The Governor of Oregon, Ted Kulongowski, challenged himself and his wife to live on the equivalent of what they would get for food stamps, $3 a day for a week. He said one thing he learned was that the cheapest foods are on the top and bottom shelves of the supermarket.
One thing I heard on the radio was that they couldn't use anything from their cupboard or food pantry, just what they could buy for the food stamp benefit.
If you had a grocery budget of $3 a day per person, what groceries would you buy?
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I would buy Raman Noodles, Eggs, Bag of Potatoes, Onion, Bread, Peanut Butter, Mac N Cheese, Margarine
Since we are vegetarian it would be a bit easier than for meat eaters. I would buy beans, large bag of potatoes, milk, flour, cornmeal, margarine, sugar, peanut butter, and if I had anything left canned veges.
I would buy a loaf of bread for a $1.00 and i would buy a stick of butter for some cents. I would buy those roman noodles for .15 cents. This would last me 2 days eating breakfast lunch and dinner.
I don't know if it makes a difference where you live or not, but most of the people I know who get food stamps eat better than we do! Does anyone have any feedback about that? We live in Iowa. I'm not sure if it's like that in any other states, but it sure seems to ring true here!
I don't quiet understand how some states give people so little to live on. When i was in college and working part time i had to use assistance to get by. For my son who was 2 at the time and myself i got about 270.00 a month for food, which i thought was really great. I was living in Minnesota at the time. I really can't understand how some states don't get that food costs so much, esp. with kids. I grew up pretty poor so i know how to buy a weeks worth of groceries with money found in the couch. First of all, most decent sized cities have that one grocery store, that's like a dented goods store, or even a dollar store or a big lots. So if i had 21. for one weeks worth of food i would get -
It's easy to live on $3/day by making most of your meals 'from scratch' esp. by relying upon a lacto-ovo-vegetarian diet. Real savings are seen when you make your own 'convenience foods.' To me, it's fun to make my own soy milk (from soy flour), yogurt, desserts and various 'tv dinners' featuring favorites.
This website and About.com's frugal section have good ideas for doing that. Kraftfoods.com's diabetic weekly menu section has many recipes i like.
A big box of generic oatmeal is $2 for at least 20 mornings or 20 cents/breakfast. Lunch: trans-fat-free peanut butter goes well w/diet jelly on loaf bread, Eng. muffin, tortilla, pita pocket. A jar of 20 servings is roughly $2... add that to the jelly/jam 'n bread plus fruit serving... about 65 cents. Afternoon treats: popcorn from the 89-cent bag of kernels... 1/4 cup = app. 4-5 cups popped.... multiply 16 oz x 4 for cost of each serving.
The constraints come when your funds arrive piecemeal, day by day... it's more cost-effective to buy for a week to several weeks. Once my health changed, 2-3 months worth was brought home at once. My mo. gov't-aided budget was $98 but ended once certain bills were satisfied.
In the 1990s when cooking for two, a month's worth of groceries were $65... all meals 'n foods were made 'from scratch' w/ basics like cornstarch, cocoa, powdered milk, rice, pasta, flour, cornmeal, etc. Once that particular store closed, tho, the budget changed.
The first respondent had good budget ideas.
Learning to live on less takes the most time... with practice it becomes easier.
I think there's been some terrific responses to this, and I'll just add that a monthly food budget of $80 for one person is very easy to do, especially if you take advantage of the benefits of cooking dried legumes like lentils, split peas and assorted beans. I saw the governor buying "cup of noodles" in those little styrofoam bowls. For the price of two of those, he could've gotten two or more pounds of beans or lentils, depending on sale prices.
i see many people with food stamps and on government assistance and yes they eat and dress much better than i do. i admit i go to the local food banks and pantry.
Hi! I've been poor all of my life, but I married a smart Chinese Lady who:
1. Always had a bowl of cooked rice with every meal.
So: buy a rice cooker and long grained ten pound bags of rice from Chinatown.
2. Quaker Oats. The five minute two pound bag variety. I just love that smiling Quaker with Brown sugar and skimmed milk?
3. Skimmed milk. Never buy fat milk. Cats hate it!
4. Apples, Oranges and dark Green vegetables: Green Peppers, cucumbers, Green cabbage. The Greener the better.
5. Whole wheat bread crammed with vitamins. The more expensive is better because you will need less and it will be cheaper in the long month.
6. Spaghetti! You can buy Tomatos fresh or in cans. Add one pound of lean beef. Good for a week.
6. Onions and potatos are staples also.
I'd go for a largely vegan diet, with lots of dried pulses and lentils, and veg from local grocers' shops (often cheaper than supermarkets for veg in the UK), esp just before it is about to be thrown out (but can still be used for cooking). Plus pasta, rice and potatoes.
