Could you eat on $30 a week?
September 21st, 2011
01:00 PM ET
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Sheila Steffen is a producer for CNN. Tune in to American Morning this week for special reporting on hunger in America, and check back with Eatocracy to see how she does on her food stamp challenge.

That is the reality for the more than 40 million Americans who rely on food stamps. According to the Food Research and Action Center the average food stamp allotment is just $30 per week.

I began thinking about taking a food stamp challenge earlier this month when I met several women who we profiled on hunger for two CNN stories (which will be posted on this site later in the week). These women had to make tough choices between paying bills and buying food. Often they skipped meals so their children could eat. Often the amount of food stamps they received was not enough.

Living on a food stamp budget for just one week won’t begin to put me in these women’s shoes or come close to the struggles that millions of low-income families face every day; week in and week out, month after month. But I do expect to gain a new perspective and a better understanding.


– September 19-25
– No eating of food that I already have.
– I may use spices, condiments and oil that I already have.
– I will avoid any free food from friends, or at work.
– I will eat and drink only what I buy for this project.

I already feel the challenge just by the awareness of how much I have (or don’t have) to spend on food for an entire week. There can be no leeway. No impulse buying. No visits to Starbucks, or the vending machine at work for an afternoon snack, and certainly no dinners out or glass of wine in the evenings.

On the first day I go to the grocery store (Fairway) and try to put fruits and vegetables in my cart - things I normally eat a lot of. I grab a bag of 12 apples that at $1.99 I think is a good deal. I also take some broccoli, a container of tomatoes and a bag of 4 peppers which I agonize over and later regret buying. That’s already close to 1/3 of my entire budget!

I reluctantly grab a small bunch of loose spinach but realize the salads I normally bring and eat at work are not going to be possible and if I don’t change my strategy I’m not going to have enough food or the right food and will end up hungry.

Fish and meat are out of the question so I scan the chicken and pick up two breasts for $4.62 though I know I should probably select the package of chicken parts. I also grab a box of pasta, a loaf of bread (on special but still a whopping $2.99!) and peanut butter and jelly. Cost: $20.16

With my remaining $10 I head to another grocery store (C-Town) determined to do better; ignore brands and nutritional content and look for the cheapest food that will be filling. I get a bag of dry black beans and a bag of rice figuring that will be a meal for several days.

I also grab a box of Farina; it's like Cream of Wheat but cheaper, and I can't afford oatmeal. Coffee is something I don’t want to do without, especially if my energy level becomes low so I choose a small brick of Café Bustelo espresso for $2.86 and forego the milk.

Lastly, I find cans of tuna on sale! For $.99 I grab two that are packed in water and feel really good about that choice. Still, I leave the store feeling less than satisfied and walk home questioning my purchases. I feel totally constricted; not free to eat the way I want or buy what I want. I cannot afford that freedom.

I get home and realize I’m hungry. No need to ask myself what I feel like eating. It will be Farina for breakfast – all week long.

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Filed under: Food Politics • Hunger • News

soundoff (1,079 Responses)
  1. Tanya

    I said this on another Blog who took this challenge and I'll say it here. It's so damn easy to eat on $30/person/week. Instead of spending time resources and money asking for more money we should be TEACHING people how to shop and cook on what they have. I feed my family of SIX on $25/person/week. We eat healthy wholesome meals 3 times a day with snacks. Guess what we even have steak sometimes. Grow up people and learn to live on what you have.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • wills

      To be fair though, it costs less per person the more people there are.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • icallBS

      Your full of it Tanya. Let me guess, you're a republican, aren't you? Let's hear all the healthy things you buy that your family of 6 can live off of $25.00 a week. I want to hear the whole grocery list with prices. Then prove it by showing your weeks worth of meals, beverage and snacks. You are so full of it!

      June 27, 2013 at 7:51 am |
      • summa

        10 lbs chicken leg quarters............$6.00 It's $5.90/bag at my store, with 14 quarters per bag
        4 lbs rice, average 50c/lb...............$2.00 Cheap rice is cheaper, jasmine rice a little higher
        5 lb bag carrots..............................$2.99 These sometimes go on sale for $1.99 per 5 lb bag
        2 lbs green beans or cabbage.......$2.00 Green cabbage usually 39c per lb
        a couple of onions, a garlic bulb....$1.00 get the cheap yellow onions
        1 gallon of milk................................$3.00 store brand. get whole milk, more nutritious
        1 dozen eggs.................................$1.50 often really only cost about a dollar
        a box of iodized salt......................$0.50 usually around 38c or so
        7 pieces of cheap fruit..................$2.00 small apples or oranges 3/1.00, bananas 20c each
        box of dollar store tea bags...........$1.00 or prorated price for tea from a better store
        box of dollar store sugar...............$1.00 or actual cost around 25c if from a regular store
        bottle of dollar store oil..................$1.00 actually unnecessary if you don't fry your eggs
        grand total for 1 person, 1 week $24.00

        Boil all the chicken in a big pot at one time, use lots of water. Strain and pick meat off bones. Put half the meat back into the pot and half into a big casserole dish. Add half the carrots, all the green veg, onion and garlic to the stock (or slice half the garlic into the casserole). Add 2 lbs rice to the casserole and add stock to cover rice and chicken about an inch deep. Boil the soup and bake the casserole until carrots are tender and rice soaked up the liquid and is soft.

        Portion the casserole into lunch containers and refrigerate the soup to reheat for dinners all week. The other half of the carrots for carrot sticks and carrot salads. Use the other 2 lbs of rice to make a hot pot of fresh rice to go with the soup for dinner each night. Use the leftover dinner rice at breakfast the next morning.

        Breakfast is the leftover rice from dinner, two eggs, a glass of milk. The piece of fruit can go with breakfast, lunch, or as a snack by itself. It's only one piece per day but it's more than what half of Americans usually eat each day, so it's enough. You can have a cup of tea in the morning and evening, cheaper than coffee, and add sugar or milk if desired. There are two extra cups of milk per gallon than the 14 on the menu.

        Weekend breakfast treat for Saturday and Sunday could be two of the eggs with the two extra cups milk and some sugar, made into a custard. Otherwise you're short by two eggs for breakfasts, so you just skip the eggs one morning. Maybe that's the morning you just have a quick cup of tea on the way out the door, or you eat the piece of fruit for that day as breakfast. It won't really be a problem.

        Overall this menu provides about 2,280 calories and 110 grams protein per day. The fat from the chicken skin and whole milk is really enough fat and maybe too much for some people. Monotony is the other main problem but chicken and rice are palatable enough that most people can eat a lot of it without getting tired of it. Many people subsist on the same diet day in and day out. The other $6.00 per week could be spent on extras to provide the variety needed for some people's tastes.

        December 27, 2013 at 2:17 pm |
  2. Marylin Wilson

    I raised four children on a poverty income! I have always said that eating healthy is expensive and that we have so much obseity in children because of this!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Marylin Wilson

      We never received food stamps either.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • Lisa

      I agree. It's hard to afford a healthy lifestyle when junk is cheaper to eat.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:21 am |
    • wills

      Disagree. Eating healthier is cheaper. Non-processed food is the cheapest. I got 3 days worth of food from a true farmer's market for $2.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:51 am |
      • Lisa

        You're markets are very generous. We don't have prices nearly as nice as those at our local farmer's market.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:55 am |
      • Marti

        I wish our Farmer's market was that inexpensive. Ours really rips of the customer. 5 peaches would be $5 and about the same for apples. Here, you can purchase things at the grocers much less expensive!

