Low-Carb Food Stamp Diet a Success


Week’s Diet Proves Good Nutrition Possible on Low Budget

Ari Armstrong ate nutritious food February 4-10 for less than food stamps provide. For the week, he ate only meat, dairy, eggs, olive oil, vegetables, fruit, walnuts, chocolate, tea, and spices. He did not eat any grains, vegetable oils, hydrogenated fat, potatoes, or processed sugar.

For compete details about the diet, including receipts and photographs of select meals, see http://tinyurl.com/a9l7z3.

Armstrong spent $33.07 for the week, or $4.72 per day. (He added 78 cents of bananas to preliminary figures.) However, he had around $5.30 worth of food left at the end of the week, bringing the daily total to around $4. Food stamps provide $5.68 per day to a single individual — see http://www.fns.usda.gov/FSP/faqs.htm.

Armstrong said, “With this diet, I wanted to prove again that eating well on a low budget is possible. I also wanted to protest increases in the food-stamp budget. People should not be forced to fund the unhealthy food-stamp program. Instead, I favor voluntarily funded food banks, which are better able to offer nutritious food to those in need.”

Ari and his wife Jennifer spend a month in 2007 eating a higher-carb — but still nutritious — diet for $2.57 per day each.

* * *

My meals for the week obviously consisted of various combinations of the ingredients I purchased at the outset. It would be a little tedious, I think, to reproduce my meal-by-meal log here. A typical breakfast consisted of half a grapefruit, a cup of milk, and scrambled eggs with onion, garlic, tomato, and turkey. A typical lunch was soup. A typical dinner was a salad with red leaf lettuce, cabbage, olive oil, turkey, and a dash of pepper. My desserts were bananas with chocolate and cream.

My appetite was a little bigger on Saturday, as Jennifer and I sawed up and moved some large tree logs to the back yard.

On Saturday we also went into King Soopers to pick up stuff for Jennifer; the store was offering free samples of various foods, which I couldn’t accept due to my self-imposed restrictions. Obviously, those on a true emergency budget would accept free food.

Last night I had a conversation with Diana Hsieh about carbs. She has researched diets a lot more than I have, and she largely inspired the low-carb approach for my week’s diet. She claims that sprouted wheat is better for you than regular wheat flour. It’s obvious to me that there’s a huge difference between whole grains and, say, corn chips. But, within the category of whole grains, it’s not at all obvious to me whether some carbs are better than others. Anyway, my approach will continue to be to eat a nutritious diet fairly low in carbs but still with some grains and a bit of cane sugar. I’ll refine this as I learn more details.

At the end of the week, I had around $5.30 worth of food left.

Here are my estimates of the left-over values, in cents:

* Garlic: 30
* Salt: 45
* Pepper: 90
* 2 Eggs: 25
* 2 Pints Soup: 50
* Chocolate: 20
* Tea: 45
* Olive Oil: 180
* Cabbage: 10
* Onion: 20
* Lettuce: 25

I consumed almost an entire turkey during the week. So I think I’ll lay off the turkey for a while. Today I’m going to make spaghetti squash with tomato sauce, hamburger, and various vegetables and spices. The squash cost me 49 cents per pound; the tomato sauce was on sale for 29 cents for 15 ounces. The hamburger is “all natural” beef on mark-down (I don’t recall the exact price), so it was more expensive than regular hamburger but considerably less than the usual cost for “all natural” meat.

The upshot is that the diet was a complete success. I imagine it will be, oh, five or six minutes before somebody else is whining that it’s just not possible to eat nutritiously on a food-stamp budget. My readers, at least, will know better.

4 thoughts on “Low-Carb Food Stamp Diet a Success”

  1. Well, it depends on how tight your budget is. You don’t have to “know a local grower” to get good deals on all-natural beef. True, you’ll pay more at Whole Foods — which is why I never buy meat there. But I’ve purchased all-natural, low-fat hamburger at King Soopers, on mark down, in the $3 to $3.50 per pound range. Turkey can regularly be found for less than a dollar per pound (whole birds). The same goes for whole chickens. Costco has some great, boneless pork roasts for $1.99 per pound. (Obviously meat with bones in it results in some waste.) You don’t have to pay yuppie prices to get good meat.

  2. First of all–great project! Thanks for sharing.

    AND meat with bones is a great deal. Don’t throw out them bones. They are a very valuable source of nutrition.

    No need to add veggies to your bone broth if you dont want. Just bones, water, a little salt and something acidic like vinegar or lemon juice. And simmmer.

    And you will have gelled gold. Throwing bones away is just wasteful.

  3. This morning I was watching a Diane Sawyer documentary on the Appalachian mountains and in one part she says “meat and vegetables are a rare luxury for these folks who rely entirely on food stamps for there food”. Then they show the same people drinking can after can of soda pop (also bought with food stamps).

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