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. berl

    A couple comments – I don't get food stamps and am a young married mother with 3 children and I have NO idea how to shop wisely. I haven't a clue how to cook or meal plan, how to shop for the best bargains, etc. I have read many articles on meal planning, etc. I'm just all thumbs in the kitchen. I can cook from a recipe but using my money wisely when shopping for food...not so much. I wish there were mentors who could help in this area but there's nothing. I was raised by a disabled father and we ate frozen dinners every day or we ate fast food. No we are not overweight at all. We were actually underweight. But anyway, the other thing I wanted to mention is that I have a half-sibling who has never worked, has always received state or gov't aid and recently we visited her and she has an entire room filled with food from floor to ceiling. Cases of soup, syrup, cannned goods, water, dried milk, beans, rice, etc. FLOOR to CEILING, an entire room acquired from her food stamp money. She believes that when a natural disaster or a terroristic attack happens, if her family can get to where she is, they will have enough food to live on for a very long time. She acquired all this food with her food stamps and I'm guessing maybe from food pantries. Unbelievable.

    September 23, 2011 at 8:46 am |
    • kasey

      Hi Berl. I'm starting a blog about this. I'm going to include recipes, shopping lists, prep advice, etc. that may be helpful to you. This will start tomorrow with the first shopping list. You can find it at: Hope to see you there.

      September 23, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • mee

      if you have very little money to spend on food you learn to stock up for later when it's on sale. it's very likely that she bought the non perishables on sale and saved 75%. non-perishables can be bought cheaply. you can get 25 lb sacks of rice for 10 bucks and a lb of beans on clearance for 20 cents. most grocery stores have a clearance isle. she probably can't afford to buy a box of cheeze itz just because she gets the urge though.

      September 25, 2011 at 3:29 pm |
  2. ctd

    I run the A Buck A Plate blog at  
    $30 per week? That will get you three appropriate nice nutritious meals per day if you follow my advice, with enough left over for three bottles of wine per week! I started the site precisely to address such claims as made in this article. Good eating, cheap, is not hard. As an example, this evening I made too much delicious homemade pasta and sauce for two adults and two toddlers for under $2.  
    Don't fall for the lie that decent food has to be expensive, or even anything but cheap. Fish dinners? Balanced breakfasts? Satiating lunches? All for under a buck a plate, easy: visit my blog. And keep visiting; there are a lot more recipes to come.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
    • Julie

      While I agree that with some planning eating well need not be expensive. I noticed that in your blog, however, you mention that you are able to do so by buying large quantities at places like Costco, which can be a real money saver. For families using food stamps, however, this is not an option. The $50 they would spend on a large bag of rice would take a huge piece of thier monthly allottment. I am not sure, but I suspect that Costco may not accept food stamps or SMAP money which could also be a problem. I count myself among the fortunate who can afford to save money by being able to spend money on large quantities.

      September 23, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
      • Bill

        @Julie - Don't let facts get in the way of a good rant. I really want to see these people try to live on $30 a week today for a month (or better two months). Even then, they might be able to pull it off, pushing through the sameness and the blandness of the food because it would be over soon. But now, try living that way for an undetermined period of time.

        I know how bad that can be. In the mid 1980's, my food budget was $15.00 per week. I managed and I did for over 6 months but it was not easy. But then again, I know (and knew) how to cook. Many people on food stamps don't know how to cook, don't know how to shop, don't know how to plan. Their parents don't know either and did not teach them. The classes in high school that are supposed to teach them are either being cut or are a complete joke. So ignorance breeds ignorance breeds poor eating choices.

        September 24, 2011 at 4:04 pm |
      • onesmartmom

        Costco does, in fact, accept food stamps.

        September 28, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  3. Melody Polakow

    I eat an amazing vegan diet for $3.33 a day.... and blog about it at

    September 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm |
  4. Annette

    I have been on Food Stamps when I was a divorced mother in college and my Mother also worked for the Dept of Human Services for 25 years. I have seen so many people abuse the system that it makes others who are struggling but can't qualify angry. Growing up we were poor but my Mom made enough so we didn't qualify for food stamps but saw people who were load up there carts with steaks and soda and we ate beans, rice, and pasta everyday. When I was on food stamps during college, I still shopped sales, used coupons, and shopped at the right times. I stocked up during sales and was very frugel. Some people asked me why since it wasn't my money. My response was that it was my money. I spent my food stamps like it was real money. That is why I like the EBT cards becasue the old system made it seem like monoploy money. I was able to help friends who were also in school and didn't have food with my careful shopping. I never sold my food stamps although I was asked many times and could've used the cash for laundry or other non food items. Recently I was shopping at my local Sprouts and the lady in front of me paid me an EBT card. She could have fed a family of four for one week with the money she spent on the items and there was very little but, as we know, organic food is very expensive. I'm not talking just meat and veggies. I guess my point is that eating on $30 a week is very doable if someone knows how to cook and shop but we know there are also others that abuse the system than cry about how it is not enough for them. Sorry, those people will get no sympathy from me but I commend those who do use Food stamps as a way to help their family TEMPORARILY while they get to a better place.

    September 22, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • kasey

      Thanks for sharing your story, Annette. Very inspirational. :-)

      September 22, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
    • Jill

      Great comments. My sister had to accept food stamps years ago when she and her husband both lost their jobs at the same time and she had two small kids. She was embarrassed by the dirty looks she'd get in the supermarket and couldn't wait to get back to work, but having worked so many years and paying taxes, she knew it was her own tax money that was helping her out. In her mind it was always a temporary situation, the problem is that many others don't have that mindset and want to make it their lifestyle.

      September 23, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  5. ohsnap

    One thing to try to have is staples. You don't buy them every week. That's leaves you with a little money to spend on other stuff, like milk or eggs. I buy a big bag of rice and that lasts me forever. I buy olive oil. I buy oatmeal. I buy flour. This week I have eaten either lentils or black beans with rice. I have a garden at work and I supplement with greens and tomatoes from there. I make my own bread from a no-knead recipe. I grow basil in pots in my home and have hot peppers in big pots on my porch. I just planted lettuce and collard greens that I will grow throughout the winter (I live in the northeast by the way). I cook from scratch all the time. Believe it or not if you look in the 'special' bin at Whole Foods you can find really good deals on organic chicken. I bought a little over 5lbs of chicken legs for less than $5. I freeze that so if I get a craving for something other than beans, I eat that. I eat more healthy now than I ever did. It's not luxury but I'm not hungry. I'm just one person though. The principles work for a family too but it's a little tougher. My mother was a widow at 38 years of age with 7 children to feed...that's how I learned. Thanks Mom.

    September 22, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  6. Lem Barley

    What's all this crying about? $30 of store bought groceries can last a solid month in our neck of the woods. That's because the fish in the river aren't polluted, the garden fared the weather and varmints okay. The canning and freezing has passed its peak; there's ham in the smoke house and a side of beef in the freezer. Summer has brought some fine fishing and hunting season is coming. All in all we might buy some bread and ice cream every week when the house is humming, but let it slow down and there's nothing better than homemade bread. Anyone who has more time than money should try to make a loaf. Who's Hungry?

    September 22, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
    • Dave

      Amen Lem Barley. It is about being resourceful and taking care of the resources which already exist.

