REAL Food on a Food Stamp Budget: Month 2

Well we’ve officially finished up month one of the “REAL Food on a Food Stamp Budget” and the month 2 menu plans have been released and emailed to all you lovely readers.  I hope you enjoy the new REAL food recipes.  This month is chock full of one pot meals, family favorites, and of course simple and budget friendly recipes.  I’m dying to share the ins and outs of the second month with you, but before I do, a little housekeeping:

WholesomeMommy's Healthy Real Food Meals on a Food Stamp Budget

If you have just found this blog and you said to yourself, “Free meal plans…what?  I want some!”  You are in luck friend! You can still sign up to receive BOTH month one and month 2 meal plans! All you need to do is subscribe and you’ll receive weekly meal plans for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, along with grocery lists {with the price I paid so you can judge your own bill}, prep lists, and all the recipes…FOR FREE.  To subscribe you can do one of two things:

  • If you are on a computer visit {this} website: www.wholesomemommy.com and right at the top on the right hand side there is a box to insert your email into.

As soon as you do EITHER of those things, the rest is simple. You’ll receive a confirmation email asking you if you really wanted to subscribe…of course you did! So, you’re going to want to click that link in the email.  Then, you will receive a second email {almost immediately} with the meal plans, grocery lists, prep plans, etc.  You’ll receive month one first, then you’ll get another surprise in your email the very next day… month 2′s meal plans!

So about month 2. Although the task of figuring out the lay out, how to deliver the meal plans, etc. {you know the “paperwork”} wasn’t as hard as month 1, finding recipes that were budget friendly, made with simple ingredients that were all REAL food did prove to be JUST as difficult as month 1.  Eating on a $100 a week budget for 4 people and sticking to grass fed beef, organic dairy, antibiotic free chicken, and organic produce {at least when those items are on the dirty dozen} is a VERY difficult task.

“But I don’t have $100 to spend every week!”

No worries friends. This meal plan can still be for you. Here are some tips for whittling down your budget even further:

While antibiotic free meats, organic dairy, and organic produce are all important and wonderful, that doesn’t mean that it is always POSSIBLE. So, prioritize. Here’s how I would do that {This is by no means the ONLY way.  There are going to be different opinions.  These are my opinions and my rationale for said opinions}:

  1. If I could buy only ONE thing on my list organic, antibiotic free, humanely raised, and/or grass fed, I would focus on the meat products. Why?  While meat is the most expensive to purchase this way, you’ll find that there are only a couple cuts to purchase each week and we’ll be stretching them. The animal proteins that are conventionally raised contain hormones, they’re often given antibiotics as prevention and not treatment, they are fed foods they were never intended to eat, are feed GMO feed such as corn and that feed is often sprayed with pesticides, and/or they are not treated in humane ways. Why does that matter?  YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT.  If an animal is fed a diet that makes them sick and then you eat that animal….you get where I’m going with this?  Not only do you have to worry about antibiotics and hormones but you also have to worry about the food the animal ate {and thus you will also be eating} that contained pesticides and GMOs.  I call that a double whammy.
  2. If there is still money left in the budget for higher quality ingredients, go for organic butter. Why?  Conventionally raised cows are given hormones {like rGBH/rBST} and while that means the meat and milk are both laced with those hormones, it is more heavily concentrated in the butter.  That’s because the highest concentration of those hormones is found in the butterfat – what butter is made from. AND, organic butter is more nutritious too {50% more vitamins E & A and up to 400% more beta carotene – what gives REAL, organic butter its beautiful bright yellow color}.  No money for organic butter? Opt for European butter {butter made in Europe, Australia, or Canada} because they have banned the hormone rGBH and even if the label doesn’t read that it is rGBH-free, it is.
  3. Still a little wiggle room in your budget?  Go for organic milk and organic/humanely raised eggs.   Just like butter, chickens raised the right way produce more nutritious eggs – up to 7 times more beta carotene, 3 times ore vitamin E, 2 times more omega 3 fatty acids, and 4 to 6 times more Vitamin D.
  4. Last, but definitely not least, opt for organic produce – especially if those items are on the dirty dozen list.  OR, opt for veggies that aren’t on the dirty dozen list.

