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.

Posted by:
Filed under: Food Politics • Hunger • News

soundoff (1,079 Responses)
  1. Food Stamp Boogie

    I am so sick and tired of all the whining and complaining. Certainly, food costs have risen significantly, but people can still afford to eat if they take the time (and if you are on food stamps, you have plenty on your hands).

    My mother was on food stamps when I was younger. I have never been on them (I'm 38). But I learned how to shop. People always want the easy way out in this country. I take 2 hours each day and prepare meals for my hard-working husband, and I have a Master's degree.

    Jumbalaya (tastes great!)
    1 can diced tomatoes
    1-2lbs of chicken (thighs, legs, whatever can get chicken thighs for around $1.99/lb)
    1 bag of rice
    2 cans of kidney beans (or dried bean equivalent)
    1 can corn
    1lb if mild italien sausage (can use sweet if you don't like heat or hot)
    This will feed a family of 5-6 for 2-3 meals with some leftovers for the hubbies lunch box.

    Total cost:
    Diced Tomatoes: $.75
    1 lb. of chicken $1.89
    1 lb rice: $.99
    2 cans or 1/2 bag dried Kidney beans: $1.29
    Canned corn: $.75
    1lb. sausage (find it one sale for $2.59; otherwise $3.29)
    Total cost:
    $9.00!!!!! This feeds 5 people X 2 meals (large portions) = 10 meals with 2 lunch meals for hubby. Total cost per person /meal = $9/12 = .75/person/meal

    Now, stop all the whining, complaining, and BSing and instead of buying disgusting microwave meals, shut off the soaps, stop making your meth in your homes, take care of your families, and make them some food.

    Also, cut coupons. You can buy Sunday papers from most newspaper outlets 1-2 days later for 1/2 the price. I got hamburger helper (which I ONLY bought because I got them at $.05/box). ENJOY!

    October 16, 2013 at 9:12 am |
    • Name*na

      I live in NYC, and your prices don't come close to actual cost of groceries here. Even the store brand items are costlier than what's on your ingredients list. A one-pound bag of store brand rice ranges in price from $1.79 – $3.99 depending on store and neighborhood. Also, the NYTimes doesn't offer coupons. The Post and Daily News do, but the size of these coupon pages is smaller than what's given in coupon pages in the rest of the country. This is fact, by the way, as I've lived all across the US. Your snide attitude shows a serious lack of education, compassion and understanding.

      November 21, 2013 at 10:03 am |
  2. jpa

    I know of someone on SNAP. 2 Children (both under 10 and eat 2 free meals a day @ school), the mother is on SSI and the childrens father lives there but she does not claim his income (illegal). They get almost $600 a month plus free medical/RX. She claims to have ADHD and can not work. They buy nothing but junk and expensive meat. They are so stocked up on non perishables that she buys random stuff and hoards it in a shed. She is afraid that if she does not spend all of her SNAP that they will not give her as much. I was shocked to see grocery bags filled with canned goods, peanut butter, rice and tons of other stuff just tied up and thrown in a shed. Talk about wasting.

    On the other hand, I lost my job because of a embezzling boss and lost my medical insurance and income. I was making $600 a week and only got $250 a week on unemployment. When I tried to apply for medical help one of the requirements was having to apply for SNAP. I was denied for medical because I made "too much" (!!!!) but they could offer me $16 a month in SNAP benefits. I told them no thank you and made it 6 months on what I was making before I found another job.

    Why is it that people can make a career off of the system but when someone is actually just down on their luck and needs a little help they basically get laughed at????

    October 9, 2013 at 10:06 am |
    • Kj

      I have been and again in the same boat as you. We are honest people and were brought up to be that way. And too bad someone doesn't tell that woman, ADHD is not a disability for adults not to work and there is meds for it. Too bad the people that reviewed her applications are too dumb and they should be the ones on unemployment.

      October 12, 2013 at 12:16 am |
  3. Mary

    Obviously from the groceries you bought you have never actually ever HAD to live like this before in your life. If you had cheap hamburger would be the only meat you bought if any at all. Dried beans and rice would be good choices. Personally I would buy an onion or two just to add some flavor. Also some tomato sauce. Make a big pot of beans and spanish rice with some meat. You can eat this for lunch and dinner all week. Potatos and margarine are other choices. (margarine being cheaper than butter) Cheap bread provides toast for breakfast. I could go on and on. I actually had to feed 2 people on about 30 bucks a week. Its not easy or healthy, its all about just having a full stomach. Survival.

    September 23, 2013 at 11:49 am |
    • TJK

      I have worked hard so I don't have to live off of $30 a week for groceries. I figure $30 a week is better then nothing, but it doesn't matter what people are given they many times focus on the negative rather than being thankful for our government giving them something.

      October 6, 2013 at 11:32 pm |
  4. Keven Ochakovsky

    for those of us just getting started out, is there any chance of getting some in the letters mailed in the past?

    September 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm |
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    August 12, 2013 at 12:49 am |
  6. icallBS

    These comments just prove even further what liars republicans are! The idiot who says they can spend $2.00 at the Farmer's market and eat for 3 days! The liars who are buying a bag of frozen veggies for $1.00 a bag. What's in it? Two spoonfuls of peas and carrots? What you idiots want is for people on foodstamps to be given a big ole bag of rice and beans every month,.and have them drink water! All of you spend hundreds of dollars on McDonalds and Pizza Hut every month and rarely eat at home! Your food budget is cheap cause none of you actually cook! Go tell some lies to someone who cares you conservative idiots!

    June 27, 2013 at 7:57 am |
    • You're cranky

      Frozen vegetables are $99 a bag at Wegmans. Get the Wegmans brand (or whatever store brand is near you) vegetables. And I can get an entire basket of apples or peaches, whichever is brought that week to my Farmer's Market, for $5 a basket. I can usually get 15 of each in the basket. I never buy name brand. My grocery bill is under $50 every week. I make ALL of my food at home. You're VERY CRANKY! Calm down.

      July 16, 2013 at 3:56 pm |
    • Liberal Stooge

      Please don't politicize a food blog...

      July 16, 2013 at 5:01 pm |
    • Emily

      My husband and I have 4 children and I stay at home. We were on food stamps and were getting almost $800 a month until a year ago. Even though we got no increase of income we decided we couldn't stand to be on food stamps anymore. We now live on roughly $30 a week and I don't yet have a garden going. We do eat a lot of beans, and try to only buy organic when possible. When I was on food stamps I gained over 60 lbs. and now I'm going back to a more normal size. It is very challenging- but I feel proud that I buy my own food now. I used to feel terrible every time I went to get food- I hated it, even though I could afford to buy anything I wanted- all the best, I could buy lobster if I wanted. But our logic was that if we couldn't afford to feed our family, something needed to change. We have to work through that- and figure out what it is. Others do also. There are many different cases- everyone's different. It's just not healthy to have to depend on charity to feed your family – indefinitely. Especially when the one giving out the charity is in debt and can't pay their own bills also.

