It’s Not a Snap!


Mario Batali Most Recent Star Chef To Take the Food Stamp Challenge

I mentioned in several posts the various famous people/chefs that took the challenge to live for one week on a Food Stamp or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) budget. It is good that people see and experience for themselves how difficult and how restricting a $31 a week; a $1.48 per meal diet can be.

It is not easy.

If I was Queen of the Universe I would make all elected state and national officials and their families go on a Food Stamp Diet for 90 days before they could vote on any legislation with the word Food Stamp in it!

But I digress.

Of all the people I have profiled taking the challenge; Chef Batali seems the most moved and caring. It was not just a publicity stunt for him.

Chef Batali took the challenge as a way to encourage all of us to contact our legislative representatives and tell them we oppose the proposed cuts Congress is considering to the Food Stamp program.

Batali told

“We, hopefully, aren’t pretending or being like a bunch of yuppies saying, ‘Oh yeah, this is how you can do it. Look, we can grind our own oats!’ We want people to think about calling and talking to their representation about cuts to the Farm Bill and the food stamp program.”

Click the link in the paragraph above if you are so inclined to contact your representative. Complete directions and the name and address of your representative is there.

Batali has also said he plans on taking the challenge several times a year. I do not remember anyone else saying that before. Batali really seems to empathize with the people who must live and eat this way day-in-and-day-out; week-in-and-week-out; month-in-and-month-out during this never-ending Great Recession.

If I had a millions dollars I would offer it to the first politician who said definitely, “We are in a depression, not a recession,” because that is what we are in. Saying the “D” word today is worse than saying the “F” word. Which, by the way, Mario Batali is reported to have said while on the Food Stamp Diet – “I’m (expletive deleted) hungry,” he said.

But I digress again.

Batali told ABC News:

The challenge, which Batali says he plans to do several times a year, is changing the way his family thinks about food. While his kids are still eating what seem like everyday meals, including eggs for breakfast and lentils and corn bread for dinner, it has started a greater philosophical conversation.

“It’s an interesting conversation to think about what food is, what hunger is, what nutrition is in a way that makes us think about it on a much more personal level,” Batali said.

If you click the ABC link above you can see Batali’s weekly food stamp grocery list. He said of the week’s planning:

Food stamps are issued once a month, meaning families have to plan to make them last.  Even with a strict budget and planning, Batali said he would expect to run out of money by the end of the month.  There’s not enough money to feed the family and “you can’t live on a can of beans for five days in a row.”  This week he said he has had to sacrifice some of his standards for food quality and nutrition to ensure that he will have enough food for every meal.

Batali knows that it is easy for him to take the Food Stamp Challenge:

“it’s easy for us because next week we’re going back to whatever we [normally] do.” [Emphasis mine.]


Featured Recipe        Broiled Apricot Chicken

What can I say about this recipe?

This is one of those recipes that looks like you slaved for hours in the kitchen. Au Contraire. This recipe is quick and easy and wonderful. It is super-duper delicious too. This is fast enough for week night, yet a “Company is Coming” fancy dinner too.

And best of all the cost is very budget friendly. Not Food Stamp budget, nor even Recession Buster Recipe. But budget friendly none the less.

This is what you will need for 3 people:

3 boneless chicken breasts

½ cup apricot nectar

1½ tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon grated orange peel, divided

1 tablespoon catsup

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 teaspoon horseradish mustard, or to taste

Salt and pepper to taste


Fresh apricots for garnish

Green onions for garnish

Here is what you do:

Pre heat broiler.  Wash the orange and zest it. Set about half of the zest aside for garnish.

Pat the chicken with paper towels to remove some of the moisture. Salt and pepper both sides of the chicken.

Combine the nectar, brown sugar, orange peel, catsup, mustard, and salt and pepper in a pan.

Over medium heat stir the mixture until cornstarch is completely dissolved and all ingredients are well mixed. Bring to a boil and continue to stir 1 minute more; or until the mixture is thick and bubbly.  Remove from heat. Can you see how thick the sauce is? Isn’t it a beautiful color too?

HEALTH SAFETY NOTE: If you want some of the Apricot Sauce to dip the finished cooked chicken in, (and I highly recommend that you do.) spoon some of it into a small dish NOW. Do it BEFORE you coat the uncooked chicken with the sauce. For health & safety reasons you should not dip the cooked chicken into the sauce that you dipped the brush you used on the raw, uncooked chicken.

Brush the chicken with some of the sauce. I have one brush I use ONLY on chciken and I replace it every year.

Broil the chicken on a foiled-lined pan for 4-5 minutes.

While the chicken is broiling wash the apricots and green onions. Remove roott end from the onions. Dice the  green onions and cut the apricots into fourths after removing the pits.

After 4 minutes:

Turn the chicken over and brush the other side of the chicken with the sauce now. Broil for another 4-5 minutes.

Brush several times during the broiling and again just before serving. If the glaze gets a bit too thick just add a drop or two of the apricot nectar to thin it out a bit.

Done. Doesn’t it look fantastic!

Place on a plate for about 4 minutes until the juices redistribute. You may want to tent the chciken to help retain heat.

Serve with some rice and a salad. If using, sprinkle, some of the green onions and the reserved orange zest over the chicken and the rice. Dip pieces of the chicken into the reserved Apricot Sauce. YUM!

Bon appétit!!!


3 boneless chicken breasts               $6.15

½ cup apricot nectar                       $0.16

1½ tablespoons brown sugar           $0.16

1 teaspoon grated orange peel*       $0.49

1 tablespoon catsup                        $0.08

1 tablespoon cornstarch                  $0.08

1 tspn horseradish mustard             $0.03

Salt and pepper to taste

* I wasn’t sure how to cost out the orange since all I used in this recipe was the peel. I still have the orange left to eat. $0.49 is the cost of the whole orange. 

** The apricots and the green onions added another $1.00 to the cost of this dish.

Total cost =$7.15
Cost per person =$2.38

Quote of the Day

Living is like licking honey off a thorn.



Print Friendly

1 comment to It’s Not a Snap!

  • I wish I had the courage to go on a food stamp excursion. There I said it. It takes real courage to be able to try to live on what some people have no choice on.

    I love the comment that all legislators should have to live on food stamps for 90 days before being allowed to vote on it.

    This is a terrific dish and I can’t wait to try it. People doing it tough on food stamps often don’t have all the complementary ingredients most of us know are on our pantry shelves.