SNAP Budget- FAIL

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I haven’t posted for the past few days.  I am embarrassed.  You see, I failed on a SNAP budget.  I truly thought I could do it.  Not only did I think I could do it, I thought it would be fairly easy. HA!  I laugh at myself.

Three days into it and I tossed in the towel.  While it’s true that weekly I don’t usually spend more than $150-$175 at the grocery store, every 4-6 weeks I stock up on things at COSTCO.  Moreover, we eat out once or twice a week -never anything fancy, pizza or sub sandwiches, but not meals that I count in my grocery budget. It makes a difference.  We were not off by lots of money but we were off by enough.  It got complicated and frustrating and I quit.  I am feeling very fortunate that I could just quit.

This experiment not only made it clear to me how hard it is to be on food stamps, it also made me realize how important food banks that can supplement SNAP are and why couponing for good is in fact, a good idea.

For more information on SMAP and protecting it, go here:

http://www.strength.org/blog/snap/stories

I did not find any great couponing freebies this past week but am hoping there will be some good ones in the ads tomorrow.  I’ll keep you posted.  Remember, the food banks need us!

Peace Out Coupon Scout!

Kate

 

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Oh SNAP! Day 3!

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Day 3 we spent a total of $24.08 on food. We actually did it.  We were under our $24.85/day budget.  However it meant Jeff skipped breakfast, we ate leftovers and we did not have enough dinner for all of us.

Here’s how Day 3 broke down…

Breakfast – The shorties (CJ & Kylie had french toast sticks again…..you would thing they’d be sick of that by now)   Jeff didn’t eat breakfast today, Quinn had a peanut butter sandwich instead of a smoothie and I had a bowl of cereal– $3.85

No morning snack  again today so that also saved us a bit – seems like that has to go if we have any hope of staying on track.

Lunch: $.20

As it turns out Jack didn’t finish the box of pasta yesterday…he did today for lunch  – which was great for the budget- $0

Jeff had leftovers from dinner, also good for the budget. $0

I had $.20 can a of chili- $.20

Afterschool snack – $5.50

Jack and CJ had cereal, $1.50 ( 1 bowl of cereal each with milk – box of cereal $1.99, gallon of milk $2.19)

CJ  also had Special K crackers – $2.00

Quinn is on a field trip for school for the next two days and not here but we’ll act as if she is and add $2 for her after school snack.  Just to keep us honest.

Dinner – $11.28

CJ had a baseball game and I didn’t want to blow a bunch of cash at the concessions.   I decided to bring dinner to the park.  Jack helped me make the chicken nuggets and burned himself  which led to him dropping the tray full of nuggets.  We lost 1/2 of the bag.  Based on our budget for the week this is almost a tragedy.  We made the rest of the bag which was enough for Jack, Jeff and Kylie.  CJ was playing baseball so he didn’t get any and I sacrificed my chicken nuggets for the good of my family. – $3.99 for the bag

I also brought chips – $1.79 for the bag, a bag of apples but only Jeff and I ate apples – $1.00 and 4 packs of fruit snacks for the kids ($1.00), ketchup ($.50), water (I filled up bottles so that was free) and 3 diet cokes ($3.00)

Here’s a pic of our gourmet dinner:

Cj had a yogurt when he got home and he was given a Gatorade and chips at the game. $2.50.  And I made up for my chicken nuggets sacrifice with a bowl of cereal $.75.

We now have only $73. 71 left for the 4 days left in the week.  At this point it is clear that we are not going to make the entire week within our budget.  I have realized that I stock up on enough things that I don’t have to spend over $175 each week because at least once a month I do spend more.  That stocking up shopping trip allows me to spend less than $175 the other weeks …what these few days have taught me is that if I didn’t have the ability to stock up monthly, I’d be screwed.

Oh SNAP- Day 2

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Today we spent a total of $26.94 on food. So I am still over but much closer to my goal of $24.85/day.

Here’s how Day 2 broke down…

Breakfast was pretty much the same as yesterday, except Jeff only had a yogurt which cost $.39, so our breakfast totalled – $5.74

No morning snack  today so that also saved us a bit.

Lunch: $3.49

Jack made a box of pasta which he ate with parmesan chese- $.99 for the pasta/$.50 for parm – $1.49

I finished yesterdays corn bread – $0.00

Jeff had an Aldi frozen meal $1.99

Afterschool snack – $3.31

We finished off the cookies from yesterday. $0.00

CJ  was obscenely hungry so he also broke into a box of special K crackers which he polished off – $2.99

Jack and Quinn finished off the rest of the pasta that Jack made earlier.  $0.00

Another pitcher of crystal light iced tea – $.32 for the pitcher.

