It's been a hectic couple of weeks, but the cooking never ends completely. A few of our most recent meals.
Back in the days of cooking school, I received Food Stamp benefits. Through my food bank education I learned that benefits normally only last 2 1/2 weeks - that was before gas and grocery prices started to skyrocket a few years back. I still thought I was doing something because I could fill a cart with unprocessed and lightly processed foods and barely used $100 of my South Carolina EBT benefits. That was at Wal-mart though. Now that I understand how to use food coupons, my previous Walmart experience is a little embarrassing. Kinda like trying to take a high school math test with an abacus (kids, just click on another tab and look up abacus in Wikipedia) instead of a calculator.
Lots of people getting food stamps benefits have a rough two weeks waiting for the next monthly deposit to reach their accounts. That's when the phones would ring off the hook at the food bank from people looking for emergency food assistance. A number of those calls came from seniors or other single adults (with no dependents) who were only receiving $10 - $15 a month in food stamps anyway. With that in mind and with the number of people getting food stamps (or SNAP benefits) at a record high, I decided test the coupon system and see how much food I could get for $15. The whole premise behind smart food coupon shopping is using your coupons only for items that are already on sale. And if you shop only the B1G1 sales with no coupons you're still saving 50%. These types of sales are not available at Walmart so grocery chains like Publix, Bi-Lo and Harris Teeter are your best bet in the Southeast. And if you have a Kroger's store near you, then you can stretch those savings pretty far. Since most people living in South Carolina have access to Bi-Lo stores, that's where I did my shopping. The prices listed next to each item highlight what I paid for each item after coupon discounts. Bi-Lo also doubles all coupons that are $.60 or less.
I goofed because I grabbed turkey hotdog coupons for Butterball, not Shady Brook Farm. There was another deal on my shopping list for Butterball frozen turkey breast and I confused myself. I could have bought another pack of the Shady Brook hotdogs without a coupon and still came in under my $15 goal. No, I don't have any bread or buns for the hotdogs, but I've already shown you how to bake bread and hotdog buns yourself for pennies.
Also, I bought a few items separately that could have also been added to this shopping list and still come in under $15.00:
(reprinted from G's Commodity Food Facts)
August 8, 2010
A recent Boston Globe article highlighted the record numbers of Americans eligible and receiving food stamp or SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits. While the general public may think that SNAP recipients are living in the lap of luxury, wasting food assistance funds on prime rib and premium ice cream, the truth is that many receiving benefits get very little - how about $10-$15 a month? That's the common benefit for seniors, folks. Picking your jaw up off the floor yet?
Even as a food bank employee, I used to think that $10-$15 of monthly SNAP benefits could only last for 2 boxes of brand name cereal. That was before I discovered couponing. Tomorrow, I plan to show just how far you can stretch $15 at a regular grocery store.