Greetings! We have a little introductory post to end this week off. Ready?
I’m taking the SNAP Challenge!
On a diet.
The timing was too perfect to pass up. I started on the very 1st of November. By the end of October, I had emptied out most of my frozen foods, into my belly. It occurred to me this would be the perfect time to try the SNAP challenge. Then I thought, oh but wait, I need to lose a few pounds to look cute for Christmas.
*Dim lightbulb goes off*
Heyyy, why don’t I do both?
I’m all about optimization, baby. I can strike down two birds with one stone with this SNAP diet challenge so I’m excited! You can expect a weekly check-in with the details of my SNAP challenge starting now until the week of Christmas. Because no one diets on Christmas.
I am a huge Garfield comics fan. I have nearly every single comic strip book collection ever published, including Davis’ holiday ones. Now with that said…I did mutter before that I was not happy with my weight gain. I went from 100 lbs to 108 lbs over the course of a few months. It’s certainly nothing sudden or drastic but I don’t like where this might be heading. I’m not that teenager with the killer metabolism anymore and I should accept that.
The weight gain is likely blog related. For the past 6 months that I’ve been blogging, I’ve started leaning towards faster foods to get back onto the computer sooner or have both my hands on my phone. It was easier putting the pre-made somethings into the oven. To keep myself awake during my late night writing sessions, I’ve been drinking fizzy sodas. Yes, I’m terrible.
#1 I’m currently 108 lbs and I’m trying to get back to my normal weight of under 100 lbs. I’m not very big in general in terms of overall mass. That means you can argue that my food intake is lower than a full-sized adult. Which if you knew me, you would know that’s completely false. I’ve kicked Mr. Executive’s butt at buffet (he had to cheat to win) and he’s a 5’11 male.
#2 I share the house with hubby, dad and Airbnb guests. I’m the solo girl on this challenge.
#3 I will consider this challenge success enough when I lose weight. Maybe I can start another fad diet ?
#4 We live in Seattle, it’s 24% more expensive than the average U.S. city.1 I’m NOT adjusting that cost of living difference into my total. My preferred goal is still under $30 a week.
#5 SNAP benefits are paid out BY MONTH. But I will be going by weeks and taking ONE grocery trip per week instead.
Rules & Guidelines
I’m not the greatest record keeper. As history would have shown if I had actually kept records of my bad record keeping, but I’ll try to document every meal and purchase price with the receipts. Hubby can help with record keeping because he’s detailed oriented. He’s betting $20 (or in Lily language, 2 carne asada burritos) that I won’t make it :\
All food eaten must be counted in total spending – including dining out. *Cries in agony*
Not allowed to eat ANY foods purchased prior.
Avoid free food offered by friends and family (I will report it if I do).
Eat healthy with weight loss in mind as the primary goal but not the only goal.
Report each purchase or every single item purchased.
Counterproductive to my frugal genes…do not buy things at discounted grocers. I’ll only be going to Albertson’s closest to my house.2
Only round prices up. Include all taxes too.
SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) or more commonly known as food stamp benefits was established during the Great Depression. Participants received orange booklets with pages redeemable for household staples like starch products and bars of soap. Today, you cannot buy non-food related items like soap, in-store hot foods, medicine, pet food and alcohol.
Benefits of SNAP recipients vary from state to state. SNAP benefits depend on several other factors like geography (cost of living), participant’s income and the total household size. Nevertheless, I will be trying for $30 or under per week like my fellow blogger, Doubling Dollars, who is also on this challenge
One of my experimental goals for doing this SNAP diet challenge is primarily seeing if I could drop 8-10 pounds before mid-December having officially started this challenge on the 1st of November.
My less selfish secondary goal is to see what it is like for someone living on food assistance.
My last important goal is finding some way to eliminate high prep time and maximize productivity for the typical working poor citizens.
In summary, we’re looking at weight loss, cost-cutting and time-saving. In my opinion, those are huge feats that I have to accomplish all at once. Wish me luck!
#1: I’m not going to make it.
Well, my husband doesn’t think I can make it.
He is concerned about my overactive foodie genes kicking in.
I LOVE FOOD. How did you think I got to a point where I need to lose weight? I eat nearly as much as hubby does except he is 50 lbs heavier than me.
#2 I CAN make it under $30/week.
Keeping it under $30 in expenses is not something I’m worried about to be honest. I think I’ve had enough practice from my dad to know what’s up.
I am worried about having depression, misery, burn out and all that other good stuff. Hubby really doesn’t believe I would make it. He is afraid that I might turn crazy. I was sore at him for 2 days for a missing burrito so imagine this. He is fearful for his safety.