      August 22, 2013 at 12:04 am |
      • Emily

        Correction- our food budget is roughly $30 a week.

        August 22, 2013 at 12:06 am |
      • johnny316

        thank you for your wonderful comment to the article.

        September 21, 2013 at 3:05 pm |
    • Mary Ann Thayer

      Not liars. I just bought chicken breasts for 99 cents a pound at our local Cermak store. I regularly buy vergetable for 99 cents a bag. I also bought mixed pork chops for 99 cents a pound. They are end cuts and not pretty but still meat. I regularly go to walmart and buy chicken legs and thighs in 10 pound bags for 79 cents a pound. I use a lot of mixed vegetables, make a lot of stews and soups because they spread our money.

      October 9, 2013 at 11:10 am |
  7. Anish

    An outstanding share! I've just forwarded this onto a co-worker who has been conducting a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast due to the fact that I discovered it for him... lol. So allow me to reword this.... Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending the time to discuss this subject here on your web site.

    February 17, 2013 at 2:12 am |
  8. Anish

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    February 15, 2013 at 11:41 pm |
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    February 10, 2013 at 11:31 am |
  10. Belinda

    I was on stamps at one time. Now I make about 100 to much for any help. That's fine because aid is a temporary thing. But with my disablity and making to much for a medical card is what hurts. I now buy healthcare at work for 200 a month. I have less to spend on food now than I did on food stamps. Milk lol, you drink water and eat noodles. no meat, no bread, and no milk. Not unless you was able to get a couple of hours overtime. Aid people get heat help. Food help. medical care help. child care help. They are fine. Start worring about those people that are disabled, or old. Who have no clue how to get buy. They never seem to have a hand out and are full of pride.

    January 12, 2013 at 9:44 pm |
  11. edofchattanoogatn

    ALL THESE REPLIES, THAT SAY YOU CAN MAKE IT ON $33.00 a WEEK, are obviously from the ignorant republiCON party !!!!! I tell you the truth, a republiCON will say anything, do anything, tell any LIE and sink to any LOW to get their way and save their riches. Their way, of course, is the WAY OF THE WEALTHY. They only want two types of USA citizens; THE VERY RICH and THE VERY POOR !!! The VERY POOR, of course, will be used like SLAVES for the VERY RICH !!!!!

    I can tell you now from past experience, at today's highly inflated food costs IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO LIVE on $33.00 a week for food !!! Here are some price examples from my trip to Walmart yesterday in Chattanooga, TN : Milk $4.69 a gallon, Bread $2.69 a loaf, Cereal $4.00 + (including oatmeal), Veggies $3.00 frozen small packages and the prices go up from there. If that is not enough, every month ALL food item prices go up at Walmart, with no increase in FOOD STAMPS. A whole chicken (raw) is $5.99 at Walmart, but you can buy a chicken already cooked in the deli for the same price !!! However, the FOOD STAMP rules do not allow cooked foods to be purchased with FOOD STAMPS !!!! How much do you think it would cost to heat an oven long enough to cook that same chicken ????? Also, what about the hot water costs to clean up the mess it would make to cook the chicken and serve it ????? Sometimes I think it is cheaper to eat out !!!!! I also use coupons for everything I buy, if I did not, I would have even less food !!!

    Our Tennessee FOOD STAMP BASE FOR SOMEONE WITH NO INCOME has been $200.00 a month since the year 1999 with NO INCREASES FOR COST OF LIVING !!!!! As a matter of fact, I just got a reduction in my FOOD STAMPS from $60.00 a month down to $16.00 (a $44.00 LOSS) for an increase in my SSDI of $20.00 !!!! I now receive $850.00 ($830.00 last month) a month from SSDI and that is my ONLY MONETARY income. Along with this cash, I now receive $16.00 a month in FOOD STAMPS.

    So, let's examine my budget : My electric bill is never under $300.00 a month and sometimes it is over $400.00 (for all practical purposes we will say $350.00 for electric). Then my Auto Insurance is $112.00 a month, my Water/Sewage bill is $90.00 a month, my Natural Gas bill is always $30.00 or more, Phone bill is $40.00 a month and Taxes on the home my parents left me are $170.00 a month !!!!! Then there are cleaning products, laundry soap, bar soap, shampoo, toilet paper, paper towels, dish soap and garbage bags; which I spend about $50.00 on each month. Then there is gasoline and oil cost along with general home and auto costs that runs around $45.00 a month. This is so I can keep my home repaired, lawn mowed by someone else, go to the grocery store, to general life appointments and to doctor appointments (that I have many of) !!!!! This leaves $3.00 in cash and $16.00 in food stamps left to buy food with. By the way, in Chattanooga, TN there is a 10% sales tax on food and drugs, so when I use the $3.00 cash for food, there will be a $0.30 cent charge for TAX on that food !!!!!!!

    In reality, I have $18.70 A MONTH TO BUY FOOD WITH !!!!! Needless to say, I have to go BEG at churches and food banks all over town to have enough food to last all month. Some places will only help you ONCE EVERY SIX MONTHS !!!!


    Ed of Chattanooga, Tennessee

    December 4, 2012 at 2:18 pm |
    • Observer@Ed

      Sounds like you waste a lot. Just sayin.

      December 4, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
    • gUEST

      OMG GET A GRIP!!

      March 1, 2013 at 7:05 pm |
    • LS

      $50 a month on cleaning products???? That seems way too much for me, especially for one person. Especially since you can buy those things in bulk and have them for a year. Remember the smaller the package, the more expensive the product and when you are running out, it's hard to comparsion shop. In my area, you can buy a 24 pack of toliet paper for $9.99 and about the same for a 12 pack of paper towels. Dishsoap is a couple of dollars for a bottle that will last for a couple of months. Buy only bar soap, it's much cheaper. I only have to buy paper products, soap and shampoo a few times a year.

      Also, if possible, look into reducing the $300 energy bill. That also seems way too high unless your house is HUGE with tons of devices on at all times. Do an energy audit. See if your account will tell you when/where all the energy is going? Can you tolerate lower or no A/C during peak times? Can you put lights and Thermosats on timers? Are you unplugging chargers after they are done? Again, I live in an apt in the city, but our energy bill is only around $40 a month, with A/C being the biggest expense. (heat is covered by rent). Are you hanging clothes out to dry instead of using the dryer, when possible? The dryer sucks up a lot of energy. I would bet that you could get it down to $150 a month and use the savings toward putting in energy efficient improvements.

