Could you live on $33 for food for a week? What would you buy?

Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, spent last week living on food stamps. He had $33 for food for the week.

Some people think it’s a publicity stunt because he announced he is considering running for governor. However, I think it is still a legitimate question. Could you live off of $33 for a week of food, and what would you buy?

Here is how Booker did it, and I don’t think he chose very wisely.

From Yahoo News:

“Booker’s experiment, launched Dec. 4, got off to a rocky start when he spent most of his $33 budget on several cans of beans, a large bottle of olive oil, broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and bags of salad. Posting a picture of his food for the week on Instagram, he admitted he could have spent his money better.”

” ‘I am regretting not thinking through some of my food choices for the week. In hindsight, investing more of my SNAP budget in eggs, and perhaps some coffee might have helped me later in the week. I am growing concerned about running out of food before this is over–especially as I try to resist the urge now to have another sweet potato before I go to bed tonight,’ Booker wrote on LinkedIn.

“Throughout the week, Booker has written about his empty stomach. On his third day, he opted to eat his dinner of peas, black beans, cauliflower and broccoli in small bites late in the day to “allay some of his hunger pains.” Over the weekend, as his food supply dwindled, Booker lamented accidentally burning one of his last sweet potatoes—making an already meal even smaller….”

“I’ll be honest with you. I take so much for granted, even going to Starbucks and buying a cup of coffee is more than my daily food allowance right now. And so we really need to expose the problems on a national level by denigrating programs that actually empower our economy in the long run,” Booker said.”

My family has never had to live on food stamps (thank God) and I don’t ever want to. I think it would be terribly stressful trying to make the money stretch and buy nutritious foods and interesting foods. But as someone who shops for groceries every week, here’s what I think I would have chosen.

I think you have to focus on foods with lots of fiber to help you feel full, and I think you have to look for inexpensive proteins like milk and eggs. I think you also need to focus on non-processed foods because they will be cheaper. But you definitely won’t be getting anything that is organic, and it will be a very bland, repetitive diet.  I think you have to be careful about getting enough protein and not getting an upset stomach from vegetables. (The homeless guys that lived on our block in New York never wanted vegetables or fruit. They said it would upset their stomachs.)

I think you buy a dozen eggs. If you don’t buy organic or free range, you can get them fairly cheap. You would have almost two eggs a day. I also think you buy a big bag of rice, big container of oatmeal, dried beans (cheaper than canned), apples and bananas. I guess margarine for your fat (or butter if you could find a good price). You could cook with it and use it in you food.

I think you would also buy milk – again not organic – you could probably get it for less than $4 for a gallon, and it is very filling.

And maybe a can of instant coffee for caffeine? (I am going to look for at prices when I go to the grocery store.)

Before I would have said peanut butter and a loaf of bead but peanut butter has gotten so expensive. Maybe I would had in peanut butter and jelly and a loaf of wheat bread.

I’m not sure you could buy any meat. I guess the chicken would the be least expensive but would still take a hefty chuck of the $33.

UPDATE TO MY POST: So I went to the grocery store after I wrote my post and took some notes on prices. I shopped at a Safeway, which they don’t have in Georgia to my knowledge but I think it’s probably comparable to a Publix. I could probably have found some of this stuff for less at the Kroger or Walmart. With that said, here is what I found:

Eggs — basic eggs, not organic or free-range – $1.99 for large dozen

Wheat bread- brand name was on sale for $2 a loaf.

Margarine -- 99 cents (Butter was on sale for $2)

Gallon of Milk — $3.39 is the one I would have chosen. It was not organic but does say no steroids, hormones or antibiotics for the cows. There was a cheaper brand at $2.77 but does not have the pledge about hormones on it so that makes me nervous.

Rice — 5 lb bag was $4.49. You might choose to save some money at go with the 2 lb. bag for the week at $3.19. (The brown rice was $4.99 for a 5 lb bag and should be more filling.)

Black beans (dry) 1 lb. bag $1.49

Peanut butter store brand 28 oz. jar $4.99

Jelly store brand 18 oz. $2.39

apples 3 lbs  $3.99

bananas $1.62 bunch of bananas

I forgot to look up oatmeal and the instant coffee.

