T-minus two days!
So today I went to the grocery store and priced everything I’d need to buy for the Food Stamp Challenge. Unfortunately, most fruit didn’t make the cut: I can’t even afford apples or oranges, which are among the cheaper fruits, and I can only afford half a pound of bananas… I think maybe that comes out to three small ones. I definitely felt my first bit of anxiety when I got home: I sat staring at my excel spreadsheet totaling $20 some-odd dollars and had to figure out how to cut 25% of my groceries out. I reduced milk from a gallon ($3.83) to half ($1.97), eggs from a dozen (2.19) to eight ($1.49), and spinach from fresh ($1.79) to frozen ($1.00), and the apples and oranges just had to go completely. It’s frustrating not to be able to get the best value because of how limited my total budget is… Almost all the items I plan to buy are available in larger sizes with lower unit prices, but if I want a variety of food, I’m stuck buying the smaller packages.
And then there’s the enjoyment factor. I love grocery shopping, generally – I like to experiment with new foods, and I habitually read labels to find foods with the best nutritional bang for your buck: short ingredient lists, no high fructose corn syrup, organic, local ingredients… and I also try to shop the perimeter as much as possible. As far as ACTUAL bang for your buck, however, my shopping skills are lacking in some areas… Yes, I do bring coupons, I recycle cans and bottles, and I bring my own bags ($0.05 each!); at the same time, though, my stuff is PRICEY! $4.00 jars of all-natural, unsalted, organic peanut butter or greek yogurts at $1.50 apiece are not things I’d even CONSIDER purchasing on my food stamp budget. Splenda? out. HFCS-Free 100% whole wheat bread? Yeah, okay. This shopping trip had me in a completely different mindset. I looked exclusively at prices. Everything was the store brand. I wasn’t making the connection between “food” and “fun” because I was having a hard enough time figuring out how not to be hungry for the next five days.
So anyway, this is the mostly-finalized list of what I’m going to be eating, Monday-Friday. Many of the prices listed below are for items that happened to be on sale at Stop and Shop; I shudder to think how little food I’d have if I was paying full price.
|Reusable Bag Discount (3)||($0.15)|