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. Heather

    How about an article discussing how many lazy people are on food stamps because working would be too hard for them. Or how about how people with EBT cards almost always buy JUNK. These Hispanic families come into the grocery store, and they don't even think about the cost of the food they're putting in their cart, because the food stamp card will cover it all! And then they let their friends borrow it so they can get stuff for free too. Disgusting.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Bpollen

      I'm sure that's true. But it's not the norm. Don't judge a program or those who truly need it, by the few who abuse it or are frauds. There have been corporate CEOs who have been criminals (think Enron), but that doesn't mean that all corporation leaders are criminal or corporations should be abolished. The defrauders should be turned in; they are taking money from those who truly need it.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • M

      You have never been "in the system" have you? There are no people live like that in the system. The "lazy" people have to have a job in order to get the benefits or they are cut off. Typically the jobs offered and are, usually set up with are companies that take them for tax benefits, are not the High Paying ones, ether. My family and I was getting benefits while I was in school, (25 years ago) even though I was taking more than a full load my wife had get a job and work making us have to have a sitter for my kids, costing the state more for day care. Things have gotten more and more strict from what I have heard from a Benefits Auditor I am friends with.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Lc

      Heather I agree with you. Abuses are rampant, with no accountability, especially with the generational freebie addicts.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
      • Pauline

        Abuse is not rampant. News stories that focus on abuse are rampant. You eat what they feed you every day and come to believe something that's not based in reality.

        September 21, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
    • Jo

      I plead that we really think about how we are responding and the impacts on others. Downing other people is not going to help fix things economically or socially.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
    • Former Cashier@Heather

      You are right on target Heather. I put myself thru school years ago as a cashier at a grocery store. Used to be that you couldn't buy anything taxable foods with food stamps. At the time that meant candy, gum, booz, soda or anything prepared from the deli. Times have changed, and not necessarily for the better.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  2. Guernica

    a couple years ago I had to get through college with just $300/year to spend on food. I could literally only afford ramen and peanut butter sandwiches after paying tuition and rent. $30/week would have been a dream.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • mrsl

      $300 for the year. WOW. I've already spent $200 on snacks for my son. Did you not get any help from your family.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • math professor

      That's $6.12 a week. That is definitely rough. In today's economy, $6.12 would barely buy ramen, bread and peanut butter – if you managed to find everything on sale.

      I know it doesn't help now, but there are actually places you can go to get produce for next to nothing. If you have a local farmer's market, go sometime and talk to the real locals. (Some farmer's markets ship professional farms in to boost sales.) A lot of times if they cannot sell all their food by the end of the day, they are willing to give you steep discounts. If you have a service you can trade, they might be willing to just give you some of the leftover produce that they won't be able to sell the following week. If they can't sell it and they can't eat it, they usually want to get rid of it. For local farmers (who still have hearts), that sometimes translates into helping out a poor kid who has next to nothing to live on.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  3. Kerry

    Hey, I have an idea! If you want to eat more than $30 of food a week, don't rely on the government! 25-30% of people don't graduate high school. I have no sympathy for people who have low-paying jobs now because they made dumb choices in the past.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  4. Loopylibertarian

    This is just a crap article. Poor planning of a menu, no coupons, just impulse shopping.

    2 years ago, I took a 27.5% pay cut and my ex was laid off and so I didn't get child support. I fed myself and my 2 children on about $40/wk. Now, even though I have my pay cuts back, I still budget shop. My local grocery store recently had a sale that if you bought a beef roast at $3.88/lb, they threw it a 5lb bag of potatoes, a 3lb bag of onions, and a bag of carrots for free. One crockpot day later, we had a good meal with plenty of leftovers (so 2 dinners), tons of potatoes & onion left raw to make potato soup, and the total was about $5.65 for the meat.

    Some people need to get a clue.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • joejoe

      Spot on, amen to that!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • Bpollen

      So true. People who haven't had to watch pennies just don't know how to do it. If the author really HAD to buy food for a week with $30, she really could have. A huge pot of bean soup costs pennies, is super nutritious, and freezes well. The use of coupons, store sales, bulk raw foods like rice and pasta that you cook are all a must. Fruits & veggies can be tricky, but frozen fruits & veggies bought on sale are just as nutrtious & taste great, as well as last longer. I don't recommend canned veggies, but they can be found on great sales (generic). For beverages, big cartons of tea bags and such will make a lot of beverages that you brew. Water is the cheapest. AND this is a super healthy way to eat.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
      • Erin

        I agree, I think the author of this article is absolutely clueless. And probably, i'm sorry to say, extremely wasteful. I'm a single girl who eats shrimp, ground beef, a whole lot of pasta and (flash frozen) veggies, milk, tea (not coffee) and spent a grand total of $600 on groceries last year. WITH THE SHRIMP INCLUDED! This year I've done a lot more impulse shopping and my waistline is showing it but am tracking to spend about $900, that's about $17 a week. Tips for someone who's clearly never shopped in her life before,
        Chop Suey – Pound hamburger (bag into 1/4 pounds and use the other 3 for 3 other meals) 1 lb of pasta and red sauce= ~$6 total feeds family of 4 for dinner and makes at least 1 lunch leftovers or for single girl dinner and at least 4 lunches.
        Shrimp pasta – 1 lb pasta, 2lb bag frozen shrimp (51-60s) use 17-20 shrimp for this dish, one bag frozen mixed veggies, grated parmesan cheese, oil, butter, garlic salt, pepper. ~$4 total Same servings as above.
        Sheppard’s pie – 1 lb ground beef, 2-3 lbs potatoes (buy the 5lb bag and make mashed all at once), steak sauce, chicken bullion, Italian seasoning, salt pepper, margarine/butter for the potatoes, milk, and 1 onion. Makes at least 2 dinners for family of 4 or 12 lunches.
        meatloaf – 1lb ground beef, 1 cup milk, 1 cup seasoned bread crumbs, salt, pepper, itialian seasoning. spagetti sauce for the top. ~$5 makes 6-8 slices and use the left over mashed from the sheppards pie.
        measure out and put in Ziploc containers in the freezer and you have lunches ready to go for the month!
        I can't imagine how much food this girl wastes when she's not on a project.
        Oh, and I'm not poor, just hate wasting money :)

        September 21, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Michael Perez

      Totally agree .. look at the menu. $3 for bread?? For real? Buy the cheaper store bread $1-$1.50 ... thats what having a budget means. Compare prices of items, use coupons, be wise enough to buy eggs instead of nutella, loaf of bread instead of english muffins, etc.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
  5. foodstampcashier

    If this author is trying to ccreate sympathy for food stamp recipients I'm afraid I am not convinced. I see these people at work every month. They feed their families more expensive but not necessarily more nutricious food than I do. They make poor choices. Soda, and lots of it, sugary cereals, processed, frozen meals, in a word, JUNK. They also come in sporting brand new colorful tatoos, piercings, designer purses and crazy colored hair. They also commonly smell like cigarette smoke and alcohol. Sorry, no sympathy from me or my coworkers, except maybe for the little old lady who uses her foodstamps to buy potatoes, carrots, whole chickens, milk and oatmeal. She probably worked all her life an doesn't get half of what these other leaches get. It really irkis me that I pay taxes to feed these leaches.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  6. Backwards USA

    That's why America is so fat...fresh fruits and vegetables aren't considered luxury in other countries those are the basics that poor people can afford and they mix and match those to make meals. No one buys "boxed dinners" or processed foods. I don't know why the prices are so terribly inflated in the US have they not figured out how to garden and must import everything??