Dinner –

I made BBQ turkey Joes for dinner which cost $9.99

2 pds grd turkey meat $5.98

1 green pepper $.67

1 onion $.30

1 bottle BBQ sauce which I got couponing for $.16

Hamburger buns $.89

Salad – Romaine, tomato, cucumber $2.00

In the interest of full disclosure I have to add an additional $4.00 for dinner.  Jack, Kylie and I went to a PTA meeting at Kylie’s school and the kids ate pizza and I had a diet coke.  Since we are not supposed to be eating out on this I am adding the cost of their 2 pieces of pizza and my diet coke to our total.

We did much better today but were still a few dollars over.  We now have only $97.79 left for the rest of the week.  No longer feeling so confident we are going to make it…YIKES!

SNAP Challenge Day 1

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Today we spent a total of $49.27 on food.  I thought it sounded pretty good until I did the math.  If I have $174 to feed us for the week, I should only be spending$24.85/day.  I was wayyyyyy over budget.  Sheesh that was easy.

Here’s how it broke down…

Breakfast – $6.45

CJ & Kylie went through 1/2 box of Cinnamon French Toast Stix from ALDI- the box costs $1.99 so their breakfast was $1.00.  They each drank water.

Jack had mini pancakes – he probably ate 1/2 of the box by himself.  It’s amazing how skinny he is considering the way he eats, but I digress.  The pancakes are also from ALDI.  The whole box was on special for $1.69.  He added pancake Syrup which we had on hand but I’ll add $.50 for that…making his breakfast total $1.35.

Quinn and I had Smoothies- Milk ($2.19/gallon – you have to go to ALDI for milk, no hormones and the cheapest anywhere), ice, banana ($.15) and frozen strawberries ($2.69 for the bag, we used 1/4 of the bag) in a blender.  $1.50/each

Jeff had cottage cheese which I got with a coupon deal for $.45 for the container, apple sauce ($.99/jar) and a banana ($.15). $1.10 total

Snack – $1.50

Jeff and I snacked on corn bread which I made from a Jiffy box .$45/box plus eggs and milk.  I’ll say the cornbread cost $1.50/total.

Lunch: $4.20

I am not counting the kids lunch in my calculations because if we were truly SNAP recipients, they would be getting free.reduced lunch.  However, I am homeschooling my oldest so I will count his lunch which was frozen chicken nuggets ($3.99 for the bag)  – he had a lot so I’ll count it as $2.00

I had salad from a bag- $2.99/bag & salad dressing and more corn bread.  $2.oo

Jeff had chili and corn bread. (remember the $.2o cans of chili I snagged?) $.20

Afterschool snack – $13.32

Quinn was making cookies for a party and we all had quite a few of those cookies which were not only off my diet but clearly out of budget.  I don’t  have the energy to figure out what the individual ingredients totaled (and I have not even yet finished day 1, try to imagine how I’d cope if I had to be this diligent all the time).  I will go with $10.

I spent $2 on snacks for CJ & Kylie at our after school activity and I bought myself a diet coke for $1 – $3.

I also drank crystal light iced tea all day which cost $4.99/container but I got it for a B1G1 – each package has 8 powder mixes – $.32 for the pitcher.

Dinner – $25

Jack made pancakes.  We were at Walmart and spent $25 on groceries which included the ingredients for the breakfast ingredients Jack was making for dinner as well as $10 worth of snacks that I had to buy for Kylie’s softball team.  I will have to account for Kylie’s snack somewhere so it might as well be with today’s dinner.

I’d like to reiterate I really thought this would be easy and that I would come in under budget.  OOOPS!  I now have only $124.73 left for the rest of the week.  OH SNAP!

Oh SNAP!

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Have you heard of the SNAP Challenge?  I just learned about it and starting today, my family and I will attempt it.  SNAP is the fancy name for the food stamp program.  It stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.  The SNAP Challenge is a way to see what it is like for the millions of low-income folks that are on food stamps.  The idea is that for one week, my family will live on the same food budget that a SNAP recipient does.  We will learn firsthand about what it is like to try to get by on the average SNAP benefit.  I will need to budget carefully and keep in mind that if I run out of money by Friday, we will just have to go hungry until the next Monday morning.  Obviously, we will not truly understand the daily difficulties that SNAP recipients face.  But this challenge will give us a little but of insight.