If I add up all the bolded items, I’m at approximately $26.08 without my oatmeal or coffee and I am not sure if I need to leave money over for taxes. Do they tax food stamps? Those items would feed you but it would be a sparse and very boring week of meals. (I would say oatmeal and fruit for breakfast. PB&J and fruit for lunch. Rice and beans for dinner. Could swap the eggs in for dinner or breakfast to change things up.)

The other quandary here is you can save by buying in bulk but it cost more at the time. Also then you have to distribute the bulk out over time.

I mentioned the idea to the young woman cashier and high school bagger and they were very interested in what the mayor chose. The young cashier told me that he chose horribly and that she was emancipated from her parents at 15 and that would have chosen much better than that. The young man who was bagging my groceries told me that he would buy protein bars. He said he knows they sell them for 99 cents each and that would fill you up. I told him I thought it was interesting that he went for a processed food instead of an all-natural food. So it was interesting to hear young people’s opinions on it.

So what would you buy if you only had $33 for a week of food for one person?

95 comments Add your comment

MissMe

December 13th, 2012
3:44 am

I would buy a family pack of chicken drumsticks, a large bag of rice,a bag of frozen mixed vegetable, grits, bread and bologna, cheese, butter, cup of noodles 3/$1,and a bag of apples.I would have chicken for dinner everyday (baked,fried, boiled) w/ rice or veggies, lunch would be a sandwich or soup w/ an apple and plenty of water,breakfast would be cheese grits or buttered toast or both..I know this is not healthy, but who cares with only $33 to spend. I could do it, but I sure am happy I dont have to !!!!

Sluggo

December 13th, 2012
6:06 am

I would lean toward fresh vegetables and fruits that were in season and on sale. Next, heavy on rice, dry beans, plus cottage cheese for protein. All meat would be too costly and I would avoid. No junk food, no candy, nothng considered to be a luxury item. Forget proccessed or pre-packaged convenience foods. Sadly, it would be better for my health than my current diet.

Parent

December 13th, 2012
6:29 am

My daughter worked at Kroger for years while at college and saw a lot of people with SNAP (food stamps). What she told us was that they segregated their items – they paid for their staple foods with the food stamps, then they bought cigarettes, beer, and “luxury” items with cash. Where did they get the cash if they were so poor that they needed food stamps? My guess is under the table income.

Parent

December 13th, 2012
6:31 am

Also, my wife is very adept at finding “manager’s specials” and other foods on sale and buying them only on sale. Also, that is how my daughter saved money at college – buying the sale items where she worked at Kroger.

Parent

December 13th, 2012
6:33 am

My other question is how did the $33 per week come up? Is that the going rate for food stamps? Is that assuming absolutely no income, so that is ALL you have for groceries, or is this supposed to be a supplement?

Senor coughee

December 13th, 2012
7:08 am

I did for my 4 years of college. Lived 5 minutes from Dekalb Farmers market and ate vegetarian-style with a little ramen tossed into the mix every now and again.

Parent

December 13th, 2012
7:18 am

In college (1976-1980) , I lived on $10 a week (that also included doing laundry). Of couse, with inflation…

The answer to the question is: of course you could live on $33 a week in food – IF THAT WAS ALL YOU HAD OR ELSE STARVE. You might not like it, you might not be eating the healthiest (or maybe more healthy), but you could subsist on rice and beans and flour (uncooked bread). People in Africa (or was that starving kids in China) do it all the time on a whole lot less.

Jelly Dog

December 13th, 2012
7:20 am

“Before I would have said peanut butter and a loaf of bead but peanut butter has gotten so expensive. Maybe I would had in peanut butter and jelly and a load of wheat bread.”

Does anyone proofread anymore? Absurd.

Jeff

December 13th, 2012
7:35 am

Sounds like the modern version of “let them eat cake”.

The fact that he is doing this is, in so many ways a sad commentary about the state of our country.

But it’s not surprising.

(Hey Jelly? After proofreading, I changed a sentence structure so that it would flow more accurately. Lol.)

Grace Slick

December 13th, 2012
7:39 am

Let’s hear from good ole Mother Jane Goose who constantly is very opinionated about “those people on food stamps” and how its a waste to the government and those people just need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps – if they only had boots, per her suburbanite right wing mantra.

