Wednesday, June 30, 2010

My Only Post About the June Food Stamp Challenge

At the end of May, The Non-Consumer Advocate issued a challenge for interested bloggers to buy groceries within the confines of what they would receive under the the SNAP (Food Stamps) Program. In Oregon, where The Non-Consumer Advocate resides, the average food stamp recipients receive $101 per person per month.

I decided NOT to formally participate, since I had spent nearly all of March and April telling you about my adventures in eating from our pantry and freezer storage and trying to keep our grocery costs down. I thought it would be too much of the same subject too soon.

However, I did participate in an informal way.  Here's how we did, and why I'm not entirely happy about how the month of June played out:

SUCCESS: The allotment (per Oregon standards) would have been $303 for our three-person family. I spent $241.57, so I came in $61.43 under the food stamp budget without really trying!  I shopped and cooked more or less the way I always do.

FAILURE: Despite coming in under the food stamp budget, June proved to be our "spendiest" month so far this year. Our lowest month was in March, when I spent $101.53 for groceries. Our average for the first six months of 2010 is $192.62. I spent $48.95 more in June than our average! How did that happen?? (Some splurges on several 12-packs of soda, a trip or two to the "dented can" store, a family-pack of KC Strips for Father's Day and general lack of vigilance on my part.)

ABUNDANCE:  Not only did I spend more than average in June, I brought home $130 in free groceries when we bought our gas grill. Shane and I also started harvesting some veggies from our garden in June. The way I see it, the free groceries and our garden produce should have lowered our spending for June, not pushed it over the top.  In other words, I didn't really need to spend as much as I spent, and now I feel as if our pantry and freezers are once again on that fine line between being well-stocked and over-stocked.

GOALS: First, I'll be donating the $61.43 I was under the food stamp allotment to Harvesters, our area food bank. Such a donation was suggested in Katy's original challenge and I like the idea.

Second, I'll start over in July, eating from the pantry, garden and what we've stocked in our freezer, trying again to buy as little as possible. I don't have a set dollar amount in mind -- I just want to use up a good amount of what's already here before I stock up on more food.  I'm not the only one thinking this way, apparently.  Penny at The Saved Quarter is going to do the same thing.

Did you participate in the Food Stamp Challenge, either formally or informally? If so, how did you do?

Also, are you as a reader interested in reading about this kind of thing (my grocery spending, pantry challenges, etc.)?  Or have I already run that horse into the ground?  I'm happy to write about it...or not.  Let your bloggy voice be heard.

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SonyaAnn said...

I honestly, love to hear about what you made and how much you spent. It gives me an idea of what I should be spending.
Oh and good job! You still came in under budget so its a win in my book!

Joan said...

I'd love to hear about it too.

Our family of four could easily eat, and eat well for $404 a month.

TIGHTWAD said...

Wow that's amazing that you can manage on that budget - congrats! I like your idea of cutting back and using up stockpiles of stuff next month.

Annie Jones said...

SonyaAnn: I think I might write about it a little. It won't be my main post daily, though.

Joan: I wasn't difficult for me to do, but I think a lot has to do with eating styles and prices in our area compared to other places.

Tightwad: Thanks for stopping by. I'm following you now, too. :)

Molly On Money said...

I was like you and early this year had adjusted our grocery budget to $300/ month for our family of 4 (less than what SNAP would have provided). We have slightly gone over each month and are trying to find ways to reach that goal (or readjust it to what we are currently spending).
I think writing about it provides a great form of inspiration for all of us out there.

slugmama said...

Yah, your June food spending isn't so great(comparatively)after you figure in that $130 of free food.....but it's still quite low next to the average American...not that that is a great comparison.lolol

Why don't you keep track of your harvests and calculate how much you've saved NOT buying the produce at the store?
As soon as we finally get something to harvest I am going to weigh everything that comes out of the garden so I know how many lbs. of food we can produce....just out of curiosity.

Annie Jones said...

Molly: Hi. Thanks for stopping by! I'm happy that some people find my writing about food (or anything else for that matter) inspirational. I know putting out for everyone to see really helps keep me on track.

Sluggy: I kept track of our harvests last year. We harvested right at 120 pounds of edible food last year (i.e., after cleaning away soil, inedible foliage, etc.).

We have about twice as many square feet of garden this year, and I decided I just didn't want to try to keep track of it all. But I think it's a good exercise for the beginner (like we were last year), to help decide if it's worth it in terms of time, trouble and cost.

What I DON'T want to think about is how much money we've spent on garden related things. I'm sure any savings we've seen on food has been eaten up by Shane's garden center habit. LOL!

Lisa B. said...

I agree, you writing about it keeps me on my toes and inspires me since we don't live too far apart.

I love to hear about your deals & meals along with everything else!

Annie Jones said...

Lisa B: I think it's interesting how we local ladies can look at the same grocery ads and each come up with a different opinions about which bargains are the best. Just goes to show, we're all the same, yet all different. :)