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#SurviveOn35 Challenge

by Meghann on July 18, 2012

Could you survive on a grocery budget of $35 a week?

That’s the question the co-founders of Anytime Fitness are asking a team of FitFluential bloggers this week.


The challenge:

$35. 7 days. 21 healthy meals.

($35 per adult and $20 per child in the household)


Wednesday, July 18th, through Tuesday, July 24th



When the co-founders of Anytime Fitness went on ABC’s Secret Millionaire earlier this year, they had to feed themselves on a mere $35 each for an entire week, the same amount you’d receive on government assistance. They showed that not only could it be done, but it could be done in a healthy way.

Now, Anytime Fitness is challenging ten health bloggers to do the same. Can they survive – and even thrive – on this meager allowance for a full seven days? We are about to find out!

Each blogger will be competing for a chance to win a $1,000 donation to a food shelf of their choice. Two winners will be selected based on healthiness, taste, creativity, and community interaction.

The Twist:

Each competitor must eat out of the $35 per person budget ONLY. No existing pantry items are allowed. (i.e. my stock of pasta sauce in the pantry is off limits this week)


Follow the conversation on twitter at #SurviveOn35. I’ll also be blogging about my own experiences through the challenge here. I’ll be back later today with my thoughts on meal planning and budgeting for the week. Considering I can’t utilize any bulk items currently in my pantry (like jars of peanut butter, canned beans, etc), this is going to be hard, but I’m up to the challenge.

I’ll admit I’ve been lucky in my life when it comes to always having plenty of room in my budget for food, I think this is a good chance to take a step back and remind myself not to take the food I eat for granted. There are people out there who survive – and thrive – on this budget everyday. Those are the real heros.

For more details on the #SurviveOn35 challenge check out Anytime Health and FitFluential.

I had my first meal of the challenge this morning.


The Cascadian Farms Granola was on sale at Publix this week for $2.50, the Stonyfield Yogurt was $3.39, and the plum was $.88 ($1.99/lb)


Derek and I both used about 3/4 cup of granola, had some heavy spoonfuls of yogurt (3/4 cup?), and split the plum.


Day 1 breakfast total: $1.22 x 2 = $2.44 (give or take)

Before breakfast I ran 4 miles. No watch, no ipod, just me and the rain. It was nice.

1 Kaitlyn @ Chocolate Running Shoes July 18, 2012 at 10:43 am

This is such an interesting challenge! I’ll be really curious to read about your meals throughout the week. Good luck!!

2 Krissy @ Shiawase Life July 18, 2012 at 10:45 am

I am looking forward to reading about your experience on the challenge!

While I do believe that it is doable to eat healthily on a low budget, I also believe that it requires quite a bit more planning than most people have time for / think they have time for.
Krissy @ Shiawase Life recently posted..wordl(full) wednesday – happy belated bday, disneyland.

3 Cate July 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

What a great challenge! This has got me thinking if I could do this…
When I was in college I had a small grocery budget and learned how to use coupons and sales to get some really great deals. It requires some time to plan things out, but saving the money was awesome.
Cate recently posted..Chicago Marathon Training: Week Five – Running Routine

4 Kristy Doyle July 18, 2012 at 10:47 am

Wow, this is such a great idea! I’ll definitely be following this closely. I’m all for saving money and I’m a huge believer that you can eat healthfully on a budget.

Can’t wait to see how it goes!
Kristy Doyle recently posted..Camping Trip Recap

5 Sarah July 18, 2012 at 10:48 am

Very interesting! This post reminded me to ask – I know you met with a trainer awhile back and received a meal plan plus fitness advice. Could you give us an update on how that is going for you?

6 Meghann July 18, 2012 at 10:55 am

I did, but I’m not sure it’s going to work out. The meal plan was too low in calories to fit my needs.

7 HS July 18, 2012 at 10:48 am

Oh good, another incredibly insensitive “let’s live like poor people!” challenge. I appreciate the fact that you aren’t using pantry staples, as others who have tried this before have. But let’s add some context:

#1. Do the bulk of your shopping at the drug store or convenience markets, because lots of people on food stamps live in “food deserts” and don’t have access to 3 different groceries with fresh food.

#2. Use public transportation to get to those convenience stores because lots of people on food stamps don’t have access to reliable private transportation like cars.

#3. No using coupons, hunting down the best deals across town, etc. because if you are working 60+ hours a week (in an OFFICE, not from home), searching for the coupon to save you $.25 isn’t a high priority.

Also, add in a family + real (non-flexible, work from home, etc.) job responsibilities to the mix. Plus years of living at or below the poverty level and being completely downtrodden by the world.

Then maybe, MAYBE, this little experiment can approximate what it is like…but it still is ridiculous.

8 Meghann July 18, 2012 at 10:53 am

I did all of the shopping for this at my local Publix. Derek and I will both be participating in this challenge as a team. No coupons were used, but I did make a thorough meal plan. However, I disagree and believe that families on tight budgets rely on coupons.

9 amyt July 18, 2012 at 11:04 am

I’m going to agree with Meghann here – those people can go to a grocery store if they choose. I see it all the time here….ppl buying beer, cigarettes and other things with cash…and pull out their food stamps to buy thier kids juice – on that same note, they have their nails done, and hair…and are driving a nice vehicle. On the other hand, I have seen people use their food stamps to buy good things, at a REAL grocery store. I know there are people out their that really need help – it’s people that take advantage that irratate me. I think this is a awesome challenge – I think it makes us sit back and think how it really would be if we had to do this.
amyt recently posted..Buffalo Chicken Wraps

10 Emily July 18, 2012 at 11:38 am

You can’t choose to go to a grocery store that doesn’t exist. Many people who live below the poverty line live in “food deserts” where the only stores in a reasonable walking/bus ride distance are convenience stores, gas stations, and drugstores. There isn’t much produce or whole food available at those types of establishments.

Also, I think it’s pretty offensive to stereotype people who are on food stamps as taking advantage of govt assistance (b/c they drive a nice car, get their nails done, and have cash to buy beer). Making generalizations about people without knowing their full story can be a dangerous thing to do.

11 Lauren July 18, 2012 at 11:07 am

There is a difference between being on a tight budget and living at or below the poverty line.

While I think that these sorts of challenges are well-intentioned, they smack of privilege and make me uncomfortable. It’s not too far off from “let’s see how the other half lives – I’m going to sleep in a cardboard box for a night and then will really see what being homeless is like!”

