Food Stamp Challenge, week 4 SUPER CHALLENGE
Monday, January 26, 2009

Food Stamp Challenge - feed my family for $2 per person per day. ($140 a week).

Well, this week threw us a curve ball. Husband dear is paid by the hour, and there were some unexpected slow times plus a sick day. Add that to unexpected expense and an oopsie on my part (I thought I paid for 6 months of car insurance in December, but I actually went on the monthly plan, so we had to pay a month's worth of car insurance, too), plus rent due, and we have $75 to spend on food and whatnots until next payday (February 6).

It's feast or famine in the construction industry. Last two weeks? 35 and 40 hours. Next paycheck? 58 hours this week, scheduled for 84 hours next week (time and a half for overtime, woot!)

So. Two week's worth of meals for $50? Can it be done?

Well, yes it can. On the other hand, this is a realistic challenge. How many families run out of food stamps at the end of the month?

I stock up whenever I can (remember those 35 pounds of meat I bought last week?) so I only needed a few staples. We'll be eating less fresh fruit this week, but I'll be breaking out my "hurricane stock" of juice and canned veggies in order to make sure everyone gets their vitamins. We rarely drink juice, so a glass of pineapple juice will be a treat for the kids, instead of a sacrifice.

Here are my saving graces:
  • A stocked pantry. I have rice, beans, peas, lentils, flour, cornmeal, popcorn, bulgur, quinoa... and I know how to use them. Truthfully, I could have not gone to the store at all (but the meals would have been a little meager. Plus I really did need eggs, since I plan on baking!) Thanks be to God for giving me the means to have extra money in the "fat" times so we have food for the lean times.
  • The knowledge, skills, and ability to make many things myself. I didn't fret about being able to afford bread - I have flour, yeast and water at home. I have access to an oven, freezer, and refrigeration. I know how to make bland foods taste good enough that the kids ask for seconds (sometimes...) Thanks be to God for giving me understanding and providing such a nice kitchen and comfortable home!
  • I have been reading frugal, cooking, and mommy blogs and been blessed by other ladie's insights, tips, tricks, recipes, and encouragement. Thanks be to God for all of the people on the Internet (and the amazing gift of the Web, as well) who freely share so that others may be helped.
  • I spent an hour and a half planning our menu this week, poring through the pantry and the circulars. Thanks be to God that I have a safe place to store my food, and the luxury of time to sit and ponder recipes.

I think the real challenge will be in two weeks, when I restock!

What I spent: $36.15 on food (plus $6.25 on diapers. 30 diapers for the week? BWAH HA HA HA! Seriously, we'll be working on potty training this week!) I left some room to buy milk, oranges, and anything else that might crop up.

What I got:
7# onions, large bunch kale, 5# russet potatoes, 5# Yukon gold potatoes, 5# carrots (again. We really do eat 5# of carrots a week!), 6 0z. fresh blueberries (pregnant mama with gestational diabetes can't drink juice to get her fruit.)

42 oz. quick oats, balsamic vinegar, 1# dried black eyed peas, 2 bottles Ken's Salad dressing (paid 49¢ each for them, and they are one of the few brands that do not have MSG or artificial colors), 2 jars Pace picante (paid 76¢ for them), 2 cans Rotel (40¢ each), 100 corn tortillas.

1# cheese, 5 dozen eggs, 3# ground chuck, 24 oz. Green Giant Veggie Steamers (free after coupon).

What we'll be eating (no price breakdowns. The thought of doing fourteen of them was overwhelming. Plus, this post is already long.)
Sunday Jan 25: Baked penne with spaghetti sauce (noodles in pantry, gallon bag of meat sauce leftover from my giant vat of sauce last week.)

Monday Jan 26: Ham bone soup (which we didn't have last Monday, as my pan of lasagna was so filling it lasted for two meals!) (Which means ham bone is still in the freezer. And husband dear informed me that black eyed peas would be way better than split peas).

Tuesday Jan 27: Bangers and mash. Okay, it's really bratwurst with chunky kale/potato puree and canned green beans.

Wed, Jan 28: Beef stir fry with frozen veggies (those free Veggie Steamers) and sprouts.

Thur Jan 29: Lentil Soup, rolls

Fri Jan 30: Bean tostadas (with that salsa. Is that a vegetable?), corn/Rotel salad.

Sat, Jan 31: Birthday celebration for Miss E! She wanted hamburgers (that's why I bought the ground chuck). Hamburgers, brats, potato salad, chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, popcorn, and spinach. Yeah, she got to pick the menu. I forced the potato salad on her, though. She really loves spinach, believe it or not.

Sun, Feb 1: Turkey, stuffing, broccoli and cauliflower blend (I bought an extra turkey at Christmas because they were so cheap! $2.50 for a 12# bird!)

Mon, Feb 2: Chili with red beans, cornbread

Tues, Feb 3: Turkey tetrazzini with broccoli

Wed, Feb 4: Pork chops, spaetzle or latkes, sweet and sour cabbage (Doh! Forgot to buy cabbage.)

Thurs, Feb 5: Beef and barley soup

Fri, Feb 6: I lied. I only planned 12 meals. Payday! Goin' to the store!
A word about fruits and veggies:
We eat tons of fresh fruit and fresh veggies. The kids really did eat the kale, turnips, yams, hominy, eggplant, zucchini, and did I mention we eat our way through 5# of carrots a week? However, it was simply not in the budget this week. I made a list of fruit/veggie snacks to make sure they get what they need, nutritionally. But I'm paranoid about things like that, so they'll probably be getting one of Mr R's multivitamins for the next two weeks, too.

From my stash of cans and pantry staples:

Pineapple rings (frozen because it's good that way)
Pineapple juice - I have 4 cans!
oranges (we have a few left)
pumpkin bread
pineapple yogurt (can of crushed pineapple in pantry, plain yogurt, honey)
Split pea soup (a lunch standard around here)
Spaghettios (w/ tomato paste and nutritional yeast for "cheesy" flavor. I know. It sounds totally gross, but the kids like it. Or maybe they're just used to it.)
Sprouts - so easy to make, cheap way to get fresh green veggies.
Two mystery cans that Baby X peeled the labels off. Don't know what they are (I suspect crowder peas) but we'll eat 'em!

From my fridge and freezer:
Apple juice (3 cans)
Lemonade (with lemon juice and pulp in them, 2 cans)
Pumpkin soup for lunch this week
Banana muffins (frozen overripe bananas)
Smoothies (bag of frozen fruit I bought last week, yogurt)
Carrots, the ever popular snack

Kid in the Kitchen picture is Mr S, making brownies to celebrate the feast day of his patron saint. And Miss C enjoying a brownie. Because my family reads here.

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posted by Milehimama @ Mama Says at 1/26/2009 10:55:00 AM | Permalink | |