Tuesday, March 31, 2015


May is CalFresh Awareness Month in the county of Los Angeles. When I found out that in the state of California the maximum allowance of CalFresh benefits was $200.00 per person, I thought "That's about how much I spend on groceries per month!" I was wrong! I took the CalFresh Challenge in March 2015 to see how healthy I could really eat on this allowance. I was able to eat healthy most of the time but towards the end of the month I began to run out of money and my "choices" for healthy food became limited. As you can see from my entries, I ate a lot of potato tacos and had to use free ketchup and hot sauce packets from our local Del Taco.

As you can see from the chart below: 40% of my allowed budget was spent on fruits and vegetables, 12% was spent on protein, 9% was spent on "dairy" (almond milk and cheese), 11 % was spent on nuts, beans or seeds, 9% was spent on grains and the remaining 18% was spent on misc. oil, spices, bottled water, etc... I had a budget plan, but as you can see, I went over in some of the categories.

I believe that the following factors allowed me to survive on this budget:
  1. I had the opportunity to shop at a grocery store that sells food out of bulk bins. If I had to have bought a whole package of any item I purchased out of the bins, I would have exhausted all of my funds a lot sooner.
  2. I made a total of 17 trips to the grocery store. If I did not have transportation, I may not have had the opportunity to travel to the grocery store that many times. Most produce you just cannot buy at once or it will wilt within days.
  3. I had to meal plan and cook EVERY SINGLE DAY of the month. This was probably the hardest thing because I worked 10 hours a day and had to cook dinner every single night. If I had not meal planned and cooked every night I would not have had lunch for the next day and it would have thrown my whole budget off.
  4. Another important factor was that I can cook! If someone does not know how to cook or have a kitchen with appliances and gadgets, they may not have been able to get as far as I did with my budget. 
This experiment showed me how much hard work it takes to live on a limited food budget.
The struggle is real! If I had the opportunity to make a recommendation to the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), I would recommend that they raise the benefit allowance, even if it's only to $240.00...I really feel that the extra $40.00 would make a world of difference. I hope you have enjoyed my journey. Perhaps next year I will do another challenge on a vegan or vegetarian diet to see how healthy I could eat on $200.00 a month.

At the end of the month, I only had $.45 cents left! So I guess I got my answer to the entry on March 8th: I was right about not being able to afford a dragon fruit!

Check out my shopping transactions here:

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