This afternoon we went shopping for food and such. Did you know that a family of four can get almost $700 a month in food stamps? We don't have food stamps. We actually pay for our own food. A family with young kids also receives WIC food items which are valued at over $100 a month.
I was thinking just how much food could be bought for $700 or $800. I feed a family of 3 or 4 or 5 or however many people show up at mealtimes for much, much less that what the government will give. I spend about $300 a month for food but I am buying for the present and also the future.
For example, today I bought several different varieties of pasta totaling 15 pounds. I also bought 15 cans of spaghetti sauce. The pasta cost .85 a pound and the sauce was .78 per 26 ounce can. For under $25 I bought somewhere between 15 and 30 meals. If I figure 25 meals that's a dollar a meal. Not a dollar per person but a dollar per meal! Now you may say that that's not enough food for a meal and you are right. Remember, I have a garden and the fruits or vegetables served for the meal came from the yard. I usually make a loaf of bread. That costs about .15 - .25 depending on what I put into it. Then there's milk if I don't make a fruit drink. That's .75 per quart. So a full dinner for somewhere between three and 5 people costs TWO DOLLARS.
Breakfast this morning was eggs from our chickens, nectarine/plum/orange juice, and raisin bread (homemade of course). I went all out on the bread and put cinnamon sugar into the batter. Breakfast cost twenty five cents this morning. I fed five people this morning but it wouldn't have mattered how many we served. I don't always get away so cheap at breakfast. The kids do like eating cereal. I buy sugar junky cereal because they like it. I buy the stuff in bulk. It costs about .12 per ounce. I let them have two ounces. With their milk a cereal breakfast will cost about a dollar. Even if I make pancakes or waffles or something, breakfast doesn't usually cost more than a dollar. The most expensive breakfast? ONE DOLLAR.
What about lunch? Today our friend treated us to a pizza. We also snacked on the free stuff at Costco. Otherwise lunch isn't a big deal. It's either left overs from the night before or a sandwich of some sort. With tuna shrinking to a five ounce can it's hard to get three sandwiches out of it. But we still do. Sixty cents for the tuna. Bread is about 10 cents since it's home made. Milk, another quarter. Depending on how many people are eating. TWO DOLLARS.
Now you may say what about meat? You are right. We do eat meat. I just don't spend a lot. When I was growing up we'd each get our own steak each night. If I did that now we'd spend between ten and twenty dollars a day just for meat. No, not us. We have friends that hunt. We fish. At the most we spend about a dollar or two for meat. TWO DOLLARS.
I've just explained how we spend between five and seven dollars a day for food. That's around $200 a month to eat well. I'm feeding at least four people each day and I spend around $300 a month. The other hundred is being used to increase my food storage. If I was getting food stamps and WIC I'd have an extra $500 a month!!!!! I'd be putting lots of food away for a rainy day.
Do people who receive food stamps eat this way? Of course not! They can buy all sorts of things. Soda, candy, potato chips, steak each night. I know because some of our neighbors eat this way. They also throw away a lot of wasted food. They waste because they didn't have to pay for their food so they don't associate having to work hard for it.
This column today isn't to put down folks on food stamps. Not at all. I'd like you to try to rethink your eating habits. Try to get back to the basics of eating. Each dinner should have either rice or beans or pasta. Take a piece of meat the size of your fist and make it feed your entire family. Pretend it is 50 or 75 years ago. Would the food you just bought be something that was eaten daily? Was it even invented back then? I know that we have fruit and vegetables grown here at home. Spend a dollar or two per day on fresh fruits and vegetables. I don't mean the two dollar a pound stuff. I mean the fifty cent a pound. Buy a pound of carrots, a pound of cabbage, a pound of bananas, and an apple or two. That's two dollars.
See if you can eat for THREE DOLLARS per person per day. You should be able to eat like kings! The rest of the money you get on your food stamps should be able to be put into food storage.