For My Food Stamp Challenge Friends

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hey! I heard you’re having a tough time trying to get food for the week with $31.50, thought I’d send some love and a little recipe to see if this helps.

You can do it, I know you can!

I’m not going to do your whole week for you, you should plan on going to the store more than usual this week. You don’t want to spend all your money at once. I’ll send some other suggestions later, but for now here’s what you can buy for dinner for two nights, with a little left over for later.

1 lb pasta ($0.99)
8 oz mushrooms ($1.99)
1 green pepper ($0.84)
1 onion ($0.75) [est. – I already had an onion, not sure what the going rate is these days]
1 can crushed tomatoes ($1.99)

(Those prices are from Whole Foods, and the tomatoes were organic; you might be able to get things for less where you are.)

If you are allowed to use oils and spices from home, then you will be using olive oil and basil and oregano that you already have.

If you are not allowed to use oils and spices from home, then you should buy tomatoes with Italian spices already in them and either buy some olive oil, if you can get a small bottle for not very much, or buy some bacon. If you’re somewhere with a butcher counter where you can get a quarter pound of bacon, that’s probably going to be cheaper. (At the Whole Foods where I shop, you can get a quarter pound of bacon for $1.50).

Total cost (excluding fat): $6.56

When you’re ready to eat, chop up the onion and heat a saucepan with olive oil (two tablespoons or so), or cook a couple pieces of bacon to get some fat.

Put most of the chopped onion (three-quarters or so) in the pan with the heated fat, along with some oregano and basil. When it’s soft and translucent, add the crushed tomatoes along with some pepper and (if needed) salt — if you used low-sodium tomatoes you’ll have to add salt, otherwise they’re probably plenty salty without adding anything. (You can also add garlic if you have it, and you might want to put in a little bit of sugar depending on how acidic the tomatoes are; I didn’t use any, but you should taste it and see.) Let the sauce come to a boil, then lower the heat and let it simmer.

Put on some water to boil for cooking the pasta.

Chop the green pepper and slice up half of the mushrooms. Put some fat into a frying pan, then add the remaining quarter of the chopped onion. When that’s soft and translucent, add the green peppers, cook for a minute or two until they’re softened, then add the mushrooms. When that seems about right, soft but not mushy, take it off the heat.

When your water is boiling, add a few ounces of pasta — the amount depends on how big you are, how hungry you are, if you’re trying to lose weight, and/or if you’re trying to ration pasta. I cooked three ounces last night and that was just right for me.

When the pasta is cooked to your liking, put it in a dish with half of the green pepper/mushroom mixture on top, and half a cup of the tomato sauce on top of that.

Mix it all up and eat.


Tomorrow, cook another round of pasta, and heat up the leftover green pepper/mushroom mixture along with half a cup of tomato sauce. Same meal, no muss no fuss. Still yummy.

After you’re done with those two meals, you’ll have maybe a cup and a half of pasta sauce remaining, along with 8+ ounces of pasta and half a pound of mushrooms. You can use those later in the week, or you can save for later. (Don’t worry, I’ll send some more ideas if you’re still stuck.)

Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any questions.

3 Responses to “For My Food Stamp Challenge Friends”

  1. movie2ko Says:

    Hey! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I truly enjoy reading through your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that deal with the same subjects? Thanks!

  2. Liz Adams Says:

    I do like your blog very much, and appreciate that you go into detail about your projects. Good stuff.

    The only drawback is: I don’t know where you live, but for the listing of foods you give, the prices would exist only in my dreams. The only item I can get for around the price you paid, is the can of tomatoes. Everything else would be, probably double what you paid. So, no, not cheaper. There are parts of the country, as here in the northeast, where living is much much more expensive even in the “cheaper” foods. This is why I donate to my food bank. I have a very small income, senior on SS, but I give a dollar when I can simply because here you can’t begin to live on the prices people put up hopefully as likely!

    Not to criticize you, but just sayin here! our nearest Whole Foods is two towns away, so the cost of gas to get there would be over budget too.

    Nonetheless, good for you for pointing out that there are people who are challenged in many ways, aside from having to live on food stamps, such as not being well, not having transportation or a warm home.

  3. lessisenough Says:

    It’s true that food costs differ greatly between regions.

    I live in North Carolina, and I’ve lived here for long enough now that I don’t have a good sense of how things compare to other regions. Though I also know that different stores in the same town have wildly different prices. For instance when I did the Dollar a Day project, I was going to different stores to get only what I knew to be the cheapest at that store — one day I went to three stores for four items and spent $0.72. That was mostly to demonstrate the point that different stores are cheaper for different things, so if possible, you should try to structure your shopping to take advantage of that. Not go to four stores and spend seventy-two cents, that’s sort of crazy, even for me — and for all the people who talked about me wasting gas, I’ll just say for the record that I did that on my bike — but to go to Target every now and then for cereal and toothpaste, and the tienda for tortillas, and the Asian grocery for rice noodles, and then whatever is most convenient for day-to-day stuff.

    The funny thing is that I got a comment from someone who said he was like gee I wonder where this person lives, this stuff is crazy cheap, and it turned out he lived on the other side of town. So it pays to keep an eye on prices, you might be able to get things cheaper than you think if you start looking.

    Also I’m definitely not saying that people should shop at Whole Foods, just that I shop at Whole Foods because I can walk there, and also it has certain benefits, mostly that I can get things from the bulk bins, which makes walking home with groceries much easier. One of the reasons I tend to point out that I shop at Whole Foods is for all the people who call it “Whole Paycheck” — if I can spend less than $90/mo on food while shopping at what is viewed to be the most expensive store in town, then other people should have an easier time than they think shopping at other stores.

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