Saturday, May 9, 2015

Nutritious Food on $29 a Week? Probably not Possible

Here's what $33.58 will buy--that's pretty close to the $29 a week challenge some people have taken lately in sympathy with people on the SNAP program. (The maximum amount you can get on SNAP is $194 per month according to the USDA, which comes out to $44.77 per week.)

The grass-fed angus was inexpensive ($3.90 per pound) because I buy it in bulk--and it's an odd cut (cheek meat).

There are a lot more calories here than in the rice, beans, tortillas and vegetation others have bought on the challenge. Nevertheless, what you see here amounts to only 5,397 calories, or 771 calories a day.

caloriesprice$/100 calorie
12 eggs852$3.00$0.35
4.75# beef3,629$18.53$0.51
2 cans sardines400$6.98$1.75
head cabbage218$1.62$0.74
red bell pepper37$0.88$2.38
English cucumber34$1.69$4.97

To eat such a diet for a week on 1,500 calories per day would cost $65.

You might get more calories for less money on potatoes, rice and beans, but many people on such a high-carb diet will spend a lot of time hungry and tired because it will give them roller-coaster blood sugars. Diabetics will need more medication. People with bad teeth may see them get worse. As for nutrition, grains and beans have nutrient blockers that interfere with mineral absorption. 

But note that the first letter of SNAP stands for Supplemental. It's not meant to be a person's entire food budget. What to do? Here's one idea. 

Get a job.

ETA: If you're willing to eat non-pastured meat and eggs and shop the sales, a $29-a-week low-carb diet can be done. See this.


Sharon said...

Did you find the beef cheeks at Sprouts? There is one kind of a drive from me but it may be worth it to stock up. I cannot get grass-fed anything in my area for that low.

Lori Miller said...

I got the beef cheeks from Sun Prairie Beef. You can order from them online and they make a run along the Front Range four times a year. Their next run is May 16; you can also get delivery by UPS if you're in a state neighboring Colorado.

Lowcarb team member said...

If possible it is better to buy the higher fat foods and not so much of the higher carbs food ... it should provide more satiety (have I spelt that right?). Many do of course grab the cereals, rice, potatoes yes they are generally cheaper but when you weigh up the pro's and cons higher blood sugar numbers .. not such good dental health etc I would always suggest you buy the best you can afford.

All the best Jan

Lori Miller said...

Agreed. If you have to buy bigger clothes and medicine for everything from diabetes to upset stomach, and get a bunch of cavities filled, that cheap diet of crap-in-a-bag may not be so cheap. See

Galina L. said...

Probably, only very cheap meat like chicken and chicken organs, and some pork cuts(shoulder is often less than $ for a lb) are affordable choices on a such budget. It is possible to buy vegetables at low prices if you know where to go.

Lori Miller said...

If you could get pork for less than $1 a pound, you could probably swing a $29 grocery budget, if the omega 6 from the CAFO pork fat didn't bother you.

Something that annoyed me about my Section 8 neighbors from years ago was that they seemed able-bodied, they were home all day, and had a yard, but none of them ever grew a garden.

Galina L. said...

When I straggled financially, chicken was my #1 choice. It was possible to find chicken thighs under $1 per lb, however I preferred whole animal - it allowed more variety(chicken patties from a breast, fried legs, liver for a pate) and a carcass as a soup source. When there is not enough money, type of fat can't be a preference. I used chicken fat for sauteing root vegetables for a soup.

Lori Miller said...

I haven't seen chicken for that price, but the whole ones are way cheaper than the tough, dry, and less nutritious boneless, skinless breasts. The gelatin from a roast chicken makes a good, thick sauce, too.

Galina L. said...

Somehow the number missed at the pork price in one of my comments. Shoulder roast with bones is normally available now at $ 1.99/lb, on sale sometimes 1.49, in a more expensive store the price is $2.29. Buying turkeys at the end of season is a very reasonable practice. The turkey broth tastes the best, and the soup is the must food when money is tight.

You have to be used to a budget creativity in order to manage successfully.