Author Topic: Living on a SNAP Budget  (Read 3067 times)

frugalkristen

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Living on a SNAP Budget
« on: March 06, 2017, 10:17:01 AM »
So I'm trying to lower my food costs (I'm not too out of control but can do better).  I want to live on a SNAP budget for a year.  That means for just me, it's $194/month or $6.85/day.  I think that's very doable.  I'm going to plan out some menus this week (and with my daughter visiting, I can't start as I'm feeding her as well).  So starting next week, I'm going to limit myself to $48 a week on groceries.  Has anyone else tried going this low?  I feel like I'm close to this number as it is so I might try to go lower if I can.

**my boyfriend eats dinner here most nights so I still have to figure out how to add that in but I'll come up with some formula.

swick

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2017, 10:30:10 AM »
Leanne's Website and her free cookbook are an awesome resource for living on a SNAP budget, if you haven't heard of it! https://www.leannebrown.com/

Mongoose

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2017, 07:49:42 AM »
We've gone lower than that (per person) but because we were unemployed and didn't have a choice. It's possible for sure. We have food allergies and are eating a lot of meats/vegetables. Our current grocery budget is lower per person than that. We probably do get some economies of scale though.

nottoolatetostart

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2017, 08:41:40 AM »
Have you checked out Budget Bytes Snap challenge? I think she did a month of recipes in Sept 2014 or Sept 2015. I remember getting daily emails about it. Once I learn more, I might be interested to kick up my grocery savings a notch.  I would be interested in doing this in April with you

marielle

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2017, 08:48:03 AM »
I definitely eat on less than that including even eating out, and have gone as low as $125 a month in the past while in college (no eating out). However, I don't eat meat, dairy, or eggs which are fairly expensive and I don't have any weird dietary restrictions like gluten.

ZiziPB

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2017, 08:50:36 AM »
I am currently at about $50-60 per week for food, and I eat like a king (well, a queen in my case).  I think it would be fairly easy to lower that to $48 per week by cutting out a few indulgences.



geekinprogress

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2017, 10:26:37 PM »
Huh, I realize I had no idea what the SNAP budget is.  I'm currently aiming for $200/month including groceries and eating out.  I have the benefit of good, cheap food being available at work which is making it much easier, but also I'm really, really trying to reduce food waste - eat the things I buy, only buy the things I'll eat - and I feel that small changes really add up.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #7 on: March 11, 2017, 04:34:25 AM »
My SO and I spend about $200-250 on groceries per month, so I guess we eat on a SNAP budget without even trying.

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MonkeyJenga

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #8 on: March 11, 2017, 07:57:42 AM »
I spent about $80 in January and $150 in February even with unusual expenses on vacation. This is eminently doable. What do your meals and grocery purchases look like now?

FIT_Goat

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2017, 07:49:27 AM »
I don't know what the SNAP numbers would be for my family, but I use the data from here (https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/CostofFoodJan2017.pdf) and get a "Thrifty" target of $479.25.  Our actual budget is $560, so a little higher than normal.  Actually, if I don't "prorate" my son, it's almost right on target.  My son goes to his bio-dad's every weekend, so I only count 5/7ths of his amount.  Our $560 also includes some non-food items.


We could probably do better, but revisiting that part of the budget isn't on the table right now.  I like to buy in bulk, which helps.  What hurts is the amount of meat that I eat (lots), and the fact that I purchased a good amount of goat meat from a FFA auction.  It is a bit over retail cost per-pound, but it supports the local kids in my community.  We also buy too much processed junk, which is what we are currently working on shifting to more real foods.  When we get that done, the budget should naturally shift down.  Breaking the family off processed junk is hard.  I could try to force a cold-turkey transition, but there would be mutiny and I would be ousted.

monstermonster

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2017, 08:01:41 AM »
I lived on SNAP (and food stamps) for most of the past decade. When I got off, my spending naturally stayed below the SNAP line from years of living on it, and spend around $125-150/month on groceries now.

I always found the full amount of SNAP - $175 (and then up to the $190's with the Obama stimulus money) to be rather generous, and since I've gotten off of SNAP, I haven't had a month in 4 years where I've gone that high.

Please remember that the majority of people on SNAP do not get the FULL amount. If you want to live on SNAP, you should technically live on a partial amount. You need to have an income under $800/month to get the full amount. This is why SNAP is essentially a cash transfer, because it's more common to get something closer to $10-80/month. The current average amounts are here.

Remember if you're following SNAP that $195 cannot include any energy drinks/bars, hot food from the grocery store, household goods, pet food, vitamins and obviously booze/tobacco.

Biggest advice: don't eat meat. It's expensive.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2017, 08:05:25 AM by monstermonster »

Zikoris

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2017, 01:57:22 PM »
It honestly seems pretty excessive to me. We've been spending $230/month for two people for years, and that includes a lot of not-food spending like toilet paper and stuff. But if it helps you, go for it.
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Dicey

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #12 on: March 22, 2017, 01:32:33 PM »
I don't know what the SNAP numbers would be for my family, but I use the data from here (https://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/CostofFoodJan2017.pdf) and get a "Thrifty" target of $479.25.
First of all, I misread this as "Costco Food" on my small device, which was good for a chuckle when I saw it on a bigger screen. It caught my eye because I don't really budget. I have a ridiculously fancy-ass kitchen, so out of sheer gratitude for the house I'm fortunate enough to live in, I cook most meals at home. I shop at Costco, Grocery Outlet and the 99 Cents  Only Store. I do this loop about twice a month, with occasional stops at Sprouts if I need a fill-in between big shops. I was pleasantly surprised that the chart linked above yielded a Thrifty Plan monthly total of $668.60 for my family of four adults. That's about what I spend.