Read “Nickel and Dimed” by Barbara Ehrenreich.

12 Amy July 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

I have to agree with you, Lauren. There are a lot more issues involved than just the amount of money spent on the food. I find budget challenges interesting but I’m uncomfortable with the “Hey look! We can live on a food stamp budget too!” aspect of it. All I know is that not everyone on food stamps eats poorly. My mom is on them (and on disability) and she eats a very healthy diet.

13 LizP July 18, 2012 at 11:39 am

Agree with Lauren and HS!

It seems like this challenge comes around every 6 months or so from some naive blogger who doesn’t think of how unrealistic your situation will be compared to people who actually live below the poverty line.

Food deserts and public transportation issues have already been mentioned. How about the fact that people who are working two jobs to survive plus possibly raising kids don’t have time for elaborate food planning or preparation? Are all of your meals going to be super easy and fast to prepare? How about using no fancy kitchen equipment as the truth is people who live in true poverty may have nothing more than a hot plate and a fridge.

What exactly are you hoping to accomplish from this challenge? To prove to yourself and other privileged bloggers that yes, you may be able to come under budget and create healthy meals because you have unlimited time, use of a full kitchen, and already have the knowledge on how to cook healthy meals? That if you can do it, all poor people should be able to do it too? Did you stop to think how that message comes across?

Why don’t you do something that people can actually stand behind and support like volunteer at a food kitchen, organize a food drive, gleaning projects, become a part of meals on wheels, etc?

14 danielle July 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Agreed!! While I love seeing how other people can plan healthy meals while still on budgets, this whole thing is totally ludicrous. It is mind boggling to imagine how budgeting organic yogurt and granola from Whole Foods has anything in common with a real family who is *truly* struggling to make ends meet, working minimum wage jobs (or un/underemployed) and trying to feed their families on food stamps.

15 Sarah July 18, 2012 at 3:02 pm

I wish I could reply directly but I totally agree with Lauren, Amy and LizP on this.

I especially appreciate Liz’s point about what the final statement is here. Nothing constructive really comes from challenges like this.

Something more positive would be to say, I’m going to reduce my grocery budget for a month so that I can donate the rest of my usual budget to the food bank and bring awareness to the importance of supporting affordable, healthy food programs.

I really think that Meghann is a member of Fitfluential and gets something else out of this association so she just goes along with what they would like her to participate in… which I can’t really 100% fault her for if she doesn’t personally find any fault in this challenge.

16 Kelly July 18, 2012 at 1:35 pm

I have to agree with Lauren on this one. I think the intentions with this challenge, and similar ones, were probably good. However as others have noted, having a small budget to deal with is only part of a larger food/hunger debate. Not to mention having worked with people in these situations I can tell you that when you live in a violent community where you are convinced you are not going to make it past a certain age healthy eating is often not a priority not because you’re ignorant but because you’re just trying to make it day to day, so anything that stretches into the long term doesn’t feel like a priority.

I think there was an interesting debate on this a few months ago when Healthy Slice of Life did a similar challenge:

I am ALL for creating awareness I just think that a lot of these posts miss a larger opportunity to educate on the whole issue, not just a small part. If you go forward with this challenge I’d recommend educating yourself more broadly and sharing what you learn with your readers. I know that Share Our Strength does a ton of work in this area and is a great resource. Also, I’d be careful of falling in the trap that some blogs have of saying “That I you can do it, all poor people should be able to do it too.” I’m not saying you would, but all I know is that a lot of bloggers have and it’s come across as very patronizing and ignorant.

I don’t think most of us are trying to only look at the negative side here, only to say that when we come from a place of privilege and access we have to be careful that we account for that in taking part in these kinds of challenges. Because there can be a tendency to trivialize the issue.
Kelly recently posted..Secret Recipe Club: Sun Dried Tomato Mac and Cheese with Broccoli

17 Melissa July 19, 2012 at 11:56 am

I tweeted a dissenting opinion on this yesterday after reading some of the blog posts associated with it. I do think the participants have their heart in the right place but miss the mark with the other socioeconomic issues of welfare and SNAP assistance.

One big thing to keep in mind is that, at least in my home state of PA, SNAP benefits (food stamps) are placed on an EBT card once per month. That means you have to budget an average amount of $135 per adult household member on a monthly basis for food purchases. The weekly budget is a bit neater to work with, but isn’t the reality of how the benefits are actually paid.

Next, there’s the consideration of actual income and living expense. One can live in an urban or suburban area and not require the expense of an automobile for transport, but then in turn pays a higher cost of living and has more limited food options depending on the area. If they are disabled or unable to walk or bike to a location, there’s yet another challenge. A rural welfare recipient may pay less in housing and be able to afford a free-standing home but also must have transportation as they have limited access to public transport.

As others have said, there’s the consideration of “time” and opportunity cost. The number of hours you work factors heavily into your food choices. Sure, some may be able to take time to hunt coupons and deals, but that does require a lot of time and effort. Sometimes the best assumption is to choose ONE local supermarket for convenience. Also consider where you can actually use an EBT payment form and the restrictions associated with the card.

A realistic example of this challenge would be to say: I am going to spend $35 per week on groceries. I am going to assume I live in X area and have walking access to a neighborhood ALDI. I am assumed to work 40 hours per week. I will purchase my items from said ALDI for 7 days, assuming I require an 1800 calorie/day diet to fulfill my nutritional requirements as an average adult. I will show all receipts and nutrition information for each day. I will drink only tap water. I will document HOW LONG it took me to prepare my foods/meals. This is a biggie. I will then donate X amount to local food bank at the end of this experience. Something like that.

There should never be an attitude of smugness or “you can totally eat healthy on welfare!” or the infamous “I looked into so and so’s cart and saw Doritos and they paid with an EBT card and had their nails did!” We’ve all seen that. We’ve all probably judged that person. The real aim of the experience is to show that it’s not easy to live on this budget with real world considerations of time, location, and access to food.

And I’m off my soapbox. I think it will be interesting to see the perspectives of the participants and has reminded me to schedule another day to volunteer at our local food bank.
Melissa recently posted..Stop calling yourself fat.

