Pantry Goods to Buy in Bulk to Save Money

 

Pantry Goods to Buy in Bulk to Save Money via Mom Prepares

I also write another blog (which will be a book) about Post-Apocalyptic Living…or Prepping. You’ve seen Doomsday Preppers? Well, I haven’t because I don’t have TV but I’m told that this is most people’s reference point for what a Prepper is. Not to be confused with Preppies (an entirely different animal), Preppers  are people who are preparing for the day when the world as we know it ends.

Quite a few things that  I will share on this blog come from Prepper sites. There are a lot of  similarities between trying to figure out how to live in poverty and preparing for a world where resources are limited . The difference is that when Preppers talk about preparing for emergencies and when the crap hits the fan, that’s real time concern for the poor person.

Anyway…

The link above has some great tips on what you should be buying in bulk to save money. When you’re living on a limited budget or food stamps, this feels like a leap to take…shelling out a bunch of money at once on one thing. Bulk foods is something you can add to your pantry stockpile gradually, one at a time and it will make a difference over time. If you come into a lump sum of cash (income tax returns,selling something major like a car you can’t afford to feed gas and pay insurance on any longer,etc), use some of that money to invest in a few bulk items.

 

Meal Planning 101

For those who need help figuring out how to meal plan, check out Meal Planning 101.

The one area I tend to be the most organized in is my meal planning. I have found that  being really fussy and detailed about meal planning helps tremendously when working within a small budget.  There is a lot less food waste , money just tossed in our compost heap when I stick to a plan.

 

 

What Money Does To People

People with more money take candy from children.

That’s it. I don’t ever want to be rich. I don’t wanna be a meany pants.

 

Really,though…this is fascinating. When people complain that members of Congress should all have to live on minimum wage and food stamps (at the same time), there might be a grain of functionality in that sort of action.

 

Looking for Jamaican family to adopt. I’d like to send them some food I bought with my food stamps.

I wasn’t even going to mention this but now Mike Huckabee had to make everyone crazy by saying something.I strongly dislike Mike Huckabee and wish he would just go be a preacher in some backwoods town and leave the politics to smart people.Well…smarter people.  It’s been my personal policy to not address food stamp fraud. The amount of fraud that happens is very small and a myth exaggerated time and time again by the people I like to call Food Stamp Haters. But since Huckabee has his troops riled, I’ll say something here.

Earlier this week, there was a pseudo-news article about Jamaicans sending food purchased with food stamps to relatives back home in the Caribbean.  It’s been circulated by Conservative blogs and facebook pages.

It’s this “$2,000 worth of food” that has people flippin’. The source of the information is a cashier in a supermarket. Not a reliable source, yet someone politicians go to for basing opinions on food stamps. Wisconsin Governor Scott walker used conversations with cashiers at a grocery store for the basis of his junk food bill.

The article actually says:

Last week, a woman stuffed dozens of boxes of macaroni and evaporated milk into a barrel headed for her family in Kingston, Jamaica. She said she didn’t have welfare benefits and bought the food herself.

“This is all worth more than $2,000,” she said. “I’ve been shopping since last December. You can help somebody else, someone who doesn’t live in this country.”

The idea that people are using EBT to fill these barrels came from a cashiers. If someone comes through their line and uses their EBT card to buy food, that is the end of their factual information about that food. It goes home with the person. End of story. Cashiers don’t know for certain where that food ends up.

Even if they are filling barrels gradually while also feeding their low income families, it’s going to take months to fill that barrel. I am a NY resident who receives food stamps. For my family of seven, we receive $604 per month. I cook frugally and still don’t make it through the month w/out running out of SNAP funds sometimes.

I’m just saying here…it’s not like people on food stamps are living better than most. People need to keep their panties in a twist over more pressing matters right now. The outrage over this is almost funny to me. It just proves that “they” don’t want to feed people, which is always a wrong opinion to me. They claim to be pissed off that US Tax Dollars are being sent outside of the U.S. but it’s really more like, “They’re sending U.S. tax dollars outside of the U.S. to feed people ! We don’t even like to feed Americans!”. Gee wilikers, we can’t use the government money to feed people. We need that money for wars and stuff.

