Thursday, January 16, 2014

My chance to help

If you read my last post, you’ll read the story of a family who needed help.  I was happy to sign up to provide this family with a pantry for a week.
You know what?

I had fun.

Now, I am not a blogger who writes about feeding a family on ten bucks a week using orange juice, potato peels and some chicken gristle, but I do enjoy a challenge.

(Quick background—I have a former colleague who used to argue that the reason poor people were obese is that it was cheaper to eat off the dollar menu than to eat healthy food.  And in my own inimitable fashion, I wanted to prove her wrong.  Because I am totally determined to prove people wrong on a daily basis.  I am a b^tc# that way.)
The mom my school is helping has three sons, just like Steve Douglas.  If we take into consideration that she feeds her family of four twice a day from the dollar menu, that comes to a total of $80 for five days, 2 meals/day.
Look what $80 got this family:
2 cans chicken noodle soup 1.9
Large box Honey Nut Cheerios 2.80
Lorna Doone shortbread cookies .95
instant white rice 1.90
2 large cans pineapple 2.00
instant grits 1.30
box Triscuits 1.00
4 pack mandarin oranges 1.00
large jar roasted peanuts 2.45
large jar salsa 3.80
2 bottles apple juice 5.00
2 jars spaghetti sauce 3.60 
jar Skippy peanut butter 2.50
2 4 packs applesauce 2.00
2 packages shells and cheese 3.14
large bottle vegetable oil 3.49
3 cans potroast soup 3.00
box instant oatmeal 1.00
bag pasta 1.00
These items were purchased at Big Lots and the Dollar Tree. I decided to go to these stores first, then build my meals around what was available at these locations. All of this was purchased for less than $50. Then I went to the grocery store where she would ordinarily shop (Food Lion) and see if I could add less than $30 worth of groceries to make 6 days of healthy meals.
1 head lettuce 1.29
1 container grape tomatoes 2.00
1 pound ground beef 4.49
1 pack marinated turkey tenderloin 7.00
small pack chicken thighs 6.30
½ gallon milk 2.49
1 loaf bread 1.28
1 box Eggo waffles 2.00
 All of this could be purchased for around $30. Then….I juggled.
Day 1:
Breakfast – Honey Nut Cheerios, milk
Dinner – taco salad ( ground beef, ½ head lettuce, chips, salsa), pineapple
Day 2:
Breakfast – waffles with peanut butter
Dinner – pasta and sauce, side salad with grape tomatoes
Day 3:
Breakfast – grits, applesauce
Dinner – turkey tenderloin, rice, pineapple
Day 4:
Breakfast – cereal and milk
Dinner – chicken noodle soup, peanut butter sandwiches, applesauce
Day 5:
Breakfast – oatmeal
Dinner – chicken thighs over rice with salsa, mandarin oranges.
Day 6:
Breakfast – waffles and peanut butter
Dinner: potroast soup and shells and cheese
The reason I didn’t include lunch in these menus is because the middle-schooler is given a reduced cost lunch at school, and other family members may or may not be home, as I am not sure of schedules. Still, this cost per meal is based on 2 meals off the dollar menu vs. 2 meals at home. You’ll also notice that there are snacks included in my shopping list, like peanuts and Triscuits and cookies. Also included is apple juice, which is more expensive than a soft drink. I read all labels carefully, to make sure that there wasn’t a lot of sugar/corn syrup/gross stuff I couldn’t pronounce. Obviously, this menu doesn’t meet the guidelines set forth by the FDA in terms of nutrition, but for an extra $10-$15 a week, you can add enough fruits and vegetables to make it so. I just wanted to show that one can eat at home for the same amount as one can at a fast food restaurant and perhaps feel more satisfied. I’m not saying that no one should ever eat fast food—I love a good Quarter Pounder as much as the next person. I’m just saying it’s possible to eat just as well…and perhaps better…if you are a smart shopper.

Now, I understand that this isn't a cooking blog or a coupon blog or a whatever blog, it's just a Kirby blog. And I'm not going to tell you that I'm helping a bunch of people and being all "Lady Bountiful" and whatnot.  I just write some stuff about stuff, and that's it.  But I will say that helping this mom--who never expected or asked for help, after all, she and her oldest son could work out a schedule so they could SHARE A PAIR OF SHOES, there was no need to ask anyone for assistance--has meant more to me than it probably has to her.  


  1. I love this post and you are right, if you shop carefully you can feed a family very well for under $100 a week. You did a great job and your list is fabulous. I am sure she really appreciated this. Hugs, Marty

  2. You're preaching to the choir here darlin! But I will add that 80 dollars a week of fast food for 10 meals for a family does not cause obesity. Obesity comes from more rampant intake of calories than that. That amount of fast food isn't healthy, but neither is overeating healthy foods. I am on complete agreement with you and I could go on for hours on this subject - as you know:-). But I'm on my phone and I'm too lazy to go on....

  3. Well done. Like Steve Douglas, I have three sons, too. I know how much they eat and how quickly they outgrow shoes and clothing. I've been busy cleaning out closets this week. Are there other needs that we could help out on?

  4. Oh I hate those comments we have people who use that excuse but I feed a family of 7 on less than what a family of four I know who eat lots of take out. It's not cheaper any, last year our oven was out for 6 months and we ate more fast food than usual its quite expensive.

  5. Kirby, you are awesome! I love that you did this and I love even more that you didn't just buy some groceries, but you had some meals planned. Good Karma is coming your way girl because you have a kind heart! Very nicely done!

  6. Lady Bountiful, I mean Kirby, this is awesome. There are so many misconceptions about why poor people are obese, but the dollar menu is the last of those reasons. I recommend everybody with a little spare time and disposable income, and if you are reading this everybody, that means YOU. Read Nickle and Dimed. It will change your perception of the American Dream and why it is so hard to break the poverty cycle. Everyone should take something from this post. Sharing this too today on FB. You are awesome LB.

  7. A book that opened my eyes to generational poverty was, The Framework For Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne. It helped me when handling parent/teacher conferences or phone calls and it helped me understand what my students were going through.

  8. If she was happy with the coats I'm guessing she would be happy with this. Times are tough and they are getting tougher for sure.

  9. Brilliant. I've never been a fast-food person (with myself or my kids) so I totally appreciate your $80 shopping spree. What a wonderful gift to this family, and a wonderful post! Thanks Kirby!


  10. I think what you and the other people have done to help one family is incredible. Pay it forward...that family will never forget the kindness and those kids will have brilliant futures...and I believe will help others when they are able. I love stories like this far better than reading the news full of 'bad' stuff. Thank you for being you and what you do.
    Debbie :)


Your comment makes me feel twenty years younger and thirty pounds lighter!