18 Bess @ Bess Be Fit July 18, 2012 at 10:49 am

happy to be participating in this challenge with you and the other fitfluential bloggers. It’s true, sometimes we can take for granted the food on our plates, and this challenge will help raise awareness and help for those who have to live on a food stamp budget. great job on the 4 miles and on the yummy (budget-friendly) breakfast!
Bess @ Bess Be Fit recently posted..4 Mile Run and Survive on 35 Day One

19 Katie @ Peace Love & Oats July 18, 2012 at 10:54 am

Lol I really don’t think I could do this. Being gluten and soy free makes things pretty hard when it comes to finding cheap food sources, plus other various intolerances. This will be really interesting to see how it goes!
Katie @ Peace Love & Oats recently posted..WIAW–Run and Spin!

20 Chloe (In Fine Feather) July 18, 2012 at 11:01 am

I bet you would find it’s easier than you would think – even given food allergies. You can eat rice/milk/beans/veggies right? How about dairy products, condiments, meat, or fruit? Going back to the basics certainly makes this challenge a lot more do-able!

21 Dione July 18, 2012 at 11:03 am

This sounds like a challenge!! Really looking forward to your future posts on this!

22 Chloe (In Fine Feather) July 18, 2012 at 11:05 am

Hey Meghann, after reading the Tweets it seems like people are adding up their individual meals, not adding up their grocery bill. It’s not $35/week in meals, but $35/week for the total grocery bill right? I’m assuming a lot of the items will be the same throughout the week but I just wanted to check!
Chloe (In Fine Feather) recently posted..Yoga Keeps Me Sane

23 Meghann July 18, 2012 at 11:10 am

$35 for total grocery bill.

24 Amy July 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

Will you do a post on the groceries you bought for the week? Despite not liking the food stamps comparison aspect, I am actually really curious about how $35 can be stretched. I’m on a tight budget myself and am always looking for new ideas. (Also, do you guys get $70 for the week since it is for two of you?)

25 Meghann July 18, 2012 at 11:29 am

Yes, I plan to do a post on the groceries for the week. Since there are two of us, we budgeted $70 for the week for groceries. We usually average $50-$80 a week on groceries, but not being able to use any items we already have on hand is where it gets tricky and the numbers start to shift.

26 Kristen Steinman July 18, 2012 at 11:06 am

I’ve done this before! Not for a whole week, mind you. I did this for 3 meals at a retreat house a couple of years ago. They told us they received a donation and we would be planning dinner for the next night. We got several grocery store circulars and planned out our extravagant bbq/pizza/cake heavy feast. Then they took the circulars away and told us that we would actually be working with a budget of $3 for the next three meals, and they grouped us in 3’s. Literally 10 minutes later we were loaded onto a bus and dropped off at the local grocery store (in the middle of Camden, NJ). No time to meal plan, not a lot of good sales, and 3 people’s differing opinions to take into account. It was HARD.

A lot of people came back with only a loaf of bread, peanut butter, jelly, and a pack of ramen. My group got chicken, lettuce, bananas, and some sort of drink, but I don’t remember what. We probably had the most nutritious shopping cart and it wasn’t even that nutritious! Plus I was super hungry b/c it wasn’t enough food. I’m interested to see how you do!

27 Kristen July 18, 2012 at 11:07 am

I’ve done this before! Not for a whole week, mind you. I did this for 3 meals at a retreat house a couple of years ago. They told us they received a donation and we would be planning dinner for the next night. We got several grocery store circulars and planned out our extravagant bbq/pizza/cake heavy feast. Then they took the circulars away and told us that we would actually be working with a budget of $3 for the next three meals, and they grouped us in 3’s. Literally 10 minutes later we were loaded onto a bus and dropped off at the local grocery store (in the middle of Camden, NJ). No time to meal plan, not a lot of good sales, and 3 people’s differing opinions to take into account. It was HARD.

28 Cait's Plate July 18, 2012 at 11:12 am

Love this idea!! Can’t wait to follow along as you do it 🙂
Cait’s Plate recently posted..Whipped Chocolate Biscoff Ice Cream

29 Megan @ Megan's Munchies July 18, 2012 at 11:13 am

I love this idea!! I think I could do it. Looking forward to following your meals on a budget
Megan @ Megan’s Munchies recently posted..Megan’s Munchies Does Taste of Dallas 2012

30 Gillian July 18, 2012 at 11:14 am

I’m interested to see how this works. As a recent college grad who hopes to be on her own soon, I’d love to see how to plan healthy meals on a budget. At the very least, something like this can foster more mindful shopping habits for those interested in doing so.
Gillian recently posted..I lifted things up, and then I put them down.

31 Cessie July 18, 2012 at 11:21 am

I think that it’s good to increase your awareness of challenges others face. However, I hope you will be very clear about the limitations of this challenge and very responsible in how you interpret the experience. This will require a lot of thought and research on your part, but I’m sure you will take it seriously, since this is your job.

1. As HS pointed out above, you have several advantages (time, location, transportation, nutritional knowledge, etc.) that many do not. These are very real. Imagine a person with no car living in a low-income neighborhood where there are NO grocery stores. Areas like this exist all over major cities in America. Public transportation takes both considerable time and money for these people, and for that reason many are forced to “shop” at drug stores, convenience stores, etc. Obviously, you can’t mimic all these factors. I think we just need to be clear that our privilege is ever-present and will be a factor in the challenge.

2. I’m a bit troubled by your comment that people are “thriving” on this budget. It is not possible to “thrive” on this budget week in and week out. Yes, for a week, it’s not too bad. But if you add up the problems and lack of nutrition over time, people who are forced to live on this income are at an extreme health disadvantage. Instead of saying they are “thriving,” I hope that you use this challenge to raise awareness that this small stipend is hurting hard-working people and their children. They deserve all the credit in the world for surviving on this budget, but I think the take-away must be that we could all do a lot more to help them out and ensure a healthier future for our country.

32 Meghann July 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

Thank you, Cessie. You make some great points that I will keep in mind for the remainder of the challenge. I appreciate the feedback.

33 Morgan July 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I have to say that I disagree with you that people cannot thrive on this kind of budget. I try to eat healthy and while I could pay more for my groceries than I do I just choose not to do so.

