SNAP FACT: In Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, 82 percent of benefits were redeemed in super markets and superstores.
So the first day of the SNAP challenge is right around the corner! The first step in healthy eating on a budget is to make a meal plan, create a grocery list and stick to it, the latter being the hardest part.
Step 1: Obtain sales flyers from local grocery stores and make a list of what the best deals are that week and then fill in with must need items.
Here is how that looked for me:
Eurofresh Market- $23.53
Boneless skinless Chicken Breasts- $4.98 (3.5#)
Green Peppers- $.72 (2)
Deli Ham- $.85 (1/4# at $2.99/#)
Deli Chicken- $2.53 (3/4# at $2.99/#)
Pasta Sauce- $.79
Frozen Vegetables- $.69 + $.69
Frozen Tilapia- $3.99 (2#)
Peanut Butter- $.99
Artichokes- $.33 (1)
Squash- $.35 (1/2# at $.66/#)
Zucchini- $.29 (1/2# at $.66/#)
Bananas- $1.60 (10)
Apples- $.76 (1#)
Corn Tortillas- $.39 (12)
Half & Half- $1.69
Onions- $.99 (3# bag)
Potatoes- $1.49 (5# bag)
Chicken Legs- $4.27 (4.8# bag at $.89/#)
Frozen Ground Turkey- $1.69
Yeast- $.79 (3pk)
Dollar Tree- $8
Brown Rice- $1
Splenda-like sweetener- $1
Vegetable Oil- $1
Eggs- $2 ($1 each for 2, 6-packs)
- With SNAP dollars you don't need to pay for tax
- I will likely use small amounts of things throughout the week like spices but I will note what I am using outside of the $44 that I spent. My reasoning for this is that if I was using SNAP and starting with nothing I would slowly build up my staples (sugar, salt, flour, spices, mustard, etc.). In my example this week I am buying oil, salt, flour and splenda. I would likely use these over the whole month and each week set aside ~$5 for similar items
Step 2- Meal plan for the week:
- Oatmeal, Milk, Banana
- Leftovers, Sandwiches (Peanut butter or lunch meat), fruit, milk, cut up peppers
-Chicken, Potatoes, Vegetables
- Tilapia, Artichoke, Lentils
- Pasta, Sauce, Ground Turkey, Bread
- Chicken, squash/zucchini, rice
- Fritata and fruit
- Hard boiled egg
- Apple with peanut butter
- Tortilla chips
Challenges found while grocery shopping:
- When purchasing fresh fruits and vegetables I had to actually weigh them in the produce department. Normally when I buy fruits and vegetables I just add as much as I think that I want to a bag and throw it in my cart. When shopping with only a set amount of money a few cents over could mean putting the item back at the register.
- When requesting items at the deli counter you have to be careful of amount. I had budgeted for 1# of lunch meat. When I arrived at the deli counter I noticed that in addition to the $2.99 chicken I had planned on purchasing that ham was also on sale for the same price. I decided to get 1/4# of ham and 3/4# of chicken. The ham came out perfectly but the chicken ended up being closer to .8#. If I was truly shopping with only SNAP dollars that small amount of overage could have been a problem.
- Impulse purchases! This was probably the hardest thing. There are so many things that could have easily jumped into my cart in the store but when sticking to a budget they had to stay away.
- Even best laid plans can go array. One of the items that I was planning on purchasing was a tray of mixed fruits. My main grocery store, Eurofresh, packages up overripe but still edible fruit and sells the bundles for $.99. I had planned on grabbing one of these to score ~10 servings of fruit for the week at a budget price but they were out. Instead I made a quick decision that apples and bananas were the next cheapest thing.
- Watch the register. Two of the items that I had planned on purchasing ended up ringing up higher than I had thought they would be. While watching the register I noticed this and asked the cashier to take the items off. The items would have cost me an extra $1, something that I normally would have allowed but when trying to stay within a SNAP allowance they were a no go.
Check back tomorrow when the plan goes into action!