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What's your weekly grocery budget?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
Can you live on $42/week?

Oregon Governor Will Live Off Food Stamps | Bend | New West Network

NPR : Oregon Issues 'Food Stamp' Challenge
post #2 of 16
Could I live on $42 a week?

On one level, it's a silly question. I can buy a lot of rice and beans for 42 bucks, and live on it quite nicely. Not much variety, of course, but nutritionally sound.

And it begs the actual question, which is, how do we take care of our genuine poor, while monitoring such programs for abuse?

But I could easily live very well on the salary of anyone who administers any part of the food stamp program.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #3 of 16
There are ways to do it, but knowing how to cook makes it so much more palatable. Years ago I did some vol. time with St. Patricks center, recovering addicts that had lived on the street were learning how to cook at a job center that had a restaurant serving lunch in DT STL Monday-Friday.

To stretch the limited allocation I suggested that they shared cooking duties, each making a meal for 4 a night. It's cheaper to make 4 portions of something then 4 different meals. You can combine resources, thats where the poor are at a loss. Generally smaller amounts cost more. There's more community and less isolation if you eat &/or cook together.
Most of the time transportation is an issue too.
Community Gardens are abundant here and accessing cheap seed too. And I'm sure if your meeting your neighbors one will have an overabundance of zucchini, cukes or tomatoes.
One of the grants I was periferly involved in had low income people canning....that is just not a reality, canning is in many cases more expensive.
A chef friend worked on Mother & Child with ACF and went to really LOW income homes and taught them how to cook with whatever ingredients they provided.
A couple of years ago I taught afterschool cooking classes to 3-4graders at an inner-city school 95% on free lunch....When I asked what they ate for dinner ramen was a standard response. I taught them to cook omelets, sweet potato muffins, quesadilla, tortilla pizzas, Thai peanut butter pasta...
fried rice....10 weeks.....I'd sit down and the girls would start braiding my hair or running their fingers through it, straight caucasion hair was new for them. It was a major compliment for them to feel that comfortable.

When we practiced making omelets many of these young small children ate all three of their practice omelets. It was a strong wakeup call for me, they never wasted food ever. And cheap protein as well as cheap bulk up food was on the table.
The nasty little grocery store in the neighborhood was expensive and many things were spoiled or out of date....the produce consisted of onions, cabbage, some mustard greens, red apples and yellow apples.
The low end chain grocery stores were much less exspensive, but then you'd have to get transportation.

We're now in the fourth generation that does not know how to cook. they can warm food but being able to cook with raw ingredients : flour, eggs, milk, salt, leavening, is scarce.

25 years ago I went to a conference at BYU and one of the speakers talked about gleanning......offering to pick fruit from a neighbor's tree in exchange for part of the harvest. How to access recent damaged container food, how to preserve food with natural energy or limited man made. Mormons have a higher number of children than the population at large so they have had to find ways to stretch food dollars.

One container of olive oil would wipe out one week's food stamp allowance, that's really sad when you think about it.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #4 of 16
For one person, yes I could live on a $42 dollar a week food budget. 21 meals per week, so that averages out to $2.00 a meal. That's more than my weekly food cost per person right now. But as pointed out, i get some economic break in cooking for more than one person.

For my family of five, we spend between $100-175 a week on food. So $0.96 to $1.66 per person per meal. If my boys were teenagers, I'd probably spend an extra $25 per week for their increased eating. Rice shows up weekly, beans about every other week. But they're very enjoyable as part of a variety of food.

One thing Shroom points out indirectly is the added cost most poor people have in their food choices. They usually choose highly processed food that only has to be heated. This means expensive food for poorer nutrition. High fat and high sodium leading to health problems. One report I read showed that obesity was a bigger problem for low income than other income groups.

The report went on to indicate that these food choices were compounded by the time pressure that cooking "scratch" food is perceived to have.

