Is it really that hard?

Denim Deb

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Every once in awhile, I'll hear something on the radio about all these poor people on food stamps that only get $35.00 per person per week in food stamps and how hard it is to eat on that. And quite truthfully, I can't figure out what's so hard about it. Right now, we're spending more on food per week than I'd like-hubby's doing the shopping and he spends way more than I would, but quite truthfully, if it was just me, I can't see spending any where NEAR that amount. I know I was talking to a butcher in the supermarket recently and they agreed w/me that it wasn't that hard.

I realize that in some areas, it may be harder, areas where people don't have a large supermarket available to them, and have to rely on neighborhood stores that may not have the selection available to them. But, if you didn't raise any of your own food, or do any hunting and/or fishing, would you be able to eat on $35/week w/out resorting to TV dinners, and Ramen noodles every night?
 

Bettacreek

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I'll be honest, I was in the SNAP program (food stamps). We got $526/month for myself and the two boys. That's $43.83/person per week. I could never use it all up, and had a lot left over after the program was closed. If you eat smart, then you don't have to raise your own foods to keep your costs down with that kind of budget. If you buy pre-packaged meals every day, it's going to be a little harder... If you buy junk foods, sodas, etc, it's probably not possible. I bought bulk foods with my benefits... Bulk noodles (the tricolor kind, which are more expensive), bulk chicken leg quarters, some chicken tenders sometimes (the fresh kind, not that crap in a bag in the freezer), cheeses, a ton of milk (we go through about four gallons per week), cereal (Malt-O-Meals in a bag), ground beef, multigrain breads, etc. If you purchased frozen meals for every single meal, you probably wouldn't be able to do it. If you purchased rib-eye steaks, you probably couldn't do it. We certainly didn't have to live on ramen noodles or anything like that... We ate pretty damn well actually. If you're on food stamps, most likely, you have plenty of time on your hands to do other things, like baking your own breads, raising your own foods, etc. Granted, I was on it while in school, and I definately didn't have time to do basically anything except school, eat, sleep and poop (and sometimes I didn't even have time to do all that!) And some people on it are elderly and cannot do the basic things we take for granted (water plants, pick a tomato, etc). I've worked with many people who had food stamps, and they could mostly afford all of their food. One had problems buying food, but she also ONLY drank soda, would waste half of her food (plenty of times I cringed as food was tossed in the garbage after two bites), and most of the time, she bought expensive stuff (NO store brands, etc) and ate a lot of candy (she went through about 4 bags of those circus peanuts per week). So, honestly, if you're not being stupid about it, it's very easy to live on the FS amounts that you are given.

I also had another client who ran out of FS. I only worked with her two or three times, but I noticed that all she drank was mountain dew (and she went through several 2L bottles per day). I ended up calling work and demanding that something was done. She had many issues and couldn't eat much. She wasted a lot as well. Two bites, and garbage. She was very, very ill though (including mentally ill). I actually felt bad for her. I set it up with the next person coming in to take her to the food bank... Because the only "food" in her house that she would eat was stuff for a peanut butter jelly sammich. Everything else was expired a good 2-3 years prior. I was leaving for another shift when I realized all of the food was bad, that's why I set it up with the other girl to get her some real food from the food bank.

So, around here, many of the people on FS also get food from the food banks, so nobody around here would ever starve to death under these circumstances.
 

so lucky

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this week's NEWSWEEKhas a big article about the epidemic of obesity that the US is experiencing. Blames it totally on sugar and white carbs. Blames the gvm't for not recognizing that sugar is the problem. Gvm't still blames people for being overweight by eating too much and not exercising. Sugar and salt make horrid foodstuff seem tasty. Poor people buy it, cause it is cheap. They buy it with foodstamps. It doesn't satisfy their hunger, so they end up eating 3X as much junk as they would if they were eating good protein and slow carbs. And it all gets washed down with copious amounts of soda pop. And then they get type 2 diabetes and the poor folks end up "costing" a heck of a lot more than just foodstamp programs. (Just my 2 cents worth)
 

mlynd

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Ok I can reply to this one We are a family of 7 both worked full time jobs we receive stamps and have our whole lives( I would love not to) the amount we get is about 430.00 per month about 15.00 per person a week no sodas no junk and we eat a lot of cheap raman no name brand food that really are not good for us, good food is to expensive I raise what I can here but don't have a lot of time to get everything done but I'm not giving up on it I just work harder on weekends and the kids are helping,
 

FarmerChick

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I think it is tight.

$35 a week per person is tight if you have absolutely no access to grow or acquire food elsewhere. Plus I think it is location. Many areas food is higher than my area. Plus there isn't a person in the world who can live on just regular food. at some point you are going to want a few chips or a soda. (Not saying at all that it would make up the bulk of the buggy) We had a poster here and she budgeted $30 per week for all food stuffs. AND SHE said it is tight and she didn't buy anything super fancy.
It wouldn't be Ramen noodles everynight, but they might be lunch every single day :)

$35 for 21 meals. breakfast lunch and dinner. yes I think it is tight.
 

