Food Stamp Challenge 2014 – #SNAPChallenge

snap challenge

September is Hunger Action Month.  Like I do every year, myself, and my hubby Dr. Dale Zagiba along with our son, Anthony are participating in the Food Stamp (SNAP) Challenge to raise awareness for hunger in our community.  It is a part of our month long, Fighting Hunger, Feeding Hope Food Drive for Hunger Action Month which we kicked off Thursday, September 4th for Hunger Action Day, and turned my school orange! 

This challenge is great because it doens’t only teach you about the SNAP program, and all of the misconceptions associated with food stamps, but it is also a great way to save money, and grocery shop on a budget.  If you’re looking to save money on your grocery bill, this menu and the Food Stamp Challenge is for you.

Food Stamp (SNAP) Challenge

Could you feed your family a nutritious breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks and drinks for $4.57 per person, per day?  $4.57 is the average amount of benefits Coloradans receive from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or from food stamps.  Food stamps help families purchase groceries, giving them the access to food and allowing them to live healthier lives.  These benefits are lifelines for some families struggling them to pay for basic necessities like rent, electricity or medical bills.

This challenge will give you an idea of what it is like to live on food stamps, and not have the luxury of things like eating out, or buying a fancy coffee at Starbucks.  While living on a small food budget for only a few days cannot come close to the struggle faced by families day after day, week after week, month after month, it does provide you with a different perspective on food and gives you a better understanding. 

How it works.

  • You have a budget of only $4.57 per person per day
  • All food purchased and eaten in the time of the challenge must be counted in total spending.  (This includes food already in your pantry)
  • You may use condiments, spices and flour already in your pantry, but if you purchase more during the week of the challenge, you must account for the price of the spices or flour.
  • No eating out!  SNAP is not accepted at restaurants.
  • Try to include fresh produce and a healthy protein each day.
  • Do not accept food from family or friends, as this isn’t always an option for families.
  • Use coupons if you have them!
  • Share your experience!  Don’t forget to use hashtags #SNAPFoodStampChallenge and #HungerAction when sharing!  Did you feel deprived or restricted in any way?  Did you eat different than usual?  Were you hungry?
  • Encourage others to take the challenge.

Food Allowed With Food Stamps

  • produce
  • canned goods
  • meat and seafood
  • dairy products
  • dry goods, beans and rice
  • infant formula and baby food
  • coffee and tea (thank goodness!)

Foods Not Allowed With Food Stamps

  • alcohol
  • cigarettes
  • medicine and vitamins
  • paper products
  • hot foods and anything that you eat in the store

Our Budget – $68.55

Our budget for the three of us for the SNAP challenge was $13.71 a day, or $68.55 for the five days of the challenge wasn’t so bad for me since I am used to planning budget meals, but when I plan meals, I always have a little wiggle room, so this made it tough.  It was like going to the store for $70 worth of groceries and only having $60.  I felt very restricted, and had to purchase items that I could use multiple times, for multiple meals.

Our Menu

Day One
Breakfast:  english muffin with butter and peanut butter, watermelon
Lunch:  peanut butter and banana sandwich, baby carrots
Dinner:  chicken and rice casserole, salad

Day Two
Breakfast:  cereal, banana
Lunch:  leftovers, string cheese
Dinner:  pasta and sauce, green beans

Day Three
Breakfast:  oatmeal, watermelon
Lunch:  leftovers, baby carrots
Dinner:  bean quesadillas, corn

Day Four
Breakfast:  cereal, banana
Lunch:  bean and rice burritos, baby carrots
Dinner:  english muffin pizzas, green beans

Day Five
Breakfast:  oatmeal, watermelon
Lunch:  peanut butter and banana sandwich, string cheese
Dinner:  baked ziti, salad

air popped popcorn
string cheese and crackers

orange juice

How Much Did We Spend?