Armed with this knowledge, it is up to you to decide what is important to you, and what your budget will allow.  Only you can make the tough decisions about when to opt for “BEST “and when it is going to have to be okay just going the “GOOD” route.  And, let us not forget that choosing unprocessed foods are always going to be a healthier choice than processed foods.  So, even if ALL of these things are out of your reach, choosing foods like real whole chickens are always going to be a better bet than choosing foods like conventional frozen chicken patties or nuggets.  So be encouraged that even just making the decision to cook more REAL {unprocessed} foods is a HUGE step in the right direction.

The details about the Meal Plans from Month 2 – REAL Food on a Food Stamp Budget:

I took ALL your suggestions to heart and I think you’ll be thrilled to know this month’s files are ALL in PDF.   Here are a few more changes I made to make it more streamlined for you:

I also took your meal suggestions seriously:

  • I worked in more fruit this month
  • I worked in more proteins

There are still things I’d like to change and I am still listening to your suggestions.  But the fact of the matter is, this is TOUGH.  I’d love to pile on the fresh veggies and fruits and to pack in lots of other cuts of meat, but the prices are just too high and the budget won’t come together.  Stick with me though, I’m learning and I’m listening.  And, in other good news, spring and summer will bring new and fresh meal plans that CAN contain more of those fresh veggies because they will be cheaper and abundantly in season.  Winter is harder because less things are growing in season and buying fruits and veggies in season means buying cheaper AND getting healthier produce.  Traditionally, our grandmothers {or great grandmothers} would have eaten preserved fruits and veggies or fermented fruits and veggies during the winter in addition to root crops and winter greens.  We live in a country where we barely know what is in season anymore because you can buy most anything at any time. But that doesn’t mean you should.

So What’s the Bottom Line?

I came in over budget for month 2 – but I’m pleased and I hope you are too. The final cost for month 2 was $412.45

Final Notes:

Many of you asked some questions about month 2 and here are the answers:

1. If I didn’t do month 1, can I still do month 2, or will I be missing ingredients?

The only ingredients I carried over from month 1 to month 2 were spices {oregano, basil, cumin, cinnamon, bay leaf, and chili powder}, mayo, and baking powder. These are the things that you most likely wouldn’t have needed to repurchase in month 2. So, if you are beginning with month 2 just be sure to add these items on your month 2 grocery list. Even adding these items won’t hurt too much – they can all be purchased cheaply at a Dollar General or other cheap grocery store like Aldi, or even the Dollar Tree. The extra cost should equal around $10.

2. What about snacks?

While most of these meals are pretty hearty and should sustain you, kids are kids, and kids like snacks. I did not include snacks in the budget {it frankly just wasn’t there without going over even more}.  BUT, the good news is you can add these snacks to your list with minimal additional ingredients {you already have most the ingredients you’ll need}:

  • Homemade Cheese Crackers: add a block of cheddar {$3.88} and possibly an extra box of organic butter {$5.28} to make these
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Oat {Protein} Bites: add a bag of chocolate chips to your list {$2.52}
  • Popcorn with Butter: add popcorn to your list – regular popcorn will be just fine, its non-GMO {around $2-$3 for a bunch}
  • Homemade Vanilla Pudding: add a pint of organic half and half {$1.88} and some cornstarch or better yet, arrowroot
  • Chocolate Graham Crackers: add cocoa powder {$4.98 this will be enough for chocolate syrup too}, confectioners sugar {or make your own!}, and butter {$5.28 one extra box will be enough for ALL the snacks} and honey IF you don’t have some let over from last month {$4.99}
  • Chocolate Syrup {for chocolate milk or hot chocolate}: add cocoa powder {$4.98} to your list

Make ALL these snack items for just over $20

I hope that helps you make these meals more successful for you! Thanks for following along and for sharing these posts with your friends on facebook and pinterest!

What do you think?  I’d love your feedback. If you’ve been using these meal plans or have had a chance to read over them, I’d love to hear what you think and if you have any more suggestions for me!