        September 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
  3. Craig

    We need to end ALL entitlement programs in this country. Imagine, the gov't feeding people that can't feed themselves. Disgraceful. And to make matters worse, these "poor" people keep having more babies. They can't feed themselves, but hey – let's keep having more children we can't feed. Enough is enough. End entitlement programs now.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • summa

      In the "olden days" before entitlement programs, the poor were fed by kind neighbors, churches, and soup kitchens run by charities. Most churches had food pantries that the poor could visit to get a sack of groceries when needed. My church had a barrel with a plastic lion head called Hungry Charlie, and as kids we loved to feed him canned goods every Sunday. Our church pantry was always so full, it regularly gave a truckload of food to the local public pantry. Many families chose to rely on the church instead of food stamps because there was shame attached to using food stamps at the store, and the hard times were seen as temporary.

      Nowadays, the food stamps are done by a card that resembles a credit card, and instead of shame, there is more feeling of entitlement and it is seen as a permanent way of life. Many are even proud of getting their benefits and speak of it openly, like they are bragging about how smart and lucky they are. These people will never willingly give up their benefits to pay for their food with their own money. Many of them have wads of cash from unreported income in the same wallet they keep their EBT card in.

      December 27, 2013 at 1:32 pm |
  4. lindoburger

    The sad truth is that there are so many people on food stamps that don't need them and take away from the people in real need. I see women in the supermarket paying with the food stamp card and they have the designer bags, plenty of jewelry, etc. Very sad how so many milk the system.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Marylin Wilson


      September 21, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Hank

      it is possible to get many high quality items at Salvation Army stores, surprising some of the stuff that one can pick up there..

      September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Lisa

      Absolutely true!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • coolbreeze

      those designer bags are KNOCK OFFS..Some people love to buy them for $20 a bag at the corner street

      September 21, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • coolbreeze

      Okay Who grew up with the GHETTO BREAKFAST...scrambled eggs with Hotdogs instead of Sausage?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • wills

      Out of a dozen or so pictures in the paper of families in need, not one didn't display expensive or unnecessary items in the background, or on the people or kitchen counter, that I wouldn't buy for myself because it's wasteful or unhealthy.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • let them eat cake

      abuse of our taxes occurs on every level by some, whether its padded contracts, $75.00 hammers, all exopense paid trips to other countries by politicians that don't make foriegn policy to the mom using foodstamps to buy a pack of cookies and icecream while smoking a cigarette. One thing is consistent, if asked they will all have a reason or justification for why their actions are ok. I decided long ago, as waste and abuse go, I would rather my tax dollars go to the unemployed and working poor than to the rich businessman or politician.
      Newsflash most of the people commenting here are only a pink slip away from being in the ranks of those you dispise.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
  5. Noel

    $30 is my weekly budget for groceries because I can't afford any more and I don't qualify for any assistance. It's definitely doable. I usually purchase frozen veggies, canned foods, and lots of rice.

    On that note, if I had mouths to feed it would definitely be a lot harder...

    September 21, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  6. Mike

    Also, grow your own food. I have a deck that is about as big as a kitchen table, but I still manage to grow basil, parsley, cherry tomatoes, black beans, and cucumbers. Floor planters for the tomatoes, cucumbers and beans. Window boxes for the herbs. If I actually had a backyard, I could grow enough food for my family for the winter (canning is super easy and makes great homemade pickles and marinara)

    September 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  7. Guest

    Looking at the local grocery ad specials, just a few options that jumped out.. (Brek) Eggs & Toast, – 18 count eggs + loaf of bread = $5 OR Cereal (corn flakes) + 1/2 gallon of milk = $5. (Lunch) 1 pack Lunch Meat (at 2/$5 sale) OR 1 jar peanut butter (at 2/$5 sale) mustard, tomato, lettuce, loaf of bread + 3 cans sale soups = $10. Dinner 5lb chicken breasts at $1/pound sale, 2 pounds potatoes, 2 packs of pasta, 1 can pasta sauce, 2 cans or veg, 2 bags frozen veg = $14. (snack) cantaloupe on sale for 97 cents each = $1. Total = $30

    September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • ruby35

      HEB, by chance?

      September 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  8. silly white chick

    this girl don't get no food stamps.
    I have not had a steak in forever.
    Poor is poor – it doesn't discriminate.
    There so many kids in our community who get reduced rate and still don't have the .40 to buy lunch at school.
    Now if their parents would stop buying cigs and beer-that could help.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  9. Bonnie Cavanaugh

    Welcome to the club, Sheila at CNN. Some of us underemployed press people have been eating this way for 2 years or more. You should see the deals at the dollar store.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Cathy

      That was my first thought – her first mistake was going to the grocery store! No, when you are broke, you buy your food at the DOLLAR store. You can get plenty of food for $30 there. You can tell she has never been broke, or she would know this.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • T3chsupport

      I remember one dollar store, about 3 years ago, in California. They had a refrigerated section, and you could buy a HUGE vat of salad. It was good, and it lasted really well. In a house of 4 people, even eating salads every day, we still couldn't get through all of it before it went bad.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
      • T3chsupport

        They can be tricky though. Some things at the dollar store can be bought cheaper than a dollar elsewhere.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
      • Marti

        Do you read the labels (ingredients in the salad). If you want to get cancer – go ahead and eat that garbage! I will agree – making stuff at home is much healthier! And, for those who eat the $1 a loaf bread – read the label, and take a nutrition course. Healthy bread is much more expensive – or make it at home, if you wish. And, as for $1 a bag frozen vegies – in my area they are much more expensive. Have never seen any for that price!

        September 21, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
      • T3chsupport

        Cancer if you do, cancer if you don't... the ingredients in salad is usually... various leaves. You still have to wash it.

        September 21, 2011 at 5:52 pm |
  10. lisa j

    In Iowa, a family of 4 gets $668 per month for food stamps if their income is minimal. If their income is below 160% of the federal guidelines defining poverty, food stamps are prorated.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Jumblaya

      Find out how much you can get in food stamps.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  11. Wind

    I hope obama is readin this!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Rita Hoffman

      He knows. He was raised by a single mother and grandparents. I'm sure he gets it, but it's not all in his hands. The Congress needs to get it and so do the corporations that are getting bailouts and then Not lending money to small businesses to help create jobs. There is a whole lot more to it than a President. He's only a fraction of the issue. Big companies are cutting back on medical benefits and paying their CEO's millions – it's obscene – truly soulless. It is the "Jimmy Buffet" Syndrome (as opposed to Warren) – sit on a sailboat and who cares if people are going into proverty.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
      • douglas james

        That is why he has no balance, all on the left!

        September 21, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
      • ORTNmom

        Wasn't Obama's grandmother some kind of high banking officer, and didn't he go to private school in Hawaii? I doubt he went hungry.