Whew! That sounds pretty humblebraggy to me. My point is by cooking at home and choosing not to shop at the closest full-service grocery store, my no-budget method is keeping me "Thrifty Plan" thrifty, with little additional effort. And that was an unexpected affirmation. Thanks for the link, FIT_Goat!
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asauer

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2017, 06:23:48 AM »
I was shocked that a family of 4 with 2 10 year old kids could spend over $600 and be thrifty!  woah.  We spend about $500 and that's with fancy pasture raised meat.  This is shock is a delightful side-effect of living in the mustachian bubble.  Haha.

elaine amj

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2017, 08:01:31 AM »
I have a family of 4 with DD15 and DS14. My grocery spending this year so far (most of it purchased in more-expensive Canada):
January - $830 (I had 2 additional tween boys staying with me for 1 month)
February - $630
March - $610

I'd LOVE to get this down to $500 (so $125/pp) but have resigned myself to an average of about $650 (which feels spendy). I have a bad habit of stocking up my freezer (its always stuffed to the brim) and always finding "sales" and "great deals". We mostly eat cheaper food and only stuff at reasonable prices. Although DH juices every day so that adds $10-20 a week easily in carrots, kale, and beets. We eat a lot of meat (mostly the kids though as DH and I try to eat more veggie-based meals), but I won't pay over $1.99/lb for any type of meat (so we don't eat a lot of beef). So when my spending starts getting up too high, I stay OUT of the grocery store and I stop looking at ads. DH does most of the grocery shopping (I meal plan and give him a shopping list) because I'm dangerous in a store.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2017, 08:03:02 AM by elaine amj »
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alewpanda

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #15 on: April 13, 2017, 11:46:47 AM »
Holy crap!  SNAP thrifty plans are what we spend on a regular month, occasionally the liberal plan when we have a month that purchase meat from our farmers market.  We might fall in the liberal category if you could our half a cow every few years, but, shoot!  Here i thought our food amounts were spendy!

We buy higher quality milk, some organic produce, alcohol comes out of the grocery budget, high quality meat, lots of fruits and veggies, and desserts/"oddball" items occasionally (coconut flour, for instance).  My spices are also organic!  I had no idea those were the SNAP levels.....

monstermonster

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #16 on: April 13, 2017, 01:55:30 PM »
I had no idea those were the SNAP levels.....
Just reemphasizing that most people who receive SNAP do not receive the full benefit amount. Many people who receive SNAP receive only ~$5-$30 per month.

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2017, 02:21:41 PM »
I had no idea those were the SNAP levels.....
Just reemphasizing that most people who receive SNAP do not receive the full benefit amount. Many people who receive SNAP receive only ~$5-$30 per month.

That's not the point.  The point is how many people whine about how it's impossible to live on the SNAP budget, using the maximum allotment.  It's because they buy expensive prepared foods and give no thought to economizing, such as buying in season and on sale.  You can live very well on $100 a month per person if you shop wisely and cook from scratch.  That includes store-bought bread of decent quality.

The old fashioned home economics class ought to make its' way back into the high school curriculum.  Cooking and budgeting should be two of the top topics.  Should be mandatory for both boys and girls.

Habilis

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #18 on: April 14, 2017, 09:50:04 AM »
Have you checked out Budget Bytes Snap challenge? I think she did a month of recipes in Sept 2014 or Sept 2015. I remember getting daily emails about it. Once I learn more, I might be interested to kick up my grocery savings a notch.  I would be interested in doing this in April with you

The budgetbytes.com SNAP challenge and leannebrown.com were both awesome inspiration for some new and inexpensive recipes, thank you!

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #19 on: April 15, 2017, 11:20:25 AM »
Mr. Weedy and I average about $220/mo on groceries and eat very well.  I shop at Aldi, our meat is mostly chicken and turkey (pork chops when on sale, occasional ham and ground beef), lots of fruits and veggies, everything cooked from scratch.  No alcohol, tobacco or soda.  If you cut out processed foods and junk, it's not hard to eat on a SNAP budget. 

We have friends, a family of mom + 6 kids (ages 4-19), that gets $900/mo food stamps.  It never lasts the full month.  Their house is full of soda and treats, and then 3 weeks later they don't have anything for dinner.  It breaks my heart, but my attempts to show mom another way have fallen on deaf ears.

FIT_Goat

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #20 on: April 15, 2017, 04:38:31 PM »
I think most people on here should be able to beat the thrift number, pretty easily. I hit it, and like I said, I eat a lot of meat. The majority is beef. With little or no meat, you should destroy my numbers.

I am not willing to cut the amount of meat down (due to lack of suitable replacements for my dietary needs and health), but I accept the drag it causes on my retirement date.

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Re: Living on a SNAP Budget
« Reply #21 on: April 16, 2017, 07:43:28 AM »
The federal government has done a horrible job with food programs in general because it gives in to corporate pressure and comes up with stupid programs like the restricted calorie school lunches.  To be effective, the SNAP program should only allow ingredients for home cooking and other healthy foods to be purchased.  No soda, chips, frozen meals, or any of that.  More like WIC.  If I'm paying for your food as a taxpayer, I get some say in what you buy.  You do not get to buy overpriced junk foods on my dime.

Food support used to be comprised of excess commodities from the federal commodity support programs distributed locally.  Maybe we should bring that back if it's cost effective.