    September 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • foodstampcashier

      It isn't that they can't figure it out. I live in rural Pennsylvania. People can garden here, almost everyone has access to at least a small yard. It is the "I'm entitled" attitude. Why would they work to grow veggies when the government will buy their kids fruit snacks. I think people would be much more resourceful if the government stopped taking care of them. I feed 8 people on $150 a week. We eat lots of fruits and veggies, lean protein and whole grains. It isn't fancy but it is hearty and all six of our children are healthy and not obese. No one walks away from our table hungry. It can be done.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  7. FoolKiller

    It wasn't until the end of the article that I realized the author wasn't trying to be funny. She just REALLY sucks at this. BTW I imagine that is $30 per person, not per family, which would help synergistically.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • James

      I know, right? Can you imagine if Americans had go go back to the old school way of the Great Depression to survive?

      September 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
      • CreatureFeature

        were you actually around for the old school depression

        September 21, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  8. Bpollen

    I can tell the author has never been poor. I was poor years ago. I think I could eat on $30/wk, though I wouldn't want to. Apples @ $2/lb, a 12 lb bag of 'em, is not something poor people can buy. You wait for apples to go on special, then buy 2 or 3 of them. Also, you have to go to different stores to buy things on sale. You buy beans in bags, rw pasta, raw rice, fruit ONLY if on good sale, cans of tuna & other meats on good sales. For raw chicken, you buy family packs of wings or thighs, OR you buy a WHOLE fryer & cut it yourself or cook it whole. Ironically, that's a much healthier diet than the average American with money eats.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • E

      I have to agree. The article author is an idiot. I lived poor through 7 years of college (undergrad + advanced degree) and my staples were rice, tuna and chicken (whole, not chicken breasts!). Veggies were cabbage, carrots, onions and tomatoes (a luxury unless I bought canned on sale). I learned that farmers markets are cheap veg sources and to shop discount and canned food stores for the rest. $2.50 for bread??? Buy a second hand breadmaker and do it yourself! I could still live on $30 per week.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
      • Daniela

        Because the author is not poor she is an "idiot"????

        September 21, 2011 at 3:32 pm |
  9. Schmedley

    Kill the rich, feed the poor.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
    • FoolKiller

      Because we need more poor??

      September 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
      • Schmedley- -Are you suggesting

        Kill the poor to feed the rich.

        September 21, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
    • BeerBrewerDan

      Good with fava beans and a nice Chianti.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  10. don

    "not free to eat the way I want or buy what I want." Well who the h3ll can?

    September 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  11. kloverpiano

    Check out

    I raised two children with no food stamps because I had saved money for college for them. We made do and worked our way through the "hard times". It makes you never waste anything ever again.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  12. victim of democrat hypocrisy

    I don't understand why people throw their hard earned money away. Tomatoes for $3/lb? Ripoff. Milk for $5/gal? Ripoff! Bread for $4? RIPOFF!!!

    SHOP AROUND, people. I be there are more than just one grocery store in your neighborhood. Your supermarket might sell peppers for $1 apiece while your small family-run market might sell them for $1/lb.

    BUY WHAT'S ON SALE and keep a constantly rotating stock of non-perishable food.

    USE COUPONS on things you'd buy anyway (no need to go "extreme couponing"). Shop at stores that double coupons.

    LEARN HOW TO COOK simple meals. I just paid $3.79 for a whole chicken, baked it, and will use it in several recipes. That one chicken will last me 5 dinners. And yeah, I put a couple more in the freezer.

    Oh, and pay with a credit card that gives you cash back!

    September 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • allaisa

      About the milk price I cannot help. As I am lactose intolerant the lactose free milk costs $6.50 a gallon and that is for store brand. I added all and I am sure me and my wife can live on $60 a week and will save some money too. Of course if we go out and eat we will definitely blow more than $60 on that day!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
      • Relictus

        I buy soy milk that's got calcium in it (not all do). $2.50 per quart. All the vitamins in milk, good taste and cheaper. No lactose.

        September 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • victim of democrat hypocrisy

      $2.50 a quart is $10 a gallon. That's pretty darned expensive!

      September 21, 2011 at 7:02 pm |
  13. don

    food stamps is now called the SNAP program SUPPLEMENTAL Nutrition Assistance Program. Food stamps are meant to be a SUPPLEMENT not your entire food budget.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • your privilege is showing

      Meant to be supplemental, but what about the people who have no job and no income? Sometimes food stamps are ALL YOU HAVE. This is a serious problem in this country but people like you are the ones who make people like my father, who hasn't yet been approved for disability and is incapable of working, ashamed of their lot in life. Yes, lets knock people down rather them help them out.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
      • don

        blah blah blah. if your dad is down on his luck YOU take care of him not the g'ubment.

        September 21, 2011 at 7:58 pm |
  14. I want da gold!

    Yes, they're called Ramen Noodles.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • who got dat gold!

      I got all dat gold!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  15. richard

    My wife and I live on 280K-300k a year. We have a large house, a boat, and four cars. We probably spend around 800/week including eating out, a bit more if you include the membership to our private club. Not sure what its like to eat on 30 dollars per week, but I don't think that I would be interested in trying. Even with an okay income we have lots of expenses for our house and cars. For example an oil change on our Mercedes is over 100 dollars. All I am saying is that we all have different incomes and different expenses. If you feel like you should have more, then ask yourself if you have always worked your hardest your whole life. I bet you have not. You could have always forgone an hour of tv to work more.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • J

      Aaaaand... Go eff yourself.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
      • richard

        I have no interest in doing that at this time

        September 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • J

      I have an income of $56K. It also costs me over $100 for an oil change for my Honda. I'd gladly change places with you and deal with your "problems".

      September 21, 2011 at 1:34 pm |
      • richard

        Expenses are not "problems" they are simply expenses, I knew the costs when I purchased the car

        September 21, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
      • Hiball

        I think both you guys are getting ripped off on your oil changes!

        September 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
      • Angela

        I agree, there is no way an oil change for a honda should be 100 bucks. My oil changes for my VW are free.

        September 21, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
      • amused one

        Dude, 5 qts of oil will cost you about 15 bucks. Most oil stations willl take your used oil for free or at most charge $1. change it yourself and save $80!

        September 21, 2011 at 3:12 pm |
      • Ew

        what kind of dope pays $100 for an oil change? A synthetic oil change for any normal car can be found for $50 or less at any time. Probably doing that change every 3000 miles too instead of the factory recommended 10,000+

        September 21, 2011 at 3:15 pm |
      • dnfromge

        @J – we have three Hondas and you can usually get an oil change for about $24.99. Even the dealership doesn't charge $100. Where are you taking your car?!?!