      September 28, 2013 at 10:57 am |
    • BOODY


      October 22, 2013 at 5:22 pm |
    • Bill

      What an absurd response. You say you have $18.70 for food. No, you were given about $130 per month for food from which you spend most of it on other things. You have some really high expenses. You pay about $1400 per year for auto insurance. I pay half that. Do you have a poor driving record? If so, whose fault is that? You pay over $1000 per year for water and sewer. I pay about $700 per year and I have a large lawn. Before you claim you cannot live on $130 per month from food stamps you should get a handle on your other expenses.

      November 11, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
    • WorksForALiving

      Your sense of entitlement is really astounding.

      February 6, 2014 at 6:27 pm |
  12. Wow in truth a huge post. I like this.I just passed this onto a colleague who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch because I found it for him. Overall, Lots of great information and inspiration, both of which we all need!

    I love the them on this blog. Is it downloadable anywhere? Thanks!

    November 18, 2011 at 11:50 am |
  13. jamma man

    1000th post, I win!

    November 2, 2011 at 8:30 am |
  14. trcvuuldl

    Глоба Т.
    Но когда Сарбаев поставил главой Абзелиловского района Сынгизова мы понадеялись что хотя бы он не будет воровать и продавать.
    А Хеопс чертовски долго жил.
    Добавим, БСТ – ЕДИНСТВЕННЫЙ В МИРЕ телеканал, вещающий на башкирском языке.
    Ну, Бог с ним с праздником.

    November 2, 2011 at 8:23 am |
    • Bing Translator

      Bing Translator
      Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      Globalization Etc.
      But when put head Abzelilovskogo district Sarbaev Syngizova we hoped that he would not steal and sell.
      And Khufu fu cking long lived.
      In addition, the BLS is the world's only television channel, which broadcasts at the Bashkir language.
      Well, God be with him on a holiday

      November 2, 2011 at 8:33 am | Reply

      November 2, 2011 at 8:35 am |
  15. Lia

    Buy what is on sale and stock up when it is. That is what many of us in the low end of middle class are doing on a regular basis. So for a family of 4 food stamps are what about 124 a week? Many many people have to live off of that type of budget. I use coupons to save money and get more grief than if I handed them a food stamp certificate. Times are tough for many and could even be worse for those making an average salary without assistance. I believe people need assitance but if we work hard in my family and can live off of that budget than people on food stamps should be able to too! Also, take a look at the sales be savy and yes they can eat VERY healthy, perhaps limit fish and organic but still a well balanced healthy diet is doable for sure.

    November 1, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Amber R.

      Ha! I would love to get that much! My family of 4 receives $123 a month, so ya we have to try and survive off about $30 a week. It's ridiculous theres no way I can feed my kids nutritious food on that budget.

      June 11, 2013 at 9:58 pm |
  16. Frugal Hausfrau

    For an eye opener, pick up Times Money Issue, out on stands right now. Here's a post of mine on my blog – Many, many Americans DO feel poor right now.

    October 11, 2011 at 11:14 pm |
  17. Lynn

    What food stamp budget are you talking about? Every time I go to the store – I see people with carts full of meat and junk food all paying with the LINK Card – then they load it into their brand new vehicles and drive it to their very nice homes. I've even seen people purchasing product for their business using the LINK card.

    October 11, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Frugal Hausfrau

      I'm smiling as I read this because earlier I mentioned a young lady I know who goes to school and gets food stamps. Just hit control f and enter in hausfrau if you'd like to read all my comments – I just can't keep my mouth shut! Well, tomorrow she is in a bind, and I am dropping her off, and then I am going to help her with her grocery shopping. I can just see the looks as I go in looking all middle class with my nice purse; maybe I'll wear my new boots, too...and then I'll load all her groceries and mine – and guess what, there are a lot of pretty good meat prices at my store, and one of the things I'll buy is multiple pork tenderloins and sausages – Seriously, I'm thinking of buying 12 Pork Tenderloins – into my year old Toyota that I just bought for 2500 under book because it has a crease on one side (you might not see that if you watch me load my groceries – and you won't know my old car died prematurely at 11 years old, and costs way more to repair than to dump and is still sitting in my drive)

      Then I'll drive back to my house, which looks gorgeous from the street – you won't know it was built in '42 and there is project after project just waiting for the budget so they can get done, many I am attempting myself. You'll just see a somewhat prosperous looking person using an EBT card and buying meat and assume that they are somehow cheating the system, scamming, or somehow getting so much more than you.

      You are never going to know if those driving those nice cars are under leases and about to be taken back because the owner lost their job, or if their houses are in foreclosure; I get a twinge, I have to admit, that I wasn't eligible for help when I lost my job several years ago – I had $24.00 too much income per month to get around $400 worth of assistance. But I'm also really grateful that I didn't have to go through the humiliation, and that it was a real wake up call for me to look at how I manage my time and money.

      I'm grateful I have the mental accuity to balance my budget and turn things around. There will always be some scammers, and always be people making wrong choices. Say a prayer for them. Be glad you're not them, and be even gladder you're not one of the ones who truly needs the help.

      October 11, 2011 at 10:57 pm |
      • Frugal Hausfrau

        Those tenderloins, btw, would then be doled out, once a month for the next year.

        October 11, 2011 at 11:10 pm |
  18. danny gardenhire

    i am a Father of Two young adults one 17 and one 20 , i have to make it on 40 dollars for 3 people a week and i dont get food stamps, and have been laid off for 5 months.welcome to the party.

    October 5, 2011 at 10:56 pm |
    • sarah

      You should check out the hillbilly housewife's site. It has a planner for low budget menus. One is a $40 a week planner.

      October 31, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  19. Frugal Queen

    A few thoughts... I liked this article. Even if someone doesn't completely understand poverty or low-income living (which the write readily admits), she TRIED to see how it would be to live a constricted shopping/eating lifestyle.
    As a side note, Food Stamps are intended to be supplemental, according to the US government. I'm not sure what it supplements when your income is nil, but who cares? At least you won't starve, right? You may be only able to afford Cheetos and Pepsi – well, the store brands of those – but hey, at least you won't actually go hungry, right?
    I also have to smirk at people who condemn those who rely on Food Stamps, but wouldn't bat an eye at spending hundreds of dollars on a phone or new pair of shoes. For spending snobs, get some perspective – at least Ms. Steffen gained that much.

    October 3, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
  20. Anna

    I don't eat red meat so 30 dollars a week is fine for me but I don't usually do it because i love fruits. I buy so many fruits that it is 30 right there.