I have the perfect solution to make this situation all legit. We can just bring all the relatives living in the Caribbean  to the United States to live. They can become citizens and get minimum wage paying jobs and qualify for food stamps of their very own!  Would that be better?

The Privilege of Real Food

When I first published that thing I wrote about why poor people might not be able to just grow their own food (part 1 & part 2 ), I received some very passionate input. Most of it was a positive resounding cyber high five. These people came from a few different places. Most had been there themselves. Some had worked with poor people in some capacity, usually as a social worker or nutritionist, and had seen what I was talking about. Others… gardeners or foodies who themselves had wondered, “How would poor people do this?” but had never gone so far as to find the answer to that.

There were a few negative responses and that it what I want to talk about here. The wonderful non-private thing that the Internet is, I was also made privy to conversations about my posts from the negative point of view. They were rather enlightening to me.(sorry to all those homesteading and real food pages on Facebook .I admit to spying).
I swear, it’s not just to complain about people who disagree with me. There’s an important point I want to make about why it’s important that they get it. Not that they agree with me.I don’t care about that. It’s just important that they see the reality of what people in poverty are up against ,so they can help change the balance of privilege.

The people who didn’t like what I said felt that I was just making excuses for poor people who are making bad choices. They just weren’t grasping that there actually are people in America who don’t have a choice ,or if they do have choices, none of them are the ideal things to choose from. These responses came from people who would describe  themselves as being politically liberal and “real food advocates”. I needed to throw that out there in case you got the idea that only Conservative Republicans are the only ones out of touch with people in poverty. They aren’t.  In fact, some of the positive responses I got were from people who admitted they leaned quite to the right politically and completely understood what I was getting at…usually because they were gardeners and know firsthand that it ain’t no walk in the park.

Even after all of the reasons given about why people can’t grow their own food, I still got…”But there is no reason these people can’t go to Farmer’s Markets or buy better food at the store!”

See also: The Reasons Poor People Might Not Eat Healthy

Farmers’ Markets in particular are a perfect example of the privilege of real food. Only half the Farmers’ Markets in the United States even accept EBT. Even then, SNAP recipients have said that they still cannot afford to buy at the Farmer’s Market, unless that market is one that “doubles”. Some markets ,like my local one, will double your food stamp dollars, which makes it much for affordable but still, not very many markets do this.  Forgive me the easy imagery here but not everyone can hop in their Prius with their resusable grocery totes made from organic cotton and jaunt off to the Farmers’ Market for the afternoon.1069935_530376703696291_950144214_n

Real food and non-GMO advocates espouse a concern for our future, our health, the environment. I share this love of real food and from a low income perspective, I see that this advocacy doesn’t go much further than their own kitchens or blogs. Very little is said about the poor people who benefit the most from an overhaul of the current food system.
They are devoting the way they eat as a testament to the problems in our food system without recognizing that to do so is a privilege that poor people do not have.
Not being inclusive of the one group of people who is the most subjected to GMOs and unclean food is not complete activism.

They even openly scoff and laugh at the idea that there are people who don’t know how to cook. I could tell you stories about my time working at Head Start. Have you ever watched Jamie Oliver’s show Food Revolution? There’s this part where he’s showing children different vegetables and they have no idea. None. This isn’t just TV-life that it happens. It’s real. If people don’t know what a real food looks like, then how are they supposed to know what to do with it?

The one thing I know is this…
Making fun of people who don’t know something never taught them anything new. It also doesn’t make them want to know. Who wants to learn anything from a pretentious jerk who thinks they’re better than you? There is no shame in being ignorant. It just means you haven’t learned something yet. The person who knows something and chooses to laugh at the person who doesn’t know something is not a good person.