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Comments

  1. Thanks so much for doing all this work for the rest of us! I appreciate that your “real food” mindset meets the level of those of us who may have not been blessed with the taste genes! I have to cook simple things if I want anyone in my family to eat it, and more often than not, “real food” becomes too fancy for me!

    I have subscribed to your SNAP meal plans through email, but am wondering why the PDFs are blank when I open them? I am using an iPad — maybe that has something to do with it, although my browser usually opens PDFs just fine. Just wanted to throw it out there in case anyone else has been having the same dilemma.

    Thanks again!

  2. elizabeth says:

    I’ve just started the snap weekly meals. Is there any way to easily get to the weekly menu recipes? For example is there a recipe for the roasted potatoes and broccoli?
    Thank you!!

    • elizabeth says:

      Like how do you make the 5 minute bread?

      • Denisesawyer says:

        The recipe links are in the document in your meal plans. I think it is called month 2 recipes. It was included in your email with all the other documents. Also you can see all the recipes here: http://www.pinterest.com/denisesawyer/month-2-real-food-on-a-food-stamp-budget/
        The frozen broccoli just follow directions on the bag: I usually put some in a pot or microwave in a microwavable bowl with a bit of water and cook 5 minutes, stir, cook 5 more minutes, and stir. Continue to you’ve reached your desired doneness.
        Hope that helps,
        Denise
        Wholesome Mommy

      • Denisesawyer says:

        There is a link in the recipe links page of the meal plan to the 5 minute bread recipe. :) Are you getting the meal plans in your email?
        Denise
        Wholesome Mommy

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Elizabeth
      The recipe for the roasted potatoes is in the recipe links page of the meal plans.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

  3. We generally are serving a vegetarian for most meals of the week. Would it be possible to provide some more meatless options?
    You are providing a great resource – I’m sharing it with the dietician at our local health department!
    Thank you!

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Heather,
      Thank you for sharing.
      I appreciate it so much!
      As for the vegetarian options, there are a few coming in month 3. This is a tough challenge. I will do what I can.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

  4. Denise,

    I was emailed Real Food on a food stamp budget month 2 but I do not see where the meal plan/grocery list is in the email. Where am I missing it?

    Thanks for your help.

    Faith

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Faith,
      It is in the list of links in the newsletter. It says “Grocery Lists” and is just under the menu plan links.
      Once you click the link in the newsletter it will open on my webpage and give you the PDF link.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

  5. I have the same question. I got the email for month 2 but I do not see where to view any of the stuff.
    Thank you for any help.

    • Denisesawyer says:

      There is a list of links in the newsletter. click the links and they will open pages on my website. Then you will see directions for how to open the PDFs
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

  6. Same here. I got the email for month two, but no menus, grocery, recipes, etc…
    We are just finishing up week 1 of month one, and my family is LOVING it! (I am loving the time saved in planning and making my grocery lists, as well as the money saved and wholesome food.)
    I have been raving about this plan on facebook on a daily basis!
    THANK YOU!
    Cheryl

  7. I am having the same issue, i cant seem to locate the PDFs with lists/recipes. i can get to the recipes on pinterest, but what I really really need is the shopping list!

    • Denisesawyer says:

      I just opened it again today. I am not sure where the break down is happening for you.
      Are you clicking the link to those documents via your newsletter. Then what is happening? It should open a link on my website that has a link that opens a PDF. That PDF will open in ADOBE or if you are mobile it should open in the Adobe App. I tested them and they are working for me.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

  8. Robin Riley says:

    Same problem here! Thought I was going crazy, looked through the email numerous times.

    • So relieved to know I’m not the only one that can’t find the links. I have read everything several times, clicked on everything, yet still can’t find the menu. Any help???

      BTW…I love these menus!!!! You are a budget savior!!! For those that have special requests; like vegetarian, there are many other menu sites to go to. This us a FREE menu!!!

