I spend that much on shrimp. 

Salad shrimp (only by mistake), large shrimp (rarely), jumbo shrimp (which is to say), colossal shrimp (mine, recently, for $16.95 a pound, of which I am not proud) and epically gargantuan shrimp sold here at $49.95 a pound (which I have bought exactly never).

Needless to say, because I Cook Like A Guy, I buy them cooked, peeled, and ready to eat.  Heinz does the rest.

But I digress.

Here is the story of a woman who decided to live for a week on a food-stamp budget.  “We fed ourselves — and fed ourselves well — on $5 a day [each]. And you can, too,” writes Mary Elizabeth Williams for Salon.

Her series touches on three things: compassion, nutrition, and thrift. 

Few of you will have time to read all 20 blog entries, but a taste of each here:

First: “Inspired by Cory Booker’s recent experience on the SNAP Challenge, I told my daughters recently that I wanted to try living on a food stamp budget for one week as well.”

Next:  “It takes a little more work to cook. But it’s really rewarding, because work is satisfying.”

Next:  “I spent a lot of the weekend cooking my butt off, and now that the week is starting you’re going to see a whole lot less effort from these parts. That’s the whole point of cooking in a way that works – do the heavy lifting where there’s more time, then you can lower the bar the rest of the time.”

Next:  “As I have told my lovely family many times over the years: I’m exhausted and you’re all lucky you’re getting one meal so take it or leave it.”

Next:  “If you think NYC and Manhattan in particular are just for millionaires, I humbly suggest you get your head out of your ass.”

Next:  “We start in earnest on Sunday, but we’ve been thinking and talking about it for weeks now. My personal goal is greater empathy and understanding of how precious the food we eat is, and to instill some of that respect in my children, as well as compassion for those who have less.”

Next:  “We have menus planned and we’re in pretty good shape with a lot of the staples, though we need to buy the perishables closer to the start date.”

Next:  “Cooking isn’t supposed to be a nightly remaking of the earth. You are not a restaurant. You are not a showman. Just make some beans, man.”

Next:  “On Friday my kids and I finished the bulk of our shopping.”

Next:  “Today the girls and I started the SNAP challenge in earnest. (My spouse opted not to do it.) We have $5.71 left for the rest of the week. Okay!”

Next: Photo of one daughter’s lunch.

Next:  “I asked my [13-year-old] daughter Lucy today to write about her feelings so far about our family SNAP challenge. Here’s what she said.”

Next:  “My own personal strategy: one animal a day or fewer.”

Next:  Photo of soup.

Next:  “Having less can be really boring.”

Next:  Photo of pickled carrots.

Next:  “Well, we’re over the hump. Three more days to go. Went to the supermarket today and bought eggs and romaine lettuce, and I now have $1.27 left in our SNAP budget, and yes, I do have a plan for that money.”

Next: Photo of hot cereal. 

Next:  Beet salad.

Next:  “I’d had big plans for my last $1.27 too. An avocado. I would get to prove at last when I’ve known all my life – that I would literally spend my last dollar on an avocado. But when I got to the supermarket, I learned avocados are $1.29 each this week. Two cents short, and my dream of a future grilled cheese and avocado evaporated.”

Next:  “46 cents left.  Dinner was grilled polenta sticks and corn with tomato sauce, and salad with beets and almonds.”

Finally:  “We did it. We finished the SNAP Challenge. Seven days, 21 meals, $110.58, and three ladies [so, really, 63 meals]. We cooked a lot, we baked, we got 27-cent fudge. And starting tomorrow, we can eat whatever we want again.”

If only everyone were so lucky. 

Which is why it baffles me that so many people focus on the 5% or 10% of food stamp recipients (I’m guessing) who may be scamming the system — and whom, of course, we should try to weed out — rather than the 90% or 95%, especially the children, whom their tax dollars are going to help.



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