Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Last week when the farm bill with potential cuts to food stamps were being debated several liberal members of congress attempted to go shopping on a food stamp budget for one person for a week. I know Peter DeFazio went a bit over, not sure about the others. Anyway, Republicans naturally dismissed them as grandstanding. One of Rep. Stockman's (R-Texas) aides took the challenge and frankly, didn't do too well. The aide's shopping list. And from the companion article on the net, HE didn't actually do the shopping. He sent an assistant out to do that little chore. Also not mentioned was a container of milk.

For $21.55 Ferguson purchased at Dollar Tree:

Two boxes of Honeycomb cereal
Three cans of red beans and rice
Jar of peanut butter
Bottle of grape jelly
Loaf of whole wheat bread
Two cans of refried beans
Box of spaghetti
Large can of pasta sauce
Two liters of root beer
Large box of popsicles
24 servings of Wyler’s fruit drink mix
Eight cups of applesauce
Bag of pinto beans
Bag of rice
Bag of cookies

As you can see, this is certainly a well balanced diet. NOT. OK, mom and I can cook and we aren't on food stamps. What you will not see on our shopping list if we were. The soda, the popsicles, the fruit drink mix and the cookies. I can bake my own thank you. Ditto on the boxed cereal. We buy in bulk oatmeal, five grain cereal, dried beans, brown sugar, spices, herbs and pasta. Much of that got started not only for cost but we don't have to throw away or recycle the packaging. We buy family packs of what meat or sausage we do eat divide it into smaller sections and freeze it. I have no arguments with peanut butter and at least he had them get whole wheat bread.

I suspect that if I had to stretch a dollar until screamed for mercy I'd be checking out dried milk and egg products, especially for baking. And canned products would definitely be store brands.We haven't seen much difference in quality between store brand or name brand flour and sugar and I may start checking out the bulk prices just for the heck of it so that I can ball park what something like the following might cost per serving. Oh, and what I have noticed is that packages of sugar that used to weigh five pounds now weigh four and the prices are only a few cents cheaper. Store brand and name brand both.

Pasta dish I made the other night. Probably would have served a family of four with a couple of hungry kids fairly well.

Started with six cups of water and added

1/4 cup soup starter veggies
Spoon of chicken base
Some dried onions and dried chopped garlic
About 2 1/2 cups rotini pasta

This is less water than you usually use for pasta so you have to watch it make sure it cooks evenly and doesn't go dry. The idea is to use up most of the liquid. When it got a little scant I drained the liquid off the can of tomates I was going to use and added that. No extra salt was used beyond the soup base and whatever was in the tomatoes added later. The idea is to use the soup veggies to ramp the flavor on the pasta.

When the pasta was done I added the half package of chopped spinach left over from last weeks impossible quiche and the can of chopped S&W tomatoes with garlic and basil. Both the veggies were name brand. I suspect that if the budget was tighter they'd have been WinCo's store brand. Not quite the same quality but they'll do as ingrediants in something else. As a luxery I added the last half pound of Italian sausage hiding out in the freezer. Topped with a generous topping of domestic parmesan it made a pretty good one dish meal.

More than one commenter pointed out that he'd used his food stamps to buy the very things conservatives who attack the program bitch about. Sodas and desserts. "People shouldn't be allowed to buy that stuff on my dime." I guess the aide didn't get that memo.

I don't envy anyone with kids trying to make it on a food stamp budge. Especially when the kids hit that can't fill 'em up no matter how hard to try age. But, grudging food to anyone, especially when we're still subsidizing corn and soy so we can use it for livestock feed is just plain stupid. We do eat some meat. But, like that pasta dish it's almost always an ingrediant, not served on it's own. And we know how to cook.


Lisa :-] said...

Have you ever bought the food they sell at Dollar Tree? It is usually stale, gross, outdated and/or packaged in god-knows-where. I just DON'T buy food at Dollar Tree. And I don't see why folks that are living on food stamps should be forced to buy it either.

JACKIE said...

There were several comments on the TP story that said the same thing. Like I said, I wonder who usually does the shopping for him. And I suspect that most of us who grew up working class in the fifties and sixties know a bit about stretching a food dollar until squeaks for mercy and then stretch it some more. And still ate pretty darn well.