Here’s an example of what I typically purchase for a week for myself for about the same amount of money that this challenges budget allows.

eggs (1 dozen) =$2
quinoa (1 box) =$5
bread (1 loaf) =$1
spinach (2 bags, whatevers the cheapest or on sale) =$4
frozen chicken breasts (about 8 servings/bag) =$8
yogurt (usually 10/$10 but I never buy that many) =$7
milk (I buy as cheap as possible) =$2
lunch meat (usually turkey & whatever is on sale prepackaged) =$4
cheese (again prepacked) =$1
forzen veggies (2 bags, generic brands) =$3
$37 total (only $2 over and I rounded up on these)

Now given I pretty much eat the same meals over and over you can obviously change out the flavors all the time. Here’s the key, you can’t be picky about brands. But you can absolutely get nutritional food for a cheap price.

34 Chloe (In Fine Feather) July 18, 2012 at 1:39 pm

I think you’re forgetting a few basic things that people use when they cook – oil, spices, and condiments for example. Not to mention – do you drink coffee or tea? Ever buy desserts or eat out for any meal? How about snacks for children, or for that matter, adults?

There are many factors that a person who needs to be on food stamps considers. The fact that you are able to buy groceries on a budget is great, but like many commenters above have mentioned – the majority of those living in poverty don’t have access to grocery stores that offer bargain or sale prices, nor do they have a full kitchen in which to cook.
Chloe (In Fine Feather) recently posted..Yoga Keeps Me Sane

35 Morgan July 18, 2012 at 2:03 pm

I typically don’t cook with oil so I don’t consider it a neccesity and a variety of spices isn’t needed either, salt and pepper could do just fine. Again my point was it can be done.
All those things you mentioned that I must of forgotten about are simply things I don’t incorporate into my diet for one reason or another.
Do I eat out occasionally? Sure I do. But do I have to? No.

36 Courtney July 18, 2012 at 11:32 am

I agree with what a few others – Cessie and HS, primarily – pointed out. Doing this for a week with few limitations other than the monetary budget is not a fair sampling of how many live for their entire lives. It’s simply not that easy to “thrive.”
Courtney recently posted..From Turns and Flips to Runs and Lifts

37 Steph @321delish July 18, 2012 at 11:37 am

I think this is such a cool challenge! Is it $35 for one person or $35 for two? $35 period?

Is there an Aldi near you? You might be able to get some good deals there! And, if you have time to coupon, it might be worth it!
Steph @321delish recently posted..Snowball

38 Steph @321delish July 18, 2012 at 11:38 am

and, i should have read some of the comments first. oops!
Steph @321delish recently posted..Snowball

39 JennyV July 18, 2012 at 11:40 am

It’s nice to get off the “leash” of the watch, isn’t it? I’m a numbers driven person but find such peace when I break free!

40 Lindsay @ Running the Windy City July 18, 2012 at 11:41 am

I did something like this in college. It can be done but it takes lots of planning and creativity. I think thats part of the problem with the current system. Yes it is possible to eat healthy on $35/week but resources do not exist (or are not easily attainable) to those participating in the program. Add that to a full time job ( or multiple jobs) and other responsibilities like child care and you have a recipe for disaster.

I am interested to read your reflections and see your meals. I love challenges that put us in other people’s shoes. Good luck!
Lindsay @ Running the Windy City recently posted..Race Photos

41 Lisa July 18, 2012 at 11:42 am

A budget $70 per week for two people does not seem like a stretch. Especially this time of year when fruits and vegetables are plentiful and inexpensive.

42 Meghann July 18, 2012 at 11:54 am

Agree with the fruits and vegetables part. The problem is not having pantry items already on hand. So all usage of flour, grains, peanut butter, etc. must be purchased at the store within the budget.

43 danielle@eatingrunningliving July 18, 2012 at 11:59 am

I was just thinking that I spend wayyyy to much on groceries every month! I will be following you to see what you come up with!
danielle@eatingrunningliving recently posted..1/2 Marathon Training Day 1

44 Morgan July 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm

I put myself on a budget like this all the time.
The real challenge here is the fact that you eat the same foods….a lot. So for someone who thrives on variety (which I think you do) it will be harder.
Good luck. I definitely think you can do it, but I’m interested to see how it all goes.

45 Meghann July 18, 2012 at 12:03 pm

I tried to incorporate that challenge within the challenge. All of my main meals are different, but I am hoping to rely on leftovers for meals throughout the week. Luckily, Derek is pretty set on his typical sandwich for lunch, so he’s fine with repeats.

46 Erin @ erinberries July 18, 2012 at 12:01 pm

How fun! This would be really useful if I were still in college. Heck, this is useful now! I’m excited.
Erin @ erinberries recently posted..Keep on Clipping

47 Nina July 18, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Being poor doesn’t make you a hero 🙂 haha.

48 Christine @ BookishlyB July 18, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I’m sure you have the best intentions in mind, but I think that this challenge has been done before and is a bit of a slap in the face for those that truly need food stamps. If I was someone who needed assistance and I saw a group of food bloggers who were better off than me doing this my first thought would be “how nice, they’re slumming it as my level for a few days, I’m sure they’ll know EXACTLY how I’ll feel.” Also, I think a lot of people feel like it’s a ploy for press and attention, at least in regards to Anytime Fitness and Fit Fluential. Getting attention and blog hits for pretending to be poor for a week isn’t cool.

That being said, I do think that it is a really good way to get a good handle on what you eat and how much you spend. I also think if you could somehow use your knowledge at the end to help those on food stamps that would be even better- maybe somehow work with those on assistance programs to help them learn to come up with healthy meals or even volunteer at a soup kitchen to bring in some more nutritious options (quinoa salad instead of salty pasta sauce?).
Christine @ BookishlyB recently posted..Justified

49 Christine @ BookishlyB July 18, 2012 at 12:13 pm

ps- I have to commend you for leaving your comments open (unlike those that moderate everything) to invite true discussion on posts like this!
Christine @ BookishlyB recently posted..Justified

50 Ida July 18, 2012 at 12:16 pm

I think it’s great to try and budget groceries, but I don’t think this challenge should be used to comment on what people receiving SNAP assistance could be doing. You have plenty of time to go shopping/cook, money to use electricity/appliances to cook and a car that you can fill up with gas whenever you want.
Plus this type of blog post has been done so many times by so many people that it is just a cliche at this point.

51 Julie July 18, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I am so excited that you are doing this.
Julie recently posted..All Crafts Left Behind

52 Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I remember hearing Mario Batali on the Chew talk about this challenge a while ago – sounds interesting!