    September 29, 2011 at 9:11 am |
  21. tll

    I was able to feed my 5 boys healthy,filling, home-cooked meals daily when they were growing up. We couldn't afford things like cold cereal, soda, chips, hotdogs, etc. Imagine my dismay when, in later years, I went to my oldest son's home after the birth of his second child and found out why they were constantly struggling to feed themselves.....processed, prepackaged, pre-prepared foods. I decided to prepare a meal for them from the food they had available and put together a yummy fried chicken, mashed potatoes & gravy, & corn dinner. Later my son thanked me for "cooking & bringing the food from home for them" and I informed him that I had cooked it there from what they had in their cupboard & refrigerator. He was shocked. I was shocked that he was shocked. I wish I could say that he learned his lesson that day but he didn't. They continued to throw money away on delivery pizza and things like that and are now no longer together mostly due to the financial strain. Now my husband & I have drifted into bad habits due to some long-term health issues, but its time once again to make the effort to shop & cook in a responsible & healthy way. I've bookmarked the blogs posted here which will help me get us back on track nutritionally & financially.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:47 am |
    • habberdash

      well you clearly failed to teach him how to cook.

      October 11, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
      • habberdash's mom

        I clearly failed to teach you tact.

        Where's that paddle? It's time I learnt you a lesson in manners.

        October 11, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  22. Not-Steve-But-Between Jobs

    Unfortunately I"m bgetween jobs, and no unemployment, benefits so temporarily, it's food stamps. I generally shop at a discount grocer that doesn't take coupons, that is if I have the gas to get there (20 mi. rt). Otherwise, I scour the ads, use coupons for somethings (coupons are generally for processed food, but there are those for canned beans rice, cheese, yogurt) but generally, I try to cook from scratch meaning fresh if I can, frozen or dried, yeast, flour sugar- all on hand. I make pizza dough and make my own pasta sauces. I do go to the food bank 1x's per mopnth. I had an abundance of pears, so I poached some pears in chai tea- they'll be great dessert over some angel food cake maybe? But, it's tough to do this, to live so limited on funds for food. I can't imagine trying to please a family of 4 or more, and everyone has favorite foods or cravings they want. Hey, I have cravings, and I don't often get to indulge (it's only been a couple of months on "assistance" and I'd even take a lower wage job if I could have my freedom back). And, I have to say, it's heartbreaking when you see $10 of produce went bad before you can use it, and it's your own fault. You come to really respect food, and learn what keeps, and what doesn't! B ut, things are expensive- milk in Western Washington is (ON SALE!) $3/gallon, and bread, not Wonder bread but real bread that actually fills you up and that isn't just a bag with sugar in it, is at least $2 on sale, and BOTH are perishable. America, not just those on food stamps, needs to get smarter about eating, and cooking! $30/week, long term, is a challenge! You have to plan longer-term, about what you're going to eat, cook, and when so things don't go bad, and you don't spend $$ on something you only need 4 ounces of, and 1/2 a gallon sits on the shelf for months... I'd just like to see this article go on for several months, and see how this come sout! CNN, whatd'ya say???

    September 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Jerv

      Check this ladys blog out, she is doing exactly what you propose.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:56 am |
      • Not-Steve-But-Between Jobs

        Thanks Jerv.

        September 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
    • Aloisae

      Do you have a freezer? I realize not everyone does, but if you do it can be an incredible help in not wasting food (and therefore money!) in terms of perishables going bad. Not only can you freeze some vegetables and most fruits directly if you didn't use them early enough, but you can also make a batch of stew/soup/casserole/etc. and freeze to pull out later (saving time and energy another night) from veggies that are at the end of their shelf life rather than throw them away. And, of course, many veggies are cheaper to buy frozen anyway and you can plan meals around these rather than fresh produce for the latter part of the period between shopping trips. As far as items where you only use a small portion of a package for a recipe, one tip is to buy an inexpensive ice cube tray and freeze what you don't use of the container (obviously, not for dairy products but it works wonderfully for things like canned chilies, tomato sauce, pesto, minced herbs with a bit of water etc), transferring to another container for long term storage after it freezes in cube size portions so you can pull out the right amount later. Best of luck both with your frugal shopping/cooking learning process and with your job search.

      September 30, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
      • Frugal Hausfrau

        I worked out some figures for my blog last year on a home freezer. Here's the site.

        October 7, 2011 at 1:24 am |
  23. Jolanthe

    I would love to know where the food stamp budget is coming from. My brother and his wife were recently on food stamps with their 2 children {so family of 4} and were allotted about $700/month for food stamps. We have a family of SIX and our monthly budget for our food AND additional things {toilet paper, etc...} is $500 ~ with no food stamps.

    It was almost ridiculous, especially because they could buy loads of junk food {candy, etc....} and it all counted toward food stamps, but they couldn't buy necessities such as toilet paper and other things.

    September 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Robert B

      What are you talking about, most "Entitlement people" are fat, and maybe this limited moneys on food would be good for the country. Me I just pretty much eat 1 meal a day, mostly for lunch, and if I bought the food, rather than go to Burger King (for Vege' Burger) or Pizza, probably could live for a week, on $20.00/week, no problem, and when I'm hungry I just drink water. In the Bible with one of the sins is, they say don't live with "Gluttony", as most people do, with food, merchandise, things and that includes the "Entitlement People" and the "Rich People". Live like the "Native Americans" do, only take what you need from the land.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Aloisae

      My guess would be that the $30 per week number is based on the numbers reported by the USDA for the average benefits per-person amount for people receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program funds (ie. "food stamps") which was $133.79 in fiscal year 2010. Obviously, not everyone receiving assistance from the program receives the same amount with some receiving much less than this average amount and others receiving more.

      September 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Faith

      I think it depends on your monthly income, and where you live. We live in New Jersey. My husband receives $650 a week in unemployment. (NJ is a "generous" state.) Our mortgage is $1,500 a month, so keeping a roof over our head takes up half of that. (We could move out, but the avg. 1 bedroom apartment in this area is $1,200 a month. If we lived in a shelter, the government would pay the same or more to house us.) The rest of the money goes to heat, electricity, gasoline, job searches, etc. We are a family of 4. We receive $70 a month in food stamps, and we are gosh darn thankful for it. We make it cover one week's worth of groceries. The rest of the month, we juggle everything like crazy.

      October 21, 2011 at 6:22 pm |
  24. Deb

    I could easily live on $30 per week. Actually I have. One big thing that is to my advantage is that I am a vegetarian. I won't be spending big bucks on meat products. I do use eggs and some cheese. Eggs are a good cheap protein and so are beans. No problem. As other have pointed out, there are a lot of resources out there. And yes coupons make a lot of difference in your food budget. It does take time and preparation. Even if you are eating simply meals like PB&J, it needs to be part of the menu. Summer is always much easier if you have a garden. But planting and maintaining a garden isn't free either.
    I think we all need to learn to get by on less. As a people we shouldn't be eating such large quantities of food. Sheila did pick a few good items to work with: rice, beans, peanut butter(one without added sugar and oil would have been healthier). If she did it again, I'm sure it would work out much better for her.