        September 21, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
  12. Rita Hoffman

    I got an early lesson in how to eat on less and I remember worrying about the next meal even though my mom always provided somehow even from her city garden. I feel bad for families struggling to make ends meet especially buying groceries. My mom was divorced when I was 10 and she fed her six kids on her small wages and never took food stamps or government help and my dad never paid child support. (it wasn't enforced back then) She lived through the Great Depression and said we were lucky. Almost 3 years ago I was part of a company-wide layoff and I make 1/3 of my previous middle class salary. So I was forced to cutback on everything. I am vegan and I can easily eat on $30 a week including buying B-12 vitamins so I don't become anemic. However, add in cat litter, cat food, toilet paper, paper towels, garbage bags, household cleaners, laundry soap etc. and it doubles my budget. I have cut down on the paper towels, garbage bags, and cleaners, but the rest is required. I'm living through the great recession and my mom (RIP) is still an inspiration of hope – she wasn't a green thumb, but she planted her garden – she said with every carrot, lettuce head or radish we picked we were making progress. Next year I'm going to move somewhere so I can have my own garden.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • coolbreeze

      Goodluck! Many of us have moms or dads like you

      September 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
  13. Randy

    How is that we have an obesity epidemic, many of them poor people, when 40 million people are getting food stamps? Could it be they are getting more than thirty dollars per week?

    September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Marylin Wilson

      No, eating cheap means eating fatty foods!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Drew

      High Fructose Corn Syrup is cheap....

      September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • Marti

      No – it is not because they are living on $30 a day. It is because a major amount of what they are purchasing is cheap food with no nutrition! It is okay to be a vegan – but if a vegan diet was the healthiest – you wouldn't need to purchase B12 vitamins. And – no, I am not on food stamps. But, I do read labels – and I don't want to put junk in my body that will require large medical bills later, because I didn't eat things that were of nutrition. That is one reason we have so much cancer in America. Raising a garden is great, if you have a place to do that – and not eating out is much better. And, rice and beans are very nutritious – but leave the $1 bread alone – or make your own!

      September 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Frugal Hausfrau

      Think about it, vegetables and fruits are often more per pound that a lot of protiens, and it takes knowlege, skill, time, physical and mental acuity as well as a kitchen that at least has the basics to come up with decent, healthy cost effective meals on a tight budget. Not everyone has what it takes...if you're missing some of these things, it becomes infinately more difficult to to do so – so you have people eating hot dogs and ramen and cheap food that isn't so good for you...they feel deprived and splurge on what? Maybe some junk food? Maybe some alcohol?'s a vicous cycle. Maybe add in a little depression (or a lot) or mental illness, some chemical dependency, some illness accentuated by poor eating habits and lack of medical care....stress, poor habits....what do you have? Not a good situation...and probably not someone that wants to run out for a quick jog with their family after a meal of boxed mac and cheese with sliced up hot dogs in it!

      September 26, 2011 at 8:19 am |
  14. Shaneeka Williams

    I get $250 each week on my link card for myself and my 4 kids and that ain't enough. I always end up spending some of my own money when I go over!

    Dem white kids be going to school with lunchables, fruit roll ups, etc and my kids aint got none of that, how is that fair? Yall need to spread the wealth.

    Yall be buying t-bone steaks, salmon filets, etc, I can only get those like once a month, and I has to buy frozen fish da other weeks.

    $30 aint nothing, it ain't nothing! At least let us eat, atleast let my kids get a decent meal!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Realist

      Well why did you have 4 kids? Nobody to blame but yourself.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
      • Leewife

        We can tell this is a fake post.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:23 am |
      • aochs615

        She should of kept her legs shut.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • coolbreeze


      September 21, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Andrew

      Then this is embarrassing. Your kids need nutrition not $4.00 a box fruit snacks.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • Patrick

      This has to be a joke. The spelling and grammar is comical. Last time I checked, you could buy grammar books at the dollar store.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • John

      Why don't you go work and make some wealth (money) rather than waiting for handouts? Also, stop already with the kids popping if you can't afford to feed them.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:37 am |
  15. Mary

    I will buy a chicken and a large bag of frozen store brand veggies, makes a meal one night, then soup for the next two. Tomato sauces are always on sale, that with a pound of ground turkey will make chili for a few days, either plain or over white rice. Both are good for bringing for lunch and all are good for your blood and heart. I will chill leftover coffee from the pot and reheat, slightly bitter after reheating but for true coffee addicts, anything will do in a pinch. That and a gallon of milk. Cheap and healthy eats for the week. Little Debbie brownies $1.79 for a snack, and probably all for less than $25.00!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Mary

      I learned a lot of this from my mom, who raised and fed 4 boys and 5 girls on next to nothing. Every meal was made in a big pot on the stove. My kids like string beans added to stretch out the mac n cheese the way she taught me. And beans with sliced hot dogs served with toast. Still miss her chicken and dumplings.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
  16. ml

    For those saying eat Ramen Noodles, are you aware of the salt content in that?? I bet if you were in the same position you wouldn't be saying this, and I can guarantee that you wouldn't be eating this crap either. Its so easy to look from the outside in and attempt to try solve the problem, when you have not walked in their shoes.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • nimrod

      It's the seasoning packet that has the salt, so leave it out and instead use low sodium bullion and maybe some fresh onion and powered garlic and other seasonings of your choice.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:29 am |
      • Marti

        It may be the seasoning salt that makes Top Ramen so unhealthy – but the noodles have been fried – and that is also what makes them unhealthy!

        September 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Frugal Hausfrau

      Ounce for ounce, dollar for dollar, ramen noodles are not that healthy, and they are not that cheap! I buy pound packages of pasta all the time with coupons, and regularly get them for free, especially the healther, more expensive whole wheat, high protien and whole grain pastas. Even so, in our area, pasta is usually around a dollar a pound box, and ramen, 59 cents for a few ounces (4.5 to be exact.) I know prices vary from area to area, but pasta is about 6 cents an ounce, ramen 28 cents. (Of course, it's hard to cook pasta in a microwave, and you would need a bullion cube or some such thing to get the Ramen flavor.)

      September 26, 2011 at 8:06 am |
      • Ramen nerd

        That's only if you're buying cup'o'noodles, or ramen in a cup. If you buy pacakges of ramen to cook stovetop, they can regularly be 20 cents a package, and you can stretch a package much further than you think. If you get them with a coupon, you can sometimes get them for less than 10 cents a package.

        Yes, they aren't wonderfully healthy for you, but they can be almost as healthy as regular noodles, and they can be stretched really far. If you're worried about salt, low sodium boullion broth is a good option. Stir in some cheap frozen veggies, and scraps of whatever protein you have – beef, chicken, shrimp, tofu even eggs – and you've got a complete meal, for sometimes less than 50 cents.

        And for the record, I have practically lived on ramen for a month or more at a time. It may not be the best thing ever, and not the healthiest, but it's not that bad, as long as you put some effort into it. And when you are desperate, sometimes you absolutely need filler foods. If you were to eat ramen as one meal a day, and make sure the other two had very little salt, you'd be just fine, and you'd be saving a lot of money.

        September 26, 2011 at 9:21 am |
      • Frugal Hausfrau

        Ramen Nerd, I stand corrected.

        September 27, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  17. Roni


    I did not see ONE grocery item that was from a generic brand. You actually bought BRAND NAME items? You are truly clueless.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • lisa

      I totally agree. Please stop trying to act like you know what it's like to be from a lower income household.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  18. Rootrin

    Are poor women allowed to pay for food from sources of income other than food stamps, like child support payments? I just heard a statistic that 75% of households under the poverty level have satellite dishes. Maybe they could cancel that service and use that money toward groceries.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • barnster

      75 percent of households that live under poverty have satellite dishes? I would like to know the source. Also, maybe they have them but have discontinued service until economy picks up...

