Food stamp diet: Day 1

Today begins our week-long examination of food insecurity in America. To better understand what it’s like for the 50 million Americans who have trouble putting dinner on the table, Brad and I are going to live on Georgia’s SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) budget of $3.36 per person per day.

That’s $47.04 for the entire week.

I’m not gonna lie. I was pretty cocky at the onset of menu planning, thinking it wouldn’t be that hard since we already live simply. But by the fourth revision, I was pulling my hair out, wondering how in the fresh hell was I supposed to buy 42 meals for $1.12 apiece.

First local went by the wayside. Then organic. Then fresh. By the end, I was just praying for calories.

Stocking up at the grocery store was a bit embarrassing, constantly stopping to write down prices and pull out the calculator. But in the end we did OK. Here’s what came home with us:

  • Grits   $1.99
  • Eggs   $1.89
  • Rice   $0.99
  • Onion   $1.29
  • 1/2 gallon milk   $2.49
  • Corn meal   $1.39
  • Black-eyed peas   $1.69
  • Frozen turnip greens   $2.98
  • Sweet potatoes   $3.05
  • Bell peppers   $3.99
  • Butter   $2.49
  • Pasta   $1.59
  • Pasta sauce   $0.95
  • Garlic   $0.64
  • Ginger root:   $0.28
  • Frozen broccoli:   $1.79
  • Frozen peas and carrots:   $1.59
  • Block of cheese   $2.50
  • Peanuts   $3.49
  • Bananas   $2.39
  • Apples   $3.99
  • Carrots from our garden  No charge

TOTAL   $43.45

That leaves $3.59 in our pocket, which we’ll save in case we need to supplement with something like potatoes later in the week.

Breakfast every day will be grits and one egg, and we’ll have a choice of apples, cheese, bananas, and peanuts for snacks.  Day One’s menu: pasta with carrot green pesto for lunch and dinner of black-eyed peas over rice.  Delicious, but we’re still hungry and both of us have headaches. Maybe it’ll help if I steep a few slices of peeled ginger root into a soothing tea.

Check back tomorrow, as we’ll journal each day with meal descriptions and reflections. I have a feeling it’s going to get interesting.

And be sure to check out the documentary A Place at the Table — available for streaming on Netflix — the inspiration for this week’s experiment.

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Food Stamp Diet Day 1
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