      • Denisesawyer says:

        Cythia,
        Are you clicking the link to those documents via your newsletter. Then what is happening? It should open a link on my website that has a link that opens a PDF. That PDF will open in ADOBE or if you are mobile it should open in the Adobe App. I tested them and they are working for me.
        Denise
        Wholesome Mommy

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Robin,
      Are you clicking the link to those documents via your newsletter. Then what is happening? It should open a link on my website that has a link that opens a PDF. That PDF will open in ADOBE or if you are mobile it should open in the Adobe App. I tested them and they are working for me.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

      • Robin Riley says:

        The only one I received with month 2 in it is titled REAL Food on a Food Stamp Budget: Month 2, not the Long Awaited Month 2 and I can’t find any links within it.

  9. I love what you’re doing! I am wondering, however, if it would be possible to put the actual recipes (with props to their creators) in the pdf instead of just links for those of us on a limited data plan?
    Keep up the good work!

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Heidi,
      That would be a MAJOR undertaking and a document of GREAT length. I am afraid I just don’t have time to do it this way. I wish I had another answer for you. Could you possibly go to the public library to print or a friend’s house where you wouldn’t have to use the mobile/data plan?
      Just thinking out loud trying to help you find a solution.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

  10. Whew, I’m so glad I’m not the only one who cannot find the pdfs. I got your email but no downloads or anything. My husband just lost his job so we are cutting back and thought this will be great to help us thru. We are a family of 6. Thank you for all you do!

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Jenny,
      The links in the newsletter take you to all the pages where the PDFs are. :) Hope that helps.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

      • Hi, I don’t see it but saw your reply to Cheryl’s comment above. I can’t find that email and I know I’m subscribed. Could you please email me again? It’s the same email address on here. Thank you!

  11. Thank God I’m not going crazy as I thought I was. I too can’t seem to find or view or locate the PDF’s, shopping list or menu. Please help!

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Dawn,
      Have you subscribed to the newsletter? The directions are at the beginning of this post. Only subscribers have access. It is free to subscribe and the meal plans are free. You just need to put your email in so you can receive everything in your inbox.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

  12. I am do excited to start this!! Thank you for all the hard work your doing to make this possible for anyone who really wants to change! I was wondering though is white flour, sugar and store bough ranch mix really considered “real” food?? I understand some exceptions prob had to be made but am still curious. Like I said I am just getting started on this whole food journey and am still learning!! Thanks again for all your hard work and dedicationon this!!

    • Denisesawyer says:

      As I mentioned in the first post of this series – I am using wheat flour – I mill my own. I recommend that you do so too, but I know that isn’t possible for every family in every budget. I need to do a follow up post on these things. Thanks for the reminder.
      The ranch is a sub for the first two months as I am looking for an acceptable homemade version. So far all the “ranch” recipes aren’t good. I have another I am testing this week. :)
      Sugar is what I use for sweet tea, and you can see my {non}apology in my sweet tea post. :) However, I do use honey, succanat, and honey granules as my typical sweeteners for other things like baked goods.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

      • Haha I’m southern sweet tea is a must!! Just no way around that one lol!! Totally understand!! There’s do much to read I guess I just missed that post :) your doin great work for those of us just getting started thanks for explaining!! :)

  13. I have stayed under $100/week for my family of 6 using the Month 1 food stamp budget plan. I altered some meals but was successful. Really Really love this plan. However, I cannot find the link to Month 2 meal plan or grocery list. I do see the recipes on pinterest (even though I do not prefer that format), however, I cannot find the link to the PDF meal plans and recipes. ???? Help?

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Portia, The links are in your newsletter and should open in Adobe – or if you are mobile in the Adobe app.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

      • I’m sorry but I am having the same problem as Sarah. I received your blog/newsletter? post about month 2 , the housekeeping one, but there is no link in there, except to pinterest recipes. My search in my email for the title Long Awaited Month 2 – REAL Food on a Food Stamp Budget Meal Plans, is not found? The only one I received with month 2 in it is titled REAL Food on a Food Stamp Budget: Month 2. Tried everything so not to have to ask you for help again, but it simply is not there. Is there a way to send/re-send the email to me.

        Thank You!