      September 22, 2011 at 7:48 pm |
  7. kasey

    Someone challenged me to make a list for $30 a week. Here it is. I went to my local market today, priced select items, and made a list of recipes for a week for 1 (because this $30 a week was for 1 person) using them. Below is the menu and shopping list for 1 week. It includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a dessert cake that should last the week. I'm sure someone taking more time can be a bit more creative with the menu. I did spend $30.60, but a couple of items were staples that should last at least 3 weeks or more, so they wouldn't be purchased again the next week, leaving more money for some variety.

    Sunday: 2 eggs, 2 slices toast, milk, juice
    Sliced chicken sandwich with lettuce, apple, water
    Chicken thigh/leg, rice, carrots

    Monday: Oatmeal with sliced banana, milk, juice
    Chicken salad sandwich, apple
    Congee (rice and chicken soup), apple cake

    Tuesday: Oatmeal with chopped apple, milk, juice
    Grilled cheese sandwich, banana
    Pasta with chicken and vegetables

    Wednesday: 1 egg, 2 slices toast, milk, juice
    Leftover pasta
    Hamburger mixed with pasta, canned tomato, cheese and onion

    Thursday: Oatmeal, apple, milk
    Leftover hamburger casserole
    Chicken leg/thigh, carrots, lettuce salad

    Friday: Egg sandwich, milk, juice
    Grilled cheese sandwich, banana
    Hamburger veggie/pasta soup

    Saturday: French Toast, juice, milk
    Chicken/egg salad, lettuce, carrot sticks
    Hamburger veggie/pasta soup

    Chicken leg/thigh quarters: $2.75 per 5 lbs, 8 thigh and leg quarters
    Hamburger, 1 lb $2.88
    Rice, 1 lb bag $0.78
    Elbow macaroni, 1 lb box $1.08
    Canned tomatoes, 68c
    Bananas, 2 lb, $0.98 (about 5 medium bananas)
    Bag apples, $3.97 (about 10 apples)
    Celery, $1.28
    Oil, $1.18
    Box 0atmeal, $1.48
    Cheese, 8 oz shredded $2.32
    Cake mix, $1.25
    Lettuce, $1.14
    Carrots, 1 lb, $0.78
    Onion, 1, $0.50
    Loaf bread, $1
    Frozen veggies, $0.98/bag mixed
    Canned frozen orange juice, $1.53
    Milk 2.28/ half gallon
    Eggs 1.56/dozen
    Total: $30.60

    September 22, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • Dana

      Good job, Kasey!

      I've been on food stamps. I've also worked at a grocery store. Many of the young, single parents have no education on how to make more food for less. I often saw food stamps spent on convenience (pre-packaged, microwaveable, etc) foods rather than ingredients for preparing a meal. $30 per week per person CAN be done, depending on where you live (someone pointed out transportation problems). You just can't buy tons of capri suns and pizza rolls instead of real food. ;)

      September 22, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
      • kasey

        Thanks. Hey, I've been guilty of buying those pizza rolls myself from time to time. They're yummy. But for the most part, we eat a lot of fruit and veggies, and I cook a big batch of chicken or meat at once and then debone and use for various things. You're right, younger people these days never learned to cook (I'm not that old, but was a latchkey kid, and I learned to cook early), so they have no idea how to put together a nutritious meal. But there are lots of cookbooks at the library, so maybe they should give it a shot.

        September 22, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
    • kasey

      I'm starting a blog about this, with weekly shopping lists and recipes for families. You can find it at

      September 23, 2011 at 11:35 am |
      • Velveetaa@kasey

        Wow. If you're serious, that is VERY generous of you! People taking the time and energy to help others in need is something some friends and I were just talking about on another thread. KUTGW, sincerely.

        September 23, 2011 at 11:43 am |
      • Jerv@kasey

        Totally awesome! I am already signed up!

        September 23, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Tom

      Kasey, nice job. Did you account for repackaging in your budget? For example, are you wrapping your leftovers in plastic wrap? Putting them in tupperware? How do you get your lunch to the office? (excuse the assumption)

      September 28, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
  8. realitycheck

    I think one point that has been overlooked is transportation. It's a lot easier to budget 30 bucks at a grocery store than it is a corner mom and pop store. But if you don't have a car-you're hauling bags on the bus. You can only carry so much. So you have to go to the store so often and if it's late or a holiday and you've worked all day and the corner store is right there, you 're going to buy from them. Especially seniors or folks that aren't as mobile. I kept a budget for 6 months and calculated that I could buy a car with what I was overspending at my neighborhood store. Some people might not be able to figure that out or even might not be able to drive. But one writer did have it right-most of the people on welfare are children.

    September 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm |
    • suj

      thank you for pointing that out! That is an extremely important factor to the the equation. The lady has to live it to understand it. What she is doing is like spending a week in some Salvation Army cloths for a week instead of living in her own expensive wardrobe. Despite the clothes she wears, everything else in her life is the same....

      September 22, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
  9. Melanie

    *Could* you? My husband and I live in New England and this is often our budget for feeding *two*. Often vegetarian, but because we have high standards for meat. It's doable if you purchase actual food (as in, generally not in boxes or cans).

    September 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  10. Kar

    Tuna & salmon, $4; bread, $2.50; eggs, $2; packaged Romaine lettuce x 2, $5; cheese, $3; rice, $1.50; broccoli, $2; canned beans x 2, $2; other assorted fruit & vegetables, $8. Total $30. Piece of cake! Uh-oh, nevermind the cake.

    September 22, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
    • Melanie

      You're paying too much ;) Part of budget shopping is knowing which stores have lowest prices on your staple items! The other big part is cooking from scratch!

      September 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
      • Kar

        I realize I could do better by not buying whole wheat bread or brown rice, and not buying the prepackaged lettuce. But I know fiber is essential and have let too many bunches of romaine get moldy cause I dread washing it. Used to do more cooking, too, and you're right, it would save. But my utility bills have gone down a bit since I quit buying dry beans and stopped cooking quite so much. If I had a family to feed, certainly I would do the cooking as the savings would be worth it.

        September 22, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
  11. Sean

    Rice, Oatmeal, Beans, Eggs, Raman, Tortillas

    September 22, 2011 at 6:25 pm |
    • EFG

      Not very healthy. No fruits, no veggies, no milk products.

      September 22, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  12. kar white

    Happy to share a typical weekly list, from a vegetarian who does eat fish & cheese. However, the list does not include coffee, which is ordered in bulk, online.

    1 large foil pkg Tuna 1.80
    1 large foil pkg salmon 2.20
    2 10-oz pkgs Romaine 5.00
    2 pkgs (6) tomatoes 2.00
    1 cucumber 1.00
    2 cans beans 2.00
    1 lb brown rice 1.50
    3 cans soup 4.50
    2 cans tomatoes 1.50
    8 oz cheese 2.20
    ½ dozen eggs 1.00
    2 lbs bananas 1.20
    1 cantaloupe 2.00
    1 loaf w.w. bread 2.50

    Total $ 30.40

    September 22, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
    • WonderRandy

      Vegetarians do not, by definition, eat fish.

      September 23, 2011 at 2:23 am |
      • Professor Pinchfase@WonderRandy

        Attention class! Attention!
        The vegetarian diet consists of eating predominantly plant-based foods and may include seafood & dairy.
        The vegan diet is a strict diet that prohibits eating foods that come from creatures that breathe air or water. Vegans are self-committed to upholding a personal standard of living where animals are concerned. The vegan will often go beyond eliminating meat, dairy and animal products, to become an activist for animal rights.

