27 February 2013

G's Food Stamp Challenge!

You've heard of the Food Stamp Challenge:  everyone from big-city mayors to large family bloggers have tried it at one time or another.  G is reaching adulthood and wants to make some of his own food choices.  Food stamps here are about $150/month per person, so we gave him $20 and told him it had to last four days.  Long enough for him to get a taste of what life would be like on a budget, but not so long that we'd starve the kid. 

G was able to eat one bowl of our cereal each morning, but that was it.  Other than that, he's on his own until Friday morning.

So here's what he bought:

$1.28  loaf of bread
$2.00  bologna
$1.88 six-pack small applesauce
$1.38 baby carrots
$2.56 small peanut butter/jelly combo jar
$2.48 large strawberry yogurt
$1.98 half-gallon lowfat milk
$.68 macaroni and cheese box (bought 2)
$1.98 chips
$.86 tax

TOTAL:  $17.76

G had to "buy" margarine from us to make his macaroni and cheese.  We could have just let him suffer for his own poor planning, but we didn't.  We're also seeing that soda is an expensive habit as we are charging him 40 cents a can (pretty much our cost) until the experiment is over.

What we've seen:

G is much more appreciative of the fact that his parents make him eat less expensive food sometimes for a reason.  We simply do not have the money to buy him a cheeseburger, fries and a chocolate shake at every meal.  G has one more day to go and he is finding that the food is starting to run out. It won't kill him to eat bologna slices right out of the package tomorrow if the bread is gone, but I'm hopeful that he will be more understanding in the future when we run out of a favourite food.

Have you tried giving your children a similar challenge, or did they learn these things in college?


  1. A very interesting assignment!
    I am sure I would fail at this .. which no doubt explains my ever-expanding waistline :)

    (I actually learned this lesson in high school where I had to have job to be able to buy anything ... my allowance (earned by mowing the acre lawn and lugging the trash cans) being just two dollars a week)

  2. Haven't done this... I don't even live on this myself. But, I am looking at that list and seeing a lot of food that is subsidized, keeping it cheap. A lot of food on the list is genetically modified. And, a lot of food are considered top allergens. It is very difficult to keep your family fed! Our lifestyle is unsustainable...

  3. Very smart. I would do a second week so he can choose items based on what he has learned. For instance, he can buy pasta and sauce, and maybe some ground beef and eat that for a few meals. A box of pasta and jar of sauce cost the same as a bag of chips. Get veggies, peanut butter and jelly form Aldies or a less expensive store. Find yoghurt coupons.. etc.

  4. Excellent experiment! I second Ahermitt's idea of giving him a second week to see what he's learned.

    My kids are too young to have learned this stuff first hand, but I am planning on implementing some kind of thing where I have them help me meal plan and shop on our budget.


Non-troll comments always welcome! :)