Good luck (I just typed lunch…somehow I think I’m hungry) with it!
Sam @ Better With Sprinkles recently posted..Better When Plated.

53 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama July 18, 2012 at 12:25 pm

When I saw this challenge I immediately thought you would be good at it. You are inventive with your food so that might come in handy. Good luck! It’s a great cause!

54 Jamie July 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Wow, I admit I am surprised you are doing this given the inaccuracy of the challenge. Food stamps are administered by each state. In my state as a single 27 year old woman and a $500 rent payment (I lied to make it low-income), I’d be eligible for $388 a month in food stamps, in addition to a variety of other cash assistance. Which is a lot more than $35 a week. The entire premise of this blog challenge is a scam really. It sounds nice and all and kudos to making choices based on a budget but don’t claim it’s what someone on food stamps receives. Unless it’s specific to your state- maybe Florida only gives that much? You can look it up for sure here. I always expected more honesty and facts from your blog. This is very disappointing.

55 Katie D. July 18, 2012 at 4:30 pm

I was going to say the same thing – the amount of food stamps (or in Michigan, money loaded on the Bridge Card) varies greatly. Also there are other assistance programs and charity programs that may help fill in the gaps.

Also in Michigan a really cool thing is that if you have a Bridge Card, you can go to certain Famers’ Market and use the kiosk there to double the money! For example, you have $10 taken off your Bridge Card and you get $20 worth of tokens good at the Farmers’ Market. What an awesome way to encourge spending on produce!

56 Amanda N July 18, 2012 at 12:27 pm

What an interesting challenge! I feel like a lot of my grocery bill per month is stocking up on bulk/sale items for everyday/future use so it’d be interesting to just buy what I was going to eat for the time period I was shopping for. I think what makes the challenge really hard is not being able to use any staples/pantry/bulk items you already have. Even if you don’t have a lot of money to spend on groceries, I’m sure you can slowly build up on things you will use a lot in bulk portions especially when items are on sale. I’ll be interested to see how this pans out!

57 Meghann July 18, 2012 at 12:33 pm

My thoughts exactly, Amanda! It’s one thing to have items on hand you can bulk up on over time, but remove those from the mix and you’re starting from scratch.

58 Julie July 18, 2012 at 12:32 pm

In response to several of the comments above, yes, Meghann has access to a car, gas, and time on her hands since she is a full time blogger. However, I believe we are only looking at the negatives here instead of looking at it from a different, more positive angle. By doing this, she is bringing awareness to this cause. Awareness, that probably many people need to see and learn about. I think it’s a good thing. I mean, people donate to causes daily to show their support. I’ve seen people live in boxes to show awareness for homelessness in this country. Those people will likely live in a box for a night, had a shower earlier that day, and then show their support for the cause. How is this any different? Meghann is using her blog for good. Let’s change our perspective here.
Julie recently posted..All Crafts Left Behind

59 Chloe (In Fine Feather) July 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

I would agree with this statement if Meghann had ANY other information besides a link to the challenge that provides information about the amount of poverty and hunger that occurs in our country. Instead, she chose to participate in this “challenge” because a bunch of other bloggers are doing so, and clearly hasn’t thought it through. Hopefully throughout the week she links to resources, information, and charities that would turn this into something good but honestly so far this challenge seems frivolous and in a lot of ways harmful to the perception of what it means to be impoverished in this country.
Chloe (In Fine Feather) recently posted..Yoga Keeps Me Sane

60 kate July 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm

i agree julie. i’ve worked with A LOT of impoverished people, as well as had multiple friends who’s families are on food stamps. i’m from baltimore and throughout high school and beyond i’ve interacted with people from the heart of the city. i think people are criticizing meghann just to criticize. people take challenges like these and think if it’s not absolutely flawless, then meghann is just a “poser” and this challenge is “ridiculous.” if these bloggers doing this make people just appreciate that they can buy the food they want without planning or with their own money, then it’s completely worthwhile. also, even if meghann were to post links to websites regarding governmental policies/charities, etc. the people that would read them are the people who probably have read about it before. from experience, people don’t seem to click a link just because someone did. they’ll look it up themselves if they actually care

61 Elisabeth July 19, 2012 at 4:40 am

Yes! This comment is exactly what I’m thinking as I read all of the negatives! If this challenge makes the bloggers & even a few readers appreciate the lifestyle they’re privileged to have, it was worth it. The challenge doesn’t have to be perfect for people to get something out of it. I’m sure the bloggers (and the readers) know that just being able to eat on $35 for the week isn’t the only challenge a lot of people face. I am glad you’re participating & am looking forward to reading future blog posts/comments.

62 Lauren @ Sweet and Twisted July 25, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I want to “like” this comment!
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63 Katie | July 18, 2012 at 12:43 pm

What a great challenge Meghann! I can’t wait to read your updates! I think the real challenge will be not being able to use any staples/pantry/bulk items you have, best of luck!

64 Jamie July 18, 2012 at 12:45 pm

In regards to food deserts, the New York Times has even reported on how this is also not as prevalent as many here would like to believe. Another feel good story or campaign promise, maybe, but not based on fact.

65 Chloe (In Fine Feather) July 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm

This may be true, but the article doesn’t include how much more expensive those convenient stores and small markets may be compared to other larger chains. It would be interesting to hear more about that, rather than the lack of food available.
Chloe (In Fine Feather) recently posted..Yoga Keeps Me Sane

66 Annette @FitnessPerks July 18, 2012 at 12:48 pm

WOW!! Good luck!! What a cool challenge!
Annette @FitnessPerks recently posted..Turkey Stuffed Bell Peppers

67 Kristen July 18, 2012 at 12:56 pm

I can’t wait to follow this and get some great ideas/tips from you!

I always feel like I spend a TON on food each week ($60-70) for me and my husband – plus we eat out several nights a week. I feel likeI have to spend more to eat healthy, so looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

Good Luck!

68 Lindsay July 18, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Meghann’s post is sort of misleading. She will be spending $70 for the week for her and Derek , so your budget is pretty on point. I personally don’t understand the point of this challenge, but I also don’t really understand why these companies spend money on food bloggers to do food related things despite their lack of a culinary background. One of the many mysteries of advertising and blogging, in my opinion.

69 Meghann July 18, 2012 at 1:22 pm

We are budgeted $70, BUT we’re not allowed to use any items already in our pantry. Derek and I typically spend $50-$80 per week on groceries, but we also rely a lot on bulk grains or “leftover” food from the week before to balance everything out. This challenge takes away the option of eating any of our stocked pantry through the week.