    September 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
  25. Joy

    I know the discussion is on food for $30 a week but I note that many mentioned the free breadfasts and lunches at schools and the backpack program. I work with an organization that sponsers the backpacks. the reasons for these programs is survival for the kids who can not cook and would not be safe to use stoves even. there is NO food in the house at all. food stamps if any have been sold for drugs and noone cooks or cares if the kids eat. drugs are the necessity. the packs contain food that does not require cooking or only a microwave and extra is included for the toddler at home and more for weekends. bad system but unwanted kids survive to become citizens someday and hope they don't fall thru the cracks.

    September 28, 2011 at 2:56 am |
  26. Aaron

    A great place for food and drink specials is They have over a million bar and restaurant deals, coupons, discounted specials and venue features. The site even features handy reviews and content from open table so you can find specials, book a reservation and get directions all in the same place. Check it out :)

    September 27, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
  27. Penny

    cant believe noone up here even mentioned coupons... i can feed my whole family for 30 dollars easy and i dont mean 100 free ramen either ..they have coupons for everything now a days ... rice is like 60 cents a bag pasta is free ... and there are coupons for veggies cheese and milk all over the place. I have paid more then 1.00 for a bag of cheese in since i cant remember when... work full time have a kicken job that prevents me from ever qualifying for help have to do it on my own..dead beat baby daddy included .... and i can make it work a shout out to

    September 27, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • Aloisae

      It doesn't seem as if Ms. Steffen did any preparation at all before stepping into the store let alone taking advantage of coupons. While her point seems to be that a food budget means one can't just walk into a store and purchase whatever catches one's fancy without regard to cost, that probably seems a bit obvious to most people feeding a family or even a single person on less than a producer's salary (ie. most Americans). Her false parameters make this exercise of hers completely misleading as far as a "food stamps challenge" goes and tells us nothing about the true challenge of feeding a family thrifty but nutritious options on a restricted budget; however, it does show us her complete lack of knowledge or experience in frugal meal planning and the lack of motivation she felt to put any thought or effort into spending her food dollars in the most nutritious and cost effective way.

      September 27, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
    • Fiona

      Either the woman didn't take this seriously, or she's not very bright. She chooses chicken breasts and berates herself for not choosing the assorted chicken parts. Does she think chickens grow that way? What happened to buying a whole chicken (on special) and cutting it up? I'm vegetarian now, but I lived this cheaply for many years when I was young. You do coupons, go for the five-cans-for-two-dollars loss leaders at the supermarket, buy discounted food that's getting near it's sell-by date, buy and cook dried beans and grains, make soups with the parts of the chicken carcass you did't eat , buy store-brand frozen vegetables on sale (just as nutritious as fresh), buy fresh produce in season and on special, etc. In other words, you think it through, plan your purchases ahead of time, and put some work into cooking - using leftovers, stretching what you have. You do not buy those imported, off-season peppers at $5.99 per pound. This article made me very angry.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:31 am |
    • Tom

      Excuse me, but I read this as an experiment to see what living on a food stamp budget is like. Is it reasonable for someone on food stamps or at that level to have regular internet access, printing ability, and the time and resources to drive to multiple locations to maximize their coupon effect?

      September 28, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
      • dtcpr

        yes, it's called a public library, they are free and have computers. Printing is usually $0.10/page if they put a bunch of coupons on 1 page they will recoup the $0.10-$0.50 they will spend printing with coupons.

        September 30, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Frugal Hausfrau

      The other day when I checked this site, there were over 1300 comments, and I assume it only went up from there; many mentioned coupons. I guess that some of the coments were cut out because of space or somehow moderated. I'd love to see all the comments.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:51 am |
  28. CT232

    Well, let's see: 10 lb. potatoes or 5 lb. rice ($3.50), bag of yellow onions ($3), 2 lb. carrots ($1.80), fresh romaine or a cabbage ($1.80), 1/2 gal. 2% milk ($2), bag of red beans ($2), 1 dozen eggs ($1.20), peanut butter without salt or additives ($3.50), fresh baguettes ($2 for two), 2 lbs. fresh broccoli on sale ($2), can of beets ($0.75), coffee (1/4 of $5.80 = $1.45); oatmeal or cereal ($2) = total $30.20. Also: paper plates ($1.25/week) to save time; gas for cooking (1/4 x $18/mo. for my 20-year old stove = 4.50/week); walk to store (1.25 mile each way, weekly, no charge, good exercise with carrying food home). This brings the total to $35.95 per week for food *and* preparation, as a reasonable estimate. Every other week, use leftover potatoes or rice and buy $3.50 worth of meat on sale. Once a month, skip one or two items to buy sugar for the month. If no refrigerator, walk to store more often and add $2 for bag of ice for cooler (yes, I've had to do this). Extras: fresh fruit samples at grocery store (walk extra 1/2 mile each way; free), home grown basil, tomatoes, mint, bell peppers, jalapeno, dandelion greens ($0.35/week for cost of settings; dandelions grow free); download recipes and search "How to Eat for Free" sites (free from library; walk 1.5 miles each way, also no charge). If you're disabled, this won't do, but if you're able-bodied and live in an urban or suburban area, you can probably do this. I believe that for the able-bodied, the objections that "fresh foods are too expensive," and "costs of transportation and food preparation are too high," don't hold up. Most able-bodied American adults can reasonably reduce their food expenses by 15-20% if extra fruits/veggies/milk are needed by the children, by the way. Also, if salt content of frozen foods is too high, soak and drain them before eating. There are lots of ways for the able-bodied to make do for their families; these are just a few possibilities.

    September 26, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
    • Fiona

      That's not a healthy diet you just listed. Way too much carbohydrate!

      Why the baguettes, btw? Doesn't seem to go with the rest.

      September 28, 2011 at 3:38 am |
      • Aloisae

        Not all carbs are equal. Whole grains (such as brown rice or oatmeal) and beans are very nutrient dense, high in fiber and can definitely play a large role in a healthy diet with studies even showing that they can help prevent the development of type II diabetes or be a tool for some people to successfully manage their diabetes. They also have the advantage of being good choices for frugal meal planning both because there are low cost options and they are very filling as well as nutritious. I'd agree with you though, Fiona, that meals would be healthier if the potatoes and heavily refined starches (such as in the baguettes) were used in moderation.

        September 28, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  29. tinaspins

    We've kind of been doing this for a couple of years – $30 for 2 people:

    September 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm |
  30. Tripp

    That number kind of skews the reality. People read this and take it at face value. 76% of all benefits go to households with children. The average household size is 2.5 persons. So you're really living on $60 for 2 people or $90 for 3 people most of the time. Which sounds the same as $30 per person. But it's A LOT easier to buy food to feed multiple people than to feed one person. Lots of the basic foods are shared and it diffuses the costs.

    That being said, I grew up in a poor neighborhood and there were definitely times I was hungry. We were on food stamps for almost a year (back when it looked like Monopoly money). I just think that the way this info is presented makes it seem crazier than it really is.

