This week we did only one shopping trip, spending $58.56, to bring us to a total for the month so far of $286.95. Then we went out of town for three days, taking the bus to New York. I don't know how to account for that in this experiment. On the one hand, my brother and parents fed us several meals, which helped out the budget. On the other hand, we spent about $60 on restaurant meals...
So why are we finding it relatively easy to stay within the Thrifty Food Plan, when by all accounts, people on Food Stamps are struggling badly to cope with rising food prices? My guess is that there are several things going on:
- First, most people on Food Stamps are working, and thus receive less than the maximum monthly benefit. In theory, Food Stamps aren't supposed to pay for all their food -- they're supposed to use some of their cash income for food as well. But low-income families have many other demands on their income (if I remember correctly, about half are spending 50 percent or more of their income just on housing). Food is the easiest part of the budget to squeeze, particularly if you're willing to invest the time in going to food pantries.
- Second, we have a car, and so can travel to low-cost supermarkets and warehouse stores. And we can have enough cash to buy large quantities when they're on sale.
- Third, we're eating very little meat, and relatively little processed food. We often make a big batch of pancakes or waffles on the weekend, and reheat them for breakfast all week, which is a lot cheaper than breakfast cereal.