        The vegetarian lifestyle is considered relaxed, happy, free-loving and humanitarian. The vegan lifestyle usually takes on a holier-than-thou stance and will castrate, uh, castigate without prejudice or humor and shouldn't be taken seriously.

        September 23, 2011 at 7:58 am |
      • Tiger Lily

        WonderRandy is right. A vegetarian does not, by definition, eat fish, or birds, or mammals. A person who eats fish, but not birds or mammals, is a pescatarian.

        It is people like the professor who make my life as a REAL vegetarian (with serious vegan leaning but occasional ovo-lacto cravings) very hard indeed. If you ASSUME people who say they are vegetarians eat fish or birds, or can tolerate that stock, you will be wrong. BTW, I am always happy to bring something to someone else's house so they dont have to do anything special for me, and I am a heck of a good cook.

        September 24, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
  13. Carolyn

    Can't afford oatmeal? It's the cheapest food (calorie per dollar) that I have ever seen in a grocery store. I appreciate the sentiment of the article, but come on, do a little research.

    Also, can't afford "meat" so you go for chicken?

    September 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Becca

      Chicken is poultry... not meat.

      September 22, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
      • Sean


        September 22, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
      • nimrod

        Meat is the flesh of an animal. As a biologist, I can assure you that chickens are animals (as are all birds, fish, clams, shrimp, etc. All animals, all meat).

        September 23, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  14. think a little

    To all those who are putting down people on SNAP who buy things other than all healthy foods, please stop to think for a minute. Yes, of course we know that some people abuse the system. That's a given. But for some people, it's a necessity because they don't have any extra money for food.

    In that case, if they want to use their money to buy a treat or two, leave them alone. Maybe it's the only thing they can treat themselves to at all.

    Yes, they should be buying nutritious foods. But you really don't know their circumstances. Maybe they've already bought their nutritious foods. Maybe they have a vegetable garden. Maybe they've gotten some basic staples at a food bank. Maybe a friend or church group has given them produce.

    And even if they are only buying junk food, well that's their choice, just like we buy junk food without being on SNAP. It may be a frustrating choice, but it is theirs to make.

    September 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Elisa

      You should be on a debate team.

      September 23, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
  15. VMA

    One big problem with food stamps is that people can get junk food with the stamps. They should be limited to the basics like meat, vegetables, milk, cereal etc. I was behind someone with food stamps at a check out and they had the deli foods, (which are expensive) pop, potato chips etc. Things that they did not need but wanted. They could have bought a whole 10 pound bag of potatoesfor the same price as the small container of potato salad they purchased and had more meals from the bag of potatoes

    September 22, 2011 at 2:00 pm |
    • -snip-

      They had expensive deli food, sure. But you would want to eat something different every once in awhile too.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:00 pm |
    • Kris

      Junk food is cheaper than healthy food (goes farther too) & when you have kids hunger pains to quench (as well as time to make decent snacks & meals after working 2 jobs), you go for it. As far as deli-counter California, you can't use food stamps for it. Has to be pre packaged.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
      • kasey

        Wrong. Junk food is NOT cheaper and lasts longer. Not sure where you get that. That box of Twinkies cost $3. For that $3, you could get 5 lbs of chicken thighs and quarters, or you could get a large bag of potatoes, or you could get a box of nutritious cereal, or you could get 5 lbs of white rice. No, it is not cheaper, and it does not last longer than more nutritious options, it's just a matter of choosing wisely with your dollar.

        September 22, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
    • kar

      Totally agree. The Federal government has helped create our Fast Food nation and bad food choices. Now there is SO much money involved with the food manufacturers, it will be hard to pull the corporations away from the public trough. THEY will be the ones yelling the loudest (and lobbying the hardest!) if we try to restrict choices now.

      September 22, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Amy

      It's about self-determation, people have the right to make their own choices. You know how much you are given to spend on food via food stamps; It is then your responsibility to make it last. When you are looking at the cart of the person paying with the food stamps what you may not be seeing is they don't have an oven or even a stove. maybe it's just a microwave and a if they are lucky a hot plate. They could have also just gotten off work from their second job, putting in 60 plus hours a week and it's still not making ends meet. You can't judge a person by their shopping cart. At the end of the day only they know what they have and do not have and only they can make the choice for themselves. You or I may not agree with the choices but it is in fact their choice.

      September 22, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
      • Elise

        But if the adult is expected to use the children's portion to benefit the children, and it isn't happening that way, we all suffer, the children the most. So I get what you are saying, but disagree . Sometimes it's necessary to sacrifice a little freedom for the sake of a larger good.

        September 23, 2011 at 12:49 am |
      • infojunkie

        If it were their money, it would be their choice. As another commenter noted, taxpayers are paying for junk food and then paying for the health consequences. That is not a sustainable path; it's helping to make the economy implode.

        September 24, 2011 at 6:47 am |
  16. suj

    This "experiment" is completely a bust. The person still gets to live in her comfy cozy house, with unlimited hot showers, nice cloths to wear. Her transportation is convenient. A person cannot experience eating on $30 a week unless that person experiences the living conditions that accompany that food budget.

    That gal should be on the streets living the life of a impoverished person, then she'll have a story worth reading about. BAH!

    September 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • Carlos D. Ortiz

      Agree, and to this you have to add the cost of health care and medicines that appear not having the correct meal.

      September 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
      • kasey

        Carlos, while I understand and agree with what you are adding, this is a discussion about being able to live on $30 a week per person on food stamps, which has nothing to do with healthcare and medications, as food stamps are separate from those expenses. There is no reason why a family of 3 cannot live on $90 per week in food. That's a generous amount, more than what I spend for my family of 3, and we eat very well, with lots of fruit and veggies. That's the discussion here.

        September 22, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
    • Lou

      She specifically said "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" She never said anything other than a food budget. Pay attention before you judge.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  17. Kimberly

    interesting read...but more so the comments about the article

    I know nothing about food stamps (and I live in Canada where prices are higher than yours) but I think $30 a week can be plenty enough for a week's grocery for one person on a budget. Shit I can even have a box of organic and locally grown fruits and vegetables delivered to my doorstep with that much cash on a weekly basis! It might be hard on the first week if you're trying to buy everything all at once. But I say spread out the "needs" one week at a time (ie. a bag of rice or a can of coffee – both can be found for under $10 and can last for at least a month). And forget about chicken breast! That's the most expensive meat you could ever buy out there.And use coupons, haven't you learned anything from extreme couponing?!? Americans are so lucky to have your coupons, up here in Canada, we can only use one coupon per item :(

    September 22, 2011 at 1:52 pm |
    • Laura

      Hello, fellow Canadian. I too have read the article and thought... well, I buy food for $30/week regularly. And I live near Toronto where stuff is quite expensive. And you're right, the comments are very interesting. Maybe the point of the article was also to generate discussion and that, it has done.

      As for the article, I wonder if meat prices vary greatly from where I am but here they are practically giving away the pork. The price/lb for pork is less than half that of a chicken.

      Someone else made a point that baking bread is cheaper than buying bread. This is true. I make a loaf of bread for about $0.50. It's no-knead bread that uses time and very little yeast. (It's the yeast that can be expensive but if you only use 1/4 tsp per loaf, all of a sudden it's affordable)

      Definitely thought provoking article, regardless of whether one agrees with the "experiment" or not.