So, from where I’m sitting…in my kitchen, sipping my cheap, non-fair trade coffee that I bought with food stamps (an actual luxury when your food allowance is $2.00 per person a day), there are real food advocates out there who need to get off their ethically bred high horses and be real advocates. Make phone calls to farmers’ markets that don’t accept EBT and encourage them to do so. Teach a cooking class at a community center for low income people. Grow food specifically for the food pantry. Help start community gardens or CSAs with a sliding scale fee for low income people. Teach a basic gardening class. Find out what your local grocery stores do with the food they throw out and start a program that helps rescue that food from going into the trash and into people’s bellies.  Get involved politically.

And for the love of  the almighty kale, stop judging people for not buying local and organic produce or grass fed beef. Maybe they can’t. Consider your privilege and be grateful for the choices you have. It might help you gain a better perspective and become a better, real advocate.

“Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine…”

An extensive study of crack babies conducted in Philadelphia over the span of over 20 years yielded some unexpected results:
Poverty in the inner-city is more powerful than cocaine.

“We went looking for the effects of cocaine,” Hurt said. But after a time “we began to ask, ‘Was there something else going on?’ “

While the cocaine-exposed children and a group of nonexposed controls performed about the same on tests, both groups lagged on developmental and intellectual measures compared to the norm. Hurt and her team began to think the “something else” was poverty.

As the children grew, the researchers did many evaluations to tease out environmental factors that could be affecting their development. On the upside, they found that children being raised in a nurturing home – measured by such factors as caregiver warmth and affection and language stimulation – were doing better than kids in a less nurturing home. On the downside, they found that 81 percent of the children had seen someone arrested; 74 percent had heard gunshots; 35 percent had seen someone get shot; and 19 percent had seen a dead body outside – and the kids were only 7 years old at the time. Those children who reported a high exposure to violence were likelier to show signs of depression and anxiety and to have lower self-esteem.

More recently, the team did MRI scans on the participants’ brains. Some research has suggested that gestational cocaine exposure can affect brain development, especially the dopamine system, which in turn can harm cognitive function. An area of concern is “executive functioning,” a set of skills involved in planning, problem-solving, and working memory.

The investigators found one brain area linked to attention skills that differed between exposed and nonexposed children, but they could not find any clinically significant effect on behavioral tests of attention skills.

Drug use did not differ between the exposed and nonexposed participants as young adults. About 42 percent used marijuana and three tested positive for cocaine one time each.

The team has kept tabs on 110 of the 224 children originally in the study. Of the 110, two are dead – one shot in a bar and another in a drive-by shooting – three are in prison, six graduated from college, and six more are on track to graduate. There have been 60 children born to the 110 participants.

The years of tracking kids have led Hurt to a conclusion she didn’t see coming.

“Poverty is a more powerful influence on the outcome of inner-city children than gestational exposure to cocaine,” Hurt said at her May lecture.

Other researchers also couldn’t find any devastating effects from cocaine exposure in the womb. Claire Coles, a psychiatry professor at Emory University, has been tracking a group of low-income Atlanta children. Her work has found that cocaine exposure does not seem to affect children’s overall cognition and school performance, but some evidence suggests that these children are less able to regulate their reactions to stressful stimuli, which could affect learning and emotional health.

Coles said her research had found nothing to back up predictions that cocaine-exposed babies were doomed for life. “As a society we say, ‘Cocaine is bad and therefore it must cause damage to babies,’ ” Coles said. “When you have a myth, it tends to linger for a long time.”

Deborah A. Frank, a pediatrics professor at Boston University who has tracked a similar group of children, said the “crack baby” label led to erroneous stereotyping. “You can’t walk into a classroom and tell this kid was exposed and this kid was not,” Frank said. “Unfortunately, there are so many factors that affect poor kids. They have to deal with so much stress and deprivation. We have also found that exposure to violence is a huge factor.”

Read about the study and the conclusions here.

At a time when 2 in 10 children are living in poverty in the United States and many of those are living in the inner city, we need to be paying very close attention to what studies like these tell us. This along with the studies that conclude that nutrition is a huge factor on school performance and brain development (also something common sense could tell us), it just doesn’t make sense that “we” are not desperately trying to end child poverty. It’s definitely not a time to be cutting programs that help feed and educate these children plus provide intervention services  to help them and their families out of it.

