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Saturday, January 26

Saturday, January 26, 2013

I'm not really back into the habit of watching costs, and I'm at the tail end of a Juanuary challenge with no dairy, so it's a bit odd today.

Breakfast - eggs fried in grease; herbal tea with gelatin, cinnamon stick, and coconut milk
Lunch - leftover quiche; lettuce with dressing
Supper - curried turkey broccoli soup

Total cost of food eaten today - $3.20

There are some estimates, because I'm not sure what I paid for some things. But it's close. The grease and the turkey broth are both freebies, as they are by-products of other stuff (cooking meat for the grease (I guess drippings sounds better, doesn't it?) and the turkey broth comes from boiling up a turkey carcass after I'd taken all the meat off.

There was a segment on the news tonight about a bunch of chefs who are teaching low income families how to eat healthily and cheaply. Of course, they say you should be eating whole grains instead of meat.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIET_FRIEND 1/27/2013 7:09PM

    So thrifty! Why gelatin?

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I'm B-A-A-A-C-K

Friday, January 25, 2013

I'm taking a class this semester on oral history, and we have to do an oral history project on a local "voluntary" organization - one that uses volunteers. My group decided to do Mother Hubbard's Cupboard, which is a food pantry that takes a very strong healthy food approach, including gardening and giving classes in everything healthy food from gardening to cooking. It's a great organization.

Anyway, as part of that project, I'm doing a bunch of reading about hunger in America and the effects of poverty and stuff like that. It has definitely brought me back to my budgetmaw personal and blog!

I'm going to do a modified Food Stamps Challenge for the next month or so. Instead of tracking everything I spend, and assuming that everything I use has to be purchased out of this month's food stamps, I'm going to track the cost of what I eat, and limit it to an average of a dollar a meal, or 3 dollars a day, or 90 dollars for a 30 day month. I'm not sure if it will be easier or not from a record keeping standpoint. I'm sure it will be easier from a cooking standpoint.

In Indiana, the average food stamp benefit per person was $132.46 per month. I figure that by keeping the cost of what I eat to $3 per day, I'm offsetting the fact that I'm not constrained by the monthly benefit when it comes to shopping. That means I can buy in larger quantities (I have 2 freezers in addition to the one in the fridge, and they're both full), and, let's be honest here, I can have more variety. I've done the "real" Food Stamp Challenge at least four times already, when I have assumed that absolutely everything I ate had to come out of the monthly benefit, so I know I can do it that way.

Anyway, I hope that you get some ideas of ways to cut your own food budget while still eating healthy, low carb meals, with absolutely no high carb fillers like bread, rice, noodles, pasta, dried beans, and so forth. Just lots and lots of meat and eggs, a bit of dairy, and oodles and scads of vegetables.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUDGETMAW 1/26/2013 9:03PM

  I wondered how your hubby was doing, Woubbie. I'm sorry to hear he's still out of work.

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WOUBBIE 1/26/2013 12:58PM

    I love when you document these challenges! It always prompts me to go look at our food budget with fresh eyes.

I have figures from 2012 for groceries (which includes non-food goods as well - I deducted 10% for those, though that's probably low), dining out, fast food meals, and lunch money (the kids have a system through the school that tracks every last penny, and I used a dedicated credit union account for my food costs). The only WAG* estimate I have to make is my DH's costs. He packed a lunch most of the time, but not always, so I'm ballparking 20% of his "cash" withdrawals were for lunch/groceries.

Grand total comes to about $13,275.00 for 4 of us for the year. That's $275. per month per person. PA estimates the average food stamp monthly benefit at 128.43, so we're more than twice that. I'll be curious to see how it comes out for 2013, since one of our biggest budget-saving pushes is to bring homemade food for lunches and such. (DH is still out of work.)

*Wild @$$ Guess

Comment edited on: 1/26/2013 12:59:27 PM

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DIET_FRIEND 1/25/2013 3:13PM

    Have fun with your challenge!

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Misusing freedom

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I haven't been eating properly the last couple of days since the Challenge ended. I am "taking advantage" of the lifting of the budget restrictions by eating things I don't really want in quantities I don't really want "because I can." Dumb! I'm still eating only low carb foods, but not planning my meals and not eating balanced meals. To the point that I'm feeling sick. I will get back on track, though. In fact, I am back on track as of this very minute! I just decided.

I'm not going back on a Food Stamps budget, and my food will probably cost over $4.30 per day, especially this week with Thanksgiving. That's ok. I won't be particularly trying to keep it cheap. Especially not this week. But I will get back to planning my meals and eating balanced meals and eating vegetables and eating proper quantities and all of those things that go into eating properly, whether it's on a Food Stamps budget or a Champagne and Caviar budget.

I probably won't be posting every day, but I will post recipes and ideas and whatever else I feel like posting. Thanks for reading about my efforts during this past month. And please pass on your own ideas/tips/recipes/whatevers.

And have a great Thanksgiving!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DIET_FRIEND 11/18/2012 4:26PM

    I can't think up enough ideas to post every day. If I am feeling negative, I hate to spread it, so I don't post every day. I enjoyed reading all your posts regarding your super-cheap low carb eating challenge though!

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The month's Challenge is over!

Friday, November 16, 2012

My Food Stamp Challenge is over! The challenge was to spend no more than $130 on food purchases for a one month period. $130 per month was the most recent monthly average benefit for one person I could find. My month happened to be October 16 to November 15, because I happened to decide to start on October 16.

I went over just a bit. I ended up spending $131.73 for the month. Some of this is estimates and approximations, as I did use food from my fridge and pantry. And I did do some substituting, since I refused to not buy the tail end of the summer produce at the Farmers Market. So, for example, I bought a 7 pound box of tomatoes at the Farmers Market but priced it for the challenge as 7 cans of canned tomatoes. There were just a few of these substitutions. For the most part the prices are real. And I always “bought” everything in the quantities that were required to get the prices I used. So I bought 100 tea bags even though I only used 26 this month.

