First of all, I found the film Food Stamped at my library and enjoyed watching it.
It basically chronicles the adventures of a young couple as they attempt to eat healthy food on a food stamp budget for one week. I'm not sure where they are, but they settled on a food budget of $50 for the two of them for one week.
All in all I found the film to be enjoyable, though I've gotta say, as a lifelong frugalista, part of me thought that a better title might have been "Richie Rich Goes Ghetto." Seriously, I sorta had the impression that neither of these kids had ever experienced a budget before, and it made them a bit hard for me to relate to.
Also, part of their goal was to "eat healthy" on a food stamp budget, and to them this meant buying almost exclusively organic foods. While that is a laudable goal, some part of me has a hard time swallowing the notion that one must eat all organic in order to be healthy. Jennifer over at It's Not Easy To Be Green did an excellent and well researched post on this topic a while back.
I'm not knocking organic food, to tell the truth I'm thrilled that the idea has caught on. It's just that the more popular it becomes, the more the word "organic" has become a marketing term that isn't really as meaningful as we'd all like to believe it is.
I guess for me at least, the whole "nothing non-organic shall pass these lips" attitude of the film's protagonists made them come across as a tad bit... what's the word... arrogant? naive? spoiled? elitist? Well, let's just say that it doesn't seem very realistic to me. I think most middle class families would have a hard time being able to afford an all organic diet, let alone someone trying to survive on a food stamp budget.
Nevertheless, the film does do a good job exploring the topic of hunger in America, and organic snobbery or not, I totally support the SNAP program and agree that it should be better funded.
Anyhow, that's my take on the film.
As for my own progress, well, it's the 20th of the month and I've spent $134.42. On first blush this sounds like I'm gonna blow the budget big time, but I wasn't really trying to stay within a budget this first month, I just mostly wanted to get a good idea of what I was spending regularly on food.
I'm not sure how accurate it will end up being though, because once I got the whole shopping for deals bug, I started finding myself unable to pass up a good deal, no matter how much food I'd already purchased! Seriously, I did some major stocking up, and I must say, my fridge is totally PACKED!
I don't really need anything else, and could easily make it to the end of the month without spending another dime - but this weeks circulars had grapes on sale for $.99/pound, and I think that's gonna be hard to pass up. Plus - eggs are on sale for $.99/dozen. So we'll see how it turns out at the end of the month.
One thing I really have noticed though is that I'm much more cognizant of what is and isn't a good deal. And several times I ended up buying something, only to discover that it went on sale for less than half the regular price a week later!
Anyhow, I think it's gonna take some time to really get into the swing of this shopping method, but I'm having a total blast and there's no way I'm gonna experience anything remotely similar to hunger if the current trend keeps up!
So, I'll provide a full tally at the end of the month, but I just wanted to give you a progress report and say that the whole experience is quite encouraging. I think with a bit of work, I could very easily get my monthly food budget down to around $100/month especially during gardening season. Whether or not I want to work that hard remains to be seen.
So how about you? Anybody else out there trying to trim down their grocery budget? I'd love to hear about your tactics and progress!