The Road Toward SNAP Challenge 2013: The Pantry Problem

As I continue to prepare for the SNAP Challenge that awaits me January 1st, I started contemplating how much preparation that could realistically entail. That is to say, what is to become of what’s in the house once I start?
My accountabili-buddy in any number of other avenues, Jessi Robinson, confirmed what I already knew as I pondered the question:

I was talking to my wife about this; she is a Social Worker & most of her clients are on SNAP. Something to keep in mind as one does this is that most people who don’t need food assistance also have pantries–people who DO have food assistance typically can’t afford to create a pantry to pull from, which winds up hurting them over time (I can always have rice with a meal because I always have rice on hand & can afford a larger hit when it runs out). SNAP recipients usually can’t afford the hit for a big bag of rice that will last for longer than a given month because they have to eat it during that month. Creating a pantry is difficult if one doesn’t properly think it through beforehand.

So the question is, what do I allow myself to start with? What do I tuck away for the month of January? And what do I spend the next several weeks feverishly trying to finish?

Ultimately, I decided that I am prepared to start with salt, pepper, and a can of vegetable cooking spray. Anything else that I decide I “need”, will have to fit within the confines of the budget. So staples like oatmeal, rice, or even spices like garlic powder will not enter into the equation unless I introduce them. I can’t make this completely real (more on that in a future post), but I am open to coming as close as I can.

What other challenges should I be considering? Anything I’m leaving out?

6 thoughts on “The Road Toward SNAP Challenge 2013: The Pantry Problem

  1. As someone who experienced this situation as a kid, I can tell you that we always had a big bag of white rice OR a huge sack of the cheapest potatoes in the house. Either of those with gravy over the top was a frequent meal.Also lots of coupons were used. And if something went on sale or had a great coupon like milk, my mom would buy what she could and freeze it.Rice, potatoes, the cheapest on-sale ground beef, cheapest on-sale hotdogs, BOGO pasta and canned tomatoes (plain tomatoes are cheaper than pasta sauce), store brand oatmeal/cereal and sometimes even packs of Flavor-aid if we got lucky.Nutrition wise it wasn't very healthy and between myself and my two sisters it wasn't like there was enough to be lining up for seconds, but we never missed a meal.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Wayne! I'm excited and nervous to get the challenge going, but I will take any and all advice out there. I know that it can be done, and perspective from those who have experienced it will help.

  3. WOW, I have to admit that I wasn't expecting you to actually follow through with my previous comment, I simply wrote it as I thought it would be important for people doing this to think about–since most people have never lived off of these benefits, they wouldn't even think about it.Wayne made some great suggestions. My wife would LOVE her clients to spend their benefits on any of those(hard to convince people with SEVERE mental illness that rice is a better purchase than Ring Dings)!!Best of luck on this endeavor, I'm looking forward to following your journey.

  4. Thanks Jessi! I appreciate your support (and, for that matter, your wife's help in keeping it realistic!), hope I'm doing you both proud so far! 🙂

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