I have to agree with some of the other people. I can remember one particular time in the supermarket being in line behind food stamp recipients who were buying name brand mayonnaise and expensive meats that I couldn't even think to purchase. I worked at a bank of all places, my husband had a good job and we had an infant. I was what the government would classify as middle class but I call it "working poor." This particular family had a very nice car and clothing which I noticed when I left the store. I couldn't afford to get my air conditioning fixed in my vehicle. I have learned to do without and make do. I shop for bargains, shop at Aldi, and hit the sales papers. There are hardly ever any name brand items in our home. On another note, I stay home now, I have no money now, but guess what I didn't have it then with paying for daycare. Something to think about!
First off food stamps are suppose to be a help, not a way of life or something we all deserve. Second I agree with some of the previous posts about being in line behind a food stamp recipient who has a cart full of steaks, shrimp and wine while my husband and I made over $60,000 a year and didn't have the choice to buy steak b/c our 2 kids came first. This woman was dressed in designer jeans, had a designer purse, had her nails done and smelled like a department store perfume counter, while her 4 little kids had no coats, wore sandals, dirty clothes, snotty little dirty faces and this was in January in Indiana with 4 inches of snow on the ground. Now I don't really think those little ones ate that steak and shrimp and sipped the wine. For those on the food stamp program who struggle to take care of their family the legitimate way this is a huge slap in the face as well as a thumbing of the nose to all of us who are paying for these programs. I have never been on food stamps so I can't say what I would buy with $3 a day per person.But I can tell you it would not be steak, shrimp and wine! I belong to the grocerygame, I use coupons and have done so for over 25 years. I buy on sale with coupons and stock up on those items I use on a regular basis. It doesn't matter if you are on food stamps or not it boils down to how bad you want to hold on to your money. I work hard for MY money and I don't intend to just throw it away and groceries is one of the easiest things to save money on. I'll spend $6 on 3 pounds of hamburger and get 3 meals before I spend $6 dollars on one steak to feed one person at one meal. It boils down to dollars and "sense".
It's interesting to me how this went from a discussion of the Governor walking in someone else's shoes and whether or not it was possible to live on that benefit to seeing people who "are dressed better" or "buying steaks and shrimp" with their food stamps. Food stamp eligibility differs from state to state and as the years have gone on, the program has changed.
Here's an online prescreening tool to see if you qualify:
My state had it's own prescreening tool.
Just a reminder to those that saw someone who they thought was abusing the system, there may been have lots of people that you also saw that weren't, I was one of them many years ago.
Susan from ThriftyFun
These are all just ideas. I wouldn't necessarily be able to buy all of these in one week, of course! Things like the fruits and vegetables I would always make sure I have at least some of something on hand. I would also buy enough bread/bread ingredients and eggs to make ensure that I have balanced meals. Other things I'd rotate in and out to keep yourself from getting bored... maybe potatos one week, pasta the next, and so on:
Fruits and veg from the farmer's market as they're much less expensive than in stores (at least if you live by a green belt, if you don't, try going to fruit and veg stands or small grocers). I would especially buy spinach, carrotts, bell peppers, onions and garlic because they are chock full of different vitamins and are very flexible. Not to mention full of flavor. Buying lettuce is a bit of a waste since it's mostly water and has little to no nutrients. Sure, spinach is more expensive, but there's a reason why--it's a superfood!
I'd also buy potatos, brown rice, dried beans, whole wheat pastas, oatmeal etc in bulk.
I would also buy whole wheat flour and milk, margarine and yeast to combine with the eggs mentioned below to make my own bread. Or yo u could just buy it if you can get it for about a dollar for a whole wheat loaf. You could also make pizza dough! Buy a can of diced tomatos and put your favorite veggies on there, yum! With the whole wheat flour, you can also make other things like pancakes, homemade tortillas (for burritos, wraps, quesadillas), etc.
If you combine whole grain foods with beans in a meal, they have complementary amino acid patterns that release a lot of nutrients and help you feel nice and full for a long time without having to eat any meat.
Eggs! Eggs are so very cheap and full of protein. I would definitely get cheese too. You can combine milk, flour and butter in a saucepan to make a roux and throw in the cheese-- bam! Cheesey sauce.
Peanut butter and bananas for sandwiches for lunch.
If I had any money leftover I'd buy cans of dolphin-safe tuna.