      September 23, 2011 at 8:12 am |
  18. L!zzy

    There are frozen meals that are $1.00 a piece. You could eat three meals a day for $21.00 a week.

    September 22, 2011 at 1:30 pm |
    • me

      I would look at the salt content of those meals, some can have crazy amounts of sodium in them and eating that much salt can cause a LOT of health problems.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
      • Jumpster Dumpster

        You are exactly correct. I'm sure Lizzy meant well but the salt levels are insane. If I were in my 20s and in a pinch, I might do the dollar frozen meals.

        September 22, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
      • not me

        if you're eating three $1 meals a day, your concern is probably more focused on staying alive than on watching your sodium intake. and rightly so.

        September 22, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
  19. Cook your own d@mn meal

    Not even a challenge. I routinely eat on $90 a month or less because it’s easy and it means more money for going out or paying for gasoline. FYI, I work a 40+ hr/week job and still find time to cook, and have hobbies and a social life. Here’s a pretty normal list for me across an entire month.

    Fresh Organic Carrots: $1.99/3lbs
    Local Potatoes: $1.99/5lbs
    Sweet Onions: $0.79/lb x 4 = $3.16
    Bananas: $0.54/lb x 4 = $2.08
    Milk: $2.50/gallon x 2 = $5.00
    Whole beef tenderloin: $9.99/lb x 5 = $49.95 (this is filet kids)
    Frozen boneless/skinless Tyson chicken breast: $10.00/6lb
    Organic bulk Quinoa (super food): $2.99/lb x 4 = $11.96
    Loaf of store brand bread: $0.99 x 2 = $1.98 (1lb)
    Dozen large eggs: $0.99 x 2 = $1.98 (2lb)
    Store brand cheddar: $1.99/lb
    Since spices and cooking oil last a really long time I won’t count them either.

    For those of you keeping track that’s a grand total of $92.08 (meat/produce isn't taxed) for a whopping 38lbs of highly delicious and nutritious food from fruits/grains/vegetables/red and white meat/dairy! It can be done even cheaper if you are willing to eat in-season foods that are always on sale, and gives you a wider variety. This still leaves $27.92/month for alcohol, tobacco, and junk food! I know many of us Americans are fat but you will never go hungry eating 1.25lbs of food each day. And if you need to feed more than just yourself switch to tip steaks which are 99% lean and cost $2.99/pound max, increasing the total to over 48lbs of food. What an utter joke.

    September 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  20. Oragami

    There were a few times where I had to survive on ramen, a bag of black eyed peas, or just noodles with butter for a few days until I got food stamps. Even with 2 people in the house with jobs, there was barely enough money for food.

    Not ALL people who get food stamps cheat the system, but there are SOME that do. In the town I came from before moving to California, there were people that would somehow get $1000 a MONTH in food stamps, and some cash benefits too...

    September 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  21. GeorgiaGirl

    I live in Georgia, and I already eat on $30 week. I spend on average $40-$50 weekly for family of 3 adults. I eat a green salad and fruit salad 5 days week at work that I make from fresh vegs/fruit at home, plus whatever leftovers I have from night before. I cook from scratch, and buy no name brands. I buy chicken breast family packs $.99 lb, thriftstore bread $.50 loaf (wheat) bruised/old produce at Kroger. I don't use coupons. You can eat healthy on $30 week per person, if you know how to shop and how to cook. The most important thing is to use all leftovers by making soups and casseroles, never throw food away if possible. Our household income is $140,000 year, but I choose to spend my money on other items, rather than waste it in foolish spending at grocery store.

    September 22, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • wow

      marry me.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • stepasidesue

      Aren't you special! You have money and you are thrifty. People that are on food stamps, generally live a very disappointing lifestyle. It's hard to get excited about cooking when you live in less than appealing surroundings and jobs that don't pay well, you work hard and know that your live will not change for an indefinite period of time. When I was first married and my husband and I were in our last year of college. Housekeeping, cooking, etc was fun and a challenge. Much later in my life I can't afford to spend $30 a week and it's not about eating three meals a day but glad to have something once a day.

      P.S. That .99 cent chicken is probably full of hormones and antibiotics. If you can afford it you should never eat anything but organic chicken.

      September 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
      • Az

        How can you attack her for living thrifty? If she is doing what she says others should try to model themselves after her. Too many Americans are wasting money and living beyond their means. This family sounds like they are trying to ensure that they are not adding to the problem and are taking care of their financial future.

        September 22, 2011 at 2:45 pm |
      • maddy

        Stepasidesue, brush the chip off your shoulder. She's making a point, and that is you can eat well on $30 a week even if you make a decent living. What business of yours is it whether or not she chooses to buy organic? Seriously, 99 cents a pound chicken won't kill you, especially if you're on a budget. Perhaps if you'd done what she is doing when you were doing well, you wouldn't be in the position you're in now.

        September 22, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • yeh09

      I strongly doubt that those "other things" on which you choose to so wisely spend your comfortable annual income are as important in the long run as buying quality, fresh food not pumped with hormones and other chemicals.

      September 22, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • Lindsey

      I was just about to say this! My husband and I spend $60/wk at the grocery store, and cook dinners at home and bring our lunches on weekdays... what's the big deal? We make plenty of money and could afford to spend much more... that's just what we happen to actually spend. Last week was only $55...

      To the person who said the people on food stamps are buying expensive food because they live an unhappy life... the point of food stamps is not to supplement happiness in their life, it is to ensure that they don't starve while they try to get themselves back on their feet. We should not be providing cushy happiness with welfare. Welfare is to keep you from the very rock bottom so that you can SURVIVE. The line between needs and wants has become very blurred indeed, for most Americans!

      September 22, 2011 at 5:35 pm |
      • Dana


        September 22, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • berleegirlie

      I just read this to my husband. His reply was "Say what you want, but there's something to be said for a box of Swiss Rolls!"

      September 22, 2011 at 10:13 pm |
  22. Skinnyasarail

    I refuse to accept food stamps we tho I make no money. I do charity work 94 hours a week.

    I cook for my family of 27 people on a budget of 1.63 a week and have tons of leftovers to take to the food bank every day.

    I'm so sick of hearing about people spending over $5.00 a week on food, just so wasteful.

    Some of you people are just too full of yourselves...

    September 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Jumpster Dumpster

      Total FAIL at trying to stir the stink pot.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
    • eddantes

      "everyone is a thrift hero in this forum"


      September 22, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • maddy

      You aren't nearly as clever as you seem to think you are.

      September 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  23. AJ

    Food stamps are supposed to be a supplement to your budget. Not the entire food budget. These people might have to actually pay for some of their own food. I saw a woman pay for most of her groceries with WICK coupons the other day and then paid cash for sushi. Must be nice to be able to have enough left over for sushi but she "can't afford" to buy her child's milk or cereal. I think people should be ethical about what handouts they take and then people wouldn't be so angry about the people who really need it using the system

    September 22, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
  24. Skinnyasarail

    Sounds like everyone is a thrift hero in this forum.

    I'm baffled at how many people are exceptionally large with everyone living on tuna and chicken.

    Just a bunch of blow hards that have to do the normal one-up-manship typical of online dialogue.