I found the guidelines for the SNAP challenge on the Chicago Food Depository website –

Challenge Guidelines

  1. Each person should spend a set amount for food and beverages during the Challenge week. That amount is $35/week or $5/day for all food and beverage. (I have seen this amount online as low as $29/week)
  2. All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.
  3. During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own – this does not include spices and condiments.
  4. Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work, including at receptions, briefings, or other events where food is served.
  5. Keep track of receipts on food spending and take note of your experiences throughout the week.
  6. Invite others to join you, including co-workers, reporters, chefs, or other elected officials.
  7. Share your SNAP Challenge story. Post updates on Facebook and Twitter and tag them with #SNAPchallenge.

I learned that there are some things you can’t buy with your SNAP allotment.  Off limits are paper products, medicine, alcohol, cigarettes, energy drinks, magazines or hot, prepared food.  You can buy meat, produce, canned items, baby food, cereal, milk and microwaveable meals.

Since there are 6 of us in my family, my weekly allotment would be $174.  I used the $29/week amount since I live in Georgia and I am assuming since the cost of living is less here than in Chicago, the SNAP allotment will be less too.  As of this writing, the amount does not seem too bad to me particularly now that I am a coupon fiend.  I usually spend about $150 – $200/week on groceries.  It just depends on the week.

However, I have the freedom that many people don’t have. If I need to spend more in a week for whatever reason, I do, without even thinking about it.  And that is the difference.  I do have weeks where I spend much more.  Maybe we are having a party, or I’m just really hungry.  Who knows why?  The thing is that I can.

Except, this week, I won’t.  This week, I am committed to not going 1 penny over the $174.  This week, I am going to get a sense of what it means to truly be on a restricted food budget and I am going to see how hard it is to feed my family healthily.  And since I can’t use all of the things I have stocked up on by couponing, this may be a bit more difficult than I imagine.

Wanna join me in this challenge?

Pumpkins on the Cheap

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We first moved to GA three years ago.  I wanted to make our first Halloween here special for the kids as they had been upset by the move.  We went to a wonderful pumpkin patch with all kinds of rides and a corn maze.  It was a blast.  Before leaving I let each of my children pick out their own pumpkin.  My oldest, 11 at the time, picked out the largest pumpkin he could carry.  He slowly and carefully carried it over (possibly even rolled it over) to the scale to be weighed and was so proud of his obscenely large squash. I was not as pleased especially when I saw it ring up for $19…. FOR ONE PUMPKIN!

Needless to say, we no longer purchase our pumpkins at the pumpkin patch.  We still go and take part in all the pumpkin games.  We just purchase our pumpkins at ALDI….and look at these beauties.  I got them for $3.49 each!

HUMPH – Sought but Couldn

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I did not find that much to donate this week besides the deal for Wolf chili at Kroger and I have to say that my husband has been eying those cans…Football season seems to bring out the chili fiend inside him.  Nonetheless, we will be donating the five cans I purchased for that very reason…well myabe 4 cans, I left him home alone today for lunch.

I found the following freebies for Publix at couponmom.com but I was not able to find either the coupons or the items at the store.  Maybe you will have better luck than I did.

Here is the list:

Barilla Pasta 13.25-16 oz — Buy 1 Get 1 Free -Sale price is $.62; final price is after the $1.50 off Barilla Pasta and Sauce coupon on the Publix Make Your Home Italian Tonight coupon sheet or printable coupon link. – You end up with a profit of $.13 – Sadly, I couldn’t find the Publix Make Your Home Italian Tonight so I didn’t pic up this deal.

Swanson Flavor Boost 4 pk – Sale price is $1.50; final price is 0.00 after the $2 off 4 Publix coupon in the yellow Advantage Buy flyer and 4 newspaper coupons.  Somehow I missed this one completely, when I headed out to Publix on Thursday.

EAS Lean 15 Nutritional Bars, single- Sale price is $1.39; final price is $0.09 after the $0.55 Publix coupon in the green Advantage Buy flyer and printable coupon (which you can find on the coupon mom site)

So, I feel like a bit of a coupon failure this week 😦  Hopefully I will have better luck next week.  Can’t wait to see what the Sunday ads for Kroger turn up.

Peace Out Coupon Scout,

Kate