30-day SNAP challenge: It's all about 'the list'

By Valencia

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) - I've done it a million times -- walk into the grocery store to buy a handful of select items, only to walk out with a basket full of food I don't need.

Fortunately for me, living on a food stamp budget doesn't allow for such overspending.

The United States Department of Agriculture reports last year the average person on South Carolina's SNAP Program received $131.38 in benefits a month. Divide that amount by 30 days, and it equals about $4.37 a day for food.

Needless to say, I realized very quickly that I needed a plan. I decided to split my monthly budget in half, to allow for dual grocery trips for the month.

And, that's where "the LIST" comes into play.

(I capitalize, italicize and set the words off with quotes because in my head they carry a loud, God-like authoritative voice.)

It took me about 40 minutes to get "the LIST" written and finalized. Meats were easy. I don't eat beef or pork, so ground turkey, chicken and possibly fish were a given. The problem came in with sides and snacks.Not only did they have to be healthy, but they had to be affordable.

I wrestled with vegetables, yogurts and rice cakes, trying to calculate which I could afford and would want to eat for longer than a day.

Finally, I came up with this list of items (? = questionable purchases):

  1. Ground Turkey (3 lbs)
  2. Boneless Chicken ?
  3. Frozen Tilapia (1 bag)
  4. Whole Wheat pasta (1 box)
  5. Brown Rice (1 box) {}
  6. Frozen Broccoli (2 bags)
  7. Canned corn (2)
  8. Tomato sauce (1 jar)
  9. Strawberries ?
  10. Blueberries ?
  11. Oatmeal
  12. Turkey Bacon
  13. Eggs (24)
  14. Bell Peppers (4)
  15. Onion (1)
  16. Rice Cakes ?
  17. Yogurt ?
  18. Multi-grain Bread (2 loaves) ?
  19. Sliced turkey

From this list, I was able to come up with a tentative meal plan for the next two weeks.

First trip to the grocery store is tonight. Stay tuned!