    September 22, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Michael Whiteheadhav

      Why all the obese poor people? If you are poor you already know the answer. You can't afford the healthy food. Simple. You shop at discount stores – no bags unless you buy them, and no baggers, use store boxes and box it yourself. You buy a lot of potatoes, generic mac and cheese, a few canned vegetables. The key here is you consume a lot of starches and carbohydrates, like spaghetti; a lot of bologna sandwiches using cheap white bread. The end result is obesity - and probably diabetes. Especially diabetes, as there is no way to buy the foods you need to maintain a low fat, low carbohydrate diet. Not on what you have in either cash or food stamps. Some are fortunate enough to be in the country, where they can grow a garden, or have access to a community garden. But the poor, the unemployed, all have a hard road to go and the first thing that is sacrificed is proper nutrition.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  25. Rachel

    I once tried to apply for foodstamps during a rough patch when my daughter was a toddler. I was unable to receive them because I made about $20 too much per month, as a single parent. I felt so defeated that I couldn't get them, and really needed them. It was hard to survive, and to provide my daughter with foods that were both filling and nutritious, but I did it. The key for me was to slowly stock my pantry with staples like flour, canned goods, rice, pasta, baking ingredients, and spices. Once I did that, I was able to spend my food budget on the fresh stuff, like fruits, veggies, meats, and dairy products. Cooking from scratch is better, even though it takes more time. Leftovers were either frozen for future meals, or taken the next day for my lunch at work. My daughter was able to eat meals at daycare as well, so that helped me out, too.

    I've found that you can eat well, very cheaply, if it is necessary. Ad matching, clipping coupons, and keeping an eye out for the sales every week, while time consuming, can be profitable, in terms of keeping your pantry full.

    I am now married, and at one point, was feeding a family of six. By following these same rules, I have mananged to provide all of us the same kinds of meals, without having to go overboard on my food budget. Most importantly, my hubby and kids have meals that are homemade, filling, and nutritious.

    It can be done, you just have to be creative with meal planning and your shopping.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
  26. mandy

    damn liberals....always giving out my tax dollars away to the people who don't want to work......when you don't work you are better off with all the hand me outs in this republican for president!

    September 22, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • John

      Fuk the Repubtards and vote for Ron Paul

      September 22, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • Dee

      Obviously you are an idiot! Many people in our country DO work and still need foodstamps. Minimum wage jobs don't cut it When you have a minimum wage job and are hungry then perhaps you willl have the right to comment on the subject.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
  27. kasey

    Just looked up food stamp benefits. If I claim no income, and pay rent, I can get the max for 1 person of $200 per month. A bit more than $30 a week, and for 1 person, that should be plenty of money. For a family of 3, if I claim income of $1000 a month, rent of $500, I could receive $550 a month. That's over $100 a week, more than I spend for my own family of 3, and we eat very well.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • Taylor

      I really think articles like this are really misleading people on what food stamps are really giving out. I work in a grocery store and see first hand the balances left on these cards after someone loads up on processed food and steaks. They're get so much more than simply $30 a week to work with and need to settle down with the complaints about not being able to be healthy. I could easily eat much better than this on thirty bucks, but a food stamp customer is working on 100+ each week from what I see.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
  28. Sith

    My family of four spends approximately $100 per week at the grocery store. This covers fresh fruits and vegetables, lunch meats, breads, cereals, and boneless/skinless chicken breast. Granted, there's not a lot of junk that is bought, and almost everything we buy will be what's on sale.

    It sure is nice to know that low life non-working pieces of crap eat better than hard working families that actually pay taxes.

    I think we should give them $10 per week. Then they can eat the way I did for 4 years going to college. Ramen noodles, spagetti, tuna, and water. Of course, I did splurge and buy a 12 pack of Bud bottles each month as well...

    September 22, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • Pat

      Some of those low life nonworking load of crap are CHILDREN! I know a 70 year old woman who is suddenly having to care for 3 grandchildren. Thank goodness she can get foodstamps for them. She buys in bulk, cooks from scratch and pinches every penny but she could not afford to feed them if not for food stamps.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • Pumpkin@Sith

      Hahaha! Gotta have a Bud!

      September 22, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Jenn

      Some of us "low life non working pieces of crap" are former members of the middle class whose jobs no longer exist. I have a BA and have worked for over 35 years. And if you're a well-employed journalist who decides it would make a great article to like on $30 a week, screw you. These is our real lives. We don't get to go back to picking up a slice of pizza or ordering in Chinese food or buying fresh fruit next week. This is it for us.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:02 pm |
    • Patty

      You shouldn't make a general sweeping statement about people on food stamps, now days there is a much broader segment of the population that's been forced to get government assistance. Don't you know that's why we pay taxes. We are owed those benefits as taxpaying Americans. I worked as a professional in the ad agency business for 15 years when I got laid off during my 3rd pregnancy. It was impossible to get a job at that one wanted to hire a 7 month pregnant producer. Needless to say I was forced to apply for benefits and they got me and my famjly thru a very rough year until I was able to land another job. Clearly you don't keep up with the news, you must be unaware of the staggering unemployment in this country. It's not just lazy low lifes and dead beats that sponge off of the's hard working men and women living under tough circumstances that you could probably never understand. It's people like you and your friends and your's families and kids from poor neighborhoods, the elderly, and single moms struggling to keep families afloat making minimum wage, the majority of who never got the opportunity or privilege of a higher education like you did. You should really watch what you say before you say it. It's offensive and you are in no place to judge other people's situations, especially through these tough times. In short keep your juvenile snide remarks and stereotyping insults to yourself. You should be ashamed and embarrassed.

      September 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  29. Ponter B

    I understand what she was trying to do, but why not eat the stuff you already have in stock at home? That's seriously the challenge I'm doing right now. Instead of going to the store every week, try to eat what you already purchased. I figure by the time I'm done I'll be eating mostly rice or oatmeal, but still it just goes to show you how much we waste from non-use.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  30. Daniel

    Stupid article, as many others are saying, I do it every week and not on food stamps. What moron spends $3.00 on bread? I go to the bread store and buy name brand for $1.35 and it is fresh. Just like Frank G., I can get 10lbs of chicken for $5.00. Sure, you don't have a ton of choices but it can be done.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:15 pm |
    • Andrew

      Agreed. Or just bake your own for about $.20/loaf. Cable is affecting the News now.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Brad

      10 lbs of chicken for $5? Are you talking about the frozen chicken in the big bag at the grocery store? You should read the ingredients in those things. It's barely even chicken.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • wow

      where the heck are you getting chicken for $0.50/lb?

      September 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  31. Dave

    This article, and every other food stamp challenge article is so poorly researched that it's just a joke.
    First off, my family and I spend about $25-30 per week per person on groceries, so the $30 is not that unreasonable if you are intelligent with your purchases.
    Second, using an average without any other supplimental income to your groceries is just plain stupid as thats not how it works. A single person household with little or no income would receive $200/month in food stamps (add roughly $150/person after the first). That's $50/week, not $30. For a single person household to receive $30/week (or $120/month), calculations would have been done using their income, and expenses (rent, utilities, child care, child support, sometimes medical expenses, etc). That number is then taken by 30% (an amount decided on by the feds, after expenses, 30% of your income should go to food), and that amount is removed from the maximum grant. So for a single person to receive only $120, you would calculate that they have an additional $80 they can afford to spend on their own food. So the author should have had another $20/wk to work with.
    Even at a household size of 10, the average maximum per person is something like 37.50 a person per month. That extra $7 makes a difference, and cooking for a larger group is easier and cheaper.