Mayhem

December 13th, 2012
7:46 am

I could live on $50/week. Rice, beans, fresh fruit/veggies, chicken, etc. I can make a whole chicken stretch into about 6 meals. Cook it for dinner, then cut all the meat off for sandwiches (Love chicken salad), then boil the carcus and make soup, which could feed 6 easily.

I like to cook and freeze things, especially soups/chilis. Right now, I have two gallon freezer bags full of chicken stock, one of turkey stock, two gallons of Italian Wedding soup, and last night, a bag of spaghetti sauce with meatballs.

During the holidays, when money is tight, I can pull something out of the freezer and we have plenty to eat.

motherjanegoose

December 13th, 2012
7:48 am

@Parent, I read about the $33 and the comment was made that you would supplement with the $33. I have never been on food stamps so I have no idea. No one should be hungry but there should be guidelines for helping with food IMHO.

TWG…eggs, bread, margarine and milk can be had for less than you mentioned here ( not organic). Ditto peanut butter, if you shop at BIG LOTS, which is where I sometimes shop. They often have bread for $1.50 a loaf. Bananas are 3 pounds for $1.75 at Costco. Yes I have a car to get to these places and a membership.

My problem is that I am thrifty about what I spend and can make a $$$ stretch. This is why we have some of the things we do. I feel that often the folks who are on food stamps ( NOT EVERYONE) are not prudent with their $$$. They may not have any training in budgets. Kind of along the same line as college students who work and survive on ramen noodles and mac and cheese or those who have $500 month for spending $$$ and for some reason get kicked off of that budget….HELP!

While we do not have to live frugally, I stock up on things when they are BOGO at Publix. I went to Kroger yesterday and got 6 pkgs. of Tyson boneless chicken breast at $1.99 pound. A pound of chicken breast could make a lot of chicken salad with a jar of mayonaisse BOGO often at Publix and pickles BOGO last week at Kroger. Would that be $10 with a loaf of bread thrown in? ( extra jar of mayo and pickles) Add some cereal, milk, bananas, rice, beans, pasta etc. Yesterday Kroger had 8 big cans of Progresso soup for $10 and I had a $1 coupon. That could be one per day. Feed two people. Yogurt is often on sale too…about 50 cents each.

I agree with Parent…how can they afford cigarettes if they cannot afford food? I do not care for smoking but if you are paying for it yourself, then fine. If we are paying for your food, then sorry but no smoking for you.

I think they should establish food banks tied into zip codes. Determine how many people need assistance in each area. Then determine how many people live in each household. Set a specific box of food for say a family of four. Rotate the menu each week. Purchasing in bulk for say 5000 people per site, would seem to be less and they could probably get donations of bread and such. ( see my comment above about driving…these food banks would have purchasing power for large quantities) I have seen bread vendors bring in bread to churches and donate it. Some might say they want to choose their own food. When you are buying it yourself, you can. When you are getting it for free, you eat what is given to you. The menu could very well be healthier than what they would get themselves. They would certainly get more food for the $$$ and some could work at the warehouses and sort and package the boxes each week. Some could help deliver. I think the $$$ would be more wisely spent. I mentioned this to two ladies who just received their Doctorates in Nutrition and they thought it was a good idea but political suicide for anyone running for office as those on food stamps prefer to select things themselves.

I drive the car I can afford. I do not expect anyone else to buy me a car. If I cannot afford a car, I ride public transportation ( hard to do where I live). If you cannot afford food, then the food can be provided for you at the food bank. NO you do not get fancy birthday cakes or crablegs ( I have seen these purchased on food stamps) but you do get spaghetti, beans , rice, chicken, eggs and cheese. You will not starve.

TWG we do not drink organic milk here. Perhaps everyone else does? Is that what people expect on food stamps? When I lived on a tight budget I did not buy high end items.

KITTY

December 13th, 2012
7:48 am

That is more than my parents had during the Great Depression. And you know, that is a healthier way to eat. My sister and her family eats that way. Absolutely no processed foods. Beans, rice, oatmeal, etc. Fresh fruits veggies, milk, beans, peanut butter for protein. She is a genius at budgeting for groceries. Have you ever been in line behind someone with food stamps. I was once, the lady had four children and her grocery cart overflowed with items. Her total bill came to $8.48. I guess a couple things were not covered. It can be done people and remember, the kids eat for free at school.