All I can say is at $3/day per person that works out to $360.00 per month for food for a family of four-I WISH I had that much to spend...as a single mom, with a working income (plus a little child support) that totals $1500 (per month after tax) that is an unreasonable amount...I am lucky if after bills I have $200/month ($1.67 per person/per day for 30 days) for groceries and household (lightbulbs, toilet paper, dish soap, laundry soap). I am from Canada and we don't have food stamp programs, I have never been on welfare, always worked, even when I have had cancer treatment twice-why are some people so lazy that they cannot work-I don't have much in the way of education (I have my high school diploma and some college courses that I needed for my job). I still manage to put a little away for a rainy day too :) I manage on $200/month to buy produce every week, I bake cookies and muffins for snacks, we always have milk in the fridge, bread on the counter and meat for at least 5/7 meals-twice a week we have spaghetti/sauce or another meatless meal such as soup and toast. We don't buy convenience foods/snacks because it isn't in our budget-steak is a rarity-unless bought for soup/stew at $2.00 per steak (I use one and cut it up small). If I had the food stamp budget-I would buy...more meat, more milk and more produce.
I DO receive food stamps. Yes, I get embarrassed. However, I worked like everyone else until my company downsized.
Not everyone eats steak and shrimp on food stamps. I have made menu lists and grocery lists since my children were young. I still do. Where I come from you can't buy wine with food stamps. I cook nearly everything from scratch. I make a lot of soups, goulash, and casseroles. I think we eat fairly healthy and make our food stamps stretch. I shop at low priced bread stores, bulk food places, and watch the sales.
I don't think there's anything wrong with someone buying steak and/or shrimp as long as it isn't every time. As for the woman with snotty nosed kids, sounds like she's thinking of only herself. But you'd be surprised at how many kids DO like shrimp and steak.
Final thought, only God is in a position to look down on others. Don't judge too quickly. "But, for the grace of God, go I." (meaning, it could happen to you)
Reading some of these responses makes me want to scream and cry at the same time!! Any one of you could be next in line for food stamps! All it takes is one job loss, one disabling illness, one unexpected pregnancy and you'll be right there with the rest of us. That being said, I DO work and receive food stamps. MY husband is disabled and receives social security. I stretch our dollars like you would not believe. We have NO debt besides our car and mortgage and we have what we need. We receive $62.00 a month in food stamps. It is meant to SUPPLEMENT our food budget not be the only source of food. In Ohio you cannot buy alcohol or tobacco with it. The program also does not specify what you MUST buy. Those that choose to buy steak or shrimp will simply use up their money faster and be hungrier sooner-they'll soon learn. I can buy an awful lot of groceries with $62.00 plus money of my own to last us a month when I shop at Aldi and other sales. It is up to ME what I purchase with it. I'm not going to tell my children they can never have ice cream again because we are on food stamps- rediculous! I'd love to go around and tell everyone else how they should spend their money but I keep my mouth shut because it is NONE OF MY BUSINESS. My kids don't even know we are "POOR".
Editor's Note: Tobacco, liquor, paper goods, pet food, cleaning supplies or anything that is not food cannot be purchased in any state with food stamps.
THANK YOU CINDY !!
I AM NOT ON ASSISTANCE NOW BUT WAS 20 YEARS AGO.I DIDN'T WANT TO BE BUT HAD NO CHOICE
BUT NEVER THE LESS WE WERE "RAISED" NOT TO LOOK DOWN ON OTHERS AND NOT JUDGE A BOOK BY IT'S COVER.ONE NEVER KNOWS WHEN SOMETHING COULD HAPPEN TO YOU. IT IS VERY, VERY HARD TO RAISE A FAMILY ON FOOD STAMPS
BUT LETS GET BACK TO THE INITIAL SUBJECT OF THIS POST WHICH IS HOW ONE WOULD LIVE ON $3 A DAY AND STOP JUDGING EACH OTHER
I WOULD DEFINATLEY HAVE TO SHOP ALDI'S TO DO THIS..
WOW !! I AM REALLY NOT SURE WHAT I WOULD BUY THIS IS NOT AN EASY TASK
I do live on Food Stamps, and I have most of my adult over 21 life. I live in Minnesota. We get 10-26 dollars a month per person. I go to Cashwise to shop. The food there is the one stop cheap warehouse grocery store in our town. What I get is as much none name brand food as possible there usually three items. I then go to the crash and dent store in the next town and buy the rest of my groceries that are name brand. I come out with enough food to eat for about three weeks, and the last week I go to the food pantry. I hope the Governor of your state realizes now how difficult it is to live on them and passes on the information to our Governor who is a cheap thoughtless uncaring idiot.