    I wish just once that the people who do these kinds of experiments or write these articles would take 15 minutes to actually research the subject, or talk to a local welfare office and get the entire story.

    These types of misinformed articles only lead to further misrepresentations of the programs available.

    The only way a person on food stamps is not getting enough food is if they are spending it unwisely (food stamps can be used on chips, pop, candy, expensive and unhealthy frozen meals, heck even on overpriced junkfood in some gas stations), or they have income and are expected to suppliment their benefits with their own income but instead waste it on other things or are so far in debt that the money is already owed to others.

    The food stamp programs in this country honestly probably give too much in benefits, but just looking at this one aspect of low income families is a joke. The problem is much bigger than food stamp budgets.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • Dave

      Some additional things to think about.
      Newborns count as a household member, so adding a child to the home increases the benefits, but does not increase the dietary needs. That child does not and will not eat solids for a good 6 months to a year, and even then it's small amounts, yet they get a full share for that child. On top of that, the family most likely gets WIC for that child which pays for the formula and simple foods like milk/eggs/bread.
      Another thing to think of is that most children on food stamps automatically qualify for free school food programs. So a lot of the time these kids have a free breakfast and a free lunch at school. At 3 meals a day x 7 days a week you have 21 meals a week, but these children get 10 of those meals free, again reducing the strain on the family food budget without changing their food stamp benefits. In some areas these children are sent home with backpacks of food on the weekend (some fruits/vegies, and healthy snacks like pudding cups, applesauce cups, granola bars and that sort of stuff).
      So a household with 1 parent, and 3 children could receive up to $668/month (no personal income). 1 child is newborn and on wic, so no food is needed as everything is covered by WIC. The other two are in school, so have 10 meals a week free but may also be bringing home food on the weekends. $167/week to feed 3 people, 2 of which have a large portions of their meals for free, and you get free food donated on weekends.
      Beyond that they are food banks, and places that serve regular meals to underprivelaged people.
      Food sure doesn't seem like it should be a problem huh.
      Her housing is of course covered, and she gets help on utilities. If she starts working she'd lose a portion of her food stamps, and she'd be expected to pay something in rent, but her daycare would be covered so at worst she'd break even with even a small partime job...but as she receives more than she needs in food stamps, the cash difference could be spent on other things.

      I'm in complete support of welfare, but believe that some fine tuning could be done to refine the system. Heck, right now if you pay for heating or cooling you get a $645 utility deduction....$645? I own a house and my electric, sewer, gas, garbage, phone, tv, and internet all combined never even come close to $645 a month. If you qualify for energy assistance (a program that helps pay your heating bill in the winter) you automaticallly get the utility deduction even though you may never pay anything out of pocket.

      Far be it from anyone doing one of these articles, or a politician to actually explore the reality of one of these programs though...that would take time, and thought.

      Being poor sucks, no doubt, and it's not easy to get out of a bad situation, but it's not like the welfare system in this country isn't adequate enough to assist people. If we'd actually tackle the problems that keep people poor, we could work towards far less money payed out in welfare than any amount of reform could produce.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:30 pm |
      • Jumpster Dumpster

        Hell yeah, brother, preach on!

        September 22, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
      • Steve

        I agree with you completely. When I was in college a friend of mine would come over almost weekly and stock my fridge and cupboards with food (about $100 worth each time) using his mom's EBT card. She already bought all the groceries she needed for her and her two sons. They were getting about $700/month in food assistance for 3 people. Right now I have a family of 5 and we live fairly comfortable on a food budget of about $500 to $600/month. It does make me sick though when I see a young man about my age whom is fully capable of working and making money buying a 6 pack of 24oz pop bottles and 3 bags of chips and pulls out an EBT card to pay for it. I cannot afford to buy junk food like this as I don't qualify for EBT but somehow this guys does. I think in some states they may give out way too much money for the EBT program and in others maybe not enough. Just my two-cents.

        September 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
    • NC

      Well stated Dave.

      September 22, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Dana

      Exactly. Many people aren't spending their food stamp money intelligently. They can't be, or hunger wouldn't even be an issue with food stamp recipients. When I drew unemployment, they made me go to a class to learn how to write a resume and interview. Food stamps should also come with an education on how to prepare healthy meals and wisely spend money on ingredients.

      September 22, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  32. Alix

    I've never been on food stamps, but at one point, my kids and I were eating on $40 or less per week (for all three of us). We ate a lot of homemade mac 'n cheese, beans with a hambone, whatever fruit was the absolute cheapest, eggs, and whatever frozen or canned vegetables were cheapest. Very little meat except for tuna or chicken leg quarters, very little in the way of fresh vegetables. We lived in an apartment and I was working fulltime and in college fulltime, so growing anything was not possible.

    It was difficult, and we all got tired of it during the two years we struggled, but we lived through it (I will say that both kids are now extraordinary savers). At least we had a full kitchen (something many people who are struggling may not have). For those who are trying to make do with just a microwave and a slow cooker, this is much harder.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • KJ

      That's an awesome story. You worked together as a family, made sacrifices, completed school. Your kids are great savers. Unfortunately, yours is an experience many on foodstamps will never appreciate as they don't have the pride of taking care of themselves, having sold out there self-worth to the soulless government dole.

      September 22, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
  33. Will

    "A fool and his money are soon parted" Frozen vegetables – on sale are quite a bargain. Consider the waste from fresh Brussels Sprouts (outer leaves, stems) compared to frozen. Stocking up on frozen and carefully supplementing with seasonal fresh (on sale) can save a lot of money. Never buy meat unless it's on sale. 1lb of chicken doesn't last long served whole. Diced and mixed with rice and veggies – it goes a lot further. 1lb of pasta (.69) and a .99 jar of sauce makes a huge tray of food than can be dressed up with either meat or vegetables to last a couple of days. Biggest way to save on food budget – eat normal portions. Measure food and learn what constitutes an actual portion. Eating healthy also means eating the right amount. At first pass, eating on $30 sounds impossible. But if you shop carefully and take advantage of sales and get creative with leftovers, you can really stretch a dollar a lot more than you would believe possible.

    September 22, 2011 at 12:05 pm |

    Interesting article, more interesting are the comments at the end of the article!

    September 22, 2011 at 11:46 am |
  35. Fred

    I'm not a very price conscious food shopper but I can cook and bake and I just couldn't believe it couldn't be done. I checked prices today at a local super market and found I could eat balanced and healthy meals for $30 a week. Of course, there would be some bread baking, pasta sauce making, and roast chicken and chicken soup making but it would all be healthy, filling and good.

    It boils down to not shopping at high priced markets and knowing how to cook whats healthy which will take some teaching to many in the poor communities. It's just a guess but since $30 seems doable (especially as a supplement as intended) perhaps there's another agenda behind this type of article like justifying an increase in the current food stamp allotment.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • wtfindy

      You also have to have the time to bake, or make home made meals. I think a lot of people run into that issue – no time for cooking so they splurge on covenience items. This applies to all walks of life not just folks on food stamps. High paced world equals less quality time unfortunately.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  36. blah999

    I spend around $30/week. I'm fine. I'm healthy. I have enough food for the week.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:32 am |
  37. eepah

    I can, and I do.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:27 am |
  38. Pat

    Why did this woman buy $2.99 loaf of bread? Get the store brand for cheaper or make her own. She starts off whining about having the same thing every day for breakfast. So what? Is that a hardship? I don't think so.

