Budget Day 25: Food Stamps, Earth Fare, and Halloween

Just guess how much money our family of four would have available to spend on food if we were getting food stamp benefits (which by the way has been renamed to SNAP)? $167/week. Yep, that is $42 more a week than what we are currently spending during this little 100 Days of Real Food on a Budget project. In all fairness we are also allowing ourselves to spend $20/week on eating out. But, even if we included that additional money (which we’ve barely used so far) it would still mean we fall $22 short of a family on food stamps. Must be nice…an extra 20 bucks or more a week would feel like a lot of money right now!

So back to what I’ve been buying on this super tight budget… As I mentioned the other day I got some items from Trader Joe’s, but I was not able to buy everything on my list. So I went to Earth Fare yesterday and tried to spend the least amount of money possible, which turned out to be $12.33. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. And here is what I got (click to see picture)…

  • 0.79 lbs dried garbanzo beans $1.73
  • Heavy cream $2.99
  • Bananas $0.70
  • Fruit cup honeydew melon $1.58
  • Head of garlic $0.50
  • Mango $1.25
  • Potatoes $3.09
  • Shallot $0.25
  • 3 lb Bag of apples – FREE!! Thanks to an Earth Fare coupon!

Here are the things I wanted to buy, but didn’t…

  • Soy sauce – We are just low…not out completely so I will wait another week.
  • Unsweetened coconut – We love having this in our granola recipe, but we can still eat it without the coconut so it had to be skipped.
  • Frozen berries – I’ve unfortunately gone from fresh berries in my granola to mediocre frozen berries to now eating whatever fruit we have on hand (apples, bananas) in the morning.
  • Tahini – Um, how could I have never noticed that this cost more than $7 a jar! Luckily, I could wait on this one too.

We just keep making sacrifices on this budget and some of them are of course a bigger deal than others. For example I can totally live without the coconut in my granola…but I still really miss my berries in the morning! One new thing I just noticed (since I now am documenting my shopping so nicely!) is that my husband asked me to buy coffee beans at Trader Joe’s earlier this week, and I had just bought him a ($9) bag when we first started this budget, which was only a few weeks ago. So I told him if we are going to limit everyone else’s milk consumption to save money he is definitely going to have to cut back on coffee. I don’t drink coffee myself (only a mocha with 1 small shot of espresso), and he didn’t used to drink coffee either up until a year or two ago. If he doesn’t start drinking less he might have to give it up all together…just like the old days!

There’s been a lot of discussion around here about the impending candy holiday that is coming up this weekend. I of course want my kids to participate in all of the Halloween fun, but I am trying not to let the junk overwhelm me along the way. Kids obviously get excited about trick-or-treating (which I wholeheartedly accept), but what about all of the other treats, school parties, and spider crafts made out of Oreos that lead up to the big event? I honestly don’t know what to do with all of the stuff they are bringing home, and that is if they even bring it home from school before they eat it. One of the few things I do feel like I have under my control is the night of trick-or-treating. We are absolutely going to let our girls trick-or-treat their little hearts out, it is just what we are going to do with all of the candy that will be different this year. After hearing this advice from several parents we’ve decided to let them keep 5 pieces of candy (of their choice!) and then we will “buy” the rest of the candy from them. Our kids are still little so we don’t expect them to get a ton. So we are thinking we will give them either one nickel or one dime per piece (oh, I need to go to the bank!), which they can then use to buy a toy with from the store. I have to say that my girls, who have both been given very limited candy over the last few months, are pretty darn excited about getting FIVE whole pieces of candy AND a new toy of their choice! I am not sure how many years this will work out for us so nicely, but at least for this Halloween we have a plan.