Food Stamp Challenge – Part 2 – Update

Living on $29/week

I thought about becoming a food taster once, but decided not to because I didn’t want to have too much on my plate. ? Most wage earners get paid either once or twice a month, but we generally have to eat food everyday. This means learning how to budget our grocery bill is an important skill to have. For some people maybe $200 a month for food is enough, but for others it might be $400 or more. Having a personalized budget that is reasonable will teach us about self control, rationing, meal planning, and will probably even save us money. 🙂 If we fail to watch our spending and plan ahead then we may run out of money before our next paycheque and find ourselves in times of scarcity. ?


Earlier this week I started a food stamp challenge inspired by a famous celebrity. The idea is to spend no more than $29 on a whole week’s worth of food. I’m about half way through the challenge so I thought I’d give a quick update on how things are going. You can see the previous post for the full list of ingredients and detailed breakdown.

So far I’ve gone through most of the vegetables, but I’ve only eaten 5 of the 14 turkey drumsticks. I’ve been making a lot of salads, sandwiches, and roasts. Overall I’m roughly half way through my food basket. Tomorrow I’ll make a quick stew out of some potatoes, radish, and fish. I have 2 squashes remaining which I’ll probably stuff and bake. I have some left-over tomatoes and green peppers which I’m going to use up tonight lest they spoil. Below are some examples of simple dishes I’ve made so far.


As mentioned in the previous post I’m only using salt and pepper for seasoning. I first thought this may become boring and repetitive after awhile, but so far the whole foods like tomatoes and bell peppers have quite a lot of natural flavor themselves, especially when cooked, and the salt actually helps to bring out their taste. Since I only eat two meals a day, plus snacks, I don’t have to cook very often. I think eating fewer meals is helping me with this challenge by eating less than other people would.

Here are some nutritional information about the entire basket of food that I purchased for less than $29.

  • The french bread is a great source of carbohydrate which our bodies can turn into energy. 🙂
  • Cucumbers help with hydration and contain valuable antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. (source)
  • Like many other fish, mackerel are said to help prevent cardiovascular disease and they’re a rich source of vitamin D, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids..
  • Tomatoes have vitamin C, K, and E, as well as healthy minerals like copper, manganese, and phosphorus.
  • Radishes help regulate the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream, and are good detoxifiers of the body. (source)
  • Turkey contains selenium, zinc, and of course a lot of protein. Is 11.3 lb of drumsticks too much protein? I say no whey! ?
  • Green peppers and remaining vegetables in my basket have a lot of vitamin A, C, B2, B6, potassium, molybdenum, and dietary fiber which is good for digestion.
  • Cheese flavored crackers are pretty much empty calories. I bought it as a snack for when I get tired of eating the other foods.

Click image to enlarge.

I’m not tired of eating the foods in my basket yet. But I have noticed that I’m being more resourceful with my ingredients than usual. For example I’m reclycling the turkey bones to make soup stock. The hardest part of the challenge so far has been not participating when my co-worker brought in a box of Tim Hortons donuts to share with everyone. There are 3 and half more days to go. I think I can make it. A final update will be posted next week. 🙂

Random Useless Fact:

There’s a place called Porters Lake in Nova Scotia. For a tourist visiting this Canadian town, asking for directions could pose some problems due to its confusing street names. ?


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06/09/2016 3:37 pm

“The french bread is a great source of carbohydrate which our bodies can turn into energy.” Dead wrong. Well, actually you are correct. The bread is 100% carbs which the body turns into energy…if that’s the ONLY thing you eat. I suggest you go read the comments in Pt. 1 and/or just start doing more reading on the matter. “Potatoes help lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease. They also contain folate, which prevents the formation of cancer cells from mutations in the DNA.” Seem you also have the wrong idea about cholesterol and heart disease. Again, not your fault; the public has been duped for decades on the subject. Eating a potato might just cause heart disease (inflammation), but not if you eat ONLY potatoes. Ready for those extra large fries? “Cheese flavored crackers are pretty much empty calories. I bought it as a snack for when I get tired of eating the other foods.” This is tricky. A poor person most likely cannot afford a substantial amount of different foods, thus they could be prone to “food fatigue” and then experience a higher probability of binging on even worse… Read more »

Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial
Taylor Lee @ Yuppie Millennial
06/10/2016 4:40 am

Oh man that stuffed mackerel looks mighty tasty! Good luck with the rest of the week!

06/10/2016 11:49 am

Screw the challenge and eat the Timbits!! That’s what I would have done. After all, it doesn’t affect your $29/week budget cuz it’s free ya!?!?!?