        September 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • kloverpiano

      Congratulations on your excellent lifestyle. I work hard too. My daughter worked her way through Harvard. However, when my children were growing up we had this to eat for two years: peanut butter, w/w bread, eggs and oatmeal (with dry milk). That's all the money that we had. I hope that you try out the $30/week challenge. It is, indeed, a challenge.
      Thanks for listening.
      Please check out

      September 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
      • richard

        Congrats to you daughter, wish you guys the best

        September 21, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • Guernica

      You must have a small dick.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:38 pm |
    • Tara

      A little "let them eat cake" mentality here, Richard. I think we get that you don't do coupons.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
      • richard

        In fact I love coupons, I try to use them when I can. Two subs for 8.99 is one of my favorites

        September 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Jeff

      I live on disability and a part-time wage. my total income per year is less than $9,000.00 I get an allowance for food and non food items as well as for gas for my car per week to the tune of $80.00 everything else goes to rent, utilities, trash, water, gas, internet, etc. I never made anywhere above $10,000 my whole life. This year the cost of living goes up again but my disability check and my part-time earnings stay the same. everything will be more expensive for me.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
      • richard

        Well I hope things get better for you. It would be hard to live on 9k a year

        September 21, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
      • amused one

        yet you have a computer and internet service...likely cable tv as well. Good for you.

        September 21, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
      • not at all amused@amused one

        A disability does not preclude him from being able to access a librarys internet.

        September 22, 2011 at 8:14 am |
    • obeygiant618

      I'm pretty sure this qualifies you for the "douchebag of the day" award.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • 8080a

      Watch out Rich, Karma is a b!tch.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
      • richard

        I hope she is pretty as least

        September 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • M

      Richard what you don't realize is if you run out of gas during the month you have 3 other cars to choose from, if you need to cut back on expenses you stop eating out or seel one of your cars and save a lot. There are restrictions on income that you need to tae into account. This person may make only 24 thousand a year if they are lucky. They might drive a Honda Accord or a SUV definitely not a Mercedes. They still have to maintain it and buy gas and tires when needed and still have to pay for a place to live and all the expenses that go along with today’s word. Let’s not forget cloths for there kids and shoes. There also school expenses and any activities they may be in. there is a hedge difference between your lift and there’s. Sorry the example you gave doesn’t fit, but until you actually step into there shoes and try it you have no idea!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
      • richard

        well, I have never run out of gas. A little light comes on when it is low.

        September 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • discoed

      At first I thought you sounded a bit snobbish – but you know what ? I agree with you 100% !!! I may sound like a jerk but I see the kind of food these people are buying with their ACCESS cards – its not farina and apples !!! I see carts sometimes 2-3 carts full of meat and pop and snacks !!!1 Things that I have to budget for – because my husband and I have worked hard for what we have and all of our extra toys , but thats OUR choice !!! We enjoy working to pay for these things- htey darn sure weren't free !!! As far as $30 a week – thats a crock !!! I knew a girl from college with 4 kids and she got almost $1000 dollars a month – serisouly !!! That's CRAZY !!!! I think the first thing that should be CUT OFF is purchasing crap like Pepsi , Coke and snack cakes – that's why most of them and their children are obese – and all food should have to be prepared – not in a package to pop in the microwave !!! I know I am the one who may sound like a jerk – but I am sick of seeing it and my taxes paying for it !!! These people have the same opportunities I had – its all what you make of it !

      September 21, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
      • Angela

        Completely agree.

        September 21, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
      • mee

        they eat meat one weekend (probably share it with their low life friends) and then eat ramen for the rest of the month. i've seen food stamp ppl eat a dozen and a half eggs in 2 days and it was just two of them. the, after having the bare minimum for the rest of the month, they're eager to splurge when they get their money. they're budget is limited as well, they just do all of the splurging at once. maybe they buy more meat in one week than you eat in 3 months, but that's just one week and the rest of the month they're eating noodles. nothing but ramen noodles cos they can't even plan to have beans and rice.

        September 25, 2011 at 6:05 pm |
    • Trish

      Richard, are you trying to brag about your money? You are a sad, sad person who has no idea of how lucky he is. Even if I made that kind of money, which I don't, I would never waste it on such an ugly, overpriced hunk of medal that you drive around in or the mulitiple useless boats you own and anyone who spends $800 a week on food is a lunatic who obviously doesn't realize that there are children starving in this country. And I certainly would never classify my income as being just "ok" if I made that much money. And as for your expenses, I doubt they are causing you too mcuh stress. My family of four lives on about 50.000 a year that we work HARD for, many times working 50 hours a week. Even though things are hard at times, Ithat's more than a lot of others have so still feel fortunate. If having your income means I would have to act and think like you do, I say no thank you. I will keep my $50.000 a year.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
      • Ew

        Poor people think rich people dont work long hours for some reason, 50 hours is nothing to brag about, most rich people work every day of the week all day. They are workaholics. High paying jobs are extremely competitive, there is no time to rest because if you do someone will be happy to take your job.

        I see the way rich people work and I want no part of that lifestyle, Im not a workaholic, I cant handle working 100 hours a week like they do. It would be nice to have the things they have but I value free time more than money. They may be rich in dollars but compared to them Im a millionaire in free time.

        September 21, 2011 at 3:36 pm |
      • richard

        50 hours in a week, sounds like a government job with a little OT.

        September 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
    • Frank Garrett

      Lemme guess your boat is a penis boat to make up for a lack there of.

      Thanks for all your taxes btw.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
      • richard

        no its a sailboat, but the cigg boats are pretty cool as well. Regarding the taxes you are welcome. It's amazing that I pay over 100k in taxes and people think that I am the bad guy for buying some nice things. BTW buying things creates jobs.

        September 21, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • patsy@richard

      Skrew all the self rightreos tw at tards, richard. Enjoy your cash and I hope your pad is paid for and you are saving for retirement.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
      • patsy@richard

        But I do double dog dare ya to try the 30 bucks a week thing!

        September 21, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Jeff

      WHat was that??? I couldn't hear you. My boot straps were pulled up so high hafter reading your story that my ears were covered. (I can still watch TV that way, so I'm cool with it...)

      September 21, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
    • Epicurious

      I say, "good for you". You've worked hard enough and smart enough to be successful. I bet you also don't have a house full of unplanned children or a 15 year old daughter who just had a baby. I am a high school drop out who got a GED, got her crap together at an early age and realized that success was mine for the making. I got off my rear end and quit blaming the "system" for my problems and, what a miracle, opportunities were everywhere. I am very grateful for my success, and I will NEVER apologize for it. Have a good attitude, be the person other people want to be around, save as much as possible and quit looking for excuses and start looking for possibilities. P.S. – you are welcome for my tax dollars, too.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Bek

      I hear ya Richard! I am working my butt off in grad school right now while my non-grad school friends are having a great time partying and relaxing. While the income I make (grad students get a small salary in the sciences) now is comparable to what they make, I have to work twice as hard for it. I imagine in about four years when I'm making 100k per year they will have reasons that it isn't fair I make so much more. What is wrong with you idiots? If you want more, you need to work for it, don't expect a hand out!

      September 21, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Richard is an insecure loser

      How did you turn this article into a chance to brag about yourself and how much you make? No matter how much money you have, the fact that you have to jump on this site to brag is entirely comical and thank you for making my day. I'm not rich or poor, but how pathetic you are really amazed me and I wanted to sincerly thank you for it. I couldn't think of a more fitting name for you than Richard and it makes me chuckle that someone like you who seems to have it all really on the inside feels so small and insignificant that you have to brag about the cost of your oil change to complete strangers.

