It’s that time of year again. Time to sit down and plan our “food stamp” challenge for the Lenten season. Food Stamps aren’t actually called that anymore, they are called SNAP-Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, and usage in this country is at a record high. Nearly 47 million people are enrolled in the program. A lot of people think you can’t eat well or really healthy on a SNAP allotment. They are wrong. If you shop and plan well wisely you can eat very well and nutritiously at the same time. What is the point of the challenge? Well 1) Being good stewards of the earth, mindful of wasting food, a precious resource 2) Being mindful of the money spent and wasted on unhealthy food 3) Being able to save money to put aside for those less fortunate than ourselves and those dependent on the SNAP program for sustenance 4) Having faith that God will provide *”He gives food to every living thing. His faithful love endures forever” (Psalm 136:25, NLT)*
Food prices are shooting up. It’s only smart for all of us to give a thought and a prayer towards where our food comes from, how it gets to us and how it is distributed. Let’s cut to the chase-the money you save by eating a healthy diet can be put towards your local food pantry or homeless shelter. No, you don’t have to eat ramen noodles, peanut butter and cat food three times a day. Here’s a sample menu my husband and I will be using this year. Keep in mind for the last two years we have come in considerably UNDER the allotment. There are only two in our household but we have a part-time toddler during the week and her nutritional needs will be accounted for in our budget too. This particular week we have shrimp, ribs, steak- all bought the week before Super Bowl and greatly discounted. Shop those sales.
We will eat 2-3 meatless meals a week. M-W-F works for us.
Typical breakfasts for John- breakfast burrito (homemade and some will be meatless-egg/bean/cheese), cereal, oatmeal
Typical lunches for John- leftovers or soup and crackers
Typical breakfasts for me- yogurt and fruit, oatmeal, eggs with tortilla
Typical lunches for me- leftovers or protein shake
Monday- almond crusted talapia, cole slaw
Tuesday- Bacon wrapped chicken tenders, Brown rice Greek salad
Wednesday- Eggplant parmagiana stacks, salad
Thursday- maple glazed chicken breast, sweet potato fries, oven- roasted broccoli
Friday- Cajun shrimp pasta, massaged kale salad
Saturday- pork ribs, Asian slaw
Sunday-rib eyes or steak, steamed spinach, baked rutabaga fries
Rules? You want rules? This isn’t rocket science. Do whats best for your family, but here are a few guidelines……..(thanks dumbsainthood blog)
- Using the SNAP table find the state you live in. That is what your food budget allowance will be per person. The table is representative of a monthly allowance. Divide by 4 to get your weekly amount.Use that amount per person to find your weekly budget. My target is $60-65 per week.
- You can run your challenge as long as you like, with a minimum of one week. Our household will follow 1st Monday of Lent until Good Friday. Do just a week or a whole month. It’s up to you.
- The budget allotment is for food only. This also includes any dining out or coffee shop stops.
- To make it easy, purchase a pre-paid debit or gift card for the exact amount of the budget you’re working with. Use it as a SNAP recipient would their EBT (Electronic Benefits Card). I love, love, love this idea and will probably use it.
- You can use any items you had previous to the challenge already in your pantry.
- If you have a garden, by all means use the vegetables.
- Use coupons if you want to.
- Shop only one day a week. Make a list and STICK TO IT!