70 Sana July 18, 2012 at 12:57 pm

I just read through all of the comments and everyone has brought up so many valid points. However, we have no idea what people who live below the poverty line are going through because we are not in that situation.
However, we can bring awareness to the situation via blogging about various challenges and volunteering.
Starting this week I will be fasting for the month of Ramadan 14 hours a day with no food or water for 30 days. I am not pretending that I will feel anything close to what people actually w/o food or water will feel because I know at the end of the day I WILL have food or water. And that feeling can’t be replaced.
Sana recently posted..My Weekend.

71 kate July 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm

thank you!! i feel like everyone who has a negative perception of this challenge. it’s like they’re saying, “IF YOU AREN’T LIVING IN A CARDBOARD BOX OR YOU’RE NOT WILLING TO DO THIS FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, THEN THIS CHALLENGE IS RIDICULOUS!” you have to start somewhere and meghann using this blog to bring any kind of awareness is helpful in my opinion

72 Carol July 18, 2012 at 1:03 pm

Megann, I’d really challenge you to live as someone in your own state (and reality) would on food stamps (and also welfare which is available to most who qualify for food stamps) and not just what Anytime Fitness tells you. Did you research this at all on your own? You may be surprised what kind of assistance is available in many states and just how much! You’d be getting a hell of a lot more than $35 a week from your taxpaying neighbors.

Currently 45.8 MILLION Americans are on food stamps!! That is ONE in SEVEN Americans! That number has gone up over 40% in the past 3.5 years. Maybe some real facts or honest analysis (even your opinion) on WHY this is would be a better use of time than pretending you’re actually living on a real food stamp budget. Heck, maybe do a post about what we as a country should do so it doesn’t end up that we’re all living in poverty on food stamps!

73 Amanda July 18, 2012 at 1:09 pm

I can’t wait to read more about this, and see some of your meal ideas!
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74 Kimra July 18, 2012 at 1:21 pm

Interesting discussion. A few people have mentioned this challenge bringing “awareness to the cause.” What cause? I guess I’m not sure if this is supposed to show that $35 is enough, too much, what.

75 Renee July 18, 2012 at 1:29 pm

This is an interesting challenge. My husband and I have 2 kids so total we could spend $110/week, and that is about what I spend….including all cleaning supplies, toilet paper etc. BUT I use existing pantry items…that is what would throw me for a loop. However, we have a lot of food in our cupboards I choose not to incorporate because I want “variety.” This is a good reminder that I need to plan better and do better to make use of what I have and I could be spending A LOT less.
Renee recently posted..A Midsummer Night’s Trail Run

76 Lynda @ Hit The Road Jane July 18, 2012 at 1:44 pm

It really bothers me that people are being negative towards you or anyone attempting this challenge. I think all the participants have their hearts in the right place. I challenge any naysayer to take their own advice and practice what they preach. Stop bashing others for doing good and instead use your energy to go volunteer, raise awareness, or help your community. It gets us no where behaving in this manner. Way to go Meghann! Rooting you on as a fellow Florida girl, blogger, FitFluential member, and human being.

77 Debbie B. July 18, 2012 at 1:49 pm

I am very excited by this challenge. I think it is easy to let excuses get in the way of eating healthy and taking care of ourselves. Every one has limitations and hardships but we can chose to overcome those limitations and find success or we can chose failure. I truly believe that where there is a will there is a way. I know Meghann will rock this challenge and can’t wait to see all the creative dishes she eats over the next week. I also can’t wait to hear her thoughts when she finishes this challenge.
I grew up really poor as my mom was single and yes we were on food stamps for a couple of years. We were lucky in that we had access to land to grow a garden which allowed us to eat fresh fruits and veggies which by the way is really hard work. My mom also canned those items to use in the winter months as we lived in Utah. I am grateful for that experience because it has taught me to be creative and live within my current budget.

78 Anne July 18, 2012 at 1:52 pm

I don’t understand why people are calling this challenge insensitive? No one is claiming this challenge is going to cure poverty or that this challenge is the most realistic challenge ever. It is assumed that this is not an empirically validated study with extraneous variables considered. This is a challenge to bring awareness about poverty and the lack of money to buy nutritious foods, whether perceived or not.

I highly doubt Meghann will finish this challenge and say “haha, I did this and so can everybody else”. In the end, it’s not about the actual $35, it’s about the economic issue.

I applaud ANYONE that can bring awareness to low income families living on food stamps. No, this challenge is not going to change poverty. But hell, it’s at least starting a conversation about it.

79 Morgan July 18, 2012 at 2:09 pm

I copmpletely agree!

80 Andrea July 18, 2012 at 2:31 pm

I agree with you both. I think this is a great idea, just from the standpoint of pointing out that eating “healthy” isn’t impossible on a budget (whether you are on food stamps or not). That people find this insensitive, seems a little oversensitive to me.

My husband was off of work for a few months and we were just about to apply for assistance (we should have earlier, but suffered instead!), but he found a job. We are still living on a tight budget and I will be reading these posts to get ideas on how to stretch my (non-food stamp) budget.

Plus money goes to a food bank. That is a great cause! Great job Meghann!

81 Helen @ This New Song July 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Hello there, I’m a new reader! 🙂 Love your down-to-earth approach to healthy living. I’m interested to hear about this challenge…especially as a college student living in an apartment with my own kitchen next year. Need to learn a few things about food budgeting/meal planning!
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82 Morgan July 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm

I think it’s also important to remember/realize that not all people on strict budgets live in poverty.
I know that this challenge in particular talks about people living on government assistance but not everyone who recieves that type of support lives in a seedy area with no grocery stores available.
This challenge would be better received if it was more to show people that we don’t have to spend so much money on food just to be healthy and nutritious, because I’ll be honest, while enjoy foolowing a handful of HLB, I get frustrated all the time when most of the things the bloggers are eating are things I would never spend that much money on myself.

