SNAP Challenge, Part V – Successes and Failures Heading Into the Final Days

by Alice Magdziak • December 9, 2012 • FoodComments (0)905

Let’s get you up to speed on where we left off in our last update. The next three days of our SNAP Challenge had some ups and downs.

Thursday we had our usual oatmeal breakfasts and soup/salad lunches.  For dinner, we used the second half of the packs of hot dogs and buns and our second can of baked beans.  This is really turning out to be a favorite budget meal.  The hot dogs have a nice spicy flavor and the beans are very filling and have great fiber and nutrients.  We probably should have put a vegetable in there but budgetarily, I thought we should hold off. This allowed us to successfully stick to the daily SNAP dollar limit.

Friday’s breakfasts and lunches were yogurts and soups, respectively.  Friday’s meal was salisbury steak.  Some people may scoff at it, but we really enjoyed it. According to the package, it’s a mix of turkey, pork and beef but in our fairly bland diet this week, it tasted really rich and delicious.  The steaks came with plenty of gravy and I made mashed potatoes and peas as sides so it was a really filling meal.  I was glad we managed to get some green vegetables in there since I didn’t have a salad for lunch. Once again, we managed to keep to the budgetary guidelines for Friday.

Friday night is traditionally dessert night with Ed’s family.  To stay on budget we asked Ed’s mom to buy dessert that night which she was happy to do.  We imagined that lots of families in the SNAP program probably have to make these deals with family members, too.  Our SNAP allowance covered three meals a day but having a party or get-together in our budget would have been out of the question. Needless to say, those Entenmann’s cookies and coffee cake were expensive and impossible for us to have purchased ourselves.

After two more successful days on the SNAP Challenge, we come to the weekend where we had to stray quite a bit from our budget.  Let’s be honest, we were nowhere near the budget. Since we only have a few weekends every month to travel around the state and cover stuff for our readers, we had to use reserve money to buy food out.  Had the SNAP challenge not been on a weekend that we had prepaid motel reservations in Vineland, we could have changed our plans and eaten at home but we still tried to eat cheaply while we were in South Jersey.  Fellow YDKJ-er, Mike, found a very inexpensive but fresh and delicious Vietnamese restaurant in the Cumberland Mall for Saturday dinner (stayed tuned for our review of Viet Bistro) and we ate lunch at WaWa so we spent about $37 for both meals. That’s about $30 over budget for the day.

Obviously, if we were really using SNAP we would have needed to save lots of money over several months of scrimping to be able to afford those meals.  That really put things into perspective for us.  We thought we were doing the right thing by eating cheaply and we still nearly spent an entire week’s worth of money in one day.  Plus, we spent $46 on a motel room and about $35 in gas to drive down for the weekend.  This SNAP Challenge has shown us how much we’d have to really change our lives if we were really in need of food assistance.  Honestly, we wouldn’t be able have this website if we were in this situation for real.

Follow along with us by reading all our SNAP Challenge articles here.

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