Budget Day 25: Food Stamps, Earth Fare, and Halloween

Just guess how much money our family of four would have available to spend on food if we were getting food stamp benefits (which by the way has been renamed to SNAP)? $167/week. Yep, that is $42 more a week than what we are currently spending during this little 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget project. In all fairness we are also allowing ourselves to spend $20/week on eating out. But, even if we included that additional money (which we’ve barely used so far) it would still mean we fall $22 short of a family on food stamps. Must be nice…an extra 20 bucks or more a week would feel like a lot of money right now!

So back to what I’ve been buying on this super tight budget… As I mentioned the other day I got some items from Trader Joe’s, but I was not able to buy everything on my list. So I went to Earth Fare yesterday and tried to spend the least amount of money possible, which turned out to be $12.33. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. And here is what I got…

  • 0.79 lbs dried garbanzo beans $1.73
  • Heavy cream $2.99
  • Bananas $0.70
  • Fruit cup honeydew melon $1.58
  • Head of garlic $0.50
  • Mango $1.25
  • Potatoes $3.09
  • Shallot $0.25
  • 3 lb Bag of apples – FREE!! Thanks to an Earth Fare coupon!

Here are the things I wanted to buy, but didn’t…

  • Soy sauce – We are just low…not out completely so I will wait another week.
  • Unsweetened coconut – We love having this in our granola recipe, but we can still eat it without the coconut so it had to be skipped.
  • Frozen berries – I’ve unfortunately gone from fresh berries in my granola to mediocre frozen berries to now eating whatever fruit we have on hand (apples, bananas) in the morning.
  • Tahini – Um, how could I have never noticed that this cost more than $7 a jar! Luckily, I could wait on this one too.

We just keep making sacrifices on this budget and some of them are of course a bigger deal than others. For example I can totally live without the coconut in my granola…but I still really miss my berries in the morning! One new thing I just noticed (since I now am documenting my shopping so nicely!) is that my husband asked me to buy coffee beans at Trader Joe’s earlier this week, and I had just bought him a ($9) bag when we first started this budget, which was only a few weeks ago. So I told him if we are going to limit everyone else’s milk consumption to save money he is definitely going to have to cut back on coffee. I don’t drink coffee myself (only a mocha with 1 small shot of espresso), and he didn’t used to drink coffee either up until a year or two ago. If he doesn’t start drinking less he might have to give it up all together…just like the old days!

There’s been a lot of discussion around here about the impending candy holiday that is coming up this weekend. I of course want my kids to participate in all of the Halloween fun, but I am trying not to let the junk overwhelm me along the way. Kids obviously get excited about trick-or-treating (which I wholeheartedly accept), but what about all of the other treats, school parties, and spider crafts made out of Oreos that lead up to the big event? I honestly don’t know what to do with all of the stuff they are bringing home, and that is if they even bring it home from school before they eat it. One of the few things I do feel like I have under my control is the night of trick-or-treating. We are absolutely going to let our girls trick-or-treat their little hearts out, it is just what we are going to do with all of the candy that will be different this year. After hearing this advice from several parents we’ve decided to let them keep 5 pieces of candy (of their choice!) and then we will “buy” the rest of the candy from them. Our kids are still little so we don’t expect them to get a ton. So we are thinking we will give them either one nickel or one dime per piece (oh, I need to go to the bank!), which they can then use to buy a toy with from the store. I have to say that my girls, who have both been given very limited candy over the last few months, are pretty darn excited about getting FIVE whole pieces of candy AND a new toy of their choice! I am not sure how many years this will work out for us so nicely, but at least for this Halloween we have a plan.

PS – For all those located in the Charlotte area…Earth Fare is offering a $5 off coupon (with $25 purchase) for all 100 Days readers! Here is the deal: 1. The offer is good at the Ballantyne and SouthPark locations, 2. Must pick up coupon before Nov. 10, 3. To get coupon you need to mention that you read this post: http://www.100daysofrealfood.com/2010/10/15/budget-day-12-a-real-happy-meal/ Yay! I can’t wait to get $5 off myself :)

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  • Comments

    1. Tracy |

      PS- Not on food stamps by the way. To those that truly need the food stamps/help I have no problem with you. To the ones that sit on their asses and don’t even try to find a job and keep having kids grow up!

    2. Tanya |

      I have thoroughly enjoyed discovering your website, but I must say I am very disturbed of your mentioning of food stamps when you do not appear to understand how they work. The number you mentioned is the maximum you could get, and the only way you get the maximum is if you had absolutely no income. I would like to believe that the idea if having no income but $167 a week in food stamps would not be “nice” to you, because there would be so much more you would have to sacrifice on no income but a family of four. The higher your income is beyond $0, the less in food stamps you’d qualify for, so a family who just barely met the income guidelines would get next to nothing in food stamps. I do hope you understand that now and your mentioning of this was merely a misunderstanding.

    3. Candy S |

      I resent the comment about assuming people on foodstamps(snap) have more $ to spend on food.On the contrary,most don’t.I t depend on your worker and other aspects and I’m sure(actually I know) some people get an unfair amount bc they find a way to cheat they system but us who don’t also struggle with food bills and making it through the month,especially when trying to eat healthier bc healthier foods seem to be more expensive. I can say I may have taken my $525/month for granted when they kids(2) were younger but then as they got older they began to eat more and making it threw the month became much harder and there were months we didn’t make it through the month with the $525.After my daughter moved out last summer it dropped to $325 and I still had trouble making it through the month and now we were cut again to $259 and idk how my son and I will make it through the month and trying to eat healthy seems like an almost impossible task.Plus he is 14 almost 15,and weighs under 80lbs and trying to put “meat on his bones” is a stressful feat.I can’t buy ensure or anything like that with foodstamps and I am at a lost at hope to feed him healthy stuff to help him gain weight and fit it into my budget.

    4. Mark |

      You probably already know this, but maximum food stamp benefits are $167 a MONTH, not a week. I know this from experience and from looking at the website today.

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