        • Denisesawyer says:

          Portia,
          I just forwarded you my copy.
          Sorry you are having trouble.
          I don’t mind helping at all. I hope you enjoy! :)
          Denise
          Wholesome Mommy

  14. Beth Eaton says:

    I am having the same problem too. I have subscribed to the newsletters but no links to the pdfs in the newsletter.

  15. Same problem as everyone else-no pdf links in the email

  16. cutekells says:

    I recvd an email about month 2– but it didn’t contain the weekly menus, pdf of the recipes, nor the grocery shopping list. It was on ‘Eat it to Beat it’— can you send month 2 to me please? Appreciate your time and work on this. I have been singing praises about you/your blog to everyone I know.
    Thank you~

  17. I think you’ve done some very needed work with the food stamp budget! I have one question – are the selections for the budget strictly non-GMO ?

    Thank you,

    Tomas

    • Denisesawyer says:

      The items in the budget are both non-gmo and organic where necessary. So, I don’t buy organic onions – just conventional because they aren’t “dirty” {on the dirty dozen list} or a known GMO. I do buy organic corn, it isn’t “dirty” {on the dirty dozen list} but it is a known GMO. Does that make sense?
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

  18. I saw you on Fox5 News (Atlanta, GA) today. Thank you for this service. I just signed up for the newsletters.

  19. lorie Flanders says:

    My grocery month begins this Friday on the 17th and I’m planning to get started on your month 2 menu. As I go along, what is the best way for me to give you feedback?

    So far, I’m the planning stages, my concerns are this…
    1. I have been unable to locate things like organic butter and cheeses or grassfed beef in my area. I have yet to try Harris Teeter though and that might solve this issue.
    2. I have concerns that the recipes may not feed us all. Lol there are 6 of us (4 adults and 2 small children).

    Also, any suggestions for substitutions on the tomato based recipes? (Like spaghetti and such) The hubby can’t do tomato sauce.

    • Denisesawyer says:

      If you can’t find organic butter, choose just regular butter. At least it will be better than margarine! :)
      Read the ingredient labels on cheese if you can’t find an organic version and be sure to check the “fancy cheese case” that many stores have near the deli now.
      You might need to bulk up some of the recipes. Things like soup and such should be fine, but there are a few meals where you’ll need to double the recipe.

      As for the tomato products, I am just not sure. What have you been doing so far? Have you just avoided tomato based recipes? One idea would just be to choose another budget friendly recipe in your own repertoire or here on Wholesome Mommy.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

      • lorie Flanders says:

        Yeah, I’ve been avoiding tomato based recipes for the most part, or when I just really crave spaghetti I heat a jar of that terrible jarred alfredo for him. Lol

  20. Hello, how do I get the recipes/menus from month 1?

    Thank you.

  21. latonya ogletree says:

    can you tell me to shop on a 46 .00 in foodstamps for 2 people my daugther is 14 and she hardly eat at school i have to buy snacks for her to take to school to eat each and every day please tell me what can i buy with 46 dollars of foodstamps for us

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Have you accessed the meal plans Latonya? You can probably get some ideas from it. There will be a lot of leftovers so you’ll likely be able to cut out a few of the meals and mix and match.
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

  22. Sadly I never received the email for month two of the budget menu. If you could please double check, I would greatly appreciate it. I went to Pinterest, but I love having the email handy also.

  23. Marilyn Poindexter says:

    Where can I find the grocery list and daily menu plans? Is there no other way to get the recipes without subscribing to pinterest? I liked Month 1.

    Marilyn

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Yes, if you are subscribed to the blog you will get month 2 – menu plans, grocery lists, prep lists, and links to recipes – same as month 1 but all in PDF. The pinterest was just a bonus for those who love pinterest and like a visual catalog of the recipes. :)
      I’m glad you enjoyed month 1!
      Denise
      Wholesome Mommy

  24. lorie Flanders says:

    I’m working on week 1 of month 2 and for some reason I can’t locate a recipe for the pizza on Friday. The menu says pizza with ham and veggies. I found the dough recipe and understand the marinara from earlier in the week serves for the sauce, but what veggies/cheese etc was in the plan so it works with the shopping list? Also, I don’t see sauteed cabbage or green bean recipe either. I mean I can guess at those but some might not. It’s also entirely possible that I am just missing the recipes!