      September 21, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
      • richard

        I guess it depends on how you define loser and what game you are playing. If the goal is to live off the government, pay little to no taxes, buy food with stamps, then I must admit defeat. But I do not feel like a loser, I must be playing a different game then you.

        September 21, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  16. Doryce

    We have a small garden in our backyard, and my husband hunts and fishes. Our refrigerator and freezer are always full and we seldom need to buy anything other than dairy products. When I reed the grocery flyers, it makes me sick at what people eat and waste money on.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Doryce

      sorry – I read flyers

      September 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  17. Get Real

    I have a childhood friend with a live-in boyfriend in Cali that complains every single day of the week that they have no food, no health insurance and how broke they are. Neither went to college and she works as an assistant making $9 an hour and her boyfriend has pending theft charges and can't get a job until he finishes community service. They live in a crappy 1 room studio with only a microwave so they can't cook good food even if they chose to. They basically eat fast food every day (they've lived their 6 years). The only reason she isn't overweight is the junk food made her develop IBS and nothing stays in her system.

    However, I've told her time and time again instead of spending money on cigarettes or weed every day why doesn't she buy a small burner and cook some frozen veggies a few days a week and she says their fridge is broken so they don't buy groceries. I don't care. I have little to no sympathy for so many people complaining about not having money when they have cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, cable tv, cell phones, new clothes, etc.

    Thank God they don't have kids so she can't leach the welfare system (thanks to County health services providing her free birth control)...

    September 21, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  18. jon

    If you have a dollar store (like Dollar Tree, where NOTHING is more than $1.00) you could certainly feed your family for a week on what they have to offer. Besides that, why do you have to go out and look for cooking meals when you could buy premade dinners at a fraction of the cost? A box of cereal is what, $3.00? One box of cereal could last you about a week, can't it? You can get Mac and Cheese for a couple nights at about $1 or $2 a pop.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Be careful

      The dollar store usually is not worth the money as crazy as that sounds. You can usually find the off brand $1 liters of soda they sell at a grocery store for 79 cents on sale. And that's just one example. There are some good things to get there like body washes, shampoo etc. if you aren't a frilly person but don't automatically assume that the dollar store must have the best prices!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • J

      All of that frozen food at the dollar store is filled with non-food crap. Nobody should ever have to eat that.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
      • Margret

        Amen! I feel so maddened and sorry for the ppl who get food stamps & buy crap. In many cases these ppl just don't know any better. As a society we've become too lazy to cook–so we buy box dinners full of hormones & chemicals which make us fat & unhealthy, We have to do something different. People, read labels. Cut fat, eat veggies & fruits. Cook! Better yet, garden. Even if all you have is 3 buckets on the back stoop, you can raise a little of your own food. And if I raise 3 tomatoes & the neighbor raises 3 buckets of bean plants & someone else 3 buckets of squash we can trade & all eat better. Innovate!

        September 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • neal kelley

      Dollar store food will feed you... but it has little nutritional value. Little nutrition = illness which will be another expense you have to deal with..

      September 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Jon2

      Dollar Store? Really? The Dollar Store/Big Lots/etc dollar stores take inferior products worth a few cents and arbitrarily raise the price to an even dollar. It's not a bargain, don't fool yourself. Also, dollar stores cause impulse buying, thanks to the "it's only a dollar" mentality. You'd do better to go to WalMart or join a co-op where you pay a price that is based on the actual COST of the items!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  19. ldean50

    I think we're all missing the point here. Instead of everyone bragging about how little money they spend on groceries, we should be looking at why soooo many of us HAVE to live on so little. The days of going through a grocery store and NOT looking at prices are gone for me and most of us. None of us are eating healthy fruits and FRESH vegetables. That's the point.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Trish

      I agree idean. I do agree with some that there are those who waste their money on weed and beer and other things but there are more that really don't have enough money to feed themselves a healthy diet, even after working full-time and working hard. It just shouldn't be that way.

      September 21, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • common1234

      I totally agree Idean 50. I have tried to live on "cheap" foods but always get sick. In order to function properly my body needs fruits, vegetables, and good protein. I don't know how these people live on peanut butter diets and don't get are lucky

      September 21, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • oyster

      perhaps the reason that people are "bragging" about how little they spend on groceries is because $30 is actually, in their eyes, a lot per person per week. it's all about perspective. it just depends on what you're used to. for me, i think $30 is plenty.. and i do buy fresh fruits and vegetables.

      and why not look at the price tags even if you have the luxury not to? i look at price tags for everything and try to limit my purchases to only things that i need – not because i have to – but to save, so that in the event that something happens (ie: lose my job, etc) i will have something to fall back on.

      September 21, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
    • MyrnaMe

      We are all in different walks of life - some have disposable cash and others do not. The key question, independent of how much cash is in your wallet is why would you want to spend more than you have to for anything, including food. My parents raised me to be prudent and wise. There is no need to eat like a King everyday, and $30/person a week is quite a lot of money for one person (but agree it is easier when the family unit is larger and cooking for more people).

      Keeping costs to a minimum is a wise objective in any down economy as you never know when you may need it - but I would disagree with the government taxing my hard earned wages any more to continue to "sponsor" people using EBT who have better clothes, jewelry, cars, electronics than the majority of the people who work hard to make ends meet.

      September 21, 2011 at 6:27 pm |
  20. Kirby

    I feed myself and two teenage children on $35 week. I'm not on Food Stamps and don't qualify. I work a full time job and a part time job. I pay my mortgage, my bills, and make sure my kiddos have enough for school fees, scout events, etc. We're creative with ramen and cabbage, beans & rice topped with fresh veggies, oatmeal is my go-to for breakfast, but occasionally we have pancakes. Milk is rationed at our house, gone are the days of a glass of milk when you come home after school, now it's only for meal times. Meat is a luxury, and I stretch a bag of frozen chicken breast as far as I can. Our bodies show the result of high carbs to be full, low protein and not enough fruits and vegetables to stay our healthiest. The saddest part, I feel, is we live in a higher income area (for the quality of schools) so my kids see what others eat and how they live. They feel poor, they feel the lack, and the social stigma that comes with it. I struggle and so do they, but at the end of the day they've eaten and can plan their lives so their kids can have the ice cream bars after school.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Relictus

      CVS Pharmacy has a chewable multivitamin for about $6.50 for 60 tablets. Sweet potatoes at Food4Less are $1.28 a pound (yummy and super nutritious). Buy Quaker instant oats in the 2lb tub for $2.48. Chopped frozen spinach is $1 a box (three meals' worth). Rice is $25 for a 50lb bag. Pinto beans are about $15 for a 25lb bag. Cream of Celery soup is $1/can (three meals' worth).