      September 21, 2011 at 11:17 am |
      • Marti

        I don't have a satellite dish – but you CAN get inexpensive service thru Satellite. I cut down to basic T.V. – not much on it, but was able to get a promotion for a year for $14 a month. You can borrow DVD's from the local library. And, you probably can also get a discount on phone service, if your income is low. Check with your local phone company.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
  19. Mark M.


    2 loaves of homemade bread @70 cents each: $1.40
    2 quarts of homemade soy milk @ 26 cents each: $0.52
    7 servings of oatmeal (purchased in bulk at about 25 cents each $1.75
    7 soy burgers made from soy pulp (from the milk) @ 10 cents each: $0.70
    7 servings of homemade hummus (with home made tahini) at about 25 cents each: 1.75
    3 pounds organic bananas @ 70 cents each $2.10
    1 five pound bag of organic carrots @ 3.99
    2 organic cucumbers @ 1 dollar each: $2.00

    Total: 14.21 (and the hummus and oatmeal costs are probably over-estimated) so I think I could definitely eat for two dollars a day.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
  20. TONI LUA

    Besides frozen veggies .89 for a pound no waste – you could make white bread .30 a loaf, a whole chicken that would cost about $4, container tomatoes are the most expensive – can't afford that. Perhaps 1 tomato per week. Bananas are generally cheaper than apples. buy tuna on sale for .60 a can instead of the .99. It can be done. I did it when my kids were small and we did not go hungry. No we did not eat the healthiest food available. Salads were few and far between but we were never hungry. they got free breakfast and lunch so I didn't buy much milk. Treats were few and far between as was cold cereal. Also butter is out of reach – margarine is the option. Pancakes are cheap to make so we had occasional breakfast for dinner. You can eat on food stamps without being hungry but it takes planning, coupons. We did it for 3 years. I still try to be fairly frugal but am now able to buy healthier options. When you are poor you definitely must give up a lot of things you enjoy in favor of what you can afford.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:03 am |
  21. Price shopper

    Chicken breasts and a $2.99 loaf of bread. Someone isn't trying too hard are they? Generic bread at most stores are less than $1 a loaf. Chicken at most grocery stores here are $0.99 a pound or less for a whole chicken. Hamburger is less than $2.00 a pound (prepacked) and frozen house brand veggies at Kroger is $0.88.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
  22. Frank Garrett

    They think $30 is not enough cuz it goes fast when your spending someone else's money.

    Sure if you buy all the name brand stuff, get what you want instead of the one sale items, and get steaks instead of ground beef, boneless skinless chicken breast instead of a whole chicken, you're going to go through your $30 pretty fast.

    What we need is a restricted list of items for them to spend their food stamps on and classes so they know what meals they can make on the cheap (like most of hard working America does).

    September 21, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Crys

      you want the government restricting what you can and can't eat? heh no thanks. they start making those restrictions on people who are on food stamps, next logical step is to police what everyone eats.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:07 am |
      • Frank Garrett

        It is my money. Why don't you get off welfare, get a job, and then buy whatever you want.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:11 am |
    • Roni

      Amen. I was in back of a woman recently in the check out line. I couldn't believe the items she was buying mostly brand name items.....and then she pulled out the Benefits Card. I looked at my shopping cart full of mostly generic meat, very few fresh vegetables.....You're correct Frank. It's wonderful to buy what you want when you get it for free. YOU and I pay for our groceries AND theirs.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:12 am |
      • Frugal Hausfrau

        Just a bit about food stamps – they are sometimes the only food some individuals or families will have, and sometime they supplement their income (which has to be limited before they get food stamps.) I feel it's self regulating, and don't have too much of a problem with people buying whatever they want – they buy better food, they eat less, right? (With the exception of the scammers and cheaters...that's a whole 'nother story. I'm very grateful that I've never been in that position...can you imagine the humiliation of even going through the process, not to mention the humiliation that must be endured with each shopping trip, knowing everyone who sees you using the card is judging the contents of your cart. Who knows, maybe she was shopping for some sick friend who insisted she take her card when she went to the store....maybe she decided to buy them 'good' food and paid for some of it herself? You didn't say if the person paid in total for the groceries....or did she use a card and some cash? We don't always know the full story.

        Here's the official information: What is SNAP?

        Although the name SNAP may be unfamiliar to many, most people will recognize it by its other name, the Food Stamp Program. The Food Stamp Program was implemented in 1939 and has been extending services to people across the United States since its beginning. The name of the federal program was changed to SNAP as of Oct 1, 2008 ; individual states may help the program under a different name. The SNAP program provides a way for low-income families and individuals to buy nourishing food that they would not otherwise be able to afford. The benefits that are given to participants change based on factors such as family size, income, and assets. Participants in the SNAP program may buy food and seeds to grow their own food by shopping at participating stores. Items that may not be bought include hot and prepared food, cigarettes, alcohol, personal care items, paper commodities, pet food, household supplies, and medication.

        September 26, 2011 at 7:57 am |
    • BoLoMT

      The WIC program does this. They only allow specific items and brands.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  23. Vince

    Rice and beans with frozen vegatables and frozen chicken legs. Healthy and dirt cheap!

    September 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  24. dj

    I've been living in my car for 3 and a half years and I never spend more than $3 a day on food – so $21 a week. I eat once a day, and usually that is a stale, marked-down loaf of bread with some cold (no way to heat) canned food.
    This article does not impress me. Maybe I should write a story about how I do it .....while dealing with freezing winter nights in the teens and sleeping curled into a ball in the back seat.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Just Curious@dj

      How are you living like that and posting comments on the internet?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
      • dj

        Public library or laptop at wifi hotspot around town. Right now at the library.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
      • Crys

        internet cafes? just a guess.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:05 am |
      • lindoburger

        Yes!!! Good question!

        September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am |
      • Mark M.

        Years ago a girlfriend of mine of mine said something very astute - "If people in this country are so busy they need to buy frozen meals, who is it that is sitting in front of their TV watching ads for Hot Pockets".

        We have a real problem in this country in terms of our relationship with food. It is very possible to eat well on a budget if you are willing to put in the work of preparing the food yourself. But we are "taught" through advertising that food should be convenient.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
      • Just Curious@dj

        You had to have given the library a permanent address in order to receive a library card and use their terminal services. Don't internet cafe's charge money for their services? Or at least request that you buy something like a coffee or food?

        September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
      • CrysChap

        Most of the homeless around me go to the library to use the computers. They can stay out of the elements and it gives them something to do during the day. They have to leave the shelter in the morning and can return at night. They are not allowed to stay there all day. I see them at the library, laundromat, donut shop; any place that will let them stay for a few hours at a time.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:16 am |
      • wills

        No library card needed at my library to access their wifi from your own laptop.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
      • Just Curious@CrysChap

        Like alot of things, it's probably different in every state and/or city. You have to have a permanent address in our city to be a member of the library co-op. It's free, but you have to have a real address so they can mail the card to you (it's the explanation they gave me). Why they couldn't offer to hold the card at the library so the homeless could pick them up, I don't know.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
      • Wachoo Talking About@Wills

        How many homeless people have laptops?

        September 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
      • Wow.

