The more reading and research I do the more I get excited about our My Earth Garden October Food Challenge. The numbers out there are not looking good at all which just tells me that there is no better time than now to bring the issue of food insecurity to the forefront of our minds. The USDA estimates that the cost of food is going to increase by 3-4% in 2011 and that’s a problem that doesn’t seem to be alarming the public as much as it should.
The Government Says We’re Gonna Starve
According to this chart, the average cost of food at home for males between the ages of 19 & 50 in 2011 ranges between $176 (Thrifty plan) and $347.70 (Liberal plan). The same chart says that the monthly cost of a Thrifty meal plan for a household of two adults in the same age range would be $366. Unfortunately John & I have chosen to live on the amount of the average SNAP / Food Stamps an Alabama resident would receive, so we will be creating the “Really Really Thrifty plan” while living on just $126.90 each for the month of October. That’s $4 per person, per day, or $112.20 less than what the data suggests that we should have for the lowest cost meal plan.
I’m a lifelong gardener, so I know how to grow my own food. John & I live on rural land, so we have the room to grow our own food. To fully embrace this challenge we are putting that all aside and striving to eat the best diet we can on the amount of money we are allowed. As one friend pointed out, the real challenge is not eating on that amount of money, it is eating a reasonably nutritious diet on such a restricted budget.
To make this work we are going to have to be creative and we’re going to have to be prepared to compromise on some of the things we enjoy and take for granted. We will have to embrace portion control (not our strong suit, I assure you) as a way to keep costs in check and to accurately account for the price of any given meal.
I don’t foresee going without food at any point but I’m willing to do so for the sake of this challenge if I have to. It is even possible that we may have to purchase so-called convenience and prepackaged foods to make our budget limits work and though I do not and will not recommend it, it will be worth it for the illustrative value of this challenge.
The Light At the End of the Tunnel Is an Oncoming Train
Whatever the outcome of the October Challenge, the point is for it to be as true-to-life as possible- an accurate depiction of the struggle to feed yourself on low income. When the month is over and we can look back on what happened, we will also be in a better position to illustrate the value of growing and preserving your own food, and that will be the subject of a future challenge project.
What do you think is a reasonable amount of money for a monthly food budget? Do you have any experiences to share? Leave a comment below.