      September 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  21. Jennifer

    Better choices would have been bananas, potatoes, carrots, and eggs. These foods are very nutritious and filling and much cheaper than what she bought. Starting from scratch though, it is hard to build up a stockpile of food. Think about it – most people don't shop only for exactly what they are eating that week. A 5 lb bag of potatoes will likely last 2 weeks for instance. Then the next week she would not need to buy potatoes and could maybe get a tub of yogurt to go along with it. Clearly she hadn't sat down to make a menu and figure out ahead of time the foods that she could eat and make a list of items to buy. If you are shopping on a budget you HAVE to plan ahead of time or you will either go over budget or not have enough food.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • dali

      Indeed. I was just thinking that 30$ a week might be hard, but 60$ for two weeks would be much easier. Always buy non-perishables in bulk. And dairy and eggs are very nutritious and filling for the cost. Definitely a much better breakfast than the farina! And they go for lunch and dinner too!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Colorado

      RIght you are Jennifer. Bulk is key. For the past two years, I was doing $20/ wk for food but due to a raise, I increased my budget to $30 a few months ago. Due to my job, I must consume 300 to 4500 calories per day despite being a small woman so as not to lose weight. It is possible to eat healthy on such a small budget but it is just not always exciting food. I get larger quantites of rice, beans,oatmeal, potatoes, carrots, turnips and other veggies that do not spoil quickly. I buy chicken in bulk and freeze the extra. I make a lot of soup using chicken bouillon cubes and I also make my own bread products. A lot of people find making bread difficult/time consuming but biscuits are quick, very easy, super cheap and make great PB and J sandwiches(much tastier than store bought bread).
      Shopping takes a long time as I calculate everything I am buying...if it is not on sale or a good deal in bulk, I do not buy it that week. I do pretty well and even have money to splurge on chocolate and salty snacks occasionally.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
  22. ldean50

    Sure it can be done and a lot of us do it. The MAJOR difference or point is it's NOT healthy. If you have to live on 30 bucks a week, fruits and vegetables become a luxury item. How many of us who live on 30 dollars a week food are healthy?? that's the point, here. Hell, I can go out in the woods and eat berries and wood bark – but, how healthy is it?

    September 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • Erin

      Idean, I think you can leave very healthy on $30 a week. I think for a single person that's rediculously excessive. thats $120 a month on food for 90 meals. For a family of 4, yes that is hard, but for the purposes of this article it is rediculous. The question people need to ask themselves, is why are they putting in thier body what their putting in it. I hate chicken you could not force me to cook it. But I will find creative ways to cook for the month and prepare more expensive things ahead and portion it out. It's the fact that people want things that are quick and easy on the run and don't take the time to plan a healthy meal for the most part. Like the other poster said earlier, buy a roast get potates onions and carrots for free, my local grocery does that atleast 4 times a year, usually winter, but you know what, roasts freeze. Take them up on their deal and plan ahead.

      September 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  23. wildcards8

    Wow, where did this producer shop, at the Trump store? I buy meats when on sale, $1.99 lb or 2 for 1. Spend about $120-140 a week for four people. That includeds steaks and shrimp when on SALE.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  24. rrhloe

    The article is misleading. If the author is going to buy food with the average food stamp allottment for one person, she should have also used the average money available to such an individual. The food stamp amount for one person with zero net income is 200. A person receiving 30 weekly (monthly allottment of 130) has money available either through earned or unearned income. The food stamp allottment in this situation is a supplement to the individual's budget and isn't intended to represent the entire food cost. I've worked in this program for 30 years and know what I'm talking about.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • JP

      Well, those of us who have been in a position to receive benefits at one time or another understand the working poor. The income is in most cases is considered too much income to receive benefits other than food stamps but too little to make ends meet. Its a catch 22 situation really. Sometimes those with an income fare far worse than those without an income because they qualify for additional benefits and do not have the expenses associated with those working outside the home – such as daycare. Bottom line – the more income, the fewer benefits, and the more you have to pay out in other areas (daycare, utilities, housing), so that $30 may indeed be all you have for a week in the end, so to say that it is intended to supplement is nice in theory, but not typically the reality.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • MEM

      Thank you for being the voice of reason! Articles like this one deliberately leave out the important details you shared.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • mary

      you are correct. The writer didn't do her home work. My Mom feed us good meals even though a lot of it might have been pasta or beans and rice. But we always had a piece a fruit and she knew portion control then. Most people in America if they don't have a lot on there plate they think they are hungry. Parents need to really look at that cell phone your kids have, before you cry help.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • Chel

      I was thinking that when I read it. Thank you for clarifying. Everyone here has their own idea of what this article should tell us. I for one feel very blessed after reading it. I'm a single mom, but my income is over $70k/year, so I do very well, and rarely have to deny myself small luxuries. Every day though, I know is a gift. Appreciate what you have.

      And, for "Richard", the ignorant, wealthy man above who said "we all have different incomes and different expenses. If you feel like you should have more, then ask yourself if you have always worked your hardest your whole life. I bet you have not. "... I hope true neediness floats your way some day so that you can see the types of choices hard-working people are being forced to make. You're the reason we look at people like you with pity.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
  25. Hungry Jack

    I am in grad school and can eat pretty well on $30/wk, and I don't mean Ramen Noodles. It is just a matter of planning, using coupons, and buying things on sale. Anyone who has even rudimentary cooking and math skills can get by just fine if they get over themselves and think a little.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:03 pm |
    • Richard

      I don't think I have ate ramen noodles because of necessity in a long time. Even as a grad student like you said. $30 a week too easy.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  26. Nate

    Are you kidding me? look at the food she bought. Talk about gourmet!! $30 bucks a week is a lot of money and can easily be done. I wish I had that much money to spend on food.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:01 pm |
  27. BrendaS

    In my household, there are three adults and two teenagers. We spend, on average about $250 a month and we don't get food stamps. All the adults work, but cost of living for utilities, gas to and from work and basic living needs, leaves us very little to buy quality, nutritious foods that are healthy for my family. We do it all the time, but it's not what everyone likes or would want if we had a little more to buy with.

    September 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • ldean50

      5 adults spending just 250 a month – that's just a little over a dollar a day for each person? You really should call social services – you HAVE to qualify for something. I'm just one person and I budget $!50.00 (5 dollars a day) just for me and I NEVER get to eat healthy food.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  28. NewUsa

    EASY: I have done it many times. Asian diet : Buy 10lb rice enough for a week for $6.99. Buy 4dozens egg : $8.00 2eggs/meal. a Gallon milk $3.49. For veggie : buy 5lb green bean for $1.29/lb. And there you go, you still have plenty enough to buy chicken and spices.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
  29. anneks1962

    "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."
    Only the ones that rely on foodstamps, Ms. Steffen?
    Why don't you revise that opening paragraph to the truth? It isn't the ones on's the ones, like myself, that qualify for NO ASSISTANCE that are really struggling to make that $20-30 each week count.
    I am 49 years old, was laid off in 2008. I've lived off what little retirement I did have and barely even had $30 a week for groceries! I went back to college and once the retirement ran out, I did not even qualify for food stamps or any kind of assistance! I am working full time at a job that pays $7 for 40 hours. I have a small efficiency ($400 all inclusive), small car payment ($280 paid off in May 2012), car insurance and month-to-month cell phone (both total around $120) and those totals do not include gas or food. You do the's a struggle for a lot of hard working, honest people. I can't imagine how families do it.....that is the ones that don't receive any help. What makes me sick are the people that come through my line, dressed in expensive clothes, jewelry dripping off their fingers, necks and ears, with Coach or Prada pocketbooks, talking on their iPhones and pulling out an EBT card and swiping it. Then I watch as they walk out to their BMW's or Acuras. This is the sad state of America today. I'd rather see those struggling families receive that EBT money than the ones that actually do.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • anneks1962