        I think you should quiet down. I'm a circulation assistant at a library, and you do NOT need a library card to use the computer. You don't need anything. You make a reservation for computer time, when one opens up, you get on that computer. How do you think people with no home internet (GASP they do exist) access the internet? Yes, there are many homeless people who use our computers, and guess what? Most of them use the computers for things like creating resumes, looking for jobs, trying to find resources. They also come to our weekly (free) job counseling meeting. Why don't you cure your ignorance a little bit and get down off your high horse before you comment to someone you don't even know. GOOD LORD.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
      • Just Curious@Wow

        And I think you should crawl back under your self-righteous rock. Glad you know your stuff. Seems like you know everyone else's too. Thank the management of your great township, city or county that your services are as good as they are. My city is different. Get over yourself and have a seat at the stfu cafe. No waiting.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
      • T3chsupport

        Aw, just curious get shut down by some simple logic? I know, you'd rather see homeless people how you expect them to be... downtrodden, without a belonging in the world, no way to take care of themselves, right?

        Guess what, folks! If someone is going to be homeless, and living out of their car, there's a good chance they may have a laptop. It's not like they were ALWAYS homeless and living in their car, there's a good chance that they bought that laptop with the job they had that paid the bills on the home they had. It's also not like selling that laptop would net you enough to be worth losing such a great means of getting jobs and keeping in touch with people, what with all of the free wifi around (which there is a TON of now, everywhere).

        Sorry to burst your little bubble.

        September 21, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • Du

      I think you should tell us in detail!

      September 21, 2011 at 11:03 am |
    • wills

      Go south and eat healthier. The Brownsville area of TX has plenty of cheap food fresh from the farms, and warm winters.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
  25. ChefZ

    Ever try shopping in the bulk section? Buy some flour, buy some yeast, learn how to make your own bread, it is NOT that difficult and will cost you FAR less than if you went and bought a loaf of artisan bread. My wife and I have made a meal out of bread and marinara on more than one occasion. Full cost of the meal? Maybe a $1.25. Nutritious? Not really. Filling when broke? You bet.

    September 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • Mike

      I add some ground beef to the marinara for extra protein (not that I need any extra calories), but it really helps fill you up. Ground beef is pretty cheap if you get it on sale. I ran the numbers and a homemade loaf of bread costs 32 cents, using flour from Sams club (yeah, the 25 pound bag), yeast, salt, water and a teaspoon of honey.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
      • ChefZ

        Exactly Mike! If people went back to a simpler time and learned how to do so many of the things we take for granted, we would be spending FAR less on food. Come on, making bread is easy and something that anyone can do. Heck, you don't even have to buy yeast if you don't want to do so. There is enough natural yeast in the air that many bread recipes these days don't even call for it. Even then, yeast is cheap if you shop properly. And that is a key point, many people, including the author of this article, have no idea how to shop properly.

        September 21, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  26. KWDragon

    Okay, I get what many of you are saying. I could do $30 per week when I was in college, too. So could my husband. However, we now have two teenage daughters. They have certain nutritional needs that Ramen seven days a week will not cover. Nor am I interested in mac & cheese all the time. It is not healthy. Milk is a requisite, as are fresh vegetables. We have a good supply of meat in the freezer, as we buy a whole animal or two every fall (whole pig, quarter cow). We don't eat fancy, but we do eat well. And there is no way we could feed the four of us EXCLUSIVELY on $120 per week, without hitting our freezer and the extra veggies we can each fall.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Crys

      i envy the freezer space you have. living in an apartment with my husband, it's not possible. i wish it were, my family used to do that when i was a kid. buying in bulk definitely helps to cut costs in the long run on meats.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:04 am |
    • wills

      You could do $120 per week easily if you cut out the animal products, which is healthier too.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  27. mn

    I live in a poor area. Seems to me that people on food stamps are the fatest people in this country. Go to a grocery store in a poor area and see for yourself. These people are gigantic. Also be sure to look at how many groceries they buy. Their carts are overflowing. I think they get more than $30!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • KWDragon

      That is because often the least expensive food is also the least healthy. I don't deny that there are abuses in the system, but it is unfair to lump all people on food stamps into the same category.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:00 am |
      • mn

        I don't know what it is- but seriously- go see for yourself. Fatest people and for sure more than $30 with their ebt card.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:03 am |
      • mike

        In our local grocer I observe two women buy groceries with ebt card and then buy 4 cartons of brand name cigs. and a 30 pack of beer with cash. Where does that money come from. Then when they get outside they divy up with people waiting in the parking lot and get paid cash on the spot. This has to be illegal, and if not, it should be. People like this is what pisses middle class, tax paying people, off.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:22 am |
      • wills

        The least expensive food is often the healthiest, actually.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • Crys

      a gross over simplification. you don't need a lot of food to be fat. just eat the wrong foods. throwing food stamps at poor people doesn't make them choose healthier foods.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:01 am |
      • John

        Thanks for speaking the truth.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Linda

      Are you new here to life? That is because cheap things...white bread, canned meat, canned soup, canned veggies are all cheap. You could live out of a menu from the dollar store and not be hungry..but you'd be hard pressed to find healthy options. Eating healthy costs more. Add to that the lack of excersise and you have over weight folks. Don't judge. For 30.00 you can buy pasta, canned soup, beans, day old bread, rice and maybe some juice that is sugar and water...and you won't go hungry. But that is not the ideal is it?

      September 21, 2011 at 11:18 am |
      • mn

        Please go to a poor area and actually check it out. Soda, chips, juice, candy, meat, frozen food. Expensive stuff. $200 grocery bill on an ebt. All name brand too.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:47 am |
      • wills

        Eating healthy does not cost more. Lots of other posts here give details on eating healthier for less than eating processed unhealthy food.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  28. silly white chick

    Food Stampers living off $30 aweek?
    I know a guy that gets $31.25 a week and he supports 4 people
    Now if he was a woman with kids....The first of the month I PROMISE he'd get $500-600

    September 21, 2011 at 10:56 am |
  29. Mike

    two words: ramen noodles. 16 cents each. Buy a whole chicken ($5), roast it, then pick every piece of chicken off of it. Add it to the ramen noodles with some of a $2 bag of frozen vegetables. Viola, cheap, easy, and at least has more nutrition than a meal at McDonalds.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Mike

      Also, learn to love leftovers. It's still good in the frig up to a week later. If you're throwing away food, you might as well be just buying lottery tickets with that money.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • carol

      While most comments are abt how well many posters can do on so little...I didn't read any comments abt the unhealthy effects of some of these "bargain" foods..especially if this is the usual diet over an extended period of time. Hot dogs are so unhealthy, there's talk of putting a warning label on them. Ramen noodles are crammed with sodium. Those $1 loaves of bread I call "white foam" and they probably have the nutritional value of Styrofoam. So sadly, many people have probably managed to make do with far less, but it will take a toll on their health..which then brings up the issue of whether they have health insurance. How do they pay for drugs to control diabetes and hypertension? Our best hope for the future is to have educated and healthy people.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • T3chsupport

      Ramen is great once in awhile, but it can make you fairly sick if you eat it too much, too often, even if you are supplementing it with other things. There is just SOOOO much sodium in it, even without the flavor package.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
  30. William Marlowe

    There needs to be an Urban Reality Show about being homeless for 30 days like Survivor based in Washington, D.C. the Nations capital.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Crys

      hah! that'd be great :) it'd be a reality show i'd actually watch

      September 21, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Mike

      Sounds like a job for Morgan Spurlock.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • AustinAUS

      There was one called Urban Jungle.

