CNN news guy, Sean Callebs, has spent February living on the equivalent of what he would receive in Louisiana if he were using food stamps: $176.00. Sean has been blogging about his experience on CNN.com and he has appeared in segments on American Morning.
I really admired Sean’s moxie in doing this project. It’s easy to TALK about using food stamps but he went the extra mile so he would know what it is like to actually live with the reality of it.
He declared that he learned a lot from the month and he has changed his ideas about things. By the way, he lost a few pounds, too. As they showed him filling his shopping cart, I took issue with his choices because I am such a freak about health. In my humble opinion, he picked up too many processed foods.
The Governor of Michigan, Jennifer Granholm, did a similar in vivo program with her family. They prepared their meals using the equivalent of what a family of four would receive according to the guidelines. I was not able to discern the dollar amount but I do know that Governer Granholm said their family was eating more macaroni and cheese than ever before.
Unless you have been the beneficiary of a food pantry, food commodities, or food stamps you really can only IMAGINE what it’s like. For first time users, it may be an embarrassing experience or new users may feel shame. At the Food Stamps Cooking Club, our hearts go out to anyone who lives with need. The numbers of those who are using public assistance for their food budgets is growing exponentially. I am told there are 30 MILLION users; these numbers are staggering.
Since the need is so great, it behooves those of us who can buy food to do whatever we can to help our fellow man. When we donate to our food pantries or food banks, we would be kind to give foods with high nutrition, interesting foods that can provide for balanced, filling meals. It would be more kind to donate foods that do NOT include MSG, artificial sweeteners and sugary things.
For those who depend on these donations and food stamps-you would be wise to stay away from the processed things found on store shelves. Stick to the freshest foods you can find…you will discover, to your delight, that those foods are more satisfying and will keep you feeling more energetic and cheerful. For example, those meat “helpers” are a total waste of food dollars, even when they sell for only 10 for a dollar! Salt and pepper will add flavor and it is much less costly. Additionally, there will be no box to dispose of in the trash with every use!
To stretch your ground meat, you can use farina-also known as cream of wheat-or a bit of oatmeal, rice, or bread crumbs. These are far better meat stretchers than junk from a box laced with MSG, hydrolized protein, and sodium. Use spices sparingly to enhance the flavors.
Here is a quick, inexpensive skillet meal you can feed your family in a flash:
1 pound ground meat-you might choose beef, turkey, or chicken
2 Tablespoons oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 or 4 ribs of celery, washed and sliced
3 or 4 carrots, washed and sliced
Napa Cabbage-2 or 3 leaves for each person, cut into ribbons
1 Tablespoon farina or oatmeal
Enough water or broth to moisten
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil and brown the meat. Add the onion, celery, carrots, and cabbage. Moisten with a bit of water or broth and add the farina or oatmeal. Allow the dish to simmer until the farina or oatmeal has cooked.
This is a colorful dish that will fill your family’s tummies and satisfy their taste buds.
*VARIATIONS: Add yellow squash, red, yellor or green peppers for more color. You can add corn or peas or green beans, too. You can also add peeled, cubed potatoes.
If you have some fruit for dessert, that would make a beautifully balanced meal. If not, just make a cup of hot chocolate for everyone at the table and watch everyone “grow” a chocolate mustache!
Make your mealtime fun! Turn off the television and tell one another what you like best about them. Find out about everyone’s day and listen to each other’s ideas. Take turns clearing the table, washing, drying and putting away your dishes. Create family closeness during your meals so that your children will have wonderful memories and not think of how you used food stamps!
We hope Food Stamps Cooking Club is helpful to you. For added value, you are welcome to visit our partners: Saving Dinner and Kristen Suzanne. If you are interested to bring some income into your household, please visit Rapid Cash Marketing .