    September 26, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  31. Veronica

    I thought that this was absolutely hilarious that he was calling this a challenge. To me a challenge would be $10.00, because we live in between $20.00-30.00 a week normally. Hoorah for living in poverty most of your life!~

    September 25, 2011 at 6:24 pm |
    • Frugal Hausfrau

      I thought the same thing! And realized when he said "No Starbucks," and when he said basically he wouldn't have the freedom to eat what he wanted, I realized that this is ALL second nature to me...I have a budget of $20 to $30 a month, and have for years. Sometimes i don't spend that much, and it includes food, and all groceries, personal items, health care, laundry, cleaning products, etc. (Last year I spent $964.00, and was very well stocked up!) At the risk of self promotion, I've got a blog, too:

      September 26, 2011 at 6:27 am |
    • Frugal Hausfrau

      September 26, 2011 at 6:28 am |
  32. frustrated@walmart

    People do abuse the system. I was just at walmart the other day and someone was buying a cart load of bottled water and pop with their EBT/food stamps card. I drink the water out of the tap just fine....

    I use to be a cashier and with the EBT they can buy taxable items – such as cigarettes and alcohol! what a scam! There also wouldn't be one day going by that someone with food stamps would ask me where's the angus beef? where's the crab legs at? And that is the sad truth – these people do eat better then us.....

    We need to start making food stamps and EBT a restrictive entitlement program by limiting what people can buy. The WIC program is a terrifc example of this – they give people the basics, ex. cheese, milk, bread, cereal, etc.... now if they just expanded that selection to day to day choices such as meats if they choose so and veggies and fruit then we would be in the right direction.

    September 25, 2011 at 8:43 am |
    • Aloisae

      You can not legally purchase alcohol and tobacco products with food stamps. It is specifically prohibited under the federal statutes establishing the program. If you were allowing people to do so while working as a cashier, not only were they breaking the law, so were you and your employer... this is a federal statute and so applicable nationally regardless of what your state laws and policies might indicate and the federal violation can not only result in a person losing benefits (or the right to sell to those using an EBT card if you are a merchant rather than recipient) but can also lead to jail time and heavy fines. Now, if you meant people using food stamps to purchase food were then using other assets to purchase alcohol and tobacco that is another matter.

      September 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm |
    • Chicken Little

      EBT cards also hold TANF (cash assistance) and in some states unemployment benefits. So an EBT card can be used on non-food items.

      September 28, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
      • Aloisae

        Those would be the "other assets" I mentioned. My point was that the people were not, as frustrated@walmart implied, using "food stamps" (ie. SNAP funds) to purchase alcohol and tobacco even if they were using an EBT card. It is still illegal under federal law for the recipients to use the SNAP portion of the funds on the card for alcohol and tobacco or for a retailer to allow them to do so in their establishment even if the cash benefits from state programs or TANF on the same program can be used for these. I'm not sure if all states monitor this the same way but in my state during a purchase payments for the eligible food items are deducted from the person's SNAP account and payments for non-eligible items or cash withdrawals are deducted from a separate TANF account... if the person has spent all of their TANF account funds, they can't get cash out from funds they still have in their SNAP account or use those funds to purchase non-eligible items.

        September 28, 2011 at 5:48 pm |
        • KnickKnack

          ".My point was that the people were not, as frustrated@walmart implied, using "food stamps"..."

          Aloisae, your ONLY point was to rip 'frustrated@walmart' a 'new one' even though it was YOU who was jumping to conclusions all over the freaking place. All 'frustrated' ever said was the people who have food stamps buy frivolous things with them, and the people with EBT buy taxable items like alcohol and cigs. Frustrated@walmart made it immensely clear that she was talking about two separate programs, stating each one specifically while giving pertinent examples of each abuse. If you're too crazed on 'schooling' people to be able to comprehend what you're even reading need to stop reading....or at the very least....stop commenting.

          January 24, 2013 at 10:08 am |
  33. kasey

    Just started a blog today on how to feed a family of 4, 3 meals a day for around $60. You can find it at It includes shopping lists, sample menus and recipes. Feel free to check it out. This shopping list for this week, as well as the menu for Sunday is posted. Thanks!

    September 24, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • Guest

      I'd have named it smart-mom-diner, but its the same thing! Thanks for showing folks how it can be done. I was just shocked I had a smaller than the food stamp monthly budget per person in our home without any food stamps. And I think we eat very well (mostly home cooked meals). Oh, and I wish cnn would stop labeling this poverty.

      September 25, 2011 at 10:17 am |
    • kasey

      Great! I'll be sure to check it out. I'm glad others are doing the same. I'll be the first to admit I do splurge on things we don't really need, but in the real world, $30 per person is not that bad. I don't spend $90 a week on my family of three unless it's s week when we're completely out of staples like flour, sugar, etc. If you want to eat organic, free range, etc., then yes, it's not going to stretch far. But that's not really the point when you're on food stamps. The point is feeding your family. You can buy the expensive stuff when you're back on your feet.

      September 25, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
      • Guest

        I shop where I have to bag my own groceries. I don't mind the extra 60 seconds it takes me because my bill is lesser than the regular grocery. And I see no difference in the quality of the ingredients I buy. It is basically the same thing for less.

        September 26, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • kasey

      Oops, I misread the first line of your post. :-) Yes, that would have been a good name, too. And, no, it's not poverty, it's being conservative with resources.

      September 25, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  34. Meri

    $30 a week is completely possible and you can eat healthy. I have had a monthly food budget of $120 for several years. First, you can't shop at the major food retailers for most things. You have to find the cheaper discount grocery stores in your community. Second, you have to buy ingredients for meals not packaged food items. Rice, beans, and pastas can be purchased cheaply and made into a variety of dishes. You have to learn to cook. If you don't know how go to the library and get some basic cookbooks. If you want fruits and vegetables you have to buy in season and what is on sale. You also can't spend a lot of money on snacks and bottled beverages. It is not unreasonable to ask people on food stamps to put a little effort into spending the money wisely instead of simply complaining they need more.

    September 24, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
  35. 30SoundsLow

    I only know one person who receives food stamps. She has 4 kids and receives over $900 per month. The kids are all young, only one over 10, so it's not like they eat much. That's over $45 per person per week, plus WIC. She never comes close to using it all and sells the extra food money to other people for cash. If you want to eat well on the government, Florida is your state!

    September 23, 2011 at 9:19 pm |
    • JonnieDanger

      This is impossible. My family revives max allotment and we get right at 900 for a family of 6 and yes we are in Florida. Your friend is lying to you about how much she receives, or you are lying to us to play up the anti-food stamp agenda.