Here’s the breakdown –

At the end of February, when I had been doing a FS Challenge on paper, I had the following food left:

25 oz bacon
4 oz hot dogs
4 c chicken
4 eggs
40 oz hamburger
52 oz pork chops
80 oz pork roast

2 lbs cabbage
2 lbs carrots

5 T butter
32 oz cheddar cheese
45 T cream
16 T sour cream

15 T salad dressing
15 T mayo
309 g sunflower seeds
Various herbs and spices

I purchased this month:

20 pounds of chicken leg quarters at $5.90 for 10 lbs
72 eggs @ $1.99 for 18 eggs
36 eggs @ $.89 per dozen
6 cans of tuna @ $.58 per can
15 pork steaks, 1 pound each, @ $.98 per pound

1 pound of frozen broccoli @$.98
1 26-oz bag of frozen spinach @ 1.98
1 bag of 3 celery hearts @ $2.48
2 lbs of fresh broccoli @ $3.98
1 spaghetti squash @ $2.00
1 head of cauliflower @ 1.69 per head
1 head cauliflower @ $1.61 per head
12 lbs onions @ $.99 per 3 lb bag
3 boxes of mushrooms @ $.99 per 8 oz box
3 pie pumpkins @ $2.00 each
5 cans of green beans @ $.59 per can
11 cans of tomatoes @ $.59 per can
1 big zucchini @ $1.00
6 peppers @ $.99 for a 3 pack
2.73 pounds cabbage @ $.39/lb
1 turnip @ $.50
1 head garlic @ $.50 per head

4 quarts of yogurt @ $1.88 per quart
1 pint sour cream @ $1.29
1 24-oz carton cottage cheese @ $1.99
1 quart heavy whipping cream @ $3.29 per quart

2.07 lbs sunflower seeds @ $2.59 per lb
1 28-oz jar mayo @ $1.99
1 lb flax seed @ $1.99 per lb
.17 lb macadamia nuts @ $15.47 per lb
9 oz peanut butter
50 packs of splenda @ $2.50
100 tea bags @ $3.00
6 cans of coconut milk @ 1.48 per can
1 jar cinnamon @ $.50
1 jar onion powder @ $.50
1 jar of pepper @ $.74
1 jar of garlic powder @ $1.14
2 cans of Juanita’s Mexican Style Hominy @ $1.39 per can
1 box of cornbread mix @ $.49

And I have left:

3 oz bacon
4 oz hot dogs
11 eggs
1 lb pork chops
56 oz pork roast
9 1-lb pork steaks
1 can tuna

2 lbs cabbage
2 cans green beans
3 cans tomatoes
6 oz carrots
1 head of cauliflower
8 oz frozen broccoli
4 oz frozen spinach
Half a head of garlic
8 oz mushrooms
9 pounds of onions
2 pie pumpkins

10 oz cheddar cheese
24 oz cottage cheese
Most of a quart of heavy whipping cream
10 oz sour cream
2 quarts of yogurt

3 cans of coconut milk
11 T salad dressing
3 oz flax seed
1 can hominy
6 T mayo
Half a cup of peanut butter
38 packets of splenda
1.75 pounds of sunflower seeds
74 tea bags
Various herbs and spices

As you can see, if you made it down this far, I way overbought on dairy and veggies. I don’t know what I got the cottage cheese for, though I do remember I had something in mind at the time. And I was planning to have yogurt for breakfast about 4 times per week and instead only had it about twice.

I also have some prepared foods left:

1 serving of Taco Veggie Stuffing
10 cups of Veggie Veggie Stuff (a mixture of peppers, tomatoes, onion, zucchini for putting in eggs, soups, etc.)
4 cups of cooked chicken
6 pints of chicken broth

In summary – It wasn’t hard to stick to the budget. I ate well and I ate a variety of foods. I ate low carb and nutritiously. However, I will be glad to get back to eating the wider variety of foods I have in the pantry, the fridge and the freezer – especially beef.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUDGETMAW 11/16/2012 2:40PM

  I found the same thing, Naypooie. Even though I've done this several times before. There are things that I assume are cheap, but turn out to be expensive on a per serving basis. And others I assume are expensive but are cheap on a per serving basis. And a lot more I've never even thought about. Learning from it is the important thing.

Yes, DietFriend, I will continue to use animal fats, especially bacon grease, lard and tallow. They're a lot better for me than vegetable oils. Or so they say. Depending on which "they" they are!

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NAYPOOIE 11/16/2012 1:09PM

    alas, my challenge never was adequately tracked to report anything. Part of the problem is that I spend half my time at Mom's house, with her buying some of the food. Very confusing.

The attempt was educational though. I was surprised by how much food I don't pay anything for, and by how much any kind of prepared food costs. And actual costs surprised me also. For example a single slice of Kraft American cheese was 30 cents, about the same as an ounce of cheddar. But six ounces of shank portion ham was 71 cents. I could eat ham all day for three bucks.

I'm going to keep tracking the costs of what I buy, even if Mom actually pays for it (I do her shopping). When I know what everything costs, I will try again, buying from the pantry as I eat it.

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DIET_FRIEND 11/16/2012 11:10AM

    Takes a lot of discipline to eat on a budget for a month. Good job! Will you continue to cook in meat fat?

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Wednesday, Day 30

Thursday, November 15, 2012

B - eggs poached in cream and butter
L - Caribbean Pumpkin Soup
S - Tuna Casserole, kohlrabi, cheddar
T - tea, cream, gelatin

Estimated cost of food eaten - $3.47


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