There are different levels of poverty. Since Doubling Dollars is simulating a “food desert” and someone who might not have access to ovens or microwaves, I will try going a slightly different route by stimulating the working poor. A total of 42 million American workers earn under $12 an hour and often times they are also parents to young children.3
I’m essentially simulating my parents when they were working at the back of that Chinese supermarket. Our difficulties didn’t reach the height of lacking microwaves – most apartments and government-subsidized housing have the basics.
I’m simulating my immigrant parents as the overworked, underemployed, working poor family fallen on hard times. They have a roof over their head and are sometimes employed, although at low-wages with no sick leave, vacation time or health benefits. The law does not protect workers from being fired if they miss work because of illness. This leaves overworked and underemployed workers fearing simple colds, stomach bugs, leg sprains etc. Which brings me to…
I’ve been sick with a cold / fever for the past 2 days and I started this challenge during the “honey, I think I’m coming down with something” phrase. It has made everything harder so I’m feeling the misery right now. It’s also a rainy, 40 degrees in Seattle and I have work for the next two days. We don’t have a car. SNAP benefits don’t cover medicine. Much realistic Lily…
General Game Plan
This is going to take some thought. One thing that is to my advantage is prior knowledge. Growing up poor has prepped me better than…say if Gwyneth Paltrow tried the SNAP challenge with her rabbit food. I told my husband despite his near million net worth, I should still remember how far rice porridge has taken me. I do not believe the budget of $30 or under will be an issue. The two bigger issues are seeing if I can try to eat healthy in the time that I need to cook it and it’s something I would want to eat. I still want to enjoy my food a little…
I will try my best to skip all the carbs. I’ll bum a paleo diet. Meat’s easy to cook, filling and taste like delicious murder. The issue is meat is expensive. I will be more conscious of that. Carbs are cheap and plentiful but they would not be as effective in weight loss. Vegetables vary. Some common fruits (like apples) are too sugary so I’ll void those. Avocados and berries are luxuries obviously.
I only have salt and pepper. At least for now, it’s the first week. Setting up shop is difficult. I was thinking about making an extra trip because I forgot the oil. Ughhh! This really blows when you are actually sick. I’ll skip oil for this week. I’m splurging for olive oil next week though – health first, then price, then ease of preparation.
Financial Freedom Starts With Saving:
Personal Capital: Sign up and use their net worth calculator for FREE. They are a free financial service platform that helps you analyze your portfolio, retirement, and financial health all on one simple & secure account
Imperfect Foods: We all need groceries. Try out Imperfect Foods to get $80 off ($20 off your first 4 orders.) Read my review of this revolutionary and money-saving grocery delivery service.
ThredUp: The only online recycle clothing store I currently shop and sell with. Great mission statement, company model, customer service, prices, and selection. Sign up with our invite link and you can get $10 free in ThredUP credit.
Survey Junkie: SJ is one of the few survey companies that are 100% legit, user-friendly, and great for making extra money. Earn up to $1,000 a month doing surveys online. You can make anywhere from $5-$20/day in your free time.
I keep trying to lose 8 lbs and it is a real roller coaster ride! Maybe I should join your challenge:) Doesn’t look like much food on that picture so:( Can’t wait to get your first update. Go Lily go:)
By the way Jared looks very good with his new haircut!
Love you Caroline -aka- the undiscovered gem 🙂
Ms. Frugal Asian Finance says
Ahh this is way too exciting! This is one of the most interesting challenges in personal finance I have ever seen. And no I’m not biased 😉
I’m rooting for you in this weight loss challenge! I just dropped more than 40 lbs in half a year and definitely don’t want to go through that again (Maybe until I have a second baby when my body will balloon again @_@).
I’m so excited I can’t type! Will there be a weekly or monthly update?
Haha you’re totally bias 😛 if I ever have a bad idea you have to tell me! Pinky swear <3
PS - I've already dropped 2 lbs haha. From stress xP
Yet Another PF Blog says
I think you should figure out if your goal is primarily weight loss or cost. For example, the no carb thing. If you’re only eating $30 a week, you’ll probably have to incorporate some sort of carbs into your diet to get a sufficient number of calories and feeling of fullness. It looks like you’ve got sweet potatoes, which is good! Consider if and what other fibrous carbs you might be okay with (white rice is cheap and delicious, but maybe isn’t always the healthiest), which may help take your dollar a bit further.
Also, since this is a “SNAP” challenge specifically, rather than a general “spend less on food” challenge, maybe at the end you could donate cash for a month’s worth of meals to a local food shelter or public school (paying off the debt some students accrue getting lunch at their school). Bringing awareness to America’s hunger problem is a good thing to do, but bringing resources to help ameliorate the problem would be even better. Start the movement, Lily!
Dylan | Trail to FI says
I did buy frozen lasagna so that has helped. I was thinking brown rice but I know I wouldn’t enjoy doing it. After we sell our rental next year, we were going to do a big breather and throw money at causes (more like the arts/artist and web projects)
Dave @ Married with Money says
This shouldn’t be too difficult IMO, mostly because I’ve done a nearly-similar thing voluntarily. Our grocery bills for two people are anywhere from $35 – $80/week, with most weeks coming in under $50. We’ve lost 35lbs combined in 6 weeks back in early Feb, and have kept that weight off since by sticking to our diet for the most part.