83 Morgan July 18, 2012 at 2:07 pm


84 Chris July 18, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Interesting discussion… I agree with a few previous posters that we can’t really say what people who are actually on food stamps would think of this since it is likely most of us are not on them – or if PP are, they are not piping up with that info. Maybe they would be offended, maybe they would not… but it seems kind of presumptuous to say that across the board that the 1 in 7 people on food stamps (if that number is accurate) would be offended and annoyed at this challenge. I am just not a fan of people say “ohhh, this is so insensitive to such and such group” when they themselves also have no idea what it is like to be part of it. They are ironically guilty of the same generalizing that they are accusing the challenge founders of making.
I am interested in the challenge from a frugality aspect. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

85 Jamie July 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm

It’s accurate. Food stamp expenditures (which comes from the pockets of those who work and pay taxes) have also doubled since 2008.

To me this number is far scarier than trying to budget a grocery trip or blog about it. The number of people on government assistance and the mainstream media’s lack of interest in reporting on such leaves a lot of people in the dark. Our economy and our country’s working class have taken a giant hit since 2008.

86 Allison July 18, 2012 at 2:39 pm

You’re right. It is really scary that decades of trickle down economic policies that began in, I don’t know, 1980, have finally caught up to the most vulnerable members of our society.

87 Emily July 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Allison, I totally agree! The economy’s issues began long before 2008.

88 jamie July 18, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Unemployment is up and food stamp recipients are through the roof. They have increased more than 40% just from 2008. That’s a fact. You can debate ideas all you want but the fact is 1 in 7 Americans are now collecting food stamps (which is what Meghann’s blog is focusing on) so my question is, does she care how we got here? Is she doing anything to stop this from becoming 1 in 5 Americans, 1 in 2 Americans? Come on. Blogging on just the “feel good” stuff and ignoring these comments with cold hard facts is pretty embarrassing, I would guess. Now if she’s all for Americans being on food stamps and wants us to be a nation depending on our government for food rationing, she should say so. If not, she should say so. Just like everyone asking her the point of this challenge, besides what she gets paid from FitFluential.

89 Emily July 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm

Jamie–for some reason I can’t reply directly to you, so I apologize for that. I was responding to your statement that our economy has taken a huge hit since 2008. That is true, but the reason for that hit in the economy (including increasing unemployment rates & increased reliance on food stamps) is because of economic policy decades before 2008.

90 Wendy July 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm

What a great challenge. My first thought was there is no way i’d be able to do this. There are some weeks my produce bill is more then this. I am really interested in seeing what you are able to come up with and maybe get some ideas for my own meal planning. I don’t know how many times i’ve heard people say (myself included) “I like to/would like to eat healthy but it’s so expensive.” There are only 2 of us and i’m happy when i can keep my grocery bill under $100 a week. That’s not including any meals we may eat out.

91 Jessica @ New Girl, New City July 18, 2012 at 2:55 pm

I love this challenge!! I definitely do take food for granted, and the fact that I can afford to buy organic produce and expensive almond butter.. I definitely do not acknowledge how lucky I am to do so enough.

92 Army Amy* July 18, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Not too long ago, I saw a Dateline report on poverty in the middle class. One of the women in the report let the cameras follow her at her local food pantry. She started to talk about how ashamed she felt, how she’d park far away, go in the back entrance. I had never thought about the emotional impact of poverty like that before. I’d love to hear about your local food pantry. (What kinds of foods/variety do they offer? How do the prices compare? Is it easily accessible?) I’m assuming you can’t actually shop there, but it would be an interesting piece to add to the challenge.*
Army Amy* recently posted..Aussie Adventures: Zootastic

93 Meghann July 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm

I would love to volunteer at the local food pantry this week. I’m looking into it.

94 Hillary July 18, 2012 at 3:30 pm

This is obviously a really hot-button issue. My boyfriend is getting his PhD. in sociology, and this is a conversation we’ve actually had a lot in the past. I keep myself on a tight grocery budget, mainly because I’m living on a teacher’s salary and paying for grad school out-of-pocket and I’m trying to save money wherever I can. I usually spend no more than $35/week on groceries, but, as other people have mentioned, I have access to a wide variety of grocery stores, I have a car, I have the time to shop, etc.

I’m not saying anything new here, but it is important to note that, for many people, the issue isn’t necessarily money (or money on its own): it’s also time, location, circumstance, transportation, etc. I am interested to see how this works out for you, though!
Hillary recently posted..Peanut Butter & Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

95 Sarah July 18, 2012 at 3:53 pm

I love this challenge! I work in the nutrition field and constantly fighting the battle to help people understand that eating healthy can be done on a budget! But I’m also totally guilty of spending way too much at the grocery store and farmers markets.

A few tips – shop the bulk aisle, it’s always cheaper than pre-packaged stuff (oats, beans, nuts, etc). Frozen fruits/veggies are also cheaper (though that would be super hard this time of year with all the fresh stuff available!), and beans and eggs are great, cheap, healthy protein.

look forward to seeing what you come up with!

96 Peggy July 18, 2012 at 3:55 pm

I guess my question is similar to Kimra’s above. I’m just not sure the message of this challenge. Is it to say to people that “Look, a bunch of food bloggers can totally eat healthy things like yogurt and granola on $35 a week, so why can’t you?” If that’s the case, I defer to the comments above about the problematic and insensitive nature of the challenge. But, if the goal is to show that $35 is too little money, and to advocate for food stamp allowances to be increased, then that sounds like something positive (although there is no indication in this post or on the website linked to that there is any kind of political/policy goal of this challenge). It’s left unclear what the message really is (or if anyone’s even thought about what the message should be), other than a simple “can I do that?”.

97 Rachel Wilkerson July 18, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I have the same questions and was thinking the same thing!
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98 Lauren July 18, 2012 at 7:52 pm

yes! yes yes. I agree. Thank you for writing this eloquently.

