Tuesday, September 20, 2016

SNAP Challenge

by Nicole Milbradt, Director of Marketing

In honor of #HungerActionMonth, I decided to take the SNAP challenge. Thousands of local families rely on the Basic Food program – also known as SNAP and formerly known as food stamps – to provide their family with basic nutrition. On average, SNAP benefits provide $4 a day per person for food. Four. Dollars.

A family of four, like my own, gets an average of $459 each month in SNAP benefits. I spend about $700 to $800 each month on food for my family. I am a thrifty shopper and often by store brands over name brands but I also like to make sure my family has access to lean meats and fresh fruits and veggies. The more I thought about the SNAP challenge, the more certain I was that I could do it without compromising my priorities.

It all started with some meal planning. I chose seven meals I thought would…
  •          Require less expensive ingredients,
  •          Make enough to feed my family and provide some leftovers for lunch,
  •          And leverage ingredients to give me the most bang for my buck!

I assumed that kids in a SNAP family would also qualify for free-and-reduced lunches and breakfasts at school. This gave me more funds towards our other meals but in reality, it’s not that simple. If kids can’t get to school in time for the breakfast service, they have to eat at home. Those who rely on the school’s buses for transportation, don’t usually make it. So even though I was not buying any weekday breakfast foods, many kids in this scenario don’t actually have school breakfast as an option.

My Plan was…
  •          Taco Soup with cheese quesadillas
  •          Cranberry Chicken with steamed rice and salad
  •          Spaghetti with salad
  •          Teriyaki Chicken with steamed rice and salad
  •          Burritos with Spanish rice
  •          Lasagna with salad
  •          Roast with potatoes and carrots

Weekday breakfasts would only be needed for me and the hubby. We chose sausage muffins with a banana. We elected to take advantage of the free coffee and tea generously provided by our employers (a great idea until Saturday came along) rather than make our own at home. For the weekends, we chose pancakes and fruit for our family breakfasts.

Weekday lunches were a throwback to when we were kids. The hubs and I opted for PB&J’s with chips and an apple. We considered going really cheap and doing ramen instead but we weren’t sure our aging bodies could handle the sodium intake! So PB&Js it was. We made a family favorite for one weekend lunch – BLT’s with mac and cheese – and an easy option – Cheese Quesadillas – for the other.

I even threw in some popcorn for movie night, chips and salsa for game day and a special treat of ice cream. I was certain I could come in under my budget of $112 for the week.

Next up... Shopping.

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