      One thing I did to supplement my measly grocery money was help a few friends out with their gardens this past summer. I got wonderful baskets of fresh veggies and fruits. Find somewhere you can do the same. It's called....wait for it....being resourceful.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • anneks1962

      I also shop at dollar stores and markets like Aldi for really great specials on just about everything.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • ldean50

      I'm with ya. Same situation; I've gotten my food budget down to $35 a week . . . but those people you talk about aren't getting their money from a legal source. You can bet they are dealing. I never thought that I would say this, but I am for drug testing assistance recipients – not to punish them, but to hopefully force them to live more healthy lives and move forward.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • john

      should have worked harder in school if you wanted to have all those nice things.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
      • anneks1962

        @john....honey, I'm still in school. Nursing school, heading for my bachelor's degree. I will graduate in the spring of 2012 with a 4.0 gpa and I've done it in less than 4 years. I'm not worried about money now, even though it's been tight, nor will I be once I graduate and I've done a lot of it with grants and scholarships and my student loan amount upon graduation will be less than $15k. I was pointing out to Ms. Steffan that her statement about people on food stamps being the ones that have to exist on $30 per week was a bit off the mark.

        September 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
      • Truth Hurts

        Ha ha ha!! It is unfortunate that so many people will take that comment the wrong way, but that is called pure truth. It is an unbiased statement containing only facts. Work harder, get more. I am perfectly fine with that system.

        September 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
      • 8080a

        Not really, John. Even people graduating from the top of their class are having trouble finding work right now. There are MBAs and PhDs serving you in restaurants, bars, and big box stores and feeling lucky for it these days. Enjoy the magna cum laude load of spit on your burger, BTW.

        September 21, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
      • really?123

        shame on you! Not everyone has the resources you obviously did.Some people may not have a huge IQ or maybe a learning disablilaty that their parents never noticed or who knows. Hey maybe someone had four children and was left by someone who didnt pay up.... Dont pretend to know everyones situation!!!! Their are too many reasons to list. I work and pay my way but would never cut down someone who needs help! what is wrong with you. You just insulted so many people who are caring, nice, and want to work more than anything. You assume that they are the few out there that dont!

        September 21, 2011 at 6:21 pm |
    • discoed

      anneks1962- WELL SAID !!!!! I am clapping for you at my desk !!!! I too have seen the Coach purses – the hi-lites and hair-do's and artificial nails and pedicures , Iphones and all the other little luxuries – who's paying for all of that as they swipe their EBT card? It sickens me !!!! I try to tell myself NOT to judge – but I stay completley AWAY from the grocery stores on the 1st of the month – there is not way these people eat all of this food without it going bad for 30 days ! I know some of them who even buy tons of meat- cook it – then sell the food they've cooked to make cash – its a HUGE racket !!!! If people were forced to buy things to prepare it woudl teach them resourefullness – I remember being behind a guy in the line that was irked because his MONSTER drink was denied on his EBT – he looked perfectly capable of working to me – I have got to get off my soap box now before I have a stroke – congrats to you and your success – in the end it still feels good to support and provide for yourself and your family !

      September 21, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
      • really?123

        And did these girls with the purses and nails and all that tell you they were on food stamps? Just wondering?????

        September 21, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • frugal hausfrau

      I logged off, having made way too many comments, but have to say I find fraud despicable. However, I do know one young lady getting foodstamps and going to college on a grant and loans. She has a part timejob. She has nothing and I've helped her out with a few things, personal items, body wash, some makeup here and there. Her mom provides a cell phone so she can stay in touch with her. I myself am on a tight budget, NOT nor ever on foodstamps or any type of assistance, and have several coach bags and one prada. 2 bags from my deceased mother, one I bought at an outlet, and 2 coaches and a prada I've bought at thrift stores, the coach bags were $9.00 each and the prada $14.95 and yes, they are real.. Maybe I'll give one to this young lady. She had her nails done for the first time in her life a couple of weeks ago when a friend took her for a birthday treat. She'd really fit the stereotype if I only gave her my Prada bag, wouldn't she? Now, what to do about that jewelry...

      September 26, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  30. Rich

    Really? The writer thinks $30 per week is not enough. I have a wife and 3 kids. We live on $150 per week ($30 per person). It is NOT that hard. O.k. I guess I don't get to eat steak, but that's what we call a BUDGET! Get real! The nanny state has gotten out of hand. People no longer know how to take care of themselves because the government has been doing it. And really, why work if you can eat better on the government's dime. Money grows on trees, right?

    September 21, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • anneks1962

      Well said, Rich. I've lived on beans and rice for long periods of time. It can be done, and done quite well. As those of us that are truly resourceful understand.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:56 pm |
      • NewUsa

        True. I agree with both of you. We have to live in a budget. My husband and I always bring lunch from home. I cooked more for dinner so we have left over for our lunch. It is not that bad.

        September 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • KindaSorta

      Depending on where you live. The cost of food varies state to state.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  31. GuestColin

    I just spent four years at Uni. Could I? problem.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  32. Desy

    The answer is obviously yes, but would I get the healthy variety I get now? Absolutely not.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Gershon

      I've been working on a similar challenge and publishing my recipes here: (It's totally free.)

      Mine is 3,000 calories for $5.00 a day. I can say that having any meat or many vegetables blows the diet. It's just barely possible to achieve. Yes, I shop organic, but at the store I shop, the prices are cheaper than the big box store.

      But it's no challenge to do it for a week. The cravings won't start to kick in until after that. Try doing it for a year and I'll be somewhat impressed. Do it for a year, but in the middle of it, have your car break down and you have to choose between fixing it or eating. Then I'll start to be impressed.

      The oppressed are starting to speak out. Eventually, we will get our fair share with fair pay for our work.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
  33. Grumpster

    I have a garden and it helps. Every tree in my yard has something edible on it that ripens at different times. Peaches, apples, jujubee, pears, blueberries, haw tree, hot peppers and gogi berries. I give and get food from neighbors all the time by trading and sharing. I hunt for deer and usually have a freezer full of that. What I don't need of the deer, I donate. This year, I will try turkey hunting for my thanksgiving dinner, and once in awhile get a rabbit while out looking for those. There's a lot to be said for hunting, but unfortuntely people just don't get off their duffs.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Joyce

      Handy if you own land that you can grow things on and live near land to hunt on. Not so easy for people living in the city, or those who don't own a gun.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
      • Grumpster

        I have only 1/4 acre parcel, but loaded it with trees and bushes. I hunt land that is not far using a gun I bought YEARS ago. They still aren't that bad for a beginner to buy. There is free public hunting land available too (which I use extensively). If you don't know how to hunt, there are LOTS of people happy to show you like me (I have taught many over the years) and you can consult the Department of Natural Resources for a hunter saftey course or consult online as to hunting, go get videos at the library or magazines too.