      Critically-Acclaimed Reality Show Transplants 13 Privileged Suburbanites into “The Hood” to Experience Life as Immigrants

      September 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  31. Crys

    i'm curious what part of the country you're buying your food in. a bag of frozen chicken parts is cheaper than fresh. depending on how you prepare it, there is little difference in the taste. powdered milk will fix the milk issue. $2.99 for bread? there's typically a white bread store off-brand for around a dollar or so, give or take. unless you're making stuffed peppers, frozen peppers are far cheaper if you're just adding it to food. same with onion and other assorted frozen vegetables with a steamer.

    fresh healthy foods are a rare indulgence the struggling working poor get to enjoy.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  32. Lorrie

    Sheila, you would not last a day in real world of the poor. Spare us this drivel and donate the $30 to your local food bank, please.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Dazzled

      Sheila is doing this in New York City where it costs far more for groceries than I'd imagine anywhere else. $30 is a total shoestring budget here. I'm sure where you live $30 is more than enough to feed yourself on, but where I live, and where this experiment is happening, it's close to nothing.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
      • summa

        People who are that poor should probably not stay living in a city as expensive as NYC, especially the Manhattan area. If you need food stamps and have to live on $30 for food in Manhattan, you should move!

        December 27, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
  33. Mike

    two words: ramen noodles.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  34. Yougottabekiddingme

    OMG – $30 for a WEEK!? That's a luxury **I** can't afford. Try this – peanut butter sandwiches (on "wheat bread") EVERY morning for breakfast. A homemade "spread" (like bologna salad) on "wheat" for lunch. Hamburger Helper for dinner (or hot dogs.) Anything else comes from the dollar store.

    Where are the fresh fruits and veggies?? THERE AIN'T NONE – can't afford it. Consider yourself VERY lucky if you can afford more than $30.00 a week for food.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • Curious in CT

      I'm left wondering how it is that you can afford internet services if you cannot afford food. The choice doesn't seem logical to me.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:01 am |
      • DSL


        September 21, 2011 at 11:08 am |
      • Paulina

        Ever heard of free internet access at the library? Try not to be so judgmental.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:10 am |
      • Curious in CT

        I wasn't being judgmental. I'm asking a question. How do we learn if we don't ask? I didn't think of library internet. I believe our library offers it free to patrons (also free) for 1/2 hour intervals.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:42 am |
      • CS

        Starbucks and many locations have free WiFi.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
      • Yougottabekiddingme

        Curious in CT –

        LOL – YUP – posting this from work. (Look at the timestamp for a clue.)

        September 22, 2011 at 11:03 am |
      • summa

        I know a woman who works at a grocery store making just a little more than minimum wage. For a 40 hour week her paycheck is $211 and they usually don't give her that many hours, so she usually makes around $165 to $185 per week. She is one of those people who works hard, does her best, is very smart and frugal, but has had no luck finding a better paying job so she has to survive on what she makes. She doesn't qualify for any entitlements since her children are all over 18. If she gets sick she has to choose between food and medicine sometimes. The irony is she works at a food store and can barely afford to buy her own groceries. She mostly buys the clearance foods when she can get them. I know she eats a lot of rice, like most meals, every day.

        December 28, 2013 at 11:10 am |
        • summa

          She uses the internet at work on her breaks.

          December 28, 2013 at 11:11 am |
  35. David

    I am in the middle class. I have no debt (house and car paid off). I have a full time job. So I have money to spend... yet I only spend on average about $100 a month on food. That would come out to about $25 a week for food. It's very simple. Saves money for other things I may need.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • Du

      Could you please give us an example of your shopping list?

      September 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Crys

      are you shopping for a family on $25 a week? i doubt it.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:54 am |
      • Bill1130

        I think the question at issue here is whether it's possible to feed ONE person on $25 or $30 per week, not a family. Of course a family of four is going to require a bigger budget. But for the record, I typically spend about $60 per week at the grocery store, for myself and my youngest son (sometimes 3-4 when my girlfriend and/or older son are around). And we even eat fairly well, including meat and fresh produce - salad with dinner most nights - because I am careful (some might say fanatical) about shopping for sales and using coupons. As others have mentioned, one can get store brand bread for around $1 per loaf, not $2.99. And even something like boneless chicken breast can be had for $1.99/lb, occasionally less, on sale. And if I really had to reduce my spending, I could cut out most of the produce and some of the meat and get by on $20 per week per person.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • Becca

      As a single college student, or any single person, that is not hard. That is about what I spend on food for myself a month. I only eat ramen noodles if I really feel like it which is about once a month. Pasta goes a long ways and can be made nutritionally with the addition of veggies. I am lucky that when it is warm I do not live far from a wnderful farmers market where fresh veggies are a lot cheaper. Things such as pot roast and white chicken chili with rice go a long ways. And when I do everything right, like I do most months, I can even have my friends over to enjoy the food I made without surpassing the $25 a week limit, with no ramen noodles as a staple.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • liz

      I regularly feed my family of 3 on $30 a week. I know that food costs vary depending on location, but if you put a little effort into it, you can do WAY better than this! You even say in your article that you know you should have made different choices, but went ahead and bought more expensive options anyway. Why????

      Last night, I fed 4 adults for about $3.50, and have left overs for lunch today. My total ingredient cost was about $6, and I still have items left over to use in new recipes. I live outside of Chicago.

      Home made chicken noodle soup.

      3 lbs of chicken legs and thighs on sale for 59 cents a lb
      1/2 lb egg noodles (1 dollar a lb at any number of groceries)
      1/4 lb frozen carrots (1 dollar a lb at Aldi)
      1 cup frozen peas (1 dollar a lb at Aldi)
      2 white potatoes, diced (maybe 25 cents? Potatoes are pretty cheap, usually 50cents a lb at the local "ethnic" grocer)
      a stalk of celery (79 cents a bunch at a local "ethnic" grocer, so this would be maybe 10 cents?)
      salt, pepper, garlic powder (pennies)

      Put all the chicken in a crock pot and cover with water. Cook on high all day. At night, pull the chicken out, and pick the meat off the bones. The liquid left behind is now your base for your soup. If you want to go low-fat, place it in the fridge for a little white, so the fat starts to solidify on top, then skim it off. If the fat doens't bother you, then go ahead and toss your veggies and noodles in the broth, add spices, and put the chicken meat back in. Cook on the stove until the noodles are done. Add in a 50 cent box of Jiffy corn bread mix, or whatever kind of bread you like, and you are done. Healthy, nutritious, filling, and easy to make if you are pressed for time due to work, as many of the working poor are. If you don't have the money for a crock pot, this can easily be made on the stove with any big pot you may own.

      AND...if your budget is more constricted than what that recipe can afford, you can make onion soup, which is pretty darn close to stone soup, in terms of cost.

      It's not that it is impossible to eat cheaply and heathfully on a low food budget. It is that it often takes more EFFORT than what most Americans are used to expending.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
      • LAJ

        I agree, it's entirely possible to eat healthy on a tight budget. I just finished doing the food challenge for SF Food Bank. Since I no longer live in CA, I pegged my (lower) rate at what my local state provides ($28.98/week). By shopping as much as possible local and in season, supplemented by a few select items from the market, I was able to make it through the week eating healthy, complete meals (mostly organic and fresh).

        It takes planning and effort for sure, and it made me really think out every way I could use my items, but this is definitely something anyone can do, even on a really limited budget.

        Hunger and nutrition are real problems facing us as a country and most people really need to make that dollar stretch as far as possible. It is frustrating that rather than talking to real people facing these issues and how they tackle them, the media takes a slap-dash approach to this sort of challenge (the reporter covering it in SF did about as poorly as CNN in terms of her weekly shopping–lots of Top Ramen in her basket).

