A new year, a new challenge.
For January, I’m starting the Food Stamp Challenge again. I wrote about the conditions for this exercise already, so I won’t repeat, but I hopefully I’ll keep up the weekly updates.
Groceries for the First Week
For the first week, I hoped to spend $20 in groceries in preparation for the challenge. Luckily, I have most of my necessities on hand before heading to the store, so I didn’t need to pick up much. It’s going to be eggplant week to kick off this Food Stamp Challenge (FSC) and what better way than with a vitamin packed fruit.
Here’s the list of this week’s groceries from Trader Joe’s:
- Sweet crisp canned corn ($ 0.89)
- Light Coconut Milk -canned ($0.99)
- 1 large eggplant ($1.39)
- 1 dozen large white eggs ($1.49)
- 8 bananas – $0.19 each ($1.52)
- White mushrooms – 8 oz. carton ($1.69)
- Baby Spinach – ($1.99)
- Blood Oranges – 2 lb bag ($1.99)
- Organic Multigrain Oatmeal ($2.29)
Total Amount Spent: $14.24
Amount Remaining: $35.76
Hopefully I planned this week well so I won’t have to waste any food and it will last me all week and perhaps next week as well. I’m starting this challenge officially on January 4th since I was visiting my family previously. Also, I will do my best to keep all my meals and snacks balanced and healthy. There will no MSG and no overly processed foods this month unless specified. I’m hoping that through this challenge, I will demonstrate that healthy eating is not expensive and it’s not complicated either.
I don’t clip coupons and I don’t read the weekly grocery ads. I just plan out the entire month, but I’m flexible with my menu based on the items at the store and what appeals to me. This isn’t the only way to be healthy and cheap, but this is my way of eating healthy for the new year.
What’s on this weeks’ dinner menu?
- Eggplant Parmesan with Pasta
- Modified Ratatouille or Confit Byaldi with Pasta
- Eggplant Stew with Harvest Blend (Couscous, beans, barley, quinoa)
I’ve tried the Food Stamp Challenge about twice this year and starting January 2010, I’ll be kicking it off again. This time, it’s gonna be crazy intense! I’ll be setting aside a cash budget of $50 in an envelope so it will be easier to track. I can shop as many times during the month as I want as long as I keep under the budget.
There are some conditions that I’ve set aside:
- No coupons unless it is already marked off with my rewards cards
- No processed/frozen food (unless it’s sausage and tofu)
- Must have balanced meals (no living off of ramen and mac&cheese)
- Can eat out twice this month (leftovers not allowed and prices don’t count in budget)
- Spices, oil, and 10 other things in the pantry does not count (it’s a bit cheating, but it’s already in the fridge and I don’t want them to go to waste)
A lot of people say that in order to be healthy, you have to spend a lot more money than to be unhealthy. But I want to prove them wrong, it can be done…to be healthy and to be cheap are not mutually exclusive. Sure, it might not be possible for me to buy organic, but it will be ok. This challenge would probably be pretty tough, but I’m sure I can do it.
In the 50’s people had victory gardens and even Mrs. Obama recently set up a White House vegetable garden! As for me, since I live in an apartment, I am only growing basil and parsley. I don’t really have time to take care of any more plants. So, I’m not really cheating with my basil and parsley.
I’ll try to keep a better record of everything…pictures and all! Wish me luck!
Since this was the first month on the Food Stamp Challenge, I didn’t know what to expect. I had a couple things spoil during the month, I ran out of veggies and fruit by the end of the 3rd week, and I definitely ate out too much (10 times!) Next month, I need to break up my grocery shopping to twice a month to prevent spoilage and to plan my meals better, especially breakfast and lunch. After a while, I got bored eating the same food for the week.
Overall, for April, I spent $54.54 on groceries and $201.99 on eating out. In total, I’ve spent $256.53 on food for the entire month, which is lower than I usually spend, but still quite high.
So, for May, eating out is limited to 5 days out of the entire month. The grocery budget is $60, which is about $2 a day, which is ok since I get to plan this better. And this will encompass breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I must buy more vegetables and fruit. It’s a good start, but I think I should make this a more permanent challenge and see how things will go. I’m pretty sure I can do this challenge and still be healthy.