  25. Karen Bailey says:

    Hi, I am having the same problem as a lot of other people that experienced. There is no link in my newsletter to the menu plan and shopping list for month 2. Can you please forward to me, thanks

  26. Hello, I thought I signed up for this during month 1, but never received anything. I signed up again last night with two different email addresses but never received a confirmation or anything, and I’ve checked all of my folders. I was wondering if you could help? I’m very eager to start using these wonderful resources! Thanks so much!

  27. I am loving these budget meals! I also didn’t receive month 2 of the food stamp budget newsletter, but I am signed up. Thanks for your hard work and help!

  28. Andrea Shaw says:

    First I want to thank you so much for doing this labor of love! I dove into month two last week and am loving it! I’m on month two week two this week and noticed that the ingredients for Monday are not on the grocery list. :/ I’m getting by bc I have other things to make a pizza but wanted to let ya know :-) once again, thank you! (Now if I’m wrong bc I overlooked, sorry for accusing you for forgetting. Just let me know :-) . )

  29. lorie Flanders says:

    The recipe for bbq chicken tater tot casserole in week 2 it’s missing from the recipe list. If anyone else is looking for it, just search the wholesomemommy site for tater and it will come right up at the top!

    Denise, not sure bbq is something you want to eat twice in a week. Lol just sayin!

    • Denisesawyer says:

      Lorie,
      LOL. I’m from the south… guess I didn’t think anything about eating bar-b-que twice. My husband would eat it every day if he could! LOL
      You can always shuffle the recipes a bit if you need to.
      Denise
      WholesomeMommy

  30. Just wanted to Thank you again!!! We are on Month 2 W 1 right now and my boys – (big and little!)and I are LOVING IT!!

    The link to the baked chicken spaghetti wasn’t on my pdf for the month/week… :)

  31. Lauren Coker says:

    I did not receive the “Long Awaited Month 2″ email. Could you please send it to me so that I can have all the links for the menu, shopping list, and recipes. Thank you.
    I appreciate all of your hard work and I can’t wait to try it.

  32. Hi! I have been through my emails from the two months, my spam folder, my trash folder and still no “long awaited month 2″ email :( Is there a way for me to access the grocery lists from somewhere else? Thanks so much !

  33. Hi, I’m not sure I received the month 2 meal plan. I cant find it?
    Thanks

  34. Amber Brown says:

    I cant find month 2 meal plan :(

  35. Hi,
    I am on Month 1, week 4 and I haven’t received month 2 yet. I have checked my spam filters but it just isnt there. This has been such a blessing. We are feeding 8 in my house with your meal plans and saving a ton of money and time! I cant wait to see what is next.
    Thank you so much for doing this.

  36. I may have missed placed the email or may have deleted it, is there a way I could get month 2 of recipes? Thank you so much for doing this, it has help me watch what I’m eating and because of that i’ve lost some weight.

  37. I subscribed ladt , month and received my link everything is great. I just did not get one for this month and I have gone through sll the emails sent. I also saw the recipes on pintres but there is no grocery list. Is it anyway possible to provife me with the link for month two. Thank you

  38. I just found you blog and registered but I’m wondering if you could email me the information about the first and second month of this budget? My family is a single income family of 6 and we have just started eating a healthier diet and I need all the help I can get in order to eat healthy and stay on budget. Thank you in advance! ~Myia~

  39. Same as some of these other people, could I get a re-send of the grocery list for month 1 or 2 or both? I just subscribed. This would be a *huge* help to my family. It’s so frustrating to be on such a limited budget *and* eat real food. Anyway, thank you!

  40. I don’t think I ever got the month 2 e-mail that allowed me into the recipes, meal plans…I have signed up for the newsletter and got all the month 1 info.. However, at one point I did somehow by looking at archives get some of the info. for month 2 but now as I try to find everything again I’m at a lost to find the information. Could you give me some help in finding month 2 recipes, meal plans, groc. list… thank you!

  41. I have subscribed and confirmed but have not received an email with the meal plans. Thank you.

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