 

Homemade Liquid Dish Soap

via Homemade Liquid Dish Soap – Kitchen Apparel

Making homemade cleaning products may seem like it’s more expensive at first but when you consider that buying  the ingredients you use can be used  for SO many things and as a replacement for store bought items at a fraction of the cost, it starts to make economic sense.

This recipe calls for tea tree oil and I do recommend investing in a bottle because it is so useful to have in your home but it’s not necessary here. TTO is antibacterial ,but so is vinegar. It does have a clean scent when used sparingly.

Why “Grow Your Own Food!” Might Not Be So Easy For Poor People -Part 2

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After publishing my last post about obstacles to gardening when you’re poor, I realized there were maybe one or two points I missed…but then I read my emails and discovered there was more than just one or two things I neglected to mention!  Thank you everyone who shared their individual experiences and gave feedback.

More Obstacles To Growing Your Own Food

I’m feeling like a lot of these points are reasons all people,regardless of socio-economic status might not garden.

Water -

I can’t believe I missed this one. I lived in a house without running water for awhile. Rain collection barrels helped but it was a pain in the ass.

In drought-afflicted areas, there are tight water restrictions. People who have to pay for water aren’t able to justify using large amounts every day . Rain collecting doesn’t work where it doesn’t rain and some states now prohibit rain collection now.

Pests

Sometimes there is no other way to combat animals that eat your garden other than building a fence. Building a deer proof fence…it’s not cheap. If you love in an urban setting, shooting an animal probably isn’t legal and catching them in a humane trap doesn’t do much good if you have no way to transport it outside of the area.

Food Storage

One reader told me, “We managed to grow quite a bit but I ended up giving a lot of it away which seems to defeat the point.I filled my tiny freezer. I didn’t have money to buy a canner, which was too bad since I have enough mason jars to get me through doomsday ,if I could have just filled them with food! I don’t know how to can anyway….”

I can completely understand this. We scored an upright freezer at a yard sale years ago for only $30 and my Faux-MIL gave me a pressure cooker one Christmas. Both are really helpful when you do manage to grow any food in quantity.

“Gardening is fucking HARD!”

Thanks to Melissa for lending me that quoted headline right there.  Add to this Shantay’s “Mother Nature sucks sometimes.”

Many readers shared their experience of spending money they did not have because they felt they needed to provide for themselves only to battle with surprise snow storms, bugs,hail,kids,animals,poor soil,plant disease,mildew,drought,flooding…. you know…pretty much every bad thing that can happen when you garden.

Once people have a horrible,no good,very bad experience with gardening, they aren’t likely to venture back into it,especially when they didn’t get a return on their investment the first time.

You can buy seeds with EBT? Who knew!?

It turns out a lot of people on food stamps didn’t even know that. Some people who did know that and had tried to buy seeds using their EBT said that they found limited gardening places that would take EBT and they weren’t interested in GMO seeds at the grocery store. Seed saving from store bought produce only works if you’re absolutely certain of the seed heritage .Most are hybrid and aren’t going to grow right (some won’t produce anything at all).

This part of the program is fairly new ,so perhaps the USDA has more plans to expand upon it .Maybe by offering gardening classes for SNAP & low income people?

Community Garden Plots Cost Money

True story. So do memberships to CSAs…although in my area, there is one CSA that has a sliding fee scale based on income and has a few shares reserved for SNAP recipients.

I received an awesome email from a reader who cannot grow her own food because of several of the original points I mentioned. Her email was long but there was one point I wanted to share:

“Even when I say to someone all the reasons I can’t garden, they throw WHERE THERE’S A WILL,THERE’S A WAY at me. I have will! I WANT to grow my own food! Hand to God cannot do it right now. Otherwise I would! I’ve ALWAYS had a garden and I’m good at it. My will & knowledge isn’t the problem here and it just makes me feel like a giant piece of dog shit when someone lays the guilt trip on me that I’m not doing enough to help feed myself because I don’t have enough will. “

Yeah. The “Where there’s a will,there’s a way” thing is getting old for me,too.