      September 24, 2011 at 5:43 am |
      • kasey

        If she has 4 kids and a husband and none of them work, then that's a family of 6

        September 24, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • Teri

      And, don't forget. If she's on foodstamps, the kids automatically get free lunch at school – and most likely breakfast, too. So, that $45/week is really for only one meal per day.

      September 26, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • happi75

      Let's just do the math here since you want to complain how a family of 6 (4 children and 2 adults) would receive 900 dollars a month food stamps. There are at most, 31 days per month. That equates to 29 dollars a day for this family of 6. Divide that by 6 family members and you now have alloted 4.83 per person per day. Divide that by 3 meals a day and a snack and you get $1.20 per person, per meal, per day. If we are feeding a child living in poverty every day for just $1.20, I would say that is pretty dang good, and those of you complaining, are greedy selfish glutuness excuses for human beings that want to hide the fact of how you really are by whining about this issue of food stamps for the less fortunate. And NO I do NOT receive food stamps, but I do go out of my way each day to do something nice for my fellow man (woman or child) and I do NOT expect anything in return. Its called helping those that cannot help themselves, and its not about "lazy adults" that may not want to work....its about feeding the children in OUR own country that would otherwise go without food in their tummies. Stop your selfish greedy whining anbout the less fortunate, and DO something about it.

      September 26, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
      • Jen

        Well said. Thank you.

        September 28, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  36. gremlinus

    Someone needs to teach this woman how to shop. What it sounds like she tried to do was eat what she normally does for a lot less money. This isn't "how to live on $35" it's "learning how much your food costs." Buy the veggies, they go a lot further than they look like they do and they contain fiber which makes you feel fuller. You should have gone for more of the canned tuna and chicken. There is almost always a ridiculously cheap deal on some sort of meat–ground beef or roast. And you didn't even look at buying things like dried beans that go a long way and that can be cooked unattended for the most part. This story seems to me to underline the problem that most people don't know how to feed themselves with anything except a minimal assembly meal. If I had to live on $30/week here's my grocery list and I'll go high on the prices--
    1) Bag of dried red beans - $2.50 (maybe)
    2) Bag of rice - $2.00
    3) Head of lettuce - $1.50
    4) canned chicken or tuna (what's on sale) - $4.50 for 3 cans
    5) old fashioned oatmeal tub - $3
    6) half-gallon of milk - $3.50
    So I'm up to $17. That leaves the rest for whatever fruits and vegetables are one sale and if I've got the extra money a bottle of honey. You make the beans and the rice. You have beans and rice a couple of nights. You can make bean soup. You can have chicken and rice. You can mix the beans up with a firm sweet fruit like a pear or an apple and it's actually pretty tasty. You put honey in the oatmeal or some fruit if you want. Then you've got salads for at least 4-5 days as well. If you got a veggie like squash or eggplant, you can just saute them or steam them. Put some pasta sauce over it if you've got some lying around. That should easily do for a week. This isn't that hard.

    September 23, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • frugal hausfrau

      One more comment – I see a lot of comments denigrating Sheila and the fact that she doesn't know how to shop or cook within the budget, but not one of the comments, even the worse, compare to the contempt that I've seen in the comments about how the people on food stamps shop and cook. Sheila is obviously a very intelligent, professional woman at the peak of her career, probably college educated, with numerous resources, and I would assume a comfortable living place, transportation, and various amenities – yet she is having extreme difficulty in feeding herself within the budgeted amount. Now, I'm not making judgements or saying that all people on food stamps have issues, but face it, many do, and I'd say that most people on food stamps do not consider themselves at the peak of their careers with amenities...many have physical disabilities, some have emotional or behavioral issues. If nothing else, many are severely depressed as a result of their economic/social issues. Some have lost their incomes or are on fixed incomes. Assets are included in the financial mix that determines whether or not you receive food stamps, so we can conclude that there may be issues with housing, transportation, etc. Yet I've seen "those" people, the people who receive food stamps raked over the coals over their spending habits, personal habits and addictions with a venom that far exceeds any dished out for Sheila.

      Interesting, isn't it? Most of the people who commented don't seem to be as much affronted by the fact that people are on foodstamps, it's what they look like or what they might have and what they buy that seems to be the huge emotional firecracker. (Granted, there were quite a few comments about foodstamps in general, but for the majority, that alone is not the issue.) We seem to expect the people with the most difficult challenges to "perform" better than the one taking the challenge, and we certainly seem to expect them to live up to the same expectations we have of ourselves. hmmm. Perhaps if they were capable of doing so, they might not be in the situation they are in.

      Why not limit what they can buy, and let's raid their houses and confiscate any beer and cigarettes, along with cookies and candy, pop and juice.

      Perhaps we could tattoo them, and those with the mark can't get their nails or hair done or buy lottery tickets. I don't think they should be allowed to buy clothing, either. Only cloth, let them sew and knit along with the gardening. I think they should only be allowed Cottenelle toilet paper, too. Oh, and no body wash, only Ivory soap. Shouldn't be allowed make up, either...that's really expensive.

      Perhaps we should just put them on a workfarm like they did in the Depression...

      And then perhaps we should start being a little more grateful that we're NOT them.

      September 26, 2011 at 10:20 am |
      • Hard not to judge...

        My sister is on food stamps and, in my opinion, lives such a hard life, but that's all she's ever known since she was 19. I used to think, poor her, I'd hate to live the way she does, but she's totally fine with where she is. I imagine that the millionaires look at me and think, poor thing, she has a used car, her kids share a room, she cuts her own grass and even cleans her own house. Then, the billionaires look at the millionaires and feel sorry for the millionaires who don't have their own plane. I don't feel sorry for my sister (well, at least economically) anymore, because she's fine with where she is and so am I. Those who would like to buy more with what little they have definitely need to be educated on how to do so. My family probably makes four times what my sister makes, yet she eats at McDonalds more in one month than we do in a year-I wouldn't do it more for both financial purposes and health purposes, but that's what they choose to do when they get extra just burns a hole in their pocket.

        September 26, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
      • dsc

        Good post. There may be some "welfare queens" driving Cadiddliacs, but I've never seen one.

        We're not on food stamps, but we don't eat out and I've been wearing the same pair of pants every day (except Sunday morning) for three years.

        There is a very annoying tendency among us homo sapiens to insist that anyone can do whatever we ourselves can do. Well, it ain't necessarily so.

        October 4, 2011 at 11:58 am |
  37. Novo Urchin

    I make 6 figures and I eat on < 30$ each week. It's not hard, I eat REALLY well, all fresh & natural foods. I feed my family of 5 on not much more than that. Anyone who doesn't think you can do it is either lazy or ignorant.

    September 23, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Rohan

      Me too, don't understand why it is so difficult to buy a weeks worth of quality food for $30. Starbucks, burgers, pizzas are all luxuries which most people in the world live without.