    Why did she buy boneless skinless fresh chicken breasts when there are cheaper ways to purchase chicken?

    Yes, I spend more than $30 per week for food but that is because I have the money to do so.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:23 am |
    • Bambam

      I know that annoyed the pizz out of me too. It was a half azzed attempt to live on 30 bucks worth of food for a week.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Pat

      Looking at my Kroger ad for the week. Kroger bread – $1.00 per loaf. Tyson brand Fresh split chicken breast (with bone) 99 cents per pound. Zucchini or yellow squash $1.00 per pound. Apples $1.00 per pound.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
    • monica

      maybe because that's how much bread costs. unless you want white bread, at which point you should just not eat bread.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
    • mrsl

      I don't get why people are so upset just because she spent $3.00 on a loaf of bread. Big deal. That's what I spend for bread or more. If you want a good bread, that's what it costs. The majority of you people must live in the cheap part of the country, the Boston area isn't that cheap to live in.

      September 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
      • Christiane

        I work in Boston and live on the South Shore and have no problem buying great bread and other products for very cheap and come well under the $30 a week mark. I wonder how far my dollar would stretch in less expensive areas.

        September 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  39. mrsl

    Why are people slamming the author. I think she made an honest effort. In all honesty, I don't think I'd be able to do this either. I've never cooked with bean or lentils. Only been to the Dollar Store once (hated it). Would never think to go to Asian Markets. Farmers Markets in the Boston area are high. Some of the prices people are listing for chicken I've never seen in my area. I do realize I'm fortunate that I don't have to watch what I spend at the grocery store. But people do need to realize there is alot of abuse with food stamps. I think there definitely should be restrictions put on what can and can not be purchased. I do feel bad for the people who truly need assistance. The governmnent needs to do a complete and total overhaul the food stamp program and all the other entitlement programs.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:22 am |
  40. Michelle

    one of my friends was on food stamps and she got an insane amount for her family of 5. They ate like well fed hogs – much better than my family was eating. Then when she got a job and called about being taken off, they said you can keep getting it until your benefit runs out and kept them on for 4 more months.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • kasey

      Thank you. It's not $30 for a family of 6, they get more. If a single person can't figure out how to eat on $30 a week, then there's something wrong with them.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:34 am |
  41. kasey

    I agree with Christiane. Even if you eat meat, like the two chicken breasts... So, you don't buy boneless, skinless organic free range chicken breasts. You get a whole chicken and cut it up. Or you get thigh and let quarters. I recently purchased 10 pounds of thigh and leg quarters for $5, which I split up and froze in 3 packages. That's 3 meals of chicken for $1.66 a meal for 8 pieces of chicken. Add a $1 bag of carrots, $1.50 worth of mashed potatoes, and you have a meal for 6 for $4. You don't have to buy brand name bread, buy the store brand for $1 a loaf. You could buy 3 loaves for what she paid for one. You could bake it for even less. There's nothing wrong with ground beef. You can buy it in family size packs for $1.99 a pound or less. It's all about smart shopping. I know the person that wrote this article bought the most expensive items (like the break, chicken, tuna, peanut butter, etc) to prove her point, but the fact is, if you don't buy the pre-packaged junk, if you learn how to cook and stay away from the processed and packaged items, you can eat on $30 a week and eat healthier foods. You don't have to buy the most expensive brands, try to store brands. A lot of times they're manufactured buy the same people that make the name brands, just packaged differently. In fact, I'm going to challenge myself to do just that this week. I'll buy food for my family on $30 or less, and maybe they'll post me results here next time.

    Food stamps are only meant to supplement your food budget, not be your entire food budget. Most recipients are also getting either welfare or unemployment, and that's supposed to be used for food as well, no cigarettes and beer.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Melanie SIngh

      Could not have siad it better. You can also get used sunday's paper and cut coupons. The whole chicken is great you can use the bones to make broth for flavored rice and add beans and canned tomatoes. Tuna and noodle caserole with frozen peas is awesome too. I'm sure there's a microwave at work:-)

      September 22, 2011 at 11:32 am |
      • Pat

        I find it cheaper to buy store brand than to even use coupons.

        September 22, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
    • kasey

      Right, Melanie. And I can make 3 meals out of a single chicken for my family of 3. I roast the chicken, and we eat about half at the first meal. Then I pull off the breast and thigh and make chicken salad for another meal. Then boil the heck out of what's left on the carcass and pick the remainder of the meat off, strain the broth, add a little bullion, salt, pepper and a cup of uncooked rice, and you get jook (or congee), a nice, simple Chinese soup my husband grew up on.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:39 am |
    • Jerv@Kasey

      So right. I'll keep an eye out for your 30 dollar post next week. Please share how it goes.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
      • kasey

        I will be happy for you to read it, if they publish it. I'll detail my purchases, cost, etc.

        September 22, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
  42. Guest

    Food stamps are a supplement, they're not intended to be your entire food budget. And I'll stop feeling bad for people who are "forced to live on $30 per week when I stop seeing people in the grocery store moving $100 bills out of the way in their wallet to get to their WIC cards. If you want to increase the amount of assistance these people get you need to decrease the number of people eligible so it's cost-neutral.

    September 22, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Food Stamp Receive - Not FREE RIDER

      Hi Guest,

      Although food stamps are just supposed to be a supplement, they are the only means of income for food for many families all across this nation, especially during the declining economy. And, how do you know that those $100 bills in that person's wallet wasn't for the Electric Bill to provide heat for their family, or for Gas or Oil? So quick to judge someone collecting the transitional aid, obviously you are not one whom ever needed this provided service. Just to let you know, these departments such as food stamps and welfare are based on income of the amount of people in a family. Trust me, when I say one is pretty much classified poor when receiving benefits such as this. But, you could be right, that person could have lied to the system just to gain an extra $30 off their grocery bill, however, that doesn't seem all that beneficial, when the amount of paperwork that must be filled out in order to even qualify for these programs, is so extensive that anyone wanting to be a free-rider is just crazy, and has no care for the real people that need these services. Do you think people really want to be in the class of low-income and poor, sometimes life throws you curve balls that are unexpected and you are forced to deal with the realities of them. Hopefully if you were to ever be in such a situation, people wouldn't judge you, but help you!

      September 22, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • kasey

      Food stamp, problem is there are millions of people who are not using this as a stop gap during tough times, they've lived off it their whole lives, and their kids have, and their children will as well. I've seen the abuse to the system. I'm not saying you would do that, but there are people out there that do. Millions of them. And they're sucking the system dry to the extent that people who really are in need can't get the benefits.

      Do you have internet at home, or are you at the library?

      September 22, 2011 at 11:44 am |
    • Adam

      I'm not as ashamed to be on food stamps, Iresorted to food stamps the last month of living in a homeless shelter to get a breakfast and lunch since I'd be at the library or job center searching for employment. Now that I am on SSI due to cerebral palsy, I keep my food stamps. Medical supplies cost over a hundred dollars and I get under $700 a month as my only income. In short, I'd rather eat and have my medical supplies than have to choose.

