Thursday, January 21, 2016

Wine on a Food Stamp Budget - But No Caviar

Gwyneth Paltrow made headlines by trying to live off food stamps for a week. This is what happens when a washed-up actor tries to get publicity. She got it all wrong. First she claimed that a 'family' was expected to live off $29 a week. Wrongo Buckwheat! The allocation for food stamps is $45.27 per week for a single person. Families get more based on the number of members. You are expected to contribute 30% of your income to make up the $45.27, so the person she emulated was expected to contribute $16.27 from his/her own income - something she failed to take into account.

Second, Ms. Paltrow knew little about shopping and cooking. For example, one does not shop at Whole Paycheck Market on food stamps. Furthermore your grocery basket does not include limes and cilantro. What was she thinking? Scratch that, she wasn't.

I think that food stamps, when wisely spent, can be sufficient. I'm not going shopping, but instead talking in generalities about buying and preparing food. (A head of lettuce, for example, might last well over a week. How do you figure the cost of the one leaf used in a sandwich.)

 What would you eat for $6.47 per day? Well, first there goes your morning latte at Starbucks. Buying in larger quantities and freezing the rest for the future saves money as does checking the 'marked down for quick sale' bins. Most people think hamburger when they think cheap meat, but it turns out the chicken and pork are a less expensive choice. I can get both for under $1.00 per pound. Follow the old rule: "shop around the perimeter of the market."

Here are some ideas for a daily menu:

Breakfast: $1.00
Dry cereal - $.12
1 egg - $.13
Milk $.25
Toast with butter and jam -$.10
Coffee $.15
Juice or fresh fruit  $.25

Lunch: $1.00
Tuna or chicken sandwich  $.45
Bread $.20
Small bag chips $.35 (this is a splurge. You get more mileage from a large bag divvied  up in baggies.)

Dinner: $2.00
Gourmet Salad $.65
Pork or Chicken (6 oz serving) $.40
Rice or Potatoes $.20
Vegetable (broccoli, corn, etc) $.40
Bread $.10
Fruit $.25

Okay, so I have spent $4.00 for food. Remember, $2.32 of our budget of $6.46 was from our own pocket, so it can be spent anyway we like - and we have $2.46 left.

First things first. There are staples that have to be bought like sugar, salt, butter, mayonnaise, flour, catsup, spices, lettuce for that tuna sandwich, etc. Let's allocate $.96 per day for those things. That ought to be more than sufficient.

That leaves $1.50 unspent - and it's my money, not food stamp money. I can find a decent Washington wine for $7.50 on special. There are five, 5- ounce servings in a bottle of wine or $1.50 per serving. I think I'll have a glass of wine with my food stamp meal!  Bon appetite.

Note: Prices have been gathered from multiple sources including Safeway, Wal-Mart, Amazon, Costco, Fiesta Foods,  and Harvest Foods. Serving sizes are based on recommended sizes or greater.

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