        September 21, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
      • dannyboy326

        Hey Liz- Any more recipes to share? I'm in Aurora & love Aldi too.

        December 7, 2013 at 8:09 pm |
  36. silly white chick

    I eat like this every week.
    Right now i have $10 to my name.
    That is buying me milk.. because we have to have milk in our house.

    2 weeks til payday.
    Fun stuff
    We stopped eating out forever and a day ago.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  37. Frank Garrett

    I could easily do this.

    $1.50 half gal milk
    $4 2lbs ground beef
    $3 3lbs pasta
    $2 2 cans tomatos
    $2 1lb rice
    $2.50 2.5lbs pin wheel chicken pieces
    $1 bread
    $3 1lb cheese
    $4 2lb frozen veggies
    $1.50 1 doz jumbo eggs

    Total $25.50 for a ton of food, that's actually what my typical grocery list looks like, people on food stamps have it better off than me.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • silly white chick

      You got that right.
      This morning I was thinking...I can't have kids because I cant afford them.
      Really, even though I work and make an income it's still not enough to pay my mortgage, electric gas, and food.
      Much less – bring a child into the world that the government will give me no assistance.
      But, If I had chose not to work and had kids years ago, I could probably be sitting at home eating brownies and cooking a big nice dinner!
      Dang it. What a stupid choic I chose, getting an education and working a full time job! IDIOT!

      September 21, 2011 at 10:50 am |
      • Lysa

        Some people are just plain ignorant. It's too easy to judge people and generalize when you have not gone through a similar situation.

        Not all people on food stamps are uneducated and lazy. Nowadays, with the large number of Americans that are unwillingly unemployed, you have all different kinds of people relying on government assistance. Circumstances can change at any given moment and people can find themselves in a predicament. It happens.

        While I agree that there are plenty of people out there who abuse the system, there are also many people out there that do not. Statistics also have pointed out that those people living in poverty are also the same people that are least healthy and tend to be obese. This doesn't mean that they are buying "too much" food with their food stamps. On the contrary, eating healthy costs more money that eating "ramen noodles".

        September 21, 2011 at 11:32 am |
    • Frank Garrett

      When I'm under a rock I spend even less.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • sickscoot

      Nice, very Nice eating well and a realistic shopping list. Looks like mine. Easy ingediants to make quick meals yet still not eating out of a box (no hamburger helper or anything lipton/knorr with a chemical packet). prices are spot on too.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Christine

      Where are you buying your food for such low prices? No store I've been in (including discount grocery stores) has sold milk or meat for that cheap since the mid-90s! :(

      September 21, 2011 at 11:34 am |
      • kasey

        Christine, if you live in Texas (and I'm sure other places) that's a pretty realistic price list. If you live in CA or NY, then not so much. But then again, you get a little extra to account for the cost of living in whatever state you live in.

        September 22, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
        • summa

          That is sad, in CA the milk is higher, because in TX the cheap milk comes from CA. State code 06 right there on the jug.

          December 28, 2013 at 11:23 am |
  38. Chris Reed

    It's easy to do... 2 whole chickens (lets say $5 each), 2 bags frozen veggies – corn or green beans are usually cheapest ($1.50 to $2.00 each), 1 bag flour – ($2.50), yeast (3.00). That's $21, so let's throw in a family pack of pork chops for $8 and seperate and freeze the ones you're not cooking immediately. Total: $29. I used to eat like this all the time, and it can be done if you're committed. You don't need milk or anything else to drink besides water. The issue is being brutally honest with yourself about the necessities.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:46 am |
  39. Kevin in Atlanta

    One of the first lessons you learn in college is that Ramen Noodles are cheap and versatile. ...and knowing is half the battle!

    September 21, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Adam

      Also Atlanta.
      Also college.
      Also Ramen.

      I get by on about $3-$4 a day for food, and I never feel hungry. Lots of Ramen, peanut butter on toast/crackers/etc, and on-sale cereal. My "splurging" is for real pasta, pasta sauces, and milk.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • mrsl

      Kevin, didn't you have a meal plan at college. I purchased for my son the 19 meal a week plan.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
      • kasey

        A lot of kids in college can't afford the 19 meal plan, because their parents aren't supporting them through college. Ramen is a good staple, as is a box of Mac-n-Cheese. I even had ketchup soup a time or two when I was getting to the end of the week and waiting for a pay check. :-)

        September 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  40. Stew Pedassle

    Might be dry & hard to swallow, but I could probably do it if I added ketchup.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  41. DDSilks

    Yes, this can be done, and at 3 meals a day. It is a mishmosh of store brand cereal, milk, 1 lb cold cuts or cheese, 2 large loaves store brand bread, 1 doz eggs, 2 whole chickens, rice or potatoes, store brand frozen veggies, and go to the local farmers store or raid the sale racks at the supermarket for marked down fruits and veggies. I sometimes hit a bonanza of apples, cucumbers, peppers, brussels sprouts, mushrooms - but they all are very ripe and must be prepared ASAP. And you can buy a cake mix and make it too.
    It is TOUGH, but the two chickens make cutlets, BBQ and soup for one person for 6 nights.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  42. Mark

    For better or worse, there's a reason for the growth of dollar stores across the country. You could get virtually everything you bought for a buck a piece...or in some cases, 2 for a buck.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  43. melg

    Only $30 a week? How do they live?! O wait, better than I do.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • are you serious

      40 million people using food stamps and you post that statement? You must be a teabagging, entitlement minded, idiot.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • kasey

      40 million live on food stamps, half of which have done it their entire lives as have their parents and grandparents. If we could kick off the ones that take advantage of the system and sit on their rear ends, then we'd have more to feed the other half with.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  44. big mistake

    You made a huge error buying the two chicken breasts for that price! I *just* bought a WHOLE chicken for $4.72 and could eat off it for a lot longer than you will on those two chicken breasts. And you can get lots of frozen veggies, with all their nutrients, for a lot less $ than fresh ones.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • yupper

      Yup, that whole chicken can go a loooong way with soups, chicken salads and even in some breakfast stuff.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • David

      I agree – buying a whole chicken would make several meals...boil it to make chicken soup, shred some for chicken salad, etc.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
      • Bubba

        Chicken soup....chicken salad....chicken burritos...chicken fajitas....chicken sandwich...macarena chicken...chicken tofu burger....chicken pork hotdogs....chicken pasta...chicken ravioli....chicken on a stick...chicken pot pie....chicken beef pie...chicken -n-rice....chicken shredded / diced / ....(Looks like chicken all week) .

        September 21, 2011 at 11:26 am |
  45. Tonia

    I think that the plight of the poor and on food stamps is nothing to take lightly. There are people starving out there which is totally unacceptable with the amount of food we produce. I do however think this author is a raging idiot. Did you not go to college? I mean where is the Ramen and frozen vegetables. Obviously you are annoyingly spoiled and should not be allowed to write articles like this. I am sure you point is to illustrate that healthy choices are expensive but don't pretend to understand the plight of the hungry with this little waste of time.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Bubba

      I think the plight of the poor is having too little education and kids they can't afford.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:27 am |
      • mrsl

        You hit the nail on the head.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
      • jimmy jam


        September 21, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
      • ldean50

        Think again Mr. Stereotype. I've got a Masters degree and no kids and I make $7.00 an hour now after a "down-sizing." The face of the "poor" in America has changed. 50% of our population owns only 2% of the wealth.

