Try the Food Stamp Challenge
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Try the Food Stamp Challenge

Posted on Monday, January 14th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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Ready to cut down on your grocery bill? One way to do that is to try the Food Stamp Challenge. You will end up spending less money on groceries than you usually do. When you are done with the challenge, you will have a new perspective on how to put together inexpensive meals.

Years ago, when someone used food stamps they were literally using small stamps to pay for their food. Today, the name of this program has been changed to SNAP which stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Instead of stamps, people use electronic benefit transfer cards.

The original purpose of the Food Stamp Challenge was to bring awareness to the struggle people face when using food stamps. Since then, several members of Congress have done the challenge. For them, it was a way to experience, first hand, how some of the people they represented were living.

The Food Stamp Challenge is not a diet. It is not intended to be one, and it is not something you should do in the hopes of losing weight.

Most people do the challenge for one week, and limit themselves to about $4.00 a day worth of food (the average amount an individual would get from a food stamp program). Or, check this list to find out the average monthly benefit that a person who lives in your state would get through SNAP.

The challenge involves staying within that budget. Keep your grocery shopping within that dollar amount. Learn how to find inexpensive, yet nutritious, foods. You have to include any fast food that you buy into the budget for that day.

You can’t accept free food from friends or family, and you cannot eat the food that you already had stocked in your kitchen before the challenge started. One result from the experience is that you really see, first hand, how hard it is to live on food stamps.

Another result is that you will end up looking at grocery shopping in a different way. Maybe the experience caused you to pay more attention to the nutrition labels on packages of food, or to compare one brand with another.

Perhaps you learned how to shop for foods that can be put together in a meal instead of just random foods that caught your attention that day. You might have learned that you don’t really need as much junk food as you had been eating.

I wouldn’t recommend the Food Stamp Challenge to everyone. People who have food allergies or other medical or health issues might not be able to safely participate in it. Some parents might want to try the challenge themselves but not require their children to do it.

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Good Tip: Saving money is important – especially if you have a lot of expenses like bills to pay, loans to pay off, and all the other things that drain your bank account. Figuring out a way to save money can feel tedious to some, and like a punishment to others. U.S. News suggests that you try one of these money saving challenges. The “No Eating Out for a Month” Challenge This one is self-explanatory. The goal is to avoid eating out for an entire month. This might be super easy for people who enjoy making meals at home. People who really enjoy dining out, or ordering food to be sent to their home, may struggle with this one. It’s worth a try because spending money on take-out is more expensive than buying groceries. The Pantry Challenge This one is a variation of the “No Eating Out for a Month” challenge. The goal is to use up all of your groceries before you buy more. It forces you to try and remember why you bought a food or beverage that you don’t know what to do with, and gives you the opportunity to find a way to use it. The one exemption to this challenge is the foods that have expired. Don’t eat them! Throw them in the trash. The “No Spend” Challenge Make a goal to avoid spending money during an entire weekend. The only exemption in this challenge is that you are allowed to pay bills. This challenge is interesting because it requires creativity. You must be creative and find workarounds for problems that you would typically solve by spending money. You may have a different outlook on spending after finishing this challenge.