The ACAA Arizona SNAP Experience 2011 drew in 50 participants from across Arizona as well as participants from Kansas and Washington D.C. and as far away as Thailand. We asked our SNAP Experience participants to blog about their week on a SNAP budget and share their reflections with us. This is a complete archive of those blog reflections. Thank you to all who participated and shared!
In Your Words: Terri
Some thoughts on the SNAP Experience:
- Forced me to budget on groceries when I usually am a “spontaneous”
- Am not eating out for lunch as I usually do
- Shopped with coupons for the first time!!!
- Having to watch out for appropriate low cost items that fit my
diabetic diet- this is hard!!!!
- Bought a roasted chicken which gave me four good protein meals
cutting it up
- A dozen eggs on sale for 99 cents go a long way for protein source
- Cheap processed/ canned foods are not good choices for diabetics
& are given out a lot in community food bank boxes
- Drinking a lot more water rather than coffee or soda which is good
for my health
- I actually feel my SNAP experience has made me more health oriented
because I am concentrating on what I am buying & eating (Look for specials
on fresh fruits & veggies)
In Your Words: Day 2
Starting Day 2 of “the experience” I found my car driving to the local Starbucks, until its driver realized this wasn’t a budgeted item and I would have to forgo this luxury! Little
things that we take for granted!! We have opted to go the fresh fruit, veggies and salad route and are finding tasty ways to put our recipes together. By “we,” this is a family affair – 1 husband, 1 wife and 1 15-year old. It is scary to think that we will not be able to make it through the week with the foods we have purchased and am anxious for the
Wednesday food section to come out for additional sales. Luckily, I have many community activities this week that will feed me without touching my budget, while I can use the rest of that days foods to feed my daughter and bring home leftovers… I usually don’t eat at these activities, but the thought that extra foods will be available has eased my mind. This makes me realize how important it is to provide nutritious food options at all of our gatherings!
In Your Words: First Day of the SNAP Experience
Having my husband work for the Association of Arizona Food Banks can really open your eyes and heart to some of the experiences that many families endure during these tough times. I am very lucky that I have many choices when it comes to food without blinking an eye, but many people don’t.
There are many who need SNAP benefits (most commonly known as food stamps), because they wouldn’t have the funds to be able to eat. The month of September is Hunger Action month and today was the start of the ACAA’s SNAP Experience (Sept 12th – 18th) where many of us would challenge ourselves to see if we could survive on a budget of $29.00 for a week’s worth of food ($41.00 if you opt in for a $12.00 budget for food not approved by SNAP).
I have decided to see if I can do this and since one of the requirements of the SNAP Experience is to record food, I’m already halfway there since I do that already for my diet.
Here was my daily food along with it’s caloric value and cost for that portion.
Breakfast: — Calories: — Cost:
Coffee with Soy Milk — 35 — .40
1/3 cup Slim Rite (Slim Fast cost more) — 60 — .30
Bagel w/ 1 serving of Cream Cheese –380 — .75
1 can of Slim Rite — 170 — .80
Coffee with Soy Milk — 35 –.40
Dinner: (Using $12 budget at Hula’s Modern Tiki)
Pork Taco — 400 — $3.28 including tax
House Salad w/a side of 1 tbs of dressing — 225 — $4.37 including tax
Plus a $2.00 tip
Total water intake 1/2 a jug — .39
Total: — 1305 calories — $12.69
Total without eating out: — $3.04
I had to go out to eat because my husband’s organization (Association of Arizona Food Banks) benefits this month at Hula’s Modern Tiki where every Monday for September Hula’s is donating 10% of their gross profits to AAFB. I went during Happy Hour and got the specials to stay within the $12.00 budget we are allotted for food not approved by SNAP.
The eye opening thing about today is that I am on a diet, some people don’t have the
choice of eating less. I knew that Slim Rite would curb my appetite since I’ve been on diets before, but this is the first time I ever thought about the cost of food. Does being on a diet mean eating less and spending less? We will see as the week progresses, because knowing me I get sick of eating the same foods. Will I be able to vary my food choices and stay within the budget is the question.
In Your Words: Mary
As a middle class, food lover whose desk is 10 feet from a food pantry, the SNAP experience was a challenge !
I got off to a good start the Saturday before I started with a coupon for free eggs and discounts for lettuce, turkey meat, spinach and yogurt (2). Even so, I went over my budget of $29 by using supplemental funds (cash) to purchase pet food and going out for lunch once ($10).
I prepared scrambled/fried eggs and egg salad, pasta with eggs, tuna, canned beets, spinach and turkey meatballs. I did use condiments and a few items I had in the fridge – milk, cheese, ice cream and juice. I missed fresh fruit and veggies the most.
Since I come face to face with many households who use our food box services, this has provided a perspective on how careful shopping, cooking, couponing, and avoiding expensive treats are essential to keeping food costs down. It must be an even greater challenge for families with children (cereal, juice, jelly, lunchmeat etc.) and those with special diets. I’m grateful that the state has opened the doors to the SNAP program with funding for staffing and programs in the community.
Lunch at the ACAA Office: Day 1
Curious what the ACAA staff is eating during the first days of the Arizona SNAP Experience?
Whole wheat pasta with pesto and squash, carrots, apple.
Mini whole grain pita with egg, bell pepper, and zucchini. Raspberries on the side.
Grapes, vanilla yogurt, apple with peanut butter.
In Your Words: Pantry Staple Biscuits
As soon as I left the grocery store earlier this week with the food I planned to eat as part of the Experience, I knew I was missing something: bread. I am a not-quite-vegetarian, so skimping on meat in favor of other proteins (egg, peanut butter, beans, yogurt) was a no-brainer for me. In my haste to fill up my cart with the makings of vegetarian soup and plenty of produce, however, I overlooked the bread aisle. It was a tactical move, really, since the bread I wanted to buy was going to use up just about 10% of my budget ($2.89 before tax), but I figured I’d check out and have a few dollars left over that I could use later in the week to grab some grains.
I figured wrong. By the time all was said and done, I’d spent over my budget, having to dip into my discretionary money to pay $30.48 for the week’s groceries. I shrugged and figured I’d make do since I limit my carbs normally. And then the first day of the Experience came and went and I realized something: I needed some more carbs in my diet.
My money, however, was more than gone.
Then I remembered, the Experience allows participants to use pantry staples during the week witout having to deduct their costs from the alloted budget. I looked through my pantry and cupboards and discovered I had nearly everything I needed to make biscuits: flour, shortening, baking powder, and salt. The only thing missing was the milk, and unfortunately I’d chosen not to purchase any milk for the week. A quick call to my mom assured me that replacing the milk with water would not work, and then my eyes fell on one of my ‘splurges’ of the week: the $2.99 carton of Vanilla Soy Milk. Turns out, you can use soy in place of cow’s milk in baking, so that is what I did. And while I would definitely recommend not using vanilla flavored soy in biscuits, I would recommend this fast, easy recipe using pantry staples if you’re facing a week without enough carbs as well.
2 cups flour (wheat flour would score more MyPlate points, but we didn’t have it handy)
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons baking powder (not baking soda!)
4 tablespoons shortening (can be replaced with olive oil if that’s what you have on hand or prefer)
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Lay out some parchment paper or aluminum foil and flour it well. Knead the dough for a few minutes to be sure it’s not lumpy. Roll out and cut with round cookie cutters or break into ball (about the size of a golf ball) and place in greased glass cooking dish. Bake until they start to look golden on top.