Eating on $30/Week…Could You Do It?

Anti-hunger, KB's Journey

This morning, I was lamenting about the amount of money that I spend on food each week. I try to control my habits, but I can always be found grabbing a Chipotle here, Dunkin’ Donuts there, and a happy hour cocktail there. Of course, these “baller” cycles are related to pay periods…The days right after getting paid? I’m making it rain. The days right before getting paid? I’m the biggest cheapo.

Everytime I go on these binges, I tell myself that I’m wasting my money and I need to do better about saving it. The point is that I’m fortunate enough to have the money to make these purchasing decisions. But, what if my food/drink budget was set by a third-party and it was meager at best? 

Well, a group of folks in Maryland are asking themselves, “Could they live on $30/week for food?”  That’s the average food stamp allotment in Maryland, where one in seven Marylanders reported having a difficult time affording food at some point in the previous twelve months.

They are calling this the “Food Stamp Challenge.” I love the concept behind it because many of us don’t really think about these things when we (myself included) are grabbing a $7 steak burrito for lunch. The stories from challenge participants really highlight some of the challenges that we take for granted. For example, the participants are not allowed to accept meals from family and friends. So, that dinner date? Consider it canceled unless y’all are going to Burger King.

The Challenge week is going on right now, but I missed the beginning. So, I’m going to do mine from January 31 – February 5. Looking at the rules, I think this will be tough, but I’m always down for a challenge.

So, could you do it? Could you survive of $30/week for food and beverages?


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  • Reply
    ac dubois
    February 19, 2011 at 9:24 pm

    actually living off $30/week is not that bad. Pasta (regular and whole wheat are about $1 a box a jewels and unless you are feeding a large family that should fuel you for a whole week of lunch or dinner. buy frozen meats, fresh or frozen veggies, dry cereal, yogurt or milk, and lil snacks (cheese sticks or crackers). that is what I do.

    things do get a bit monotonous but that is by habit. i could switch it up and still still be on budget. i don’t eat any pre-made foods (hot pockets, frozen dinners) because they are very unhealthy. it just takes more thought into figure out how to make great meals with $30 but it is totally possible.

    and i only carry about $10 in cash (on a good week) and if i feel like eating out and i spend the who $10, that’s it for me that entire week. its all about discipline.

  • Reply
    February 9, 2011 at 12:16 am

    $30 a week is sad. First, to survive on that amount, you’re pretty much stuck eating food that is not healthy.
    Second, all that unhealthy eating leads to sickness, that the rest of us pay for.
    Third, there is so much moaning about illegals here in the US, why aren’t the people receiving food stamps required to do house cleaning, cooking, picking vegetables and other manual labor jobs? It could be a contract you get x dollars, food stamps, & health insurance. This way it is not a free ride. The person working could get training and maybe work their way up & out.

  • Reply
    February 4, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    I could do it. One box of oatmeal for breakfast. $2 Lean Cuisines (or SmartOnes or Michelina’s) for lunch and pasta for dinner. That’s like $25, so I’ll likely drink water for dinner so I can splurge on some shredded cheese (or an on-sale bag “o” salad).

    In case you haven’t wondered, I’ve done this before. Not for a challenge though, for real life.

    Given that I eat better than that now, I don’t know why I would ever choose to challenge myself in this way. If the folks behind this are trying to prove that the food stamp allotment isn’t enough, I think that should be obvious. That’s the point, get OFF food stamps and on real money if you want to eat well.

    It that elitist of me? I hope not. I just don’t think aid should be a cushy situation.

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