We are participating in the Tucson Community Food Bank SNAP Challenge again this year. I found our participation last year enlightening, it’s one thing to “say” you recognize the challenge some families face but entirely different to “try” and experience a few days in their shoes.
The idea is to spend only $16 per person on food for the length of the challenge, September 3rd – 6th. SNAP benefits are approximately $4 a day per person and while the benefits are intended to supplement a food budget, the reality is many families have no additional funds for food after paying for diapers, rent, utilities, medical costs and daycare.
Our SNAP Challenge Menu Plan
For our family of 4 that means I have a $64 budget for the 4 days of the SNAP Challenge. I spent extra time pouring over the grocery ads trying to figure out the best way to eat on our SNAP Challenge budget.
I had a couple of food priorities when planning our menu for the challenge.
1. I wanted to minimize the changes to the boys’ school lunches.
Luckily my boys’ don’t have special dietary concerns to worry about. That would be difficult for any family but I imagine it’s a nightmare for families on SNAP. They do have typical kid pickiness with food though and I prefer to keep their lunches as normal as possible so I know they’ll eat it. I hate the idea of them being hungry at school. I started my SNAP challenge shopping list with their lunch items first.
2. My 2nd priority was to incorporate two of our regular dinner recipes into the plan.
Luckily one of our family favorites, Homemade Hamburger Helper is very budget friendly. I also decided to make White Bean and Kale Soup because I think it’s one of our healthier recipes. Our remaining two dinners will be hotdogs and leftovers.
SNAP Challenge Menu Shopping
I ended up shopping at our neighborhood Walmart for the bulk of our food. I price-matched some items and relied on their “lower” prices for other things. I did pick up a few things at my 99 Cents Only store since their deals can be quite good and I do bargain hunt there on a regular basis. I wanted to keep the shopping plan “real” for my family but also simplified. Transportation issues and store proximity makes a big difference on one’s ability to shop often and find food deals.
The SNAP Challenge starts today. If you decide to join in, I would love to hear about it and so would the food bank! Share your experience with the Community Food Bank on twitter and facebook, or even write about it on the Community Food Bank Snap Challenge blog!