Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Weekly Specials with Mary Anne

Here’s a little bit about me and my recipes and meal ideas. For various health reasons, I eat very low carb. This means no grains of any kind (no flour, pasta, ramen, rice, bread, noodles, corn, etc.), no sugar of any kind (no sugar, brown sugar, honey, molasses, etc.), no potatoes, and no low fat foods (they usually add sugar and starch when they take out the fat). In other words, none of the foods that are typically used to create inexpensive meals. Instead, I eat meat, vegetables, eggs, and dairy. By shopping the sales and knowing what’s cheapest where, I am able to eat this way and still keep my food costs fairly low.

The average food stamp (SNAP) benefit per person in Indiana in 2012 was $132.46, or about $4.40 per day. This was my target when I started this column. I figured $1.50 each for lunch and supper, and about $1.00 for breakfast. The other 40 cents was theoretically used for stocking up on things that are on sale or that you only need a little of at a time, like a bottle of oil. At the end of 2013, the food stamp benefits dropped by about 5.5%. I don't have actual figures for the average benefit after this drop, so I'm assuming $4.16, or 5.5% less than it was in 2012. I'm sticking with $1.50 per person for supper; I can't seem to get it any lower than that and have good, filling, nutritious meals without the fillers. That means that the 24 cents has to come from breakfast or lunch. I'm now using $1.25 for lunch and $1.00 for breakfast. 

Most of my menus are right at $1.50 per serving, for an entire meal. This is using the most recent prices I have for all of the ingredients – the sales prices if there are any, or other actual current prices. This does sometimes involve going to several stores to get the cheapest prices. With the exception of things on sale, I usually shop at Walmart, Aldi and the Farmers Market. You may be able to get some of the things I use at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, or other food pantries. My costs assume that you have to buy everything. You may be able to get food at the Farmers Market for half price by converting food stamps to market vouchers. I assume that you are paying full price.

Sorting through all of the recipes online to find the cheapest good recipes that don’t use grains, sugars or potatoes is time-consuming. I love to cook and to look up new recipes, so I have a lot of recipes already. I hope you find this column helpful.*

Mary Anne

Update 8/14 - Average food stamp benefits received in April and May of this year were $4.00 per person per day. I'll be working with that figure from now on.

Budget Basics and the Food Stamp Challenge

Vegetarian Zucchini

Pork Loin and Pork Chops

Chicken Breasts

Chicken Legs and Fruit Salad

Ground Beef (and a few raspberries)

Chicken Thighs

Chicken Salads

Memorial Day Picnics

Add Some Spice with Chorizo

Summertime and the Grillin' is Easy

Cinco de Mayo

Menus for a Week on a Budget

Eggs, Eggs, and More Eggs!

Celebrating Springtime

What? Pork Chops Again?!

Where's the Budget Ground Beef?

Grilled and Roasted Split Chicken Breasts

Something Fishy

Pork Chops

What Do We Do with the Veggies?

Chicken Leg Quarters and Leftover Chicken

Herbs and Spices and Fish Stew

Super Bowl Snacks on a Budget

Pork Chops

Chicken Breasts

Lucky New Year's Foods

You Mean There's Still More Ham Left?!

Hamming It Up

Nothing Warms You Up Like Chicken Soup

Thanksgiving Dinner for 12 (and lots of leftovers!) for under $50

Thanksgiving Leftovers

Cheap Fish

I Hate to Cook Chicken!

Chicken Thighs

*This section is under construction. We will post an archive of Mary Anne's Column in the coming weeks/months.

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