But with planning to cook only a couple of times per week, you can just reheat the leftovers for a second or third meal. Most dinners I cook last two dinners and at least one lunch for the adults. My wife's coworkers are generally jealous of what she eats for lunch re-heated in the microwave at work compared to their lunches they eat at restaurants/fast food. And it saves money, transportation and time.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #5 of 16
When times were very lean, I have fed my family of 4 on around $40-50 a month (oops should have said a week). It meant eating a lot of rice, beans, canned tuna, salmon, chicken leg quarters, etc. We also shopped at Aldi to be able to do even that. Now my grocery budget is about $80-130 depending on the sales each week and what we're cooking. Winter is more expensive because there are no local produce stands to buy fruits and veggies. In summer, we grow some of our own things like tomatoes, squash, and peppers but the landlord won't let us do much here. This year, hopefully, we'll be able to grow a larger garden on a friend's property so can put things in the freezer and can some for winter. The other thing that kills us in winter is Les's work is more seasonal so sometimes he only works 2-3 days a week. OUCH! Summer is the time to ratnest money and food back for the leaner times.
post #6 of 16
>My wife's coworkers are generally jealous of what she eats for lunch re-heated in the microwave at work compared to their lunches they eat at [COLOR=#006666! important][FONT=verdana, geneva, lucida, 'lucida grande', arial, helvetica, sans-serif][COLOR=#006666! important][FONT=verdana, geneva, lucida, 'lucida grande', arial, helvetica, sans-serif]restaurants[/FONT][/FONT][/COLOR][/COLOR]/fast food.<

My wife is in the same boat, Phatch. And they're always saying "your husband is so good to you." A nice ego booste for me. But it's only leftovers---if they only knew.

One of the problems, overall, is that most of our poor---and certainly all the ones the studies deal with---are urban. Country folk know how to make do, have been doing it for generations. But the combination of urban poor and a system that doesn't want them off that cycle, leads to all sorts of problems.

I grew up dirt poor, in a tenement structure. But mom always had some pots of stuff growing on the fire escape. Herbs, and maybe a pepper plant, and some cherry tomatoes. And I learned to cook at her knee.

Many of today's poor just don't know how to do those things, and aren't being taught basic nutritional and cooking skills. To do so might give them a sense of self worth, and then they'd want to get off the welfare merry-go-round, and we can't have that.

It was a different time, though. There was no welfare, as such. And we didn't live in today's liberal-dominated world, so there were no concepts like demeaning work. You did whatever it took to make the coon.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #7 of 16
Country folk know how to make do, have been doing it for generations

That was a couple of generations ago....I've been on Sustainable Ag boards and Govenor's council with people that work with rural farm families. The most bizarre thing I saw was the height of summertime and the Farmer's Union printing recipes for jello salad with box mix dishes instead of locally grown produce concoctions. Most times both or at least one member (usually the mom/woman) works off the farm for insurence, benefits and a steady income. I was really surprised to learn this info, shocked actually.

One of my shrooming buddies grew up with a mom who taught him to forage, fish and hunt. He finds tons of blackberries, 1000s of snapping turtles, oodles of fish, shrooms of course, wild hickory nuts & black walnuts.
His cousin makes peach wine. Now those skills are even more rare....he facinates me, more than most other eliments of the food world the forager that can find all kinds of goodies out in nature is in tune with the earth. How's that for new agey wavey thinkin'?

$40-50 a month for a family of 4.wow. I have no clue how that happens unless it's supplimented by the food banks or other providers.
The search for food then takes up significantly more time for that person than one with expendible income.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #8 of 16
So do you think the Gov of Oregan will also get some commodities....cheese, honey, peanut butter, butter? or whatever the stockpiled gimmees are these days.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #9 of 16
mine is about $100 a week
post #10 of 16
My weekly food budget runs around $60 to $70 a week, my husband does most of the cooking...when I was single I could live on $20 to $25 a week..sometimes less.
post #11 of 16
In the early 1970's, we used to buy up large quantities of Libbyland frozen dinners for kids. I think the usual price was about $0.29, but we'd get them on sale at $0.19 each. Little hamburger, little hotdog, carrots & peas, or corn, and usually some sort of pudding.