      September 24, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • dsc

      I don't know where you live that yhou can eat on $30 per week. I have a pension of $1,750/mo and a household of seven. Even if I kicked the three oldest out, we could not eat for $30 per week if we ate nothing but lawn sweepings. And no, we're not on food stamps.

      October 4, 2011 at 11:51 am |
  38. Robert

    My, my! So many self-rightious people; so little time to ignore them.

    September 23, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • Frugal Hausfrau

      Love IT! I have to fight myself on my own streak of self rightousness all the time

      September 26, 2011 at 6:33 am |
  39. Dtiger

    Here is what upsets me about food stamps. I (along with thousands of other people) are paying for people to eat junk food because it is easy. Then when (gasp) the person eating government subsidized junk food becomes obese and ends up with heart disease and diabetes, I have to foot the emergency room bill because (double gasp) the person doesn't have health insurance. So I am basically paying people to become fat and sick, and then I'm paying for them again because they are fat and sick, because when I go to the emergency room for a broken hand I end up paying $1,500 dollars for an incorrect diagnosis, 3 x-rays and an ace wrap. If you need help fine, but you use your choice of what you get to eat when you no longer use your own money. You want Hi-C and a bag of dorritos, go for it, but it's coming out of your own pocket.

    September 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm |
    • Dtiger

      should read lose you choice not use your choice

      September 23, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
      • Dtiger

        should read lose your choice not use your choice – 3rd time is the charm.

        September 23, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • bet

      Dtiger, I'm not on food stamps – never have been. I have, however, worked at a food pantry. My challenge to you is that YOU attempt to eat for a month on $30 a week, before you make such an ignorant statement. Healthy food is expensive. Startches are cheap and fill a hungry child's stomach, and too much causes diabetes and a myriad of health problems. Either you're ignorant of these facts, or just and unfeeling, sanctimonious idiot.

      September 23, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
      • Robert

        Bravo! Well said...

        September 23, 2011 at 3:59 pm |
      • gremlinus

        I think it depends on where you live. I live in the South in a slightly more urban area. But I'm in agricultureland. Plenty of local places to buy food cheap. Heck I even grow a few things on my balcony. I've been making pesto all summer from the same $4 basil plant. But some areas aren't that lucky and the cost of living is higher. So I think the answer depends on where you live. Here it's not only doable, I do it most of the time.

        September 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
      • kasey

        Sorry, bet, but you're wrong. A single person should not have a problem eating on $30 a week, which was the author's challenge. You don't have to eat all starch. If you insist on organic, free range everything, then you're right. However, if you want to buy fresh meats and veggies, you can certainly live within that budget. I spent $47 at the market this week to feed my family of three and bought fresh chicken, beef and pork, as well fresh fruits and vegetables. I will feed each of us 3 meals per day plus desserts, and have leftovers to freeze or use for lunches, too. If you don't know how to shop or plan meals, then you may be correct, but if you use a little planning and shop smartly, you can do it with no problem. If I were alone, there's no way I'd go over $30 a week unless I just wanted to splurge on something. So, maybe you need to try it before you call someone else ignorant.

        September 25, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
      • Teri

        $30/week per person is EASILY attainable in most areas. And, not junk food, either. My daughter and I both eat on about $30/week and we do not eat junk. She also takes her lunch to school.

        Breakfast – waffles or oatmeal – total for week for 2 people – $4. Box of 24 waffles is $3, oatmeal is $1

        Lunch – leftovers from dinner or pb sandwich and fresh fruit/veggies. Loaf of bread $2, jar of no HFCS PB (more than 1 weeks worth) – $3. Bag of carrots – $1. Bag of apples – $2. Bunch of broccoli – $2. Bunch of bananas – $2.50. 8 pack of yogurt – $4 (cheaper if you buy the container and repackage). 12 pack of apple sauce – $3 (also cheaper to repack from a large jar). Total for lunch, with some left over for snacks – $20

        Dinner – one rotiserie chicken – $5. Two bunches of broccoli – $4. More carrots – $2. Bag of wild rice – $3. Two boxes of pasta – $4. Spaghetti sauce – $2. Bag of frozen corn – $2. Bag of frozen green beans – $2. 1/2 gallon of milk – $2.50. Lettuce for salads – $1 2 pounds hamburger meat – $4 Total for dinner – $31.50

        Extras – Gallon of OJ – $3.50. Pack of Austin snack cracker packs – $2 (more than a weeks worth).

        Done. And, no junk food except for maybe the crackers, but those are for an after-school snack.

        September 26, 2011 at 9:37 am |
      • Aloisae

        I agree with gemlinus in that much of this will depend on where you live since I also live in a city in an agricultural region of the country (a northern one however) and our markets have plenty of reasonably priced vegetables and fruits, especially in season when some can be downright cheap and with frozen and canned veggies stretching how far food dollars go. However, I'm sure there are areas of some cities where the big issue isn't how much people have to spend on food but rather there being a lack of access to nutritious options. Just as big of a concern is lack of knowledge about nutrition. bet said "Startches are cheap and fill a hungry child's stomach, and too much causes diabetes and a myriad of health problems" when it is really overly processed starches... a diet rich in whole grains and legumes actually protect against the development of type II diabetes (yes, it is starch but it is also high fiber) with the added benefit of being a relatively inexpensive way to eat.

        September 26, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • JAN


      September 24, 2011 at 2:36 pm |
  40. Fallacy

    Eating $30/week is a fallacy because America is to Obese and undisciplined to be able to do such a thing, All americans care about our the Material needs and over abundance in food that is why we are so large!

    September 23, 2011 at 1:00 pm |
    • jonsing for some peace and quiet

      ...stop trolling...

      September 23, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
  41. Elisa

    I think that if the writer of this article had gone to the stores with recipes in hand, she would have gotten more for her dollar instead of guessing at what's cheapest and then going home and meal planning there. Also, if there are 99 cent stores or Dollar Trees nearby, she can get bread for $1 among other things. BUT I don't know if you can even use food stamps there. Call ahead to save a trip.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • Goose stepping food stamp luver

      But my cell phone isn't charged. Can I get some cell phone stamps?

      September 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm |
    • gremlinus

      After 4 or 5 trips, you know what the standard staples for your budget will be. Most people that cook regularly eat about the same stuff every week and then just add in some variety now and then. Once you have 5-10 recipes in your head, you can hunt for deals and substitutions while you're there. And grocery stores love competing for your business. You can sign up for weekly specials to be delivered to your email and you can plan around that.

      September 23, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
  42. Richard NIXON

    $30/week? I'm not a CROOK, GOD BLESS AMERICAAA!!!!

    September 23, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
  43. Sarah

    Can I eat well and healthy for $30 a week? Yes, but I am fortunate enough to have a car and four grocery stores within a three mile radius. Not everyone on food stamps has access to these things.

    September 23, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
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