King Soopers – $16.71

  • english muffins – $1.49
  • basil – $1.99
  • juice (1 gal) – $1.99
  • milk (1 gal) – $1.99
  • parmesan cheese – $1.49
  • coffee – $5.99
  • ritz crackers – $1.77
  • chicken breast – 1 lb – $1.99

WalmartToGo – $ 35.69

  • peanut butter – $1.98
  • cream of chicken soup – $0.94
  • pasta (2 boxes) – $1.28 each – $2.56
  • crushed tomatoes (2 cans) – $1.24 each – $2.48
  • tomato sauce – $0.68
  • tomato puree – $1.24
  • garlic – $0.50
  • tortillas (20 ct) – $2.18
  • shredded cheese (2) – $2.64 each – $5.28
  • ricotta cheese – $1.94
  • coffee cream (1 qt) – $2.03
  • frozen corn – $0.98
  • frozen green beans – $0.98
  • salad mix – $2.98
  • salad dressing – $1.98
  • butter – $3.98
  • cream cheese – $1
  • string cheese – $1.98

Sprouts – $7.21

  • watermelon – $1.98
  • 1 bunch bananas – $1.77
  • 1 lb dry beans – $0.79
  • 1 lb popcorn – $0.99
  • 1 lb oatmeal – $0.69
  • 1 lb rice – $0.99


  • salt
  • pepper
  • sugar
  • garlic salt
  • taco seasoning

Budget:  $68.55

Total: $ 59.61

Leftover: $8.94 

Keep connected with me and Dr. Dale Zagiba through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and join us as we share our experience of the SNAP Challenge daily.

ham flyer DHW pdf-page-001




  1. Is this what you normally eat? I’m all for these challenges, but they seem to have food, that is ‘expected’. Very little meat in your meals.
    Our breakfast is usually only about 5 different, and our lunches, tend to be left overs, varied salads, or home made soup or sandwiches.
    I guess I’m disappointed with the dinner meals the most. We are more meat and potatoes, with assorted vegetables people. We like meatloaf, roast chicken dinners, stews, casseroles.
    Dessert is usually a simple cake or yogurt with fresh fruit.
    and we still stay in the average (stocking up on sales) range of $50 for my husband and myself.
    I do want to thank you, for showing, that it is able to be done, with nutritious meals…just wish you did it longer than 5 days.

  2. I need to give you an apology…after reading further, especially your 31 day menu plan, it does seem more reasonable.

    • Thanks for looking further! The food stamp challenge is particularly hard because if you are to follow it in true “food stamp” style, there really isn’t any meat unless it comes from a can, unfortunately.

      I am glad that you found the other menus on my site though.

      Thanks for sharing! Happy New Year!

      Lindsie 🙂

  3. I love reading about Food Stamp challenges. With many other challengers they always whinge about how hard it is, and I’m sure they are eating food, they hadn’t eaten in 15 yrs (PB & J sandwiches, etc ) or they will by organic, artisan breads etc. How all they can think about is their next meal. Well, that is like anything new, you do think about it. It’s neither good nor bad, it just is.

    We don’t have food stamps in Canada or Australia (where we split our time) The food here is a generally a bit more expensive here, but nothing crazy, if you shop carefully.
    The only can meat we buy is tuna, and occasionally canned ham. The rest of the time it is generally fresh meat and produce.

    So many people assume food stamp recipients are lazy, dumb, or too time restricted to cook anything.. That may or may not be true, but probably no more than the non-food stamp people.
    The other problem I have, they always say people eat alone when brown bagging it, and they feel isolated. Well, chances are their co-workers are in the same position, and they can eat together.
    Trying the challenge for 5-7 days, with that amount of money, wouldn’t allow for much variety.It’s almost like they are set up to fail.
    However, I think they are paid monthly, which allows for plenty of variety.

    The allotted amount for FS is still more than my husband and I eat, and we don’t even try to budget. He is 6’1, 220 lbs and I am 5’1″ 112 lbs. Portion control is vital.

    thanks for allowing me to vent 🙂

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