In 2011, 1.75 million Ohioans received food assistance benefits, more commonly known as food stamps. The Ohio’s Community Action Agencies are initiating a Food Stamp Challenge April 30-May 4 in honor of Community Action Month to give participants a view of what life can be like for these low-income Ohioans.
After I agreed to take the challenge, I spent a lot of time thinking about my strategy and what I would plan to eat for the five days. I planned my menu and then went shopping in my pantry. I didn’t want to add to the pile of staples that are usually neglected because I don’t really cook. I put all of those items (with brand names) on my shopping list so I could include the price I’d pay if I’d been buying them. Then, off to the store I went.
Lisa's grocery purchases
Armed with a list and pen, I decided I should check out the prices of what I had on hand and get the dry goods first. That would let me determine how much money I had remaining to purchase produce. That is exactly the opposite route I usually take. I got the prices for what I had on hand and picked up the other items I had on my list. I was lucky that several items on my list were on sale, which gave me hope that I’d be able to get some extras. Unfortunately, because a couple of things I had on hand were brand name items, I ended up spending more of my budget than I would have if I’d chosen anther brand, especially the store brand. But, in good news, I discovered that the items I buy in bulk, like rice and popcorn, really are cheaper even if you are buying a smaller amount.
Then I decided to see what I would be able to do about caffeine, and that is when I realized I’d have to make some adjustments. I thought about it and realized that the reason I drink coffee is really because I get a coffee confection. I like the flavored, steamed, fancy drinks. The other times I drink coffee is just to get my caffeine fix. So, I checked out the price of tea bags and will break my coffee habit in the next week.
Lisa's list. She only went 40 cents over budget!
Lisa's shopping list
Here is my shopping list – with prices. I went 40 cents over the $23 limit.
It took me a lot longer to shop today than usual, and I spent significantly less than I usually do. I also stuck to my list a lot more closely than usual. It is a good thing that I didn’t have to purchase condiments and spices though. And, I didn’t get any cheese or dairy. I won’t miss the milk (don’t tell my mom), but I suspect I am going to wish I’d allocated some funding for cheese.