06/10/2016 4:51 pm
Reply to  P C

Good point.

You didn’t eat the Bits out of some self-imposed rules, but an actual poor person faces the $29 challenge every week, they can’t opt out of the “rules”; they would have eaten the Bits without a second thought.

Perhaps a Dumpster Dive Challenge next?

06/10/2016 12:06 pm

Just found your blog, but I’m generally not a fan of the “Food stamp” challenges as I feel they don’t give an honest portrayal of the challenges someone actually living on a limited budget like this actually goes through. Week to week. Month to month. Glad to see real food here and nothing extravagant like I’ve seen in other food stamp type challenges however… 😉
Going to go read more… Good post and now I’m hungry from your food photos! LOL!!

06/11/2016 8:57 am

Just eat the free food offered by coworkers and others! It’s not cheating if people are giving away food!

06/11/2016 6:15 pm

F35, thanks for sharing details about this challenge as it makes me think about budgets overall. However, this is a false claim and potentially dangerous: “… lower the total amount of cholesterol in the blood, thereby decreasing the risk of heart disease.”

Recent reviews (by credible people) of all scientific papers/studies done up till today show that in slightest there is no conclusive causality of cholesterol or saturated fat increasing heart disase. And if I remember correctly, there is also no relation between levels of cholesterol and heart disase. In fact, cholesterol is not the vilain but the first aider – it “patches” arteries that have been damaged by other vilains (mainly caused by mechanisms of too much sugar in the bloodstream). Obviously, this can lead to cholesterol build up and cloging but not because of eating cholesterol. It’s a complex chain of actions and reactions.

Let me look up some links and come back 😉

06/11/2016 6:24 pm

Maybe keep this challenge to economics, meaning, lets see whether you can live on $29 long term buying whatever you do (no judging). But once you start explaining health benefits of ‘why’ you bought something then it gets really tricky 😉 For example, i am going to ask you why you didnt buy any bacon or cheese or eggs – is it because you think they are unhealthy, or u never eat them anyways or…?

Sorry if I am getting involved too much, just want to have a respectful discussion 😉

06/12/2016 6:37 am

“…an article written by a registered dietitian who graduated from Ohio State University.”

Who was educated on the prevailing mindset. That’s why the only thing which matters is how the human body actually processes food, and not studies. Kind of like having an understanding of velocity vs. reading a study about the drag coefficient of a VW Beetle vs. a Ferrari; one will serve YOU well, the other serves THEM well.

06/12/2016 10:46 pm

Hi F35, Thanks for your answers as they clarify your reasons to buy something or not. And no need to apologize, you have open mind and we r all learning. You know more of this, I know more of that but what’s actually right only years will reveal 🙂 To food: Probably the single most important thing to understand is that the ways body treats fat (and executes its own processes) relies 100% on carb intake. Body can burn fat as totally clean fuel if no carbs are present, however, it “struggles” with it when they are. Carbs highly affect metabolism of fat. Similar goes for cholesterol – no carbs no problem 🙂 As for your WHO processed meat reference, I believe two things: 1) The stuff doing damage is more likely the protein doing the damage than the fat. 2) The large scale of commercial processing these days uses chemicals that are likely doing most of the damage. There should be nothing wrong with bacon from a trusted source. To get more context of where I am comming from look up lectures/books by Gary Taubes, Dr Jeff Volek and Dr Steve Phinney. While Gary is a respected investigative journalist… Read more »

06/11/2016 8:10 pm

Good observation, Stan.

However, by now everyone should know that you can’t tell people anything, they have to figure it out for themselves.

For the past many decades we’ve all been living under a wrongly constructed food regime, designed for profit rather than health.

What’s the old saying, tell a lie long enough, it eventually becomes the truth (e.g. carbs, cholesterol, etc.).

Then again, SNAP recipients most likely have a ton of other concerns to deal with besides faulty government policy, like buying the most food they can.

06/12/2016 6:24 am

It’s about the the profits of any given group being put at risk which drives faulty/fraudulent policy more than anything else. Think tobacco, sugar, wheat, corn, Big Food, Big Pharma, lumber (vs. hemp), etc. They are all profit before people and they will lobby like hell to ensure policy supports their profit.

Unfortunately, people like SNAP recipients don’t often have the ability or the opportunity to educate themselves on the true facts, thus changing their behaviours for the better. The impoverished have almost no defence against unending predetory practices, both acute and obtuse, ranging from financial (PayDay loans) to food (Sugar Crisps).

Which reminds me, what’s the catchy sing-a-long slogan for that particular cereal?
“Can’t get enough of my Sugar Crisps!”
Sounds like an addiction to me.