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The Challenge

 

Could You Do It?
Could you eat on $3.63 a Day?

Today I am challenging you to answer that very question.

That is the amount of money per person a family of three receives if they are on food stamps, or SNAP as the program is called today.

In many places, just a McDonald’s Happy Meal is $3.39. And that’s just one meal. You could blow your entire daily food budget on just one meal if you wanted to be happy. You couldn’t even buy a pack of gum with the $0.24 cents change left over from one Happy Meal.

SNAP or food stamp benefits help low-income working people, seniors, the disabled, and others feed their families. A family of three must have an income below $24,086 to be eligible for SNAP. You can read all of the requirements at this link: Food Stamps.

I sat down with paper, pencil, calculator, and grocery store ads to see what I could buy for a family of three (2 adults plus 1 male teen) with $76.23 to spend for one week’s food.

I had a couple of recipes in mind to guide my food choices.

Produce

1 pound red grapes                          $0.88

1 8 pound bag potatoes                    $2.99

1 pound strawberries                        $2.50

1 pint blueberries                             $2.50

1 stalk celery                                    $0.99

1½ pound leaf lettuce                       $2.49

2 bunches broccoli                            $2.00

2 lemons                                         $1.32

1 bag carrots                                   $0.99

1 small bag onions                           $1.59 

Sub Total  = $18.25
Meat

2-1 pound packages ground beef      $5.98

6 chicken breasts                             $5.94

2-1 pound packages bacon               $4.00

2 packages smoked sausage             $5.00

1-3 pound pork roast                        $7.47

Sub Total = $28.39
Dairy

2 gallon milk                                     $4.96

2 dozen eggs                                    $1.98

1 package shredded cheese                $2.98

1 pound butter                                  $2.69

Sub total = $12.61
Canned and Packaged Goods

3 cans tuna fish                                $2.97

1 package penne pasta                      $1.29

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes               $1.29

10 cans soup                                    $10.00

2 loafs of bread                                $1.19

Sub Total = $16.74
Grand Total = $75.99 

Couldn’t even buy a small a bag of potato chips with the $0.24 left over.

And I know some of you will say, well this diet isn’t too bad; the problem is people spend SNAP monies on crap food.

I am not going into that. I cannot control what other people do. I am not even going to try.

I will say though, I think the average person on SNAP tries to eat as well as possible on what they do receive.

But that was and is not my question.

My question is: could YOU eat on $3.63 a day? Could you go to your favorite restaurant for $3.63? Would you like to be limited to $3.63 a day to eat?

Is that how you live now?

What would you have to give up to live on only $3.63 a day?

In perusing recipes tweeted in the last few days on Twitter, listed below are some of the ingredients in those recipes that SNAP recipients probably cannot afford to buy without busting the budget to smithereens:

lamb, steak, shrimp, agave nectar, Ricotta cheese, Brie, Passion fruit, chickpeas, fresh red snapper, quinoa, crab cakes, Chorizo, duck, salmon, and Shitake mushrooms to name but a few.

Most of us would probably have to give up a lot of what we now both enjoy and take for granted if we had a sudden turn of fortune and had to eat within SNAP dollar constraints.

What got me to thinking and writing about all this is an article I read on-line this past weekend, Eating On $3.39 a Day . It is a rambling piece, but the last six paragraphs make the article worthwhile.

Those last six paragraphs come alive and describe the reactions of people who do not have to rely on SNAP,  but who voluntarily lived within the budgetary constraints of a SNAP diet for one week to experience it and to learn first hand what it is like.

They did not like it.

I don’t think many of us would.

“You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view . . . until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

Featured Recipe   
Curried Chicken Salad with Lime Juice and Red Grapes

I have two left over chicken breasts in my refrigerator I want to use up. My first go to recipe for left over chicken is Creamed Chicken. But I have already shared that recipe with you.

This is my next best recipe for left over chicken.

I love sweet curry. If you have never had it it is hard to describe the taste. Heavenly comes readily to mind, but that doesn’t tell you much.

Sweet curry is a very complex and delicate taste. Think tumeric and cumin. But it is so much more.

I use sweet curry, but there are mild and hot versions. And there are SUPER hot versions too.

This is what you will need for 3-4 people:

1-3 cooked chicken breasts*

1 celery stalk

3-4 green onions

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon canola oil

1-2 tablespoons lime juice

1-2 teaspoons curry, sweet, mild, or hot

1 cup red grapes

Salt to taste

Lettuce

*If you do not have left over chicken just cook a couple of pieces of chicken in chicken broth to cover until tender and juices run clear when chicken is pierced with a knife, about 20-30 minutes. Let chicken cool completely.

Here is what you do:

Cut or tear the chicken into small chunks and place in a bowl. Remove all of the bones first. I use my hands to tear the chicken apart. I don’t get even or equal sized pieces of meat, but I like it that way. I like to live on the wild side.

Wash and ice the celery and add to the bowl with the chicken. I do that by chunking the celery, then cutting the small chunks into strips and then dice. I get a much nicer and more even sized dice this way. Add salt now if using.

Wash and cut off the roots and the about an inch or two off the tops of the green onions. Slice the green onions. Add to the bowl with the chicken and celery.

Wash and slice the grapes in half. Set aside.

Put the mayonnaise in a small bowl and add the canola oil and whisk until you get a smooth consistency. I add the canola oil to make the mayonnaise a lighter texture. That way I do not get globs of mayonnaise in the salad.

Add the lime juice and the curry to the mayonnaise mixture…………

…………….and blend very well.  The aroma in my kitchen right now is so heady! I can barely wait till I can eat the finished dish!  Adjust lime juice and curry to taste if necessary.

Add the mayonnaise mixture to the chicken and mix gently until chicken salad is well coated.

Spoon the chicken onto a bed of lettuce. Toss some of the red grapes on top of the chicken salad. Serve with some bread and butter and/or soup.

Bon appétit!!! 

Cost

1-3 chicken breasts              $3.36             

1 celery stalk                       $0.17

3-4 green onions                  $0.52             

¼ cup mayonnaise               $0.42

1 tbspn canola oil                 $0.09

1-2 tbspns lime juice             $0.35

1-2 tspns curry                     $0.42

1 cup red grapes                   $0.35

Lettuce                                 $0.97

Salt to taste

Total cost = $6.65
Cost per salad (3) = $2.22

Quote of the Day

I would rather regret the things I have done than the things I have not.

Lucille Ball

yyyyyyy

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3 comments to The Challenge

  • No. I could not do it…unless I HAD to. Which I hope never happens. I feel for anyone who is in that situation and I always think of the children. Always the victims of the adults in their lives. So sad.
    Your curried chicken salad looks and sounds delish! And guess what? I have a leftover chicken breast in the fridge that is going to become curried for dinner. Just gotta go get the grapes!

  • Trish

    So frustrating to hear GOP candidates make it sound like lazy folks are just lining up to be on food stamps because they think its an easy entitlement! Apparently they have NO idea how hard it would be to live on this. Thanks for shedding some light.

    • Roberta

      Sadly, too often it is both parties. It is disgusting since most of them are millionnaires. There are a few in both parties that care. Thank heaven.