This is a story I heard--don't know if it's true or not, but it's food for thought. A woman was seen buying a large, decorated cake, ice cream, chips, expensive meat, etc. Someone stuck their nose where it didn't belong and asked her why someone using food stamps would waste the stamps this way. She replied, " My child has cancer, and this is going to be her last birthday."
Judge not, lest you be judged.
Being from Oregon (and no, I am not a fan of Kulengoski)....
I've lived in the midwest and Alaska, and believe me, the state of Oregon has THE BEST cost of living when it comes to groceries...I think the Iowa gov should do this instead, as I have lived in Iowa under food stamps (MANY years ago) and the food is more expensive there than in Oregon! The best stores here are Winco (employee owned and about 50 stores in the west) and Grocery Outlet (mark-down stuff) so you can get lots of staples for half the price of larger chains, even Walmart. Turkey is a big commodity in OR, you can buy ground turkey for $1 per pound on average, so we eat alot of that (only buying beef patties for hamburgers...turkey don't work! On top of Food Stamps, there is WIC if you qualify, the Food Bank (limited to once per month, but they go by family size and we got enough to last our family of 4 two weeks, but most perishables had to be used within two days, while some stuff was MANY years old.) Twice a week, you can go to one community outreach in my area with a dollar and pick out all the bread you can stuff into two grocery bags, some are day olds or that day, but still good. I go twice a month, and get 6-8 loaves of whole grain whole wheat, the GOOD stuff!
My shopping list for $20 a week?
Flour (bulk 5 #) 1.50
Sugar (bulk 5#) 2.00
Eggs (18 ct) 1.80
2 Canned Spaghetti Sauce (also for pizza) 1.50
Ground Turkey (5 #) 5.00
Rice (2 #) 1.90
Cereal (oatmeal) (2#) 2.00
Apple Sauce (unsweetned)40 oz 1.80
Orange Juice (frozen)2 2.20
The weeks I don't need to buy rice, flour and sugar:
Whole Chickens avg. $.60/lb 3.00
Raisins (can lasts long time) 2.00
Pasta (spaghetti 3#) 2.00
Cheese 1#Mozzerella/1#cheddar 6.00
Popcorn (kernel) 2 # 1.40
Prices are my last purchases at Winco. What I mean is that you rotate your foods purchased, some you only need to replenish once a month, and last a long time. Definetly supplement with food bank and any other source! And scour for the BOGO free sales....especially with eggs and such. I have membership cards for all the pricey stores for this reason, especially when school starts and the holidays!
God Bless you all!
Oops, $3 per person? Yeah! Add on Generic (real) choco chips.
I also host a cook out when I am broke and have only enough food in the house, Everyone brings something and I end up with four days worth!
Share and your cupboards (and heart) will swell!
Interesting feedback so far...I think Governor Kulongoski should LOWER the food stamp amount to $2 per day per person. Why? Because I'm tired of paying for somebody else's groceries when they eat 10 times better than I do.
What the Governor did was commendable, but if the person receiving benefits has no transportation, other than bus, the choice of stores is limited. Since you can't buy necessities like T.P. or toothpaste, soap, tampons, or OTC medications, the beneficiary often has to figure out how to get enough cash to get the products they need. That causes problems. Why not allow the food stamps to be supplemented by stamps for necessities.
in illinois you can get what is called cash assistance
my daughter gets it and she can buy things like diapers,pacifiers etc for her little one. not sure what else it can be used for
To the person who posted that the amount should be reduced to $2 food stamp people don't eat better than everyone. just those that abuse the system do. i want you to go on food stamps and see just how well you eat on this amount. i hate to tell you this but one day it could be you. one never knows what is going to happen in life. you could lose your job, have to file bankruptcy or others things. help them get off the system but remember this they have also paid for this so if they need it they should be able to use it.
For the record no i am not on assistance but i hate people who feel the need to judge others without being in their shoes.
Very interesting insights....I have seen most people buy real food....it's the ones that don't know better who buy the "convenience" food or brand choices because they were raised with that entitlement. I've even had to rewire some "close family" that some foods can be replaced with others (thighs for breasts.)
My suggestion to those who waste energy by putting down others on food stamps (without even thinking about their situation): do what the governor did! Try it on one shopping trip and eat it for a week, or on a weekend and bring down the budget. When you lose a job or a breadwinner in the family (and believe me it is easier to have this happen than you think!)
And some have to do this that can't even qualify for food stamps. When you have to pay for massive medical bills, medication, car parts, $3.40 REGULAR gas....and then the State Assistance says you "make too much." Everyone ends up making sacrifices (and humbling themselves) at some point in their lives.
