6 gallons of 2%, 1%, 1/2% or skim milkThe specific items, varieties, and brands allowed can be found on the brochure here. That's it. That's all we have to feed the family, especially now with my husband being out of work. There is no fabled $500 or so that we would get according to the "averages" I see all over the internet. There is $161 plus WIC. I'm hoping that number will go up as the Department of Human Services notices the paperwork we turned in about the change in income, but until they do.....
2 pounds cheese ($8.00 max per lb)
2 dozen eggs
72 oz cereal
2 jar 18oz peanut butter, lb of dry beans, or 4 15-16oz can beans
2 quarts 2%, 1%, 1/2%, skim or buttermilk
4 lbs whole grains (options include bread, quick cooking oats, ww tortillas, or brown rice)
$12 fruits and vegetables
4 64oz bottles of juice
That's just part of the reality of living on food stamps though. The number could go up or down at any time. When we first received them, around the time for the birth of my fourth kid, we got about $350 a month and I was ecstatic! That was such an improvement over the $25 for two weeks that we could usually scrounge up for groceries at the time (yes, I did require the help of visits to the food bank, especially since my garden was limited to two 4x4 garden boxes at the time)! Even though it was far, far below what the average family spends on groceries, about $150 a week, it was a lot to me. Eventually, my husband's income went up and our food stamps dropped to $79 a month. That's right, $79 a month to feed 5-6 people. And, even though our income looked larger on paper, we still rarely could come up with any money to use to eat above and beyond that number. During that time, I started container gardening in addition to my 4x4 boxes and eventually we were able to move out of my mother-in-law's double wide and into our own place, which I would eventually start referring to as the Trailer Park Homestead. After we'd lived here for several months, DHS finally acknowledged our much higher expenses and raised our benefits to $171 a month. Then, a couple months ago, without reason or warning, that number was reduced to $161 a month.
This blogger's food stamp is different in other key ways from being real and not just made up. For one thing, I'm not going to calculate how much each individual thing I eat costs. It doesn't matter. There is now way I could "cheat" on this challenge, since we have no money, so what we eat is what we eat. Also, I figure I can include all food in the house. It was all either bought with food stamps at some point, or I acquired it some other way, either growing, gleaning, hunting, or foraging. With three little kids (6 and under), a part time tween, and a husband that doesn't always play by my rules when it comes to food in the house, I also can't always be so precise about where the food went to. I know what I eat each day and will share that, along with my (mostly) educated guess about what everyone else ate, but this will be far from an exact science.
Another huge difference is the time frame. Since this is reality, there is no tidy beginning and ending time. We get our food stamps on the 21st of each month and WIC on the 15th. Since this month's cycle started last month, but we spent most of last week eating on our family's dime via Thanksgiving dinners, I decided about now would be as good as time as any to start sharing this slab of reality with you.
So there you have it, the ground rules of my challenge aka reality. I will start sharing my grocery receipts tomorrow, along with what I ate today (yesterday, we ate at my mother-in-law's when we were visiting and then polished off more leftovers for dinner. I also had a couple glasses of milk with dinner and a couple cans of Diet Coke throughout the day and the kids each had a small glass of juice with dinner). I will endeavor to be as thorough and honest as possible, sharing the good, the bad, and the downright embarrassing (yes, I am embarrassed about some of my groceries), but, since this is reality, sh*^ happens, so we'll see how it plays out.