Alecia

December 13th, 2012
7:48 am

Chicken quarters 10lb bag $5.60 a lb at Assi. I usually cook all 10 lbs at once, tear the meat off the bone, and freeze it in bags of desired quantities. My family of 3 gets 4 meals (chicken and rice, chicken dumplings,ect). The broth can be made into soups and frozen. Also, a ham bone with a few vegetables can also make a great soup. A bag of dried beans cost $1.00 and yields the equivalent of 4 reg. sized cans. A bag of flour costs $2.50 and can yield a lot of bread, biscuits, or dumplings. A 20lb bag of rice costs $12.00 at Assi. I know we are only asking about a week here and a bag lasts our family 4 months. Eggs are cheap and have a lot protein. Frozen vegetables are $1.00 a bag. If I had 2 weeks, I would buy a 10 lb ham at $1.15/lb and get about 5 meals and a ham bone to cook with some beans to make meal 6. Yes, I can feed a family of 3 for a week on this amount. I know how to do it, because I never had a government hand out. Necessity is the mother of invention.

catlady

December 13th, 2012
7:49 am

I also think he chose poorly. I think it certainly COULD be done. You would have to be creative and multipurpose food, and you sure couldn’t eat as much meat as many folks do. You would also have to have time to cook, since you would not be buying convenience foods.

sara m

December 13th, 2012
7:49 am

you can use COUPONS with foodstamps to make it work. but get real people. i have stood in line countless times behind ppl with the SNAP cards getting deli subs YES they can buy those, birthday cakes, cheetos, soda pop, etc and tons of junk. they just are not buying the staples.

motherjanegoose

December 13th, 2012
7:54 am

@ grace…30 years ago, this week, we started out with $500 and no help from anyone. ( my husband had student loans). We lived in a dumpy trailer with roaches and now we live in suburbia. By the grace of God and hard work, we have made a comfortable life for ourselves. People need to eat but what they need to eat is a up for debate. I have donated plenty of food. We are considering a new donation site, as one that we go to has so many rude people driving cars that are nicer than ours that we could not get inside to donate a trunk full of food for the people who are pushing inside to get food. It really upset me. Appreciation and manners works whether or not you have the means IMHO.

Bhorsoft

December 13th, 2012
7:55 am

I might spend some time watching those “extreme couponing” shows to make my $33 go farther. I’m not sure I would ever be in the class where I could walk out of the store with $100 of groceries for $6 but I’m sure I could get some variety in my meals.

As a college student I ate lots of spaghetti, mac & cheese, rice and beans. In really dire times, I would get creative. Anyone ever make tomato soup from ketchup and salsa packs filched from a fast food place?

motherjanegoose

December 13th, 2012
7:57 am

FYI…I realize that boneless chicken breast would be a luxury but that was something I knew the price of to illustrate. YES I use coupons too.

Jessica

December 13th, 2012
8:12 am

$33 a day per person = $132/week for a family of four. That’s really not all that difficult. Buy the staples everyone is talking about (2 cartons of eggs, 2 gallons of milk, rice, beans, oatmeal, bread, peanut butter, etc). After that, you should have some left over for fruit and meat, if you are careful to buy what is in season or on sale.

Buy store brand.

Stock up on the non-perishable foods you need when you can get them on sale.

Use coupons, but only for things you would buy anyway.

Resist impulse purchases.

I KNOW a family of four can eat healthy on $150/week, and that includes a few ‘extras’ like herbal tea, decent coffee, veggies, cookies, and chicken nuggets. If I took those things out and bought store brands for a few more items, we could eat on $130 without our health suffering any ill effects. It would be a boring diet, but if I was living on other people’s money (public assistance), it would be ungrateful of me to complain about something like that.

Now, for ONE person eating on $33/week, it would be more difficult, especially at first. You can’t necessarily feed one person for exactly 1/4 of what it costs to feed a family of four because you can’t always get smaller portions of food for the same price per unit.