Good luck on this! I’ve got a guest post coming to Picky Pinchers in the near future on what we did.
Wow 35lbs! Holy moly! Yes! I follow Mrs. PP, excellent! Can’t wait to read it!
Sarah De Diego says
Let me start out by saying that I wish you great success! And here comes the “but” 🙂
That does not look like enough food, healthy or not to fill up one person for a week. What about items with high fibre like beans, whole grains or even Parboiled or converted rice? You can reference this page for ideas. (https://www.diabetes.ca/diabetes-and-you/healthy-living-resources/diet-nutrition/the-glycemic-index). I didn’t realize that rice cakes had such a high GI and we eat them every day (eck).
I look forward to reading about all that you learned. Thanks for taking us along for the ride.
Hiya Sarah! Yup it’s definitely not. I took the photo and looked at it…and I was like…huh. That’s $20 heh? I went back to buy lentils this weekend.
Sarah De Diego says
Lentils are one of the few proteins that I can get my son to eat (he’s not big on meat or dairy and never has been). I sprout them (which somehow makes them even better for you — Google it 🙂 ). He eats a small bowl every day for lunch and I put them on my daily salad. I can even sneak some into my husbands lunch 🙂 We also eat them cooked but I find that I always overcook them so if you have the secret, please share 🙂
Another thing I love to snack on are roasted yellow peas (not split!) and chickpeas. They’re cheap and easy to throw in a baggie and then in your purse. My kids even like them! I make a double batch and make hummus with them (i omit the tahini because it’s expensive and I don’t normally have it on hand). If you’re on a budget (which you are 🙂 ), you can use canola instead of olive oil but olive definitely adds flavour.
All the best with your project.
Grant @ Life Prep Couple says
That is a fun challenge. And by fun I mean fun for me to monitor from a distance while taking zero part in ?
Carbs aren’t all evil either. Rice and beans are cheap and healthy. Candy bars and soda not so much. Losing weight is all about calories in vs calories out.
Will you be throwing in some cardio and weight training? Nothing makes burning fat easier than some heavy squats.
My prediction is you totally got this but will end up having to add some carbs in to keep your budget down and energy up.
I was hoping you visit Grant! I knew you had great advice and I was not disappointed!! I went to fetch lentils. I dance and that’s most of my exercise 🙂
Budget Kitty says
If you can lose the weight you’re not happy with and save some money in the process that’s a double win! I’m rooting for you and looking forward to your updates!
Thanks kitten :3
Sylvia | Mommy Over Work says
Wow, this looks like quite the challenge. The hard part is not staying in budget, but eating healthy from it. Since your other post on your 6 months of groceries mentioned how food costs were kept low because of lack of variety, I’m curious to see how much you’ll be able to incorporate in your spending. Looking forward to updates!
I have been eating nothing but banana, chicken, green beans, yam and lasagna…ahhh very boring but cost wise, I’m doing good.
the Budget Epicurean says
I’ve done the SNAP challenge in the past, but it was for only one week (http://www.budgetepicurean.com/finances/snap-challenge-week-lessons/). I plan to do a longer one in 2018. Lentils are a big help, they are full of fiber and protein and quite filling, but oh so cheap. And versatile! Also cabbage, lots of fiber and bulk for pennies. Sweet potatoes are a good choice too. I too will be on a new diet as of today until Christmas, more details on Sunday. Good luck with your weight loss, I’ll be following along and cheering you on.
Yes I brought lentils this weekend! I saw some cabbage and it occurred to me…how in the world do I cook this thing? I loved the yams I brought, definitely will fetch more of those. They were really easy to steam and eat. I’ve already killed 2 lbs muahahah. This will be a miserable piece of cake.
Gary @ Super Saving Tips says
This looks like quite a challenge, balancing these two goals, and I wish you the best of luck with it! I agree with the other commenters that you probably need to look at some more carbs to make this work. Perhaps I’ll get started on a challenge of my own, although I have quite a few more than 8 lbs to lose.
Thank you Gary! Yes I went to buy some lentils, just a little per meal because it’s easy.
I just had no carbs (or slow carbs) yesterday for dinner and was still hungry so I had some home made ice cream. For dinner I had a large steak, butternut squash, and kale. For some reason carbs just helps fill you up. I heard this hungry feeling goes away after a few days of being nil/low carbs though. Good luck Lily!!!
Ahhh why did you describe all that!! Now I want ice cream!!!
Oh, I wish I had access to fresh chicken! Lily, you started off so good here. Though I would of had to have a few fillers like rice or pasta. Paleo is cool though.