We Survived!

Friday was our last day of the SNAP Challenge. I am happy to report Jeremiah and I successfully completed it. You have no idea how happy this makes us but also how much we learned participating in Harvesters SNAP Challenge.

eggsFriday morning, Jeremiah and I had enough money left in our budget that we decided to make eggs. We cooked three eggs and split them between us. Plus, we each ate three pancakes. For the first time all week, our stomachs didn’t growl before lunch.

I also gave Jeremiah an extra piece of fruit in his lunch bag. I didn’t want him to have anymore side effects from malnourishment. He finished off the penne pasta for lunch. We both forgot our hummus though. Perhaps subconsciously, we just couldn’t eat anymore of it. Surprising, our zucchini and chips weren’t bad without it.

pizzaFor dinner, we got our Papa Murphy’s sausage pizza. It was the best pizza ever. No, it really wasn’t but we had been craving it all week. We each ate three slices since we didn’t have any cookies left.

After dinner, we decided to beat the snow shoppers and go grocery shopping. We are making Turkey Chili and Beer Bread – which were supposed to be on our menu this week but had to be cut because of cost. We are using the leftover sandwich bread to make crunchy French toast. We are also making Hamburger Casserole, Cheesy Potato Soup and Reese’s Krispie No-Bake cookies. The crazy thing is that when we got to the check-out, our bill was less than $45 and we weren’t even trying. Maybe we learned a few cost saving things this week. Additionally, we weren’t buying all the ingredients for these meals or are trying to make them stretch to 30 meals.

I did want to share a total breakdown of our week.

Daily Menu

B – 3 pancakes with butter and syrup

L – Tuna on white bread, homemade chips & zucchini with hummus, two cookies and a piece of fruit (I had a banana and Jeremiah had an orange)

D – Chicken penne pasta with salsa con queso, a slice of corn bread, and one cookie

I had five crackers as a snack. Jeremiah also had two cups of coffee.


B – Pancakes with butter and syrup (I had three and Jeremiah had four)

L – Tuna on white bread, homemade chips & zucchini with hummus, two cookies and a piece of fruit (I had a banana and Jeremiah had an orange)

D – Red Beans & Rice, a slice of corn bread, and one cookie

Jeremiah had two cups of coffee and five crackers for a snack.


B – 4 pancakes with butter and syrup

L – I had tuna on white bread, homemade chips & zucchini with hummus, two cookies and a banana. Jeremiah had red beans and rice, homemade chips & zucchini with hummus, two cookies, and an orange.

D – Chicken penne pasta with salsa con queso, a slice of corn bread, and two cookies

Jeremiah had two cups of coffee and five crackers for a snack.


B – 4 pancakes with butter and syrup

L – I had tuna on white bread, homemade chips & zucchini with hummus, two cookies and a banana. Jeremiah had chicken penne pasta, two cookies, and a banana.

D – Red Beans & Rice, a slice of corn bread, five saltine crackers, and two cookie


B – 1 ½ eggs and 3 pancakes with butter and syrup

L – I had tuna on white bread, homemade chips & zucchini, two cookies and a banana. Jeremiah had chicken penne pasta and a banana.

D – Three slices of sausage pizza

I had five crackers for a snack. Jeremiah had two cups of coffee and an orange.

We drank water as our main beverage all week-long. Water is free!!!

Our Budget

  • Chicken penne pasta – $6.19 or $1.03 per serving (we ate all six servings)
  • Red Beans & Rice – $5.75 or $.82 per serving (we have two servings left)
  • Store brand K-cups – $3.99 or $.33 per serving (we have two cups left)
  • Tuna sandwiches – $2.33 or $.23 per serving – Tuna ($.98 for two cans), Bread ($.99 for loaf), Miracle Whip $.33, Mustard – $.03 (we have three servings of tuna and bread left)
  • Hummus with zucchini and homemade chips – $4.63 or $.46 per serving (Hummus – $2.18, chips, $1.83, and zucchini – $.62) Plus note: we did add a little more oil and Italian Seasoning so I would increase the cost of this to $5 or $.50 per serving (we have two servings of hummus left)
  • Cornbread prepared – $.80 or $.09 per serving (Jiffy corn bread – $.55, an egg – $.17, and milk $.08)
  • Cookies – $3.06 or $.09 per cookie
  • 3 lbs. of Bananas (7) – $1.36 or $.19 per banana
  • Oranges (4) – $1.33 or $.33 per orange
  • Crackers (154) – $1.34 or $.04 per serving (we ate only six servings)
  • One box of pancakes, a bottle of syrup, and butter – $2.72 or $.08 per pancake
  • Scrambled eggs – $.68 or $.34 per serving
  • Sausage pizza – $5 or $.63 per slice
  • Bag Ice (for water two evenings) – $.25

$39.80 + $3.48 in tax (please note that SNAP recipients do not have to pay tax though when they use their card) = $43.28 or $4.33 per person per day

Want to take the challenge? It’s not too late. Join Harvesters Monday, March 2nd through Friday, March 6th. Click here to register now. Then, share your journey on social media.

