Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Choose My Plate Shopping

The Choose My Plate website provides a grocery list and a pantry staples list. We went through the staples list before we went to the store expecting that we would have most everything on the list. Boy were we surprised! A lot of the things they considered to be staples we didn't have in our well stocked pantry!

The grocery lists were CRAZY long! Even for a family of four I felt that they had tons of food on them! There will definitely be lots of variety in our diet during these two weeks! We made a commitment not to change anything on the list. We were nervous about some of the recipes since they use ingredients that we don't particularly care for. I don't eat fish at all-I simply can't tolerate the smell-and several recipes used fish. DH isn't a fan of tofu (and I only really like it in miso soup) and I detest bananas. We were nervous that we would end up starving to death over these two weeks-however a lot of the recipes did sound delicious! It was also nice to not have to think about menu planning or making a grocery list. DH did the grocery shopping for the first week of the 2 week challenge. It took him almost 2.5 hours to find everything that was needed. We were buying a lot of new things that we don't usually buy so he had to hunt for them. We also bought WAY more food than we usually do-he completely filled the cart (we usually only fill it halfway). When I saw how much food was on the lists I was worried about the cost! Take a peek at these lists-they have tons of food right? They also have tons of veggies (which can turn out every expensive) and meat (definitely expensive) on the list!

When he came home with the bags I had already decided that the experiment was a failure. There was so much food! I guessed that the total was around $300.00.

The grand total for one weeks worth of groceries (including vegetables?)-$152.60! We did not use any coupons. We did save $9.22 by using our Dillon's Plus Card which is a store savings card. Honestly the store card doesn't really save you a ton of money-it just brings the prices down to what regular price would be at other grocery stores. This figure doesn't include any other purchases that we made that week-there are no personal hygiene items on there and no extras. We did purchase yogurt for the two of us-both of us eat a yogurt every day with our lunch. We put those on a separate order even though we will be eating them during the challenge (the calcium is important to us). The total also doesn't include pop-however it does include milk and juice. We did buy some pop separately since we do drink a limited amount of pop. If we included those two items our total would be about $12.00 higher! We buy most of our household goods (paper goods, cleaning supplies, shampoo, pet food and supplies etc.) on Amazon anyways-and SNAP benefits wouldn't allow the purchase of those things anyways! The total for the one week of food was way too high for our SNAP benefit one month of food would be $610.40-which would be over our family allotment by about $253.40 (assuming we received the max allotment). However, some of the items on the list were "pantry staples" so they could be reused for many other recipes. We did purchase all store brands (when available), however there might be cheaper options. We could also use coupons to save some money on a few of the items. The menu also includes desserts and snacks which is not something we typically eat-we could cut those out to save money.

Overall, the food expense wasn't any cheaper than what we usually spend-it was actually double our typical grocery budget (which is on the healthy side anyways and includes a lot more name brand items and specialty items such as expensive cheese and European food). We would be spending more on food in the long run if we followed this and I don't think we would be eating any healthier than we usually eat. We did get more food than we usually do-especially more meat and vegetables. We also got ingredients to make real meals for breakfast (instead of fruit and toast) and ingredients for dessert. Those are two things that we don't usually buy. We also bought more fresh food instead of our usual packaged food (such as organic frozen pizzas and bag meals). I think we do pretty well already with our spending and eating healthy already. I do feel like this program wouldn't be possible if we were receiving SNAP benefits-I could easily cut some things and modify recipes to save some money but I don't know that it would be feasible for every day.

I did feel like the pantry staples list was too long-there were a lot of expensive spices on there. You can get spices at the dollar store, but how many people know that? I wouldn't consider a lot of the items on there to be staples-I keep a well stocked pantry and I didn't have a lot of the stuff (cornflakes?!). It also took FOREVER to do the grocery shopping. DH and I both work full time (well over 40 hours a week), but if we were raising children and working multiple jobs I don't know that we would have had the time to do this kind of shopping. I can also see that if you didn't have a car it would be hard to transport this large amount of groceries (keep in mind-all that food is just for two people for one week!!!!). Even if we had bought the food a couple of days at a time it would be a lot of food to carry on the subway, bus or while walking. Also, some neighborhoods do not have a decent grocery store available-residents may have to rely on a mini mart or convenience store. Many of these items wouldn't be available at that type of store-some of the items are more specialty items (like tofu)-they wouldn't be available at a smaller or more rural grocery store.  Our small town only has a convenience store-and the nearest large grocery store is 25 minutes away by car. There is a small rural grocery store 10 minutes away by car, but many of these items wouldn't be available (they have a very limited selection). If DH and I didn't own a car we would be limited to the small selection at the gas station-bologna, milk, bread, chips, candy and doughnuts.

I'm super excited to start the challenge and see how this goes! I really want to encourage healthier eating in my students and they are enjoying learning about my project! I can't wait to see what some of the recipes taste like-some of them sound delicious (and some sound disgusting!).

All our food!

It really is a ton of food for 2 people to eat in just a week!

Here are the links so you can join the challenge! I would love to have you join me in this!

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