Voice of Reason

December 13th, 2012
8:14 am

You could buy a case of Ramen noodles and still have enough money left over for a cheap bottle of wine.

Noodles and wine all week long baby!

(the other) Rodney

December 13th, 2012
8:19 am

Sure you could. You wouldn’t eat high on the hog, and you probably wouldn’t eat too healthy, but you could definitely survive on it. 33 dollars will go a long way if you hit the Dollar Tree or the 10 for 10 dollar specials at Kroger.

I’m betting my mother never spent more than that when I was growing up. Of course, we had our own garden for vegetables so that helped to flesh out the meals.

TaraTall

December 13th, 2012
8:28 am

We’re a family of 6 AND I have a home daycare where I provide breakfast, lunch and a snack for 6 children…our grocery budget is $175/week. That includes ALL paper/cleaning products, toiletries, pet needs… EVERYTHING.

$33/week for ONE person just for food? Uh, yes…very doable. There were some VERY lean times in our family in years past….at one point, our grocery budget was $50/week for a family of 4…one was an infant but we had to buy diapers with that budget as well.

Mayhem

December 13th, 2012
8:38 am

We have neighbors on food stamps, they get $250/month. No kids at home, both work, but he is paid under the table, cash, from working with other neighbors. She makes about $8/hr. They buy meat, mostly beef and pork, with their food stamps. I’ve never seen any fresh veggies or fruit in their house. They buy beer and cigarettes with their pay checks, since you can’t buy that with the stamps. And they have plenty of beer, let me tell you. At least a 30 pack almost every night.

They are behind on their bills, and cannot pay their rent, and are constantly having their water and cable cut off. BUT, they have plenty of beer.

They have two vehicles. One they cannot drive due to habitual violations, (which sits in the driveway) and the other just broke down, and they cannot afford the repairs. So now they are depending on other neighbors and friends to drive them everywhere. But they have plenty of beer and cigarettes.

I guess if you don’t have to “pay” for your groceries, you can buy plenty of beer and cigarettes with your paycheck.

common sense

December 13th, 2012
8:41 am

This topic is deceptive, people who receive food stamps are receiving a SUPPLEMENT of what they would spend on groceries each week. This amount is based upon their income level.(At least the income that they are reporting, which is another topic) While a person may receive $33 per week as a supplement, that person is more than likely spending additional dollars per week to buy food as well. I’ve seen many people come to the store I work at and buy pounds of candy and soda because if they did not use up their money, they were cut the next month. This story seems like an attempt to make the public feel sorry for those who are already receiving free services.

Metro Coach

December 13th, 2012
8:43 am

Yeah, if you’ve ever been in line behind people with access to food stamps you’d know what a crock this whole $33 a week deal is. They have more money to spend on groceries than my wife and I do. If you’re on food stamps then you’re rent is probably paid through Section 8, you have a government subsidized cell phone, and if you’re like some of my in-laws, you’re pulling down $2K a month under the table while collecting government benefits and living in a house with no mortgage. Not everyone on food stamps is scamming the system, there are plenty of people who do the things we’re all talking about, shopping the sales, couponing, etc. But there seems to be a growing percentage of the “poor” who are less “poor” and more “moocher”.

Metro Coach

December 13th, 2012
8:47 am

This topic also begs another question…if you don’t already know that A) Food stamps are a supplement to reported income and that B) Most people get a subsidy much larger than $33 a week, how in the world do you feel qualified to vote? Regardless of whether you voted R or D, don’t you feel a little embarrassed that you don’t have a better grip on the issues you voted on a month ago?

Me

December 13th, 2012
8:48 am

The answer is yes, obviously, as one does what one needs in order to survive. We are also very thankful that we have never had to depend on food stamps or any other assistance and have the comfort of knowing we never will. To be fair and honest, a change to $33 per week would be so drastic for us that I would probably sell the food stamps for cash enough to buy liquor. Our tab for lunch at Flip yesterday was more than $33 – and the Sushi and drinks last night equated to over $100 once tip was added in. So, yes, even attempting to comprehend living on SNAP is difficult.
We have also worked very hard and still do. I’ve owned two businesses that I built up and sold and I now work in corporate Americal until the day arrives when I will simply no longer care to work.

