I will be participating with my family in the Food Bank’s FNS Challenge (FNS is the name for the food stamp program in NC). This challenge consists of living off of a budget of $4.15/person/day, and will last 5 days. I am extremely excited for the challenge, because it ties in well with my Grocery Budget Roundup, where I spend only $40.00 a week to feed my family of four. The challenge will start October 1 and last through the 5th.
I did my research before I went shopping, and choose between two stores – Food Lion, and Harris Teeter. I know when people are living on the FNS benefits, they may have a hard time getting from store, to store, to store to choose the best sales – whether it be the time or gas money, so I stuck to two close stores. I brought cash with me before I bought my groceries. And even before that, I took an inventory of my pantry, fridge and freezer to see where I could save a few bucks with the items I already had on hand. Then I made my list, and an idea for a menu based on the items that were on sale. Here is what I had on hand, and what I purchased:
Budget: $4.15/day/person x 4 people = $83.00
Actual: $61.04 (pantry and purchased groceries)
The budget allows me to spend $83.00 for my entire family, and when I added up the approximate value of what I had in my pantry and the value of what I purchased, my grand total was $61.04!!! I had $21.96 left over. I still have it. It is sitting in a jar on my counter right now. I figure with this money, I can keep it there to grab items I may have forgotten from my menu, or take money out of the jar if I have forgotten to add something from my pantry OR, I can keep in the jar for next week, or in a savings account. I like the keeping it aside method, because if there is a great sale one week on something that you use frequently, your left over money can purchase it in bulk without worrying about cutting into your weekly grocery budget!
My menu for the week consists of breakfast, lunch and dinner. I am utilizing the chicken that I bought for three meals. We never use it all at once, so I figure, I can make chicken soup out of it one day, and then use the leftover chicken for enchiladas – three meals from one chicken that cost $4.37! Making your own pasta sauce (called Sunday Gravy in our home), saves you a ton of money too – just a few cans of tomatoes, a little garlic, and some patience, and you can get AT LEAST three or four meals out of it – usually for only a few dollars (like me this week – the tomatoes were only $1.00 a can!).
I hope that you will join me in this challenge, and share your experiences with me. I will be posting a recipe every day from the menu above, and sharing my experiences with the challenge, and what it is like to live off of the FNS program benefits.
Can you take the challenge?
PS: Sorry for the crappy quality of the pictures – my charts wouldn’t copy over correctly from Word =(