Monday, April 30, 2012

Dan Unsdorfer with Northwoods Shares His Thoughts on Preparing for the Challenge

I have to admit I have a somewhat-ulterior motive for participating in this Food Stamp Challenge: I know I spend too much on food. Inspired by a fellow Northwoodian (thanks Todd!), this month I created a spreadsheet to keep track of my expenses. For food I budgeted $270 for the month, which is roughly $10 per day.

Well, I went over budget.

On the 14th day of the month.

Full disclosure, I live with my brother and cousin (who likes to cook) and we do group meals a lot. I buy, my cousin cooks, everyone is happy (especially my brother). But I’m also an impulse shopper. You know how they say don’t go shopping when you’re hungry? Yeah, I do that. A lot.

As a result, I’m looking forward to this being a test of my discipline: the discipline to go to the store only once this coming week. To do this I’ll need to make a plan for each meal and stick to it.

The biggest challenge I think I’m going to face is the fact that I am a huge snacker and generally just eat when I feel like it. So far my plan for that is to buy one of those giant, off-brand bags of cereal and divvy it up into plastic bags for snacking purposes. The rest of my meals will have to be carefully planned. I normally just delete the deals-of-the-week email from Giant Eagle, but now I’m searching through my trash folder for it. I know I need to go in to the grocery store with a plan Sunday or I’m not going to make it.

I am not too far removed from being a poor college student when instant mashed potatoes and a stray Natty Light was a gourmet meal, so I know I can do this. I do my best to eat with my health in mind, so I am interested in seeing how hard that will be on a limited budget. I’m looking forward to sharing my experience with everyone so that we can all better understand what it’s like to live on a limited income.

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