Bettacreek

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Our area must be awesome. I also got the maximum amount for a family of three, since I had $0 income. For very very low income (or no income) the food stamps are supposed to provide ALL of the food for that family. As you make more money, they cut the amount... You're not actually supposed to live only on that amount, it's just to help supplement your income so that you don't starve or lose your home because you can't afford food AND bills.
 

arctally

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I think it depends on who you are to some extent. My hubby can eat one meal a day and be fine (if a little cranky) while I have to have at least three meals a day and a couple of snacks or I start to get physically ill and lose weight fast, I'll shed 3-4lb a day on one meal a day if I sit in my butt and do nothing! But if I resort to ramen a couple of times a week we (the four of us) can eat pretty well on around $400/month, without me turning into a walking skeleton, which is about $25/person/week. I do find that fresh veggies are too expensive for that budget though so I get canned or frozen instead, canned if I want to treat my family to something special that week. TV dinners are sooooo much more expensive than scratch prepped meals!

I agree with Bettacreek, it's all about how you shop. If you aren't good at keeping a budget or you're picky about brands or you insist on treating yourself every week it is probably very difficult to eat on $35/person/week.
 

Bettacreek

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Food stamps aren't always made to live on... You make a certain amount for your household number, and as you make more money, the amount goes down. It is then used as a supplement to what you make, so that you don't loose your home because you can't afford food AND bills. You're supposed to spend some of your money on food as well, if you're not getting the full amount.

I rarely ever buy soda. To the point that you could say that I DON'T buy soda. I bought some when our store had them on sale at 5/$10 for 12 packs, but other than that, I think it's been a few years since I actually bought soda. We just tend not to drink it. We drink chocolate milk, water or juices. If you think about it, soda can be super expensive... If a family of four drinks two sodas per day per person, you could be spending $28/month on soda, and that's if the soda is at $1/2L (on sale). For that $28, if you drank water instead, you could buy 56lbs of chicken leg quarters! Even ground beef, which has gone through the roof, you could buy 9lbs of it... We can easily make a meal on 1lb of ground beef, and have plenty left over... Add maybe half pound of noodles ($1) and a jar of sauce ($1), and you've got a $5 meal that will last two meals (for our family anyways). Do not waste foods, buy in bulk, and buy smart, and you can make decent meals for very cheap. I mean, noodles last for just about forever... buy a 1lb box and you'll pay about $1.50/lb, buy 10lbs and you can get it for about $1/lb. If you like the cheap noodles (just plain jane noodles) you can get them for like $0.50/lb, or even cheaper. And, like I said, while it's not filet mignon, and sure, it's not grassfed beef, it's still MUCH better food than most of America is eating, and it's very affordable.
 

hqueen13

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so lucky said:
this week's NEWSWEEKhas a big article about the epidemic of obesity that the US is experiencing. Blames it totally on sugar and white carbs. Blames the gvm't for not recognizing that sugar is the problem. Gvm't still blames people for being overweight by eating too much and not exercising. Sugar and salt make horrid foodstuff seem tasty. Poor people buy it, cause it is cheap. They buy it with foodstamps. It doesn't satisfy their hunger, so they end up eating 3X as much junk as they would if they were eating good protein and slow carbs. And it all gets washed down with copious amounts of soda pop. And then they get type 2 diabetes and the poor folks end up "costing" a heck of a lot more than just foodstamp programs. (Just my 2 cents worth)
x2
 

Denim Deb

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arctally said:
I think it depends on who you are to some extent. My hubby can eat one meal a day and be fine (if a little cranky) while I have to have at least three meals a day and a couple of snacks or I start to get physically ill and lose weight fast, I'll shed 3-4lb a day on one meal a day if I sit in my butt and do nothing! But if I resort to ramen a couple of times a week we (the four of us) can eat pretty well on around $400/month, without me turning into a walking skeleton, which is about $25/person/week. I do find that fresh veggies are too expensive for that budget though so I get canned or frozen instead, canned if I want to treat my family to something special that week. TV dinners are sooooo much more expensive than scratch prepped meals!

I agree with Bettacreek, it's all about how you shop. If you aren't good at keeping a budget or you're picky about brands or you insist on treating yourself every week it is probably very difficult to eat on $35/person/week.
I think that's probably right. Believe me, I have nothing against people that are on food stamps, I've known plenty of people on them, but I also noticed that they were buying things I couldn't afford, and at times I'll admit, I resented it.

So, for those that don't spend much of food, how do you shop and cook in order to maximize your purchases? Of course, not buying name brand foods and not buying a lot of junk probably goes w/out saying, but what other things do you do? I know I'll buy a whole chicken on sale, and can get several meals out of that. I look for meat that's on sale and has been marked down. I'll buy roasts on sale, and make my own beef cubes, beef slices, etc. I don't buy lunch meat, but will make sandwiches out of things we've had for dinner, like chicken, meatloaf, roast beef, etc. Rice is cheap, as are beans, etc. If you have chili w/out meat, you're still getting protein, and it's fairly cheap to make. Leftover veggies go into either casseroles or soups. Ham bones and chicken carcasses are boiled up and used for making soups.
 

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