        Stop by your local rod and gun club (my local one was $50 per year and includes social events, disocunted supplies, free shooting ranges and events and other give-aways that make that $50 go way far). They have a vested interest in teaching members how to hunt safely, often have land of their own to hunt, and you can partner with others who can show you the ropes. Not all hunters are redneck yeehaws...many are college educated.

        September 21, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • sdk

      Grumpster, that sounds great, but I don't own a gun. No one in my family owned a gun and I don't know how to shoot one. If I was to somehow shoot said animal, then what? I don't know the first thing about cleaning it or cutting it up and they would probably frown on this in my small apartment.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  34. Edward

    It is simple to do – beans and rice and for a change rice and beans. Also if they get rid of cellphones (go landline) the money saved can buy food. If they downsize their residence, money saved can buy food. If they work any 2nd job available, more money to buy food. You do what you have to do when you have to do it. Uless you just take a government hand-out and then sit and complain all day.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Grumpster

      Ed...I gave up the over-priced and under-used land line and have 2 cell phones that cost me $40 total per month. That's not bad, and I can cut that further if I really want by going pay as you go.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
  35. shandaar

    I feed a family of 4 for about $100 a week. $30 seems like a lot of money for one person for a week. yes I could definitely do that!

    September 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  36. Just wondering

    Also, for those of you dissing the author on her choices, remember, she's never done this before. What if the opposite were true, if you had $300 a week to feed yourself and your family? You would probably buy just exactly the same way you do now, because you would still have a poverty mindset. It goes both ways. She's trying to understand how it works. I give her great credit for trying. Just because someone has never lived in poverty does not make them insensitive, careless, or bad.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • MarkinArk

      "Credit for trying," yes. Bu, the rest of your response is just plain stupid!

      September 21, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Just Curious@Markin

      Why? Because Just wondering has the ability to see things from a positive & alternative perspective and you couldn't? Grow up.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  37. Charles

    Here's an interesting epilogue – ask John Boehner, Rick Perry, Sarah Palin, the witch, and other pretenders to feed themselves and their wives on Food Stamps amounts.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • victim of democrat hypocrisy

      Here's a more interesting epilogue–we're ALL going to be trying to live on $30 a week to pay for Obamacare, Medicare, and Social Security!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
      • Reality@victim of democrat hypocrisy

        Not because of Obamacare but because of our Demoncratic welfare state; keep the masses 'inline', while the Imperial Elite enjoy boundless wealth and NO TAXES on all that Democratic tax free CASH FLOW.

        September 21, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
      • victim of democrat hypocrisy

        You can choose to believe any delusion you wish, but Obamacare will end up costing every working person about $1000 a year to cover the medical costs of those who don't work.

        September 21, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
      • Reality@victim of democrat hypocrisy

        My friend, we already are.

        September 22, 2011 at 7:25 am |
    • Kerry

      No, because they all went to college to get jobs, unlike the majority (not all, but the majority) of people on food stamps.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  38. katienyc

    this is possibly the stupidest article i've ever read. fairway?!?! whaaaat?? for those of you who live outside of manhattan, fairway is a high-priced grocery store, only located in super expensive neighborhoods in metro NYC, where regular brands cost 50% more (but you'll also be able to chose your goya-type brand from, say, 500 kinds of extra virgin olive oil in the special olive oil section of the store). it's worse than whole foods in terms of cost-effectiveness. dumb article.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • Britnee Ramirez

      Actually, Fairway grocery stories are common where I grew up in rural, small-town Iowa. The Fairway's I've been in are certainly NOT high-end grocery stores. They are small grocery stores though, which means they can't take advantage of some economies of scale.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • KindaSorta

      She said she walked home. It may be that it is closer to where she lives and that too can be an obstacle for people who live in food desert areas.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • kgriggs0207

      Your point means she had to stretch her dollars even more...

      September 21, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • hlm

      One of the Fairways in Manhattan is in an expensive neighborhood (Upper West Side)- but the one I shop at is in Washington Heights, not an expensive neighborhood by any means. Still I agree that she would have been better off going to C-Town or Associated (but neither of those stores ever have fresh product that isn't already covered in fruit flies and rotting- at least the ones near my apartment).

      September 21, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  39. Julie

    One big issue I see with this, food stamps are not intended to be the complete food budget, they are to supliment your own money for food. That is how they are allotted, based on what other income and housing expenses are in the home. It isn't easy to feed a family with limited resources, but it is possible. I think a requirement of anyone taking a political position should be to live for a period of time on a middle income salary, not a low income...even middle income would be an eye opener.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  40. Coeyagi

    In the Peace Corps, I used to spend about a $1 on food in the village. It was mostly rice and beans and soda and I suppose I could live off of it again if I had to. I would supplement with a few fruits and vegetables and viola, done. But of course, it took forever to cook it too, so I usually just bought the rice and beans cooked and that was why it was so expensive ($0.40 per meal!).

    Ahh, the third world, if they could just get rid of disease and corruption, I'd go back there to live.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
  41. Schatten

    I have a current budget of $100 for groceries for both myself and my son. This does not only include food but also other items often bought at the grocery store such as TP and paper towel (which I have reduced to rare usage).
    It has not been easy and it took my son a bit of time to understand and buy into it. Especially impulse requests from him for foods targeted at children which are rediculous expensive comparatively speaking (I guess you pay extra for the spounge bob pic) were hard to turn down. After little time and consistency he understood our approach of going for items we had coupons for, to understand yoghurt is yoghurt, spounge bob or not (and generally the non-kiddo version seems to have a lot less artificial colors in it too... bonus!), and to not impulse buy but stick to our shopping list worked out BEFORE our trip. We also have become a lot more stringent about the use of left overs.
    Rarely but every now and then we go out for a dollar menu item at McD (which I cannot stand but my son loves). He had to accept that if we do go to a place like that we do go there for the food, not for the toys. He can have a hamburger, but not a happy meal. he actually failry easily accpted that approach and it has not only made our trips cheaper but also the frequency thereof a lot less (ha!).
    As far as the shopping is concerned, occasionally my son does get a treat, gets to pick a special item.... and he appreciates it so much more now. It has not always been easy but it really has paid off in many ways and actually I feel will leave a positive impression on my son and his financial and life attitude as well.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
  42. Just wondering

    I'm confused. While it's impressive what you posters have managed to buy with meager food incomes, don't you folks work? Is everyone on food assistance? While I didn't think I was so ignorant about how many people have so little, I have supported myself just fine since I was 16, with a trade and a full time job and ho estly did not realize the extent of the poverty here. I put myself through college into my 40's and am doing better than ever. What happened to good old fashioned hard work? And birth control? I don't mean to sound arrogant; I really am shocked! Thanks for enlightening me.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Mary

      I'm a little confused as well over your comments. I think its very clear that most of the people posting here are working, putting themselves through school and raising families. Obviously you are very lucky that the "Great Recession" has not affected you.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
      • Just wondering

        Thanks, Mary, I see the confusion. You have to read down quite a ways to see the comments I was referring to; there was a spate of them.