        September 21, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
        • dannyboy326

          You have obviously been scammed into a "Master's Degree" which is worthless. You were scammed and should have started working in the real world 2 years earlier. Unless you're in the public sector, the MR is worthless.

          December 7, 2013 at 7:48 pm |
  46. KarenP

    Why do people INSIST on putting together articles like this? Moreover – why do "reporters" or whoever does them INSIST on making these meaningless little "projects" for themselves to see if they can eat "on a budget", These types of articles and "experiments" are derisory and irrelevant. I want to do nothing less than sit here and read some sob story by a wealthy producer about how she had to try and buy cheap food for a week. Peppers?? This woman has clearly never had to budget a single day of her adult life with respect to groceries. Get real. If you're going to document what it's like living on food stamps – then document a REAL PERSON who does it because they have to, not does it because they think it'd be something "neat" to try for a week.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • LadyeCatte

      Well said, KP! I'd LOVE to see a PBS documentary of those here who say it can be done, to do it for two whole months on NOTHING but $30/wk. They'd only be allowed to take one tumbler of salt and pepper with them to the "Poor House" (where they'll be living for that time). We will watch them shop, then prepare and consume said food for those 60 days with nary a complaint of hunger, lack of nutrition or gastrointestinal problems as a result.

      I vote we send Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin in first.

      September 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
    • Ron

      Her intentions are good. She wants to learn what it's like, first-hand, to have a limited food budget. She's seeing aspects of that already: having to actually think about what you buy and having to put something back on the shelf because you can't afford it. And she is learning: she already knows that the bell peppers were a bad call, because she could have gotten 2-5 pounds of frozen vegetables for the same price.

      I have to agree, though, that these experiments are flawed by nature. "I lived for a week on $30. I'm just like you!" Sorry, Ms. Correspondent, but you're not. Not until you've done it for months on end, including a few weeks that the food budget disappears because your hours got cut at work, or because your kid's class had a potluck and you couldn't let her show up empty-handed. Perhaps most importantly, you don't get the full experience because you can count down the days until life goes back to normal, when you can celebrate your benevolence and newfound perspective with a gourmet dinner and a glass of wine. When I was working-poor, I had no idea when - or if - things were ever going to get better.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  47. Lee

    I already do! And sometimes less.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  48. Sue in Texas

    TX4UREXKARLENE: Where do you pay $5 for a gallong of milk, and $6 for two loaves of bread? Where I live, milk is $2.87 a gallon, and bread is $1 a loaf...

    September 21, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Mark

      You're right. I just bought milk at Safeway for $1.57/gallon and a loaf of bread for a buck. You can stretch your food budget much easier than the author seems to be capable of. Same thing with chicken. It is .67/lb. at a local supermarket today. So a 4.5 lb. bird is under 3 bucks and that includes 2 large boneless breasts if you invest a minute of knifework.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:47 am |
      • LivinginFL

        Not in FL. You will pay at least $3.60 for a gallon of store brand milk here. And a packet of cheese is $3.99. If you had less to spend, you could get less from the deli.

        September 21, 2011 at 11:09 am |
      • BKCJ

        Do you live in 1962?

        September 21, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
      • Mark

        I live in Phoenix and these are current prices.

        September 21, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
      • kasey

        One should also take into account that this is not $30 a week for a family of 4, this is $30 a week for a single person. A family of 4 gets much more, up to $700 a month depending on income level. So, this whole live on $30 a week is a load of doo. A single person with no income can get up to $200 a month, which is as much as I spend on my family. Yes, I live in Texas and just bought a gallon of store brand milk for $1.50, a whole chicken for $4, a bag of rice for $1.25 and a loaf of bread for $1 That's 3 meals for my family of 3. Is it all free range and organic? No, but people who are living on public assistance need to be a little reasonable. This author would never make it. Must have had a trust fund to get through college.

        September 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm |

      Walmart Kansas city

      September 21, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • William Marlowe

      Hawaii and Washington D.C. have these prices

      September 21, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • silly white chick

      Food Lion East coast
      milk is $4 for smart chocie brand and for good milk $5.50
      I refuse to pay that much

      September 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
      • silly white chick

        no safeways here

        September 21, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • mrsl

      I live in the suburbs north of Boston and a gallon of Hood milk is $3.69, a loaf of Pepperidge Farm bread or Arnold's bread is close to $4.00 a loaf so it really depends on what part of the country you live in as to the cost.

      September 21, 2011 at 10:57 am |
      • kasey

        You're right. Too many people live on welfare, and have for generations in their family. They expect it, they take advantage of the system, and since they didn't work for it, they aren't that anxious to use it wisely.

        September 22, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Paulina

      In Seattle milk is $3.89 a gallon (store brand, chock full of bovine growth hormone). Organic milk is $5.99/gallon.

      September 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
      • Lee

        Milk is high, so folks should then purchase evaporated milk in cans. It keeps forever and when you need milk, take 1/2 cup of it, add 1/2 cup of water and there you go. People have to figure out how to make their situations work for them. Home expense first, food second, utilities third, transportation fourth, clothes fifth and so on. Priorities! We can't have EVERYTHING, so pick what is important that children need FIRST! Adults should be on their own!

        September 21, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
      • Nick

        You could cut milk out of you're diet, I know most places will tell you it's great for you, although we only used it for the last few hundred years. It's only beneficial for developing infants, when they don't need there mothers milk anymore, they don't reallyneed milk at all

        September 3, 2013 at 1:00 pm |
  49. CT

    I think its very hard to eat on $30.00 a week, though it forces you to cook from scratch and is more healthy. When you cook from scratch you tend too cook with more vegetables and utilize fruit that is on sale. I wish everyone had to eat on $30.00 a week as it would change today's attitude toward the unemployed. The attitude today toward the unemployed is pitiful and embarrasing, we as a nation should be doing everything possible to support and uplift the unemployed as this would uplift economy the quickest and help everyone.

    September 21, 2011 at 10:36 am |

    5.00 gallon of milk
    3.00 butter
    6.00 2 loaves of no HFCS bread
    4.00 multi pack Mac & Cheese
    10.00 frozen chicken breast
    2.00 frozen good vegetables

    September 21, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Steve

      I've eaten on less and didnt received food stamps.... and lived out of my car. $30? where have you been at..... This is nothing new or nothing to write about, people do it every day. I will not accept food stamps or go on welfare....

      September 21, 2011 at 10:55 am |
      • ldean50

        I think that's the author's point, Steve. TOO many Americans are living on 30 a week, or less. There are still a small group of people in America that have NO concept of how poor we have become. I think we're all fat because no one can afford fruits and veggies.

        September 21, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
      • lroy

        It is impossible to grow vegetables. My yard is too acidic from the pine trees, in fact just about every plant except marijuana is growing in my yard.
        There's nothing wrong with Farina but Cream of Wheat is better. Eggs. Rice cakes. Peanut butter & jelly. Rice, soy sauce, Spam if on sale.

        September 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm |
        • Not So Sweet

          lroy, grow your veggies in raised beds or containers. I can't believe you haven't thought of that.

          November 2, 2013 at 2:44 pm |
        • summa

          Lots of weeds are not only edible but tasty and delicious, too. And pine needle tea a good source of vitamins A and C. You might find more free food in your yard than you realized.

          January 1, 2014 at 9:03 pm |
      • Oscar

        Idean50 – what's WRONG with eating on $30/week? It shouldn't even be a challenge.

        September 22, 2011 at 9:00 am |
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