by Nicole Milbradt, Director of Marketing
With my list in hand, I marched into my local grocery chain store, determined to come in on budget.
I bought mostly store brands and only got the quantities I needed. I assumed that a SNAP family would also get WIC benefits so I skipped things like milk, juice and eggs hoping they would be covered. Again, I didn’t buy any lunch items or breakfast foods for my two kids during the week. I again assumed they would eat breakfast and lunch at school through the free-and-reduced lunch program.
As I worked my way through the produce, I was pleased find a salad option that was inexpensive. It was a bagged green salad with carrots for $1.78. In our house, we have salad almost every meal and I thought this would be a good way to keep fresh veggies on the menu. I couldn’t really afford to add anything to it like tomatoes or cucumber but it would just have to work.
I knew produce and meat would present the biggest challenges. When I looked at the options for ground beef, there were three to choose from. It all had to do with how lean they were. There was 93/7, 85/15 and 73/27. Obviously the option with less fat (93/7) was the most expensive but I couldn’t bear to go all the way down to the 73/27 option so I chose the one in the middle.
I also found a bag of chicken breasts for a fraction of the cost. It was from a trusted name so I had no reservations about buying it.
As I started adding it all up, I couldn’t help but think to myself… “I got this.”
Whaaaa… I don’t got this. I was $27 over budget. I went super lean. Super thrifty. How did I go over!?!
Determined to come in at $112 for the week, I started making adjustments. I traded fresh fruit for canned. I eliminated the salads with every meal. I adjusted the soup meal to JUST the soup. I was still over.
I bagged all the snack items and traded a couple of “splurged” brand names (like the Kraft boxed mac and cheese) to the store brand. I was STILL over.
I knew what I had to do. I had to go down to the 73/27 on the ground beef. It was not an easy call. I really hated doing it. But with that final move, I was down to $110.77... $1.23 to spare.
The challenge was on…