 1C $0.21
Apple in Oats $0.10 Banana 1 $0.21
Coffee 2 C free at work Apple Oats in Oats $0.10
Total $0.20 Total $0.52

Lunch was a breeze. Peanut Butter and Jelly with an apple and half my breakfast banana. Oh, and one free 12oz coke, courtesy of my workplace.

Lunch       Lunch    
Item Serving Cost Item Serving Cost
PB & J 1 $0.66 PB & J 1 $0.66
Apple 1 $0.42 Apple 1 $0.42
Lemonheads 4 Free at work Coke 1 free/work
Total $1.08 Total $1.08

After lunch, one coworker of mine who was a former social worker took pity on my experiment. “Please, Marc, take these vitamin C packets,” she begged. She has worked with too many poor people who struggle to survive on food stamps. So I took them. I’ll probably add them to my water tomorrow to flavor it up.

That got me thinking on my way home. In real life I’d imagine that churches, friends, and the food bank would have to fill the gap for weeks while the paperwork went through, had I lost my job. And being “on food stamps” quickly brought out the urge by many people to subsidize what the government thinks I ought to be able to live on. I wonder what kind of psychological effect this would have on someone. 

Dinner was yummy, though it didn’t fill either of us up.

Dinner Dinner
Item Serving Cost Item Serving Cost
Bean Burrito
w/ salsa
3/4 C Beans
$0.57 Bean Burrito
w/ salsa
3/4 C Beans
Broccoli 1/2 C $0.28 Broccoli 1/2 C $0.28
Total $0.86 Total $0.86

We both seem to enjoy snacking at night. Christy immediately started tallying up her budget for the day, hoping there was money for another meal. We found we both had some:

After Dinner
After Dinner
Item Serving Cost Item Serving Cost
Baked Potato
+ butter from work
1 $0.17 Baked Potato + butter 1 $0.22
Orange 1 $0.50 Broccoli $0.14
Total $2.81 Total $2.82

But Christy was still not satisfied. For while a while she started unit-costing all the items in our apartment that we can’t eat, because we can’t afford them. “What about one graham cracker?”

She could afford only one M&M. And that would make her even hungrier.

“What about a 1/6 of a candy cane? Those are really cheap.”

Finally, she remembered – “Oooooh! I get to eat my gummy vitamins!”

Technically, our daily dose of gummy vitamins are over 20 cents a person. But we agreed before hand that we would still take them, even though they exceed our budget.


Day 0: The Menu

Day 2

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