The Gift of Bacon

After work on Saturday, I went to Jeremiah’s house. We finalized our meal plan for the week. I’m happy to report, we came in under budget. Enough so, we can have Papa Murphy’s pizza on Friday night. You have no idea how excited this made us. Papa Murphy’s sells a take ‘n bake FAV pizza (a large cheese, pepperoni, or sausage) for just $5 every day. And since the pizza isn’t baked, it’s eligible for SNAP benefits. (Thank you to my co-workers for this little tip.) I checked their website and it says that you can use SNAP at almost every location. Score!

breadThe last couple ingredients we needed for our menu were sausage, chickpeas, and bread. You should have seen us. Since we came in so far under budget, we opted to buy two sausages at the HyVee meat counter ($1.25 each = $2.50). The chickpeas were included in the beans sales so we got them for $.66 a can. (Yes, I had budgeted $1.50). We decided to splurge and buy a box of Jiffy corn bread. It was $.55 and the HyVee brand was $.50. Jeremiah wanted Jiffy. I didn’t realize it but we now had to budget in another $.17 for an egg and $.08 for milk to make the mix. The bread was a real challenge. The $1.50 wheat bread wasn’t on sale at HyVee. We looked around and compared bread. We ended up with a HyVee loaf of $.99 white bread. All the other breads either didn’t have enough slices, were less health, or significantly more expensive.

When we got to the checkout, the cashier made a joke about how our evening was based on the ingredients, I said “we were trying to live on a SNAP budget.” She said, “every penny counts.” I gave her my Fuel Saver card and used my debit card on the machine. I think she thought I was paying with SNAP because she said, “it went through”. I was really offended when we got to the car. Jeremiah asked, “why?” I said, “I used my debit card. I just got paid yesterday so of course it went through, I have a whole paycheck in my account. I think that cashier thought I was using a Vision card (how SNAP recipients purchase their food). ” I felt for all the SNAP recipients whole have ever been made to feel that way when they purchased their food.

After buying our groceries, we went to dinner. We both decided to get an adult beverage since we wouldn’t be able to have one for the next week. I’m not sure if I would have had I known I wouldn’t be able to do so this week.

Saturday night, Jeremiah mentioned that his parents had left us the gift of bacon. He thought we could have it with pancakes during the SNAP Challenge. I had to share with him the bad news, that we couldn’t do that because we can’t accept free food during the SNAP Challenge. The reason is because not everyone receiving SNAP benefits is lucky enough to have people who leave bacon in their fridge. I suggested we have it for breakfast on Sunday morning. I’m glad I did because it was the really good bacon – Farmland full fat, thick cut.

I asked Jeremiah if we were making less healthy food decisions knowing that we were going into a week of such a restrictive diet. He agreed we probably were. On Sunday, we started our day with two eggs, two & half slices of bacon, and a donut. After church, I weren’t feeling hungry yet so we stopped by my house to pick-up some of the items we needed to prepare our food for the week. By the time we made it back up north, it was 1:30PM. We stopped by Chipotle for lunch. Jeremiah debated not eating the whole bowl. I reminded him, he wouldn’t be able to eat it this week so he finished it.

We spent three and half hours cooking recipes for the week. I made a point to portion everything out to ensure we had enough and didn’t run out. It was a good thing we did because we needed to make another batch of hummus. I was so excited that our cookie recipe made 12 extra cookies. I started discussing how we could eat them based on what we were having for dinner. Jeremiah said to me, “Are you rationing out cookies?” Indeed, I was.

cheesecakeWhile Jeremiah was cooking our dinner, I ran to HyVee in pursuit of our last Starbucks. (We are both Gold Members so this is going to be hard. Especially for me, since I’m giving up coffee entirely this week. I need creamers/syrup to drink it & that isn’t in the budget. Plus, it allows Jeremiah to have one in the morning and one at night.) The Starbucks’ app said that location was open until 9PM. Unfortunately, they were closed when I arrived at 8:05PM. I called Jeremiah and asked for the next closest location. He sent me to a free standing one we had been to together before. After dinner, we finished off the cherry chocolate cheesecake Jeremiah had baked for Valentine’s Day with our grande lattes.

We are ready for the Harvesters SNAP Challenge to start on Monday!

Please note: We are doing the Harvesters’ SNAP Challenge a week early because I will be out of town at a training next week. That means their is still time for you to sign up & participate. To learn more, click here