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« Sunday thoughts on shopping and recipe for super-thrifty bread. | Main | SNAPcut Challenge: Calculating Your Budget »

SNAPcut Challenge: what to buy and how I'm shopping for week 1

Because the SNAPcut Challenge is only two weeks long, we won't be able to spread out the cost of a month's worth of staples. That means smaller, more expensive containers of everything from peanut butter to apples. The budgets  in Wildly Affordable Organic ran for a month at a time, allowing us to include all the ingredients down to the salt and spices and still come in at $5 a day for organic and sustainable ingredients.

Here's how we'll make it fair but realistic for the SNAPcut Challenge. If you have better ideas, please post them in the comments below. I may change the rules before starting the Encore Challenge on November 4th.

  • Buy all of the ingredients you cook with except:
    • Spices.
    • Salt.
    • All but one leavening agent: yeast, baking soda, or baking powder. That is, buy one and use the rest.
    • Apple cider vinegar if you buy apples and start your own batch of vinegar from the cores (vinegar takes several weeks ferment).
    • Buy mustard or ketchup but use both if desired. (As a condiment only -- no ketchup soup!)
  • You can "shop" from your pantry and fridge if you already have the food. Just note the current price at the grocery store and subtract it from your budget.
  • Try to buy at least 10% of your food from local sources.
  • Optional: if you plan to use an ingredient for both weeks, split the cost between the two weeks. For example, if you get a jar of peanut butter for $4, take $2 from the week 1 budget and $2 from the week two budget. This lets you save by getting larger size packages, but complicates the record keeping a bit.
  • Don't eat or drink what can't be bought with food stamps, including alcohol and restaurant meals.
  • If you do eat or drink the forbidden nosh, then take it out of your food budget.

For week 1, I'm going to take 15% of my budget, or $12.67 to the farmers' market to buy the best looking, thriftiest produce I can find. Then I'll spend the remaining $71 and change at a grocery store. Because I'll be teaching at the Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival tomorrow, I can't go grocery shopping first and then spend the rest at the farmers' market.

How to you plan to shop? How is this different from your usual method?

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