      My regular diet consists of chicken, vegetables, and rice for dinner, made with the large bag of breasts, cheap bags of veggies, and a 20lb bag of rice. I make it in different ways each week so I don't get bored, and every other month, I buy a bag of tilapia fillets, since I do like having fish on fridays–its a Wisconsin tradition. I also buy the big boxes of oatmeal, 18-packs of eggs, and a few boxes of cereal for breakfasts. As of now, living with my mom–who doesn't make much herself, I will eat some of her dinners, though I like eating my own food more than hers.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Heather

      I would agree with this – there are a lot of people who abuse the system, actually. One of my classmates actually had the nerve to be proud of himself for using food stamps when he didn't need to. His father was rich, and this kid drove around a nice car and wore a rolex, but he worked the system to get as much free stuff as he could.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
  43. Ben

    Hence why people need to stop having kids.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  44. James Morton

    One problem is that too many food stamp recipients are lacking basic dietary knowledge. I know of a lady who thought gummy bears were healthy because "they are a fruit." Another is that when you're poor, you also tend to be poor of time and and energy, so buying only whole foods and preparing them from scratch = not an option. Thus the cheap junk foods and resulting diabetic / obesity / high blood pressure epidemic.

    In short, American culture is f***ed up at the core. But then again, the real cause of all this is the corporations who engineered our culture, the Fed/IRS who have bled the people dry for decades, and the exorbitant waste and military spending that eats up all these revenue giving nothing back to the people in return.

    The way things are going, the whole system's going to collapse soon.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • Average Jane

      Chicken little said, "The sky is falling, the sky is falling." S/He was wrong, too.

      BTW, are you available for kids' parties? You sound like a barrel of laughs.

      September 22, 2011 at 10:44 am |
    • kasey

      Sorry, Jane, but I agree with James. If that makes us a killjoy for you, then so be it. I call it realistic.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:16 am |
      • Average Jane@Kasey

        Why are you sorry? I agreed; you disagreed.

        September 22, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
  45. JD

    The choices the author made are judicious and healthy for the money. Most people would NOT make those choices in my opinion.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  46. James Morton

    Spaghettios – $5
    Ramen noodles – $3
    Mac-n-cheese $3
    Hostess cakes – $2
    Six pack of Pepsi – $3
    Spam – $4
    Beer – $6
    Doughnuts – $4

    Dying of diabetes, malnutrition, and high blood pressure – priceless.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Larry

      Hahaha! Why the heck not?

      September 22, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • abby

      part of the problem for poor people is that fresh fruits and vegetables are very expensive and that the cheapest foods are the most processed and lease healthy....

      September 22, 2011 at 10:38 am |
    • kasey

      Abby, that's a fallacy. Box of twinkies, $3.50. Bag of apples, $3.50. It's all about choices. Yes, buying a box of twinkies for your kids for breakfast is easier than making them, say, a healthy breakfast of eggs, toast and juice. But the cost is basically the same.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:20 am |
      • Rootrin

        You are forgetting that, in addition to the food stamps, the kids are getting free breakfast and lunch at school.

        September 22, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
      • aMom

        @Kasey, sorry but you're wrong. Juice, $3.99+ per gallon; eggs, 2.89+ per 18 pack, store-brand unhealthy white bread $1.39 loaf. That might feed two kids breakfast all week. Store brand pop-tarts in the large box, $1.99. Our grocery bill is our largest expense feeding two teen boys! One can't eat wheat. We cook from scratch and buy healthy without buying organic, boneless, skinless, freshest everything because we just can't afford it. Without changing anything in our house, our grocery bill has doubled in the last two years!

        September 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
      • Janis@Rootrin

        Exactly. The kids here are coming into school hungry with no breakfast every day. What are the parents using the food stamps for? And on top of that, on Fridays, if the kids have a backpack, they pack those with food for the weekend. WTH?

        September 22, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
      • kasey

        aMom, you just described $8 for breakfast for two teens for a week, that's about 80 cents per kid per meal. If these kids are eating as you say they are, do you really think a $1.99 box of poptarts is going to be a filling breakfast for them for a full week? I'm sorry, but that "unhealthy" white bread is healthier for them than a poptart. You can also buy canned, frozen orange juice cheaper than buying the gallon of premixed frozen juice. That's beside the fact that kids who are on food stamps get subsidized breakfast and luch, so they most likely wouldn't be paying for that anyway.

        September 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  47. red

    I know that there are people who genuinely need food stamps and who budget them to have enough for the month, however I lost all faith in the system when I was behind a woman who paid for a $50 bithday cake, 2 gallon jugs of sugary fruit punch and 6 bottles of soda all with food stamps. She then proceded to tell the checkout girl that it was for a party for her boyfriend who was out of work and needed cheering up. She paid cash for beer and laughing told the checkout girl her kids would be living on beans and cereal for the rest of the month. I don't think this is what was intended when the food stamp system was put into place.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:12 am |
    • James Morton

      That's the price of socialism. For every 1 person who is helped, there are 10 parasites who abuse the system. The only solution I see is limiting food stamps to the basic staples. By the way, some military study from long ago determined that the cheapest way to survive is eating cabbage and hog's liver.

      September 22, 2011 at 10:29 am |
      • Rootrin

        You are exactly right.

        September 22, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • kasey

      I remember when I first got out of college and started working, I was in line behind a woman who had a basket full of ribs, steaks, chops, etc. and she paid for it all with food stamps. There I was standing in line with my 4 boxes of mac and cheese, pound of hamburger, milk and cereal, counting to make sure I had enough to pay for it that week. I also paid for hers as well, in the long run.

      September 22, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • jennifer kirby

      Please help me how would I spend and eat my food, when I receive FoodStamp. I try to hard when I buy the food at the supermarket, the price is not cheap, it cheap I buy a lot, someone will judge me, it expensive I still be judged. Please understand.

      September 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
      • kasey

        If you're buying ribs, steaks, junk foods, etc. and paying for it with food stamps, and the guy behind you is buying ramen but with his own money, then he has a right to judge you if he wants to. He's essentially paying for his food and yours too. I'm not saying some people don't need the help, but I'm saying this $30 thing for 1 person should not be a problem, and it annoys me, someone who has never accepted assistance, to read an article whining about that free money.

        September 22, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
  48. teacher85

    I am a teacher who lives alone in NC, and I easily eat very healthy meals for less than $30 a week. When you work for your money, it takes on a little more value. I shop once a month when I get paid for things that will keep, and once a week for fresh fruit and veggies. I only buy what is on sale, and I use coupons when I can. I don't waste money on soda (drink water), chips, cookies, or anything that would be bad for my health anyway. Typical staples are whole grain pasta, brown rice, beans, eggs, broccoli, wheat bread, 2% cheese, canned tomatoes, canned tuna, bananas, etc. I don't eat meat, but when on sale I will occassionally buy frozen Boca burgers or shrimp. Meals like chili, rice and beans with salsa, and whole wheat pasta with tomato sauce are healthy and cheap and I usually have plenty to bring leftovers to work for lunch.

    September 22, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • BellaTerra66

      I eat on less than $50 a week but I eat organically (mostly). I don't feel deprived. I do eat meat but 3 oz of boneless chicken breast gives me more than 1/2 the protein I need each day. I eat beans and rice. Eggs, oatmeal. Veggies. I don't buy snacks. Nut and fruits are my snacks. A big chunk of my food bill is the freshly roasted whole bean coffee I buy. Starbucks? That goes under my recreation allowance. Hmmm, I just realized I'm spoiled.

      September 22, 2011 at 10:41 am |
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