There are crazier challenges that one can think of taking on, and the food stamp challenge is not one of them. As a former recipient of food stamps, I thought that it was degrading to those forced to live off of the government assisted food program. After watching Fox News’ political analyst, Andrea Tantaros a few weeks back go on and on about how the challenge will be a great diet plan and great for her figure, I was reminded about the disconnect of the economic classes in America. However, consumerism and the battle of the middle class is creating a need to figure out ways to live a life that is more thrifty. Perhaps the problem of society is consumer in nature, and just like America’s little obesity problem, perhaps our spending is over weight and we are in need of an economic diet.
It has been over 30 years since the embarrassment of pulling out those multi-colored bills in front of on-lookers in the super market. But now is a good time in my life to incorporate those forced spending habits. So for those of you who are taking on the Food Stamp challenge, let’s get down to the rules, but don’t worry you lucky guys can skip the check-stand embarrassment.
If you really want to be legit, then here are the guidelines set forth by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP):
Households CAN use SNAP benefits to buy:
Foods for the household to eat, such as:
breads and cereals;
fruits and vegetables;
meats, fish and poultry; and
Seeds and plants which produce food for the household to eat.
Households CANNOT use food stamp benefits to buy:
Beer, wine, liquor, cigarettes or tobacco
Any nonfood items, such as:
soaps, paper products; and
Vitamins and medicines.
Food that will be eaten in the store.
Hot foods ie. restaurant foods
Now That you know the rules, know the tips for a $130.00 a month food stamp diet:
Tip 1. The 99 cent store.
Yes the 99 cent store does stock food. And sometimes very good food. I’ve bought smoked salmon there on a good day, Tolbert chocolate and exotic sodas. If you are brave some 99 cent stores carry fruits, vegetables and meat. Most are 99 cents. But here is the tip of this tip, make a trip to the far left hand corner of the store. You are in the ramen section. They have 3 for 1 deals; That is breakfast lunch and dinner.
Tip 2. Buy the Basics First
Milk, eggs, bread, cheese and flour. Beans and rice, yes I know cliche right. But don’t get canned, get dry beans and rice. They last a lot longer and are cheaper in bulk when they are unprocessed. Get these out of the way when you get the funny money. When you end up making that trip to the 99 cent store you will be able to make these foods last longer. Which leads us to the next tip.
Tip 3. Make it Spread
The art of spreading is truly an art, and became a household name when Betty Crocker introduced hamburger helper. Mixing meats and starches fills the belly. Top ramen doesn’t always have to be top ramen, add an egg to the ramen while you are cooking it. The art of spreading is not about getting cheap food to make a lot, but making food that “sticks to the ribs”. Mixes like cool-aid are great! A pack use to cost $0.25 now they are up to a dollar, (refer to 99 cent store). But is a waste if you use a Gallon of Fiji water to mix with. Use Tap water, it’s free and you’re poor.
Tip 4. Discount Rack
There is a rack in most major grocery stores that is at the back of the store. The food is discounted dramatically, but purchase at your own risk. These foods have either expired or have been opened or damaged.
Tip 5. Outlet Stores
Bread is crazy expensive, but there are outlet stores that have discounts on breads, cakes and pastries. Entenmann’s has a whole chain of outlets and usually has 2 for Tuesdays or 3 for Thursdays. Look for other food outlets in your neighborhood and ask for their discount days.
Let us know some of your tips.
Have a great economic diet!