Sandy

December 13th, 2012
8:52 am

Forget the milk, geeze. Milk is one thing NO ONE needs. Buy vegetables (upset stomach? bwah ha ha, BS!!!) , lean proteins, whole grains, and fruits. Easily done on $33 a week but like several people mentioned above, they get more than that and they buy junk. I was a grocery store cashier for 10 years, in the “poor” areas of town, so I know what they buy.

motherjanegoose

December 13th, 2012
9:03 am

Seems some of us here could well teach a class on how to get more bang for your buck!

@ Mayhem…your neighbors are the ones who make me cringe. Perhaps they need an anonymous number to call in and report food stamp fraud? I am all about helping people but when they abuse the system it makes me crazy.

Good point that two people could eat on $66 per week, easier than one on $33. Kind of like 2 people in a house with the same rent payment. Are there many on Food Stamps with ONE person only?

Meg

December 13th, 2012
9:07 am

We have six kids, there are eight of us, $33 x 8=$264, I buy every two weeks so $264 x 2= $528, which is about what I spend. No problems and we have plenty of food. On weeks I have a little extra money I buy a little extra food in case I have a payday with less money.
If the government (local, state and federal) didn’t take so much of our money we’d be doing a LOT better, but when only half the country pays taxes, the other half gets $%^&*#@.
I do resent seeing people with food stamps buying foods I can’t afford to buy my kids. I could afford that stuff, too, if I weren’t paying for their groceries as well. Food stamps should only be good for basics, like flour, sugar, rice, cheese, milk, eggs, etc. If I’m paying for their food, the least they can do is cook from scratch, like I have to do.

Phil from Athens

December 13th, 2012
9:12 am

“So what would you buy if you only had $33 for a week of food for one person?”

Raman noodles, canned/frozen vegetables, milk, eggs.

FCM

December 13th, 2012
9:14 am

Ok, I am an admitted Chewciple. Mario Batali challenged viewers earlier this year to do this same thing. He put his whole family on it for a week and they posted the results (including what his Teen sons did) and his grocery list:

beta.abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/blogs/Food-News/Mario-Batali-Food-Stamp-Challenge-Master

The Big Waste aired on Food TV after thanksgiving. You would be amazed at the amount of (good) food that hits the rubbish bins from the fish market, produce farms, etc. I think the challenge is to find a way to get that food to people who really need it. With what I saw, we spend too much on food that we toss out.

I think the challenge to us families who can afford the luxury of buying what we want to eat whenever is to find ways to use what we buy rather than toss it out!

Phil from Athens

December 13th, 2012
9:17 am

Parent

Great point about food stamps. I’ve seen it myself and wondered how someone could be on food stamps and at the same time use cash for other items. It’s like Katrina when FEMA handed out gift cards only to have them spent at GUCCI at Phipps Plaza. The government is slow to act and can easily be manipulated by people.

Phil from Athens

December 13th, 2012
9:19 am

“if they only had boots, per her suburbanite right wing mantra.”

Yeah, because the “right wingers” made people poor. What is it with brain dead libs and not understanding how choices lead to poverty?

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

December 13th, 2012
9:23 am

“Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, spent last week living on food stamps. ”

If you believe that crook in NJ only lived on food stamps for a week I have some swamp land to sell in Chicago. The mayor of NYC used to have cameras follow him on the subway to show New Yorkers that he was “one of them” yet the cameras never showed him taking a limo to the subway. Booker is putting on a show so that he will look good when he runs against Chris Cristie for governor.

Some folks are upset at a few comments about food stamps. So what? Most people on food stamps are on food stamps for a reason. They’re lazy and they know how the system works. Same thing with folks on other types of welfare. Having more babies will get you more money.

DONNAN OF A NEW ERA

December 13th, 2012
9:25 am

“but he is paid under the table, cash, from working with other neighbors.”

Sounds like a “right wing conspiracy.” Someone call Hillary Clinton.

homeschooler

December 13th, 2012
9:29 am

I’ve had this conversation with a lot of people because I read an article about the mayor who is doing this. Most people who have ever had to stretch a dollar agree that they could do this if needed. Most mention boxed mac n cheese and Ramen noodles. Yuck, but we’re supposed to be talking about surviving not delicious meals.