I have to agree with Tanya from Minnesota. It is difficult to live on food stamps each month. I don't know what she buys for food, but it sounds like she needs them since she is going to a food pantry to get food for the last week. She must be out of food stamps at that time of the month. She must need them or she would starve and die. She is right about our governor though he is all she said with the budget. He cares nothing for poor people in this state like us. He is rich, and trying to help the rich get richer. While the poor get poorer and near death with health issues. I read on here that people say that she and others abuse the food stamps in the store. I would like to see them live and eat healthy on food stamps. I say if you are too proud to accept government help then you can't be jealous or mad at those who obviously need them and do. My statement to those people is this get a life and stop judging what you don't know about and just what you see. People on food stamps are allowed to buy the same food as you. They obviously need them or wont use them. Maybe if your husband would hire some of those food stamp recipients they wouldn't need them. Even your company, so please stop harping on those poor enough to swallow their pride and ask for help. Thank you.
I find it interesting that most of the people who are on assistance even have a computer and internet access to post here. If they are using the public library that would cost nothing. Otherwise, if you are on public assistance of any kind, have a computer and internet access, then you shouldn't be complaining...
I too have been in line behind a wasteful spender--on public assistance, buying expensive stuff I wouldn't buy, even though I can afford to. I do think I have a right to complain about this--it is my tax $$$ paying for it.
My husband works TWO jobs, I am self-employed. We pay quite a bit in taxes--our rate is 15% right off the top of our income and we are lower-middle class. We have EARNED what we have. Standing around with our hands out, even when times have been tough, never even crossed our minds. Life is soft for too many in the US. My husband has a co-worker from Nigeria--he says our "poor" would be considered spoiled and rich where he comes from. Remember, there is always someone who is worse off than you--be thankful for what you have and work hard for what you want.
Hmmm...$3 x 2 per day. We already do this. We are almost vegetarian anyway. We don't have meat at every meal. We eat simple things. We both have some dietary restrictions but, are able to compensate in other areas of our grocery budget. For instance, I am lactose intolerant. So, I drink/use soy milk. I buy in tetra packs--around $1 a quart. It lasts longer than regular milk in my fridge so, there is very little or no waste. We use ground turkey instead of beef--it is cheaper and better for us. I bake my own bread for about 30¢ a loaf. I buy in bulk when it is cheaper to do so--it isn't always, use your math skills!!! Constantly look for easy, inexpensive recipes to prepare. That is what I do. Buy fruit/veg in season. I can't remember the last time I bought jelly/jam from the store--I make my own.
I pick up aluminum cans (good exercise, earn a bit), shop thrift stores for clothing, don't drive unless I am going to do many things in town--I did this when gas was $1 a gallon and my habits haven't changed. I still do as many errands as possible in one trip.
If you think I am older, I am not. I am 42. I learned a lot from my Gran--who lived through the depression. She taught me to never waste anything. I think thrifty living is a way of life--not something temporary. It can be fun if you make it that way.
I just sat down and did the math...I have a family of four, $3*4=$12/day; 12*7= $84 per week. Hm, just about what I average for EVERYTHING (including tp, papertowels, diapers, cleaning, etc.)
SO the food stamp recepients do eat better! I am not upset about who goes on it or not....but the complainers do need to remember one thing: In Cuba, each person gets two eggs and one potato per MONTH. The rest is to be "purchased." (usually black market.) When doctors make $50-$80 per month, do we as Americans (who have much more freedom on purchases and can go to a Church without being punished) have any right to complain what we can get or don't get?
camo angels i read your grocery list for one week..what meals were you fixing with these items? how would you make 3 meals a day on what you were buying ?
It's like everyone who has something bad to say about people who get food stamps. Until you walk one day in that persons shoes then you need not judge! This is the only way some people have to make it and some of us are not as lucky to eat out in fine restaurants like those of you who have never had to struggle All I know is when people get in bad spots. Not all abuse the use of food stamps not everybody yes some do but does that give you the right to not help the truly needy. Yeah its difficult. try making it on $3 dollars a day. I think you would very much have to agree its time to help the true needy people. There are people who are honest and need assistance when times get rough we need help when were down not continue kicking us while were down!
I agree. I never wanted to get on food stamps or assistance but I had no choice. My (ex) decided to have an affair when I was pregnant with my second child and at 8 months pregnant he wanted a divorce. Now tell me what was my alternative? No car. Pregnant. 18 Month old and no child support. I didn't abuse the system just used the system I had paid into until I could get on my feet again. And it's not like it's easy to find a babysitter or one that doesn't want my whole paycheck each week. One never thinks that something could happen to them but it could. It is easy to judge others.
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