“I don’t get my food stamps for another four days, so I have to make this last,” says Tracy, a tour participant. It is the end of the month and the Gauthier sisters’ cupboards are bare. Crystal feeds a family of six. Her sister Tracy feeds a family of three. Their primary motivation for attending the Cooking Matters at the Store tour is the $10 basket of healthy food they get to purchase after participating in the tour. During the tour, the sisters share that it is hard to make their food last for the whole month. Both are desperate to learn how to stretch their dollars a little further, but mostly they are relieved that after the tour they get to purchase $10 worth of healthy food to get them through the weekend.
Tracy learned about the tour through the Head Start her daughter attends and Crystal decided to come along so she could learn ways to feed her large family and not run out of food by the end of the month. Throughout the tour, Tracy shares some great strategies that she uses to stretch her food dollars. But when the tour leader mentions the possibility of using leftovers, she says “we don’t usually have food left over.”
Throughout the tour, the sisters learned skills such as how to use unit prices, identify low-sodium and no salt added canned vegetables, and assemble an affordable meal with different food groups.
At the end of the tour, Tracy shared that as soon as she gets her SNAP benefits she is going to start using the unit prices to find the best bargains and make them last longer. In addition to learning how to stretch their food dollars, they both also expressed that they’ll be reading ingredient lists to find whole grains and using the nutrition facts panel to choose the best frozen or canned vegetables when they decide not to buy fresh.
Both sisters were proud that they were able to practice their new skills by participating in the $10 Challenge. Tracy’s $10 basket of groceries included some lean protein, bananas and fresh vegetables. “Usually by the end of the month I run out of money to buy fresh vegetables.” As she checked out at the register, she looked over at the tour leader proudly saying, “Hey! I still have forty-nine cents left!”