99 Brittany (Healthy Slice of Life) July 18, 2012 at 4:52 pm

I think it’s a great challenge with a lot of insight derived from the process. However, I did a similar challenge with the same premise about 1 month or so ago and got ripped. Some people had good points about transportation and access, but other just wanted to sling insults. I look forward to reading about this challenge and hope you don’t get inundated with mean comments! Good luck! 🙂

100 Kerrie T. July 18, 2012 at 5:06 pm

I just started emphasizing fruits and veggies WITH A PASSION in our house. We are 2 adults, 1 4YO child. To stock my fridge for about a week with healthy options (fish, nuts, eggs, veggies, fruits), it cost about the same as what I normally spent at the grocery store, plus Costco for Greek Yogurt and some frozen fruits and more eggs (that expense actually went down a little). And I did NOT plan. The great thing is that it seems like whatever I want to make, I now have the ingredients in my fridge.
Kerrie T. recently posted..Got Bananas? Use Them Up with These Surprising Recipes from Dole

101 Karla July 18, 2012 at 5:12 pm

I feed my husband and I with all fruits, veggies and meats. I don’t buy processed foods and very little dairy. I probably spend average $70 a week. I think this challenge is good because I know some people do spend a lot more, but I’m not seeing how its going to affect food stamps. I think it is important to bring awareness to this as the number of people on food stamps is astonishing. In my mind it is NOT acceptable.
Karla recently posted..Seattle Summer Weekend Recap

102 Rachel Wilkerson July 18, 2012 at 6:45 pm

While showing how people can eat healthy on a budget is an AWESOME goal, I think what is off-putting about this project is that it’s tied to food stamps and there is a high potential that you all will make it seem easy to live on a budget of $35 a week and sort of villainize the people who need food stamps…but who are also stuck in situations that the bloggers participating probably won’t be able to replicate. If this whole project were centered around eating healthfully on a college student’s budget or even based on the income of, say, the average 20something with a ton of student loans, I think the reaction would be a lot more positive. But it’s hard for me to not raise an eyebrow to anything that makes it easier to shame those who are poor and in need of aid for not just trying harder.

While I think you acknowledge your advantages, I worry that there will be some people who ignore the fact that you have tons of advantages and the takeaway will be, “Look it can be done! See, these bloggers did it! Less funding for government aid!” I think a lot of advocates for health/nutrition have good intentions, but they often place the blame on the people who are feeding their kids junk food rather than looking at the systems and policies that often lead up to that. The intention of the project (as I understand it from reading yours + some other bloggers’ posts) is to show that everyone can eat healthy on a budget…and if your audience is primarily people who are not on food stamps…it sort of feels like the point of this is to show those who are fortunate how those who are less fortunate really have no excuse for having weight problems or eating junk food or not feeding their kids organic fruits and veggies. I hope that this isn’t the case, and I truly hope this little experiment leaves people feeling sympathetic to those who live in food deserts/work 60 hours a week just to put food on the table/don’t have cars, but I’m not sure if that is the goal that AnyTime Fitness/FitFluential has set out to achieve.

Anyway, I’m interested to see how this unfolds and the discussions that come from it!
Rachel Wilkerson recently posted..{the life} Working It…In Makeup

103 Peggy July 18, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Thanks, Rachel. That’s exactly what I was trying to say above, but far better thought out than I could have managed this afternoon. 🙂 I do think that your comment gives me hope that something positive will come out of this, simply by starting fruitful conversation.

104 Allie July 18, 2012 at 10:23 pm

I 100% agree!

105 Erica July 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm

I completely agree. I suggest they do something with all the money the save. If they normally spend $50/week, they could donate $15/week to a food bank or some other organization that helps provide food for people who can’t afford it.
Erica recently posted..Lemony

106 julie July 18, 2012 at 9:23 pm

woo hoo! i’m excited for this challenge! i started calculating my per meal totals on the train this morning — and i happened to double score with extra lean ground turkey on sale for $4 at my food store this week! bought two and froze! the key is totally scoping out the sales circulars and knowing exactly what you’re going to eat — fun but definitely not easy! looking forward to the end of the week twitter chat! xo

107 Heather July 18, 2012 at 10:56 pm

This is what my hubby and I usually spend per week on groceries. We’ve always eaten healthy on a budget. 🙂

108 Elisabeth July 19, 2012 at 2:15 am

This is an awesome challenge! I look forward to your posts (and from the other bloggers) and the comments from readers, too 🙂

109 Beth July 19, 2012 at 8:03 am

I’m sure you’ve thought of this already, but frozen veggies are a godsend. I’m a grad student so I try to eat well while saving money wherever I can, and frozen veggies are a huge part of that. They’re cheap, they stay fresh for longer, and they often have more nutrients than fresh produce that’s been sitting around for a while.
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110 Erica July 19, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Not to be rude, but this experiment seems kind of snotty. I regularly have to survive on $35 a week or less because I’m poor. I mean I’m not looking for sympathy or anything – I got myself into this financial situation. I just think there are a lot of people who have to survive on a lot less. I have to get really creative sometimes. Yet I still feel lucky because I know there are people who have even less than I do. (I’m not on government assistance just in a (hopefully) temporary financial bind.) You mentioned you’ve been lucky enough to always be able to afford all the food you need. This question might be personal and you really don’t have to answer, but what are you doing with the money you save? Are you donating it to a food bank or to some other place that helps people who can’t afford food? What exactly is the goal of this little experiment? It kind of comes off as a bunch of rich kids just trying to see how the other half lives.
Erica recently posted..Lemony

111 Meghann July 19, 2012 at 1:33 pm

I’m currently researching food banks in this area. When this project is over, I would like to donate the $70 grocery total to one. I’m also hoping to win the $1,000 at the end that will go directly to the food shelf of my choosing. Part of this challenge is competing for funds that will go right back into our community. It’s one of the reasons I chose to participate.

112 sophie July 19, 2012 at 5:29 pm

I don’t think this challenge, or similar challenges for that matter, are about “proving” anything or saying how it should be really easy to eat healthily on an extremely low budget. Of course, when keeping ones grocery expenses under a certain amount, only this one factor is being taken into consideration. Many people who truly struggle with even having enough food obviously have an abundance of problems that all interact to make their lives much more complicated and difficult.
Contrary to what many commenters have written, I believe that these challenges, if anything only underline who difficult it really must be to live in poverty. If it’s already such a challenge to only spend $35 on groceries, imagine how difficult it is when all those other contributing factors come into play (i.e. children, lack of transportation, etc.) You can’t. Unless you have had the experience, you don’t know what it’s like.
And I don’t think anyone is saying that a challenge like this is the same thing. It is simply a good experiment to maybe gain a tiny shred of understanding for less fortunate people, and appreciate and be thankful for not having to worry so much about finances if one happens to be so lucky.

113 Jess July 20, 2012 at 1:24 am

I was a poor student for many years, and often lived on $50 per week for 2 people. I live in New Zealand, where the cost of food if very high, and there is no such thing as coupons. I made a lot of things from scratch. I used a lot of ground meat, bulked out with grated seasonal veggies. Can it be done? Yes. Is it fun? No.

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