Eyes SNAP’ed Wide Open

A week of SNAP food

The photo above captures $67.73 in food (including sales tax!). That’s a smidge under the $33.98 each my wife and I get this week in our Virtual Food Stamp SNAP Challenge.

The grocery shopping experience of buying $67.73 in groceries for two for an entire week was rather eye-opening. Below are 8 Eye-Opening SNAP Grocery Shopping Observations, a list which assuredly compares in infotainment value as 7 Struggles Every Pale Person Can Understand.

  1. Meat, cheese, and dairy are out. They are simply way too expensive, even though 63% of U.S. food subsidies go toward keeping meat & dairy at a fraction of their actual market price. Our only dairy was almond milk, which was $2.50 for a half gallon (vs. $1.63 for a half gallon of whole cow’s milk).
  2. Protein will be a struggle. The average male should consume 56g of protein daily; pregnant or lactating woman should consume 71g. At least 10% and no more than 35% of their calories should come from protein. Our main sources of protein are from various types of beans, peanuts, peanut butter, and potatoes.
  3. Organic is being cut out. The pressure to buy organic and pay 2x more is a rich person’s problem; it isn’t happening here. While I would love to eat food that is better for the environment, grown with less pesticides, and without hormones are antibiotics, I simply can’t afford it. Also, it would be nice to be able to buy some more leafy greens. The bulk of my produce are potatoes, apples, and spinach.
  4. Buying off-brand (Kroger-brand) is required. Branding and advertising is expensive, so it is a luxury I can’t afford. Thinking about it again, I probably should have gone to Walmart instead.
  5. Shopping is NOT a pleasure. Grocery shopping took nearly 3x as long, and was frustrating and unpleasant the entire time. I had to compare the $ per ounce signs on every product and count up *each cent*. I had to think out every meal for the week in advance, considering serving sizes and every individual ingredient. It was tiring.
  6. Coupons are king. While I didn’t have any coupons, I could see how the existence of a coupon could decide whether or not I could afford a product any given week. A Kroger plus card is required; it saved me nearly 10%.
  7. Empty calories are out. I wish I could afford bread, cereals and potato chips! But I can’t afford to waste my limited cents on nutritionally empty calories. That isn’t to say I wasn’t tempted to stress-buy a bucket of cheesy-poofs. They have protein, right?
  8. I need to buy in bulk to really save. While I’d love to visit a Costco or SAMS’s Club and really pile on the buy-in-bulk savings, SNAP doesn’t allow me to spend money on such memberships. If I was participating for a full month, I’d focus on buying oils, rice, and dry beans in bulk to squeeze out every cent.

For the extra curious, you can view a line-item list of pricing and quantity of our grocery bill.


2 thoughts on “Eyes SNAP’ed Wide Open

  1. No coupons??! David, for shame. You can REALLY stretch your dollar with double coupons, etc. When I had access to coupons (sob), I would routinely save our household between $50-100 (or more!) a trip. All I had to do was snip some paper.

    • Yeah coupons would have been a real cost-saver. Except most couple are for brands/manufacturers, which are often 2x more expensive than grocerer label, and the grocerer coupons are largely “buy 2 get $1 off” or for the premium priced organic produce. I can barely afford one!

      I was shipping around for “manager special” mark downs. I can imagine that only in affluent neighborhoods would those 1/2 to 2/3 price reductions for overstocked goods be passed up!

      If I had a full months’ $133 credit on my EBT card I could make things work more with coupons & in bulk. Yet 90% of SNAP benefits are used in full by day 21….a full week less!

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