Like everyone else I would buy a lot of rice, beans, canned goods etc.. Because I’ve been experimenting since reading this about the 33 dollars a day I noticed the other day that I made an entire dinner for 4 (salmon, brown rice and oven roasted veggies) for less than 6 dollars. For $1.50 each my family had a very healthy meal. All items were purchased at Aldi Foods. The salmon was the frozen but not processed, individually wrapped kind. The vegetables were a frozen mix of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots and the rice was instant (I could have saved more by buying regular brown rice). I also used a few tablespoons of Italian dressing to season the fish and veggies and a little butter.

I once shopped for a lady who was completely out of food. She had food stamps and WIC (two very young children ages 2 and 4). Truthfully she had no reason to be out of food stamps (she received almost 400.00 per month) but she was and we couldn’t let the children go hungry.

So, I (DFCS) went shopping for her. I had to use my own money but was reimbursed by the state. I went to Aldi and got 40.00 worth of food. Enough to feed this mom and her two children for a week. I bought a gallon of milk, cereal, bread, p-nut butter and jelly, chicken nuggets, mac n cheese. canned peas and green beans, 1 lb of ground beef, a box of hamburger helper. hot dogs, buns, chips and even juice boxes. I think I also got some soup or Ramen noodles and some eggs. There was more but I don’t remember what. It was a LOT of food.

Aldi is cheap and I’m always impressed when I see people who are on food stamps shopping there and not across the street at Publix.

I agree that it would be harder for one person to survive on 33 a week than for 4 people to survive on 132 per week.

No, you don’t pay tax on food stamps.

When you think about your own grocery bill remember that 33 dollars is ONLY for food. No paper products, detergent etc..

Also, SNAP (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) “SUPPLEMENTAL” being the key word. For a lot of people food stamps are their only source of income but for many who don’t get that much it is only supposed to be a supplement because they have other income. I interviewed a lady the other day on a DFCS case. Very nice lady who is caring for her 3 grandkids. 2 of which are special needs. She was complaining that she only received 150.00 per month in food stamps. I had to remind her that she receives a lesser amount because she received other benefits. She receives over $2200.00 per month in SSI and TANF benefits for the three children and herself. I told her that some of that could be going towards food. We went over her bills and she pays 800 per month rent (reasonable)and pays regular utilities but she also pay s 65 dollars per month for cable and pays for a cab to take her everywhere because she doesn’t like taking the bus with the three kids. I’m not slamming her but my point is that she just made poor decisions because she had a pretty good amount of expendable income. She could not grasp the fact that her food bill should not be 100 percent paid for with her SNAP benefits. It is a mindset problem. People just do what is easy and our government makes eating VERY easy.

Agree with MJG on everything she said especially about the food banks. I think the government could save tons of money by operating small stores that sell only specific items. Another option would be to have only very specific items covered by food stamps (this is how WIC is). No soda, prepared foods etc..Great ideas but it will never happen.

Whirled Peas

December 13th, 2012
9:30 am

The “S” in SNAP stands for “supplemental”, meaning it is meant to supplement, not replace, one’s food spending.

47.7 million people are on food stamps. That number has gone up dramatically since Obama and the Democrats took control in Washington. Giving away other people’s money is about the only thing Democrats know how to do now.

No one who smokes should be allowed to collect food stamps. If you can afford tobacco, you can afford to buy your own food.

“The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”
Thomas Jefferson

Mayhem

December 13th, 2012
9:33 am

FCM – no food goes to waste in my house. I can get very creative with leftovers. And like I said earlier, I freeze A LOT!!!

xxx

December 13th, 2012
9:33 am

Who cares about this hoax?
You get free food, shelter, heat, medical care, phone, internet, xmas gifts, back to school supplies, etc and bitch about it?
Buy it your damn self if you don’t like it.