        September 21, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • Mary

      Many of us are also dealing with a wage freeze going on three years since the meltdown. I understand where you got that impression, but most comments following them are critical of how non-working families are getting food vouchers worth more than what we can afford as working folks. I think the article was a little silly, it was like sending a teenager out to shop. But it did open up a dialogue that shows the ones struggling like us are not alone.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
    • ldean50

      1 in 4 children live below the poverty line in America today. I think that's the point.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Becky

      I have a full-time job that requires a Bachelor's Degree, but it is my first job out of college and pays very little. I hardly earn enough to pay all my bills, and for people my age you have to take into account the outrageous amount of student loan debt that must be paid. So, my food budget is very little.

      That said, I can live on $30/wk and still get a few fruits and veggies tossed in there. And I buy whole wheat bread, too. But, as stated above, I think much of that depends on where you live.

      September 28, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  43. Aaron

    If you are not concerned with the origins of the food, $30 is possible, but if you wish to eat healthy, avoid processed foods and keep things natural/organic (as in no pesticides, preservatives, antibiotics, hormones, etc), then $30 is a joke.

    Therein is the sad reality of the state of food; Good, healthy and natural food (which everyone should be able to have access to) is actually the most expensive avenue. Processed foods, pesticide/hormone/antibiotic-infested food is cheaper, but horrible for your health, but if that's all you can afford, then that's what you have to eat.

    You can, at least, endeavour to try and buy the least harmful things possible on that $30 a month. Knowing how to bake, make stews and stick with produce and ingredients rather than finished products will make that $30 go pretty far.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • MamaNellie

      The processed food most people recognize as crap have highly addicting additives including but not limited to high fructose corn syrup, FD&C colors, MSG, chemical compounds for "shelf life extension", et c. I would LOVE the luxury of a healthy nutritious whole foods plant based diet. It is VERY challenging!

      Shopping sales, couponing (be careful though coupons are usually for new items i.e. not necessarily healthy), bulk buying, food outlet shopping, and knowing people with gardens are some of the strategies I use to keep my food spending reasonable. (Yes, I help weed, pick, process those garden goodies) For a family of 7 with special diets like diabetic, diabetic renal, low-fat, growing teens, & growing pre-schooler; we make it work on $500/mo.

      I just work with what we've got making every meal as nutritionally dense and flavorful as I can & trust that God has promised to supply my needs.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:29 am |
  44. T3chsupport

    Here are some meals I was raised on.
    ►"Ronies": My dad's invention... tomato sauce + macaroni. Tabasco optional. Serve.
    ►Chilli Noodles: just like it sounds, chilli + macaroni. Tabasco optional. Serve.
    ►Taco salad: ... this one was a real treat, and the way they made it, it stretched out everything we had, and is very filling. Lots of people are afraid to try it, because it doesn't sound good, and it doesn't look good. Basically, you make your taco meat, have a bit of shredded lettuce and either salsa or tomatoes... whatever you like on it. Instead of the taco shell however, boil some ramen noodles, and drain them. Then get some sour cream and mix it all up with the noodles, and use that as the base to put your meat and other taco fixins on. Mix it all up. MMmmmmmmm. Still one of my favorites.
    ►Hamburger gravy over white rice, or leftover mashed potatoes... mix all of that up with some frozen corn and nom nom nom.
    ►A snack was often times a flour tortilla laid directly on a stove burner, left to grill up a tiny bit, with some melted butter spread around inside. Roll up and nosh.
    ►Tortillas! Holy crap are they easy to make! Mix the dry ingredients, and stash them away. Add just enough water whenever you need some tortillas, and you can pretty much just guestimate based on texture.

    Baking your own bread is also totally awesome. It's really not all that hard, don't bother listening to the people who say it is. You do not need a bread machine if you have hands.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Frank-O@T3chsupport

      Yup, doing the taco salad today!

      September 21, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • MarkinArk

      take that tortilla, warm it, spread a lil peanut butter on it & drizzle it with honey & a touch of cinnamon! Good eats, great treat!!!!

      September 21, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • Raven2366

      Grew up eating much of the same. Here's a few simple ideas.

      Tomato soup with Mac an Cheese.
      Cabbage, peppers, onions and if available add small amount of sausage, fry together
      Rice in place of pasta in most dishes works great. Adds bulk to veggie and meat dishes as well.
      Tuna, mac and cheese with crushed potatoe chips on top. Add can of veggies for complete meal.
      Boiled chicken in broth, jalapenos, wide egg noodles and sprinkle with chedder. Add sausage gravy mix for thicker dish.

      Eating cheap doesn't have to be ordinary by any means. The trick is to be creative.

      BBQ RUB...
      1 part Coca
      1 part dark brown sugar
      1/2 part crushed red pepper/chili's
      bit of garlic powder
      bit of salt
      bit of onion powder.

      September 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  45. Mary

    The egg is really the world's most perfect food. And if you had to (and didn't mind the chloresteral) you could stretch a $3.00 carton to feed yourself breakfast lunch and dinner for a week. I'd rather eat scrambled eggs with salsa and toast than ramen.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Richard

      Very true mary its a pretty good way to eat for a week.

      September 21, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
  46. Mdelared

    The writer either never had a strict budget or is pretending she didn't. If you have a limited budget you PLAN meals for the week, you don't just walk into a supermarket looking for 'affordable' namebrand products. I've eaten on $30 and often still do. Stupid article.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  47. Nick Frugal

    can of oatmeal ($3) + raisins ($4) = breakfast for a month ($7 total). pound of dry beans ($1) + cup of barley/rice ($1) + cup of frozen chopped spinach ($.50) = lunch for a week ($2.50). That's 2 meals for $4.75/week. That leaves about $25 for dinner and snacks. It's do-able. The key questions are number of calories and complete nutrition. That's not so easy.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • Kat

      Good theory, but obviously some areas are more expensive than others. I live in New England, and have never heard of a Fairways or C-Town. I went to university down south, and that was the first time I had encountered a Winn-Dixie or Rouse's or Ssve-a-Lot. Food at these stores were undoubtably cheaper that at stores here like Shaws or Stop & Shop. That said, it's not THAT much more expensive that would cost over $30 (according to your math/scenario) but, I've never come across a bag of a dozen apples as cheap as $1.99 (as the article stated)...

      September 21, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  48. Les Rainey

    You're also eligible to buy vegetable and fruit seeds with food stamps. Perhaps it would be a better investment for those with yards.

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

      Just because it needs to be shouted from the rooftops:
      Also, in the wintertime indoors, as long as you make sure there's some natural light each day, you can grow year round.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:33 am |
  49. Trwer3

    Wow really? Because it CAN be done. Especially if you go to a discount grocer or a grocery store that has the "savings" club card. It's MUCH easier if you stay away from Brand names and initial launch products.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
  50. musheded

    Was the author never a poor college student?! Or heck just poor for any period of her life? There are many places to shop for dry goods like pastas, coffee, soups, breads and crackers and such for much less like the 99 cent stores and Big Lots, as well as discount grocers like Grocery Outlet and even Trader Joe's for much less expensive produce, meats and cheeses. Ethnic markets are also a great place to get deals on meats and produce too. If I worked at it I could feed my family of three for a week with $30! And yes it is difficult to eat healthfully if you are poor as the author found even if you are very creative.

    September 21, 2011 at 12:28 pm |
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