For the month, our total is $398.56. This includes the trip to the farmer’s market and a smoothie from Whole Foods Saturday, two trips to Chick-Fil-A (although Rick packs his lunch, he just can’t seem to keep away –it’s addicting!), and I took a friend to coffee at a local shop (but the coffee was only $2.50 for the both of us). We count as a family of four, since I’m pregnant, but that is even under the family of 3 limit. We still have $64.44 (if we counted as three) to spend for the month, and that is good, since I know we will need milk, some greens, and some lunch stuff before the week’s over. But I don’t expect to surpass the limit.
Crunchy Chicken didn’t have the success she expected on this challenge, and from the looks of the comments on her wrap up, neither did most of her readers, though most remained optimistic that it was possible. One of the readers at Crunchy Chicken’s blog commented:
I admit, I find the “you can do it but we didn’t” message a little troubling in this particular challenge. Most people who have to live on food stamp budgets don’t really have the option of going over – if you hit the limits, you eat what’s in the pantry (or you don’t eat much) for the rest of the month.
I don’t mean to give you a hard time, but I guess asking people to live like they live on food stamps, to prove something to the people there, and then really disregarding the limits, while still asserting the validity of the challenge – “sure, you can do it” seems a little troubling to me.
There is so much truth there. We are not on food stamps, but our budget is such that we can NOT go over on our grocery budget each month. If we run out of money, we eat the rice in the back of the pantry. We took the challenge quite seriously.
I don’t know if this would actually be possible on food stamps because the majority of our savings came from food saved from the CSA last summer, the hog we bought whole last fall, things we saved our money up for so that we could have a year of sustainable eating on our tight budget. That and two years of practice at cutting the grocery bill each week a bit more, while still making fresh meals for my family. Things like eating out, coffee shops, and convenience foods have not been in the budget for a long time (though, I’ve seen the Chick-Fil-A receipts creep in this month).
Dollars wise, it does work. But I don’t know that anyone raising a hog accepts food stamps for meat and processing (though they should if they don’t).
Bottom line… I enjoyed this challenge. It got me thinking about ways that we could eat more sustainably, and even prompted discussion of not buying bananas (or at least not so many). 🙂 And it illustrated to my husband that we really do have a tight and good grocery budget. I was even surprised that we spend less than what is alloted for food stamps.
I was disappointed to see the results of so many unsuccessful at this challenge. But I think to jump into this kind of lifestyle without practice or preparation is not really setting yourself up for success. I was really pleased with the outcome our family had. I greened up more of our purchases without going over our budget, made extra effort to get to the one farmer’s market that was open in April around here, and even crossed things off the grocery list that we’re there in the store, at a good price, but were not local.
Can it be done? Yes. Does it take practice and preparation? YES! Should that keep you from trying it? Please, no! It’s a great feeling knowing where your food comes from, supporting local farmers, and saving money!