Friday, May 4, 2012

Lisa with Northwoods Final Thoughts

Here is the question I’ve been asked the most.

Were you able to eat on the food stamp budget?

The short answer is, yes. I stayed within forty cents of the budget and I was able to feed myself for five days. I also learned a lot and gained just a little insight into the lives of people who use food stamps.
But, I also made a lot of mistakes. I spent my whole budget at the very beginning so I had no room to make adjustments. I selected food based on assumptions about what was economical without considering any other variables. I bought rice and beans, pasta, and frozen vegetables – all good choices. But, I skimped on fresh produce because it seemed expensive. I made a pot of rice and beans, which was good for more meals than the two or three I planned. Instead of the pasta and the English muffins, I could have bought a head of lettuce and a few carrots and gotten several salads. Oatmeal for breakfast each day was great, and very affordable, so that was my best choice. But, I didn’t use all of the pasta, the rice, or the bread, so these could be available into the next weeks. If I were managing a month-long budget, I could buy rice during week one and pasta during week two.

Bottom line, I may have outsmarted myself by choosing a number for shelf-stable staple items and not giving myself any fresh fruit. I was out of balance in that regard. This is yet another example of how difficult it is to manage inside the confines of a budget for people relying on food stamps for most of their food budget.

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