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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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%.
- 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?
- 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.