Whole 30 on Food Stamps/Limited Budget?


jeztix

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I would really rather this not become a debate about food stamps/fraud/etc.  I'm disabled, unable to work, and no income aside from the minimum I get from SSI to cover living expenses (living on my own).  I use food stamps to pay for my food, and so far that has been my limit.  Once the money is gone, no more buying food.  I'm blessed that I do get eggs from a neighbor with chickens and I also grow some of my own vegetables, but everything else comes from the store.  I live in a small town with only three options for grocery shopping - Wal-mart, small district grocery (has some natural/GF/organic things), or a cheap version of Kroger called Ruler Foods.  There is a meat market that has locally sourced meat which does accept food stamps, but they have been closed for over a week, I'm not sure if they are still in business.  We have a health food store as well, but it is privately owned and does not accept food stamps.

 

I guess I'm not entirely sure if this is even doable on the very limited income offered by food stamps?  Any tips on how to save money, buy cheaper, etc?

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I can't say for sure if you're able to do the program or not on food stamps... not sure where you live, how much you get etc... but the one thing that jumps out at me is your reference to locally sourced meat and organic items. While this is the 'ideal' situation, it's not a requirement and you should always buy the best that you can afford. I'm not on food stamps and I can't buy grass fed, grass finished, locally sourced meat...

It's wonderful that you can grow some of your own veg and that your neighbors give you fresh eggs! What a blessing!

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Hi, Jeztix! You can do Whole30 on any budget. We have at least one success story of someone successfully completing their W30 on Social Security.

 

As SugarcubeOD said above, grass fed and organic is not a requirement. For people who can afford to do that, great -- but many of us can't afford to do it, at least not all the time. 

 

I'm not sure exactly what the details are on what food stamps can purchase, but I know you can purchase produce and meat, which are the staples of Whole30. I'm sure you're used to stretching your food budget already, I doubt there's anything I can tell you about that that you haven't already figured out. In general, though, focus on simple meals using meats and vegetables that are readily available and inexpensive where you are. Obviously, in an ideal world, we'd all buy fresh produce all the time -- but frozen or canned is fine, just always check the labels. When you buy frozen vegetables, remember that corn, peas, beans and soybeans/edamame are not allowed on W30, and most of the ones with sauces already on them will have dairy or other non-compliant ingredients. For canned vegetables, check for ingredients like sugar or soy. Here's the Sneaky Sugar list of stuff to avoid because it's a sweetener, and the Common Additives Cheat Sheet has some of the more common additives you may see and whether they're okay or not. 

 

Don't worry about some of the recipes you'll see that call for things like coconut aminos or fish sauce or almond flour. Stick to simple recipes that use herbs and spices you're familiar with. 

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You can complete a great Whole30 buying everything you eat from Walmart. I considered going 30 days making all my purchases at Walmart to illustrate, but don't want to give up the veggies, eggs, and meat I get from local farmers who have become friends. My local Walmart Supercenter is the only place I have found to buy canned octupus (and it is kind of cheap). 

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My husband and I are working on a budget challenge for our current Whole30. Link to the thread here (I'm adding our week 2 shopping list either tonight or tomorrow).

 

From what I've seen, it seems that the thing that drives up the expense of Whole 30 the most is in buying convenience and packaged items. Sourcing coconut aminos/fish sauce, buying coconut milk, alternative flours, canned items without added sugar or other off-limit ingredients, and every spice on the shelf. In the past, I haven't worried about grabbing a $2 carton of chicken stock to add to a meal, but that $2 can get me a pound of meat on sale or a couple of meals worth of produce, both of which will go a lot farther in filling our stomachs. Instead, I've been buying whole or split chickens, roasting them for dinner, and tossing the bones into my crockpot to make free chicken stock. I also opted to buy coconut flake this week and used it to make my own coconut milk. I have the leftover pulp saved to turn into coconut flour later--essentially another freebie. I saved my broccoli stalks after cutting off the florets and then peeled off the tough outside, diced the rest of the stalk and used it in a frittata. In the past I would have just tossed the stalks.

 

So far, canned protein hasn't been worth the expense for me. I've seen 6oz of canned tuna as cheap as $0.69 which still works out to be $1.84/lb which is what I've been spending on the roasting chickens. And I can't turn empty cans into stock like I can chicken bones.

 

Yes, a Whole30 can be done on a limited budget (like Shannon linked above), but obviously there is a limit. You've got some help with the garden and your neighbor's chickens, but it still depends on just how much of your food you get from each of those sources, what your budget is, and what food prices look like in your area. If you want to give some more information on those things, we might be able to give suggestions better suited to your situation. Or, if you don't want to share that information on an open forum, my inbox is open and I'm sure any of the other mods would be happy to help via PM.

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