Not here to Judge

December 13th, 2012
9:34 am

Unfortunately I and my husband both became unemployed at the same time one of of our unemployment was cut before finding a Job. I cant believe how people try to group all people receiving benefits into that same sterotyped group. EVERYBODY receiving SNAP benefits are not drug user who sit around on those little food stamps then run out and buy Beer and freakin Cigarettes as a matter of fact me or my husband didnt use either. People who have not been in a situation or alot of the time the ones who judge first and more harsh, luckily my husband and I found adequate employment to feed our family and pay our bills and no longer needed the goverments assistance which we got for about 2 months, to be honest it was one of the hardest time for us having to apply then go down and speak to a case worker they ask you so many questions and want to know every detail of your situation if somebody is enjoying going thru that every 3months more power to them. My point is you never know when you may be that person that’s having a hard time making end meet even though you have worked hard all of your life so dont be so quick to judge if you dont know what its like to tell your kids no you cant have your favorite cereal or snack because its not in the budget then you have no idea. Me and my family are back to being able to enjoy life and the extras at this point but without being humble I dont see how we would have made it….

Jennifer

December 13th, 2012
9:36 am

Like others said, food stamps are supplement, they’re not supposed to cover all your food. We live off about $100/wk in groceries for a family of 3 so even if you only had the $33, of course it’s doable. But you have to look more than one week out. I mean, 5lbs of rice? 28oz of peanut butter? That’s going in the pantry and lasting many weeks. So, that’s an upfront cost, next week you aren’t buying those. You buy something else. Once your pantry is stocked with bulk staples or your freezer with bulk meat, the $33 goes further and further. The whole thing is absurd.

homeschooler

December 13th, 2012
9:46 am

@ MJG yes there are many people with one on foodstamps. Most are working a little. My newest pet peeve is college kids who take out enormous amounts of student loans, partially for tuition and books and partially to live on. So they pay rent (if they have any) with their student loans and then get food stamps (because they have no earned income). These are kids(18-24 or so) whose parents have PLENTY of money and would feed them while they are in school but the whole family has the mind set of “get what you can get”. They have NO bills and could easily work a part time job to pay for Ramen Noodles and frozen pizza like many of us did through college but there is no need to.

HB

December 13th, 2012
9:47 am

“If I’m paying for their food, the least they can do is cook from scratch, like I have to do.”

A lot of people on food stamps are elderly or disabled making cooking from scratch difficult or even impossible. Many others have inadequate homes or no home at all (no access to a kitchen). For the program to serve the people who are in most dire need, allowing only basic ingredients won’t work.

James

December 13th, 2012
9:48 am

I think I would get a job instead of living off of the government…but, that me. I realize there are deadbeat out there who rather sponge off of others and ask the government to provide their meals, housing, health care, transportation and their cell phone.

MamaS

December 13th, 2012
9:49 am

All you bargain shoppers need to remember that many food stamp recipients do not have cars and gas
to go to all the bargain places. In college, I had a budget of $25 a week for food. I had to shop at the grocery store that was on the bus line and I could not buy more than I could carry on the bus and back to the 3rd floor walk-up where I lived. No buying in bulk or economy sizes!

homeschooler

December 13th, 2012
9:55 am

@ Not here to judge. I used to approve and manage food stamps cases and you are not the norm. In fact case workers love when people like you come through because we feel like we are really helping people. Sadly, most people who are just having a hard time are turned away because they might have a savings account or a car that is worth an amount over the resource limit. I would have people come through who had lost their jobs, had no income but drove a 6000.00 car and I would have to tell them that they would have to sell their car to get food stamps. Others would have to deplete the only savings they ever had. I understand why that was but it just didn’t seem right from where I was sitting. Some of those rules have changed but generally the system works against people who are really just down on their luck for a few months.

Me

December 13th, 2012
9:57 am

@homeschooler — I cannot comprehend doing the job you do. You seem to be very accomplished at dealing with the issues and situations with which you face. I simply have neither the attitude nor aptitude necessary to succeed at such an endeavor.

Living on a Budget

December 13th, 2012
9:57 am

My husband and I spend $60 per week on groceries, and we do just fine. We don’t eat steak very often, but we do buy plenty of chicken and hamburger, stocking up when it’s on sale. Like FCM said in an earlier comment, at our house we are working on eating everything we buy, and throwing out/wasting as little as possible. We eat leftovers until we’re sick of them, but we have a roof over our heads and plenty of food on the table, so we are blessed.