Life was lot's easier and cheaper back in those old hippie days.

Now, both me and the wife have jobs, and yet, we hesitate to buy much of anything other than the essentials (gas, gasoline, electricity) and food. We spend alot on food that we then cook up usually every Sunday, enough to have a homemade Sausage McMuffin to take to work every morning, and something for lunch every day.

I've made 8 lbs of meatloaf at one time, cooked up 10lbs of potatoes to make mashed potatoes, sometimes some sort of veggie. Make little lunches out of them and freeze. Microwave them at work. Went over board today, and made up 5 lbs of red potatoes and 2 lbs of gruyere, 5 eggs and 3 cups of milk and cream and made au gratin dish. Had little filet mignons with homemade Demi-glace with some shallots and Maytag blue cheese melted in with that and some brussel sprouts with lemon juice, nutmeg, parmesan, S&P, and butter. Haven't felt this full in a long time!

We almost never eat out anymore, except maybe once every 2 weeks my pastor friend picks me up at work and we head down to the lunch buffet at the Holyland. That's about it.

Otherwise I brownbag it and so does my wife. Yet we spend near $600-700/ month on food. Where does all the money go? We buy almost no processed food at all. Everything we eat pretty much is made from scratch.

I don't really know. Must be the wine. I hear it makes you healthy, and at my age I want to be really VERY healthy. :)

doc
post #12 of 16
cream, pork with fat, eggs, cheese....all on my regular consumption plan....last week my chloesteral screening came back ok....actually good.
Don't know why, just am very appreciative.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #13 of 16
so what's the word on the gov. of Oregan? Any insights?
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #14 of 16
The Utah Governor and a newspaper writer are taking the food stamps challenge

Salt Lake Tribune - Walsh: The Huntsmans and I take poverty challenge Some different numbers in these cases than the Oregon governor. The Utah governor, John Huntsman is getting $209 per week for his family of 8 (some of whom are foreign adoptees).

According to the averages, I'd get about $110/week to feed my family, $1.05 per person per meal. That's certainly towards the low end of what I spend. I think I could do it though. Of course, the total income would have to be less than $30,000 for us to qualify for food stamps. That puts lots of other problems in the mix.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #15 of 16
it's not like your cupboards would necessarily start out bare....what would reasonably be available? If you move into a new place there's basic supplies that cost. salt, pepper, any herbs, oil, flour, sugar, viniager, condiments, mayo, mustard, ketchup......

I could see making muffins for breakfast, that would go for a couple days.....what about the muffin tins? Equipment that would make cooking so much easier. pans, knives, cutting board, refrigeration, micro? not necessary certainly but......

$110 with NOTHING to start out with is a whole lot different than some supplies in the larder.

Kids get free meals at school....breakfast and lunch if the income is low, so those meals are covered for school age kids. WIC covers some foods for little kids and moms. Food banks over bags of foods.....neighborhood gardens also can supply an inexpensive route to fresh produce.

So, what would be the scenerio? And what would you make that could sustain your family healthily over several months?

A couple times in my life I've had to scrimp, once with 3 children for 6 months, we had food stamps but were living with my student brother and his wife with 3.5 kids......they had a garden.....base pantry......
we ate alot of pasta, fried rice, bulk oatmeal, salads, whole fruit, quesadillas with beans, cheese and salsa.....meat was a condiment not a "center of the plate"....or at least not often. My children had been used to eating a Whole lot more meat, cheeses, cereals.....

Recently I've had to come up with bargain menus for a consulting gig.....veg. soup with tomato base, chicken and noodles/dumplings, red beans and rice, jambayla.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #16 of 16
I spend less than $42 a week, but I'm vegetarian and live alone. I bake my own bread etc too, so I don't buy prepared foods.
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