daily links: affordable veganism and other foodish things

The Economics of Veganism (+ Proof A Fine Vegan Meal Can Be Made Cheaply) – I promise even if you’re a skeptic of veganism ,you won’t hate this piece. Gena Hamshaw gives plenty of recognition to the high cost of produce and lack of accessibility for some while also showing some good idea of how it can be affordable. Gods love her for stating some of the flaws in SNAP challenges,too

In some of our leaner times, we’ve become what I termed “accidental vegans” and as a general rule we eat a lot of vegetarian meals because plant based proteins are so much more affordable. I feel like the disadvantage many might have making veganism work on a low budget is that time is a huge factor in preparation, and it does require a bit of food and cooking knowledge beyond the basic.

Fall Chili, Soups & Stew Recipes and Learn How to Make a Freezer to Slow Cooker Meal ~ Weekly Round-Up – 31 days of soups and stews. I say it all the time…soups and stews are some of the most inexpensive meals you can make and you can stretch a pot through the week . My other tips is to substitute beans if a recipe calls for meat you can’t afford.

21 Budget-Friendly Recipes Starring Rice — Recipes from The Kitchn – essential reading for me this week. Oh,boy.

33 Bowl Recipes to Keep Your Belly Full and Life Easy – I made one of these recently for myself to eat during the week for lunches. Really ideal if it’s just you or you and your partner and maybe one or 2 non-picky kids that can deal with their food not touching .

The Middle-Eastern Cookie That Caused a Panic in Pennsylvania– I’m glad the recipe is included in this article because I immediately knew I had to have some but didn’t want to create hysteria by having something written in Arabic hanging around my house.Heavens no..


I have an enormous bag of chickpea flour to use up, so I’ve been making things like this (basically pakora) . I might make this one this week but commit some pantry anarchy by using a buffalo wing sauce my local produce guy gave me as a free samples.

daily links::a food waste cookbook!, news on teen hunger, and more


There’s a cookbook called Amazing Waste with recipes entirely devoted to cooking with scraps,leftovers,etc. I haven’t had a chance to look through the entire thing yet but this looks like the kind of cookbook I would write. Am writing. These kinds of recipes are great for food pantry users (at least my food pantry) where you might end up with produce that is not the prettiest or freshest.

The entire cookbook is available for free RIGHT HERE.

Thanks to my local food waste reduction -anti hunger group Friendship Donations Network for passing along that info.

·:   Five Questions with JoAnne Berkenkamp, Food Waste Expert and Advocate  – there’s a lot of food waste going on but it’s getting better thanks to mainstream recognition and initiatives to reduce waste

:· some new research reveals some sad information about teenagers living in homes with food insecurity  . Even if teenagers do have access to programs that give them food,they’re too worried about what their peers will think to use them openly but also they are underserved by programs like The Backpack Program, which focuses on elementary aged kids. This is something touched on before here when one of our readers was trying to develop a program for older kids.

As a result, in households where hunger was most acute, teens reported engaging in all kinds of risky behavior to obtain food, including: shoplifting food directly, selling drugs for cash and/or engaging in “transactional dating,” i.e., engaging in sexual relationships with older adults in exchange for food and money. In a few communities, some teens even viewed going to jail as a viable option to ensure regular meals. The report also revealed the degree to which hungry teens look out for each other and for their younger siblings, often forgoing meals or sharing their food with those also in need.

Here’s a summary of the full report: Impossible Choices

My teenager’s high school made school lunch available for free to ALL students, regardless of income. If high schools did that widely, this would eliminate so much of these issues. Her school also has Free Food Friday where food donations picked up from a local rescue agency is available in the school lobby for anyone to take home. My daughter very rarely gets anything because it’s completely gone by the time she has a chance to check it out. Even when she is there on time, it’s difficult to get anything. No one is shy about taking food home. Now I have to wonder why these students have no reluctance to take free food. The school is a small charter school that focuses on sustainability and social justice (nope, don’t go off on me about how awful charter schools are) . Is it just that the culture of the school is centered on taking care or others and being stewards of the earth? A lot for me to think about there. I asked my daughter what she thinks and she says it’s because the school works hard to be a safe space for everyone and “no one judges people for things like that”.

Meanwhile in my community, the school district just expanded their Fresh Snack Program to include another school so that it now serves 1,200 elementary students. The Youth Farm Project (which one of my older kids worked at and let em tell you…that’s an AMAZING program) and other local farms provide a weekly snack to be served with the intention of expanding food horizons and food accessibility. It’s awesome.

My 6 year old was very critical of the yellow watermelon mentioned in the article linked above. He spent his summer growing his own watermelon, so he’s an expert now.

He’s a super proud watermelon farmer.  I think we actually have a couple left to harvest. I plan on making this watermelon pie. YESSSSSSSSS.

grocery shopping




View from inside our no-longer-dead car, on the way to the grocery store

YES, we have our old wheels back. It was a simple fix (but may be temporary). The uhaul we rented ended up being $260-ish. It was less expensive than a car rental still and if we hadn’t rented it, the husbeast would have missed  days of work. So, it was more than we could afford but we couldn’t afford not to. I hate making stupid decisions like that.
Yep, rent is late.

Yesterday was our SNAP day,too. We spent $157 of our $221. Hopefully I can make a lot of it stretch. I predict lots of creative pantry anarchy happening this month.

After putting the store-groceries away, I pulled these out of the garden.img_0395 Grocery gardening is the best.

We’re still dealing with a drought here. The USDA declared our county a natural disaster due to crop loss on farms here. Needless to say, gardening was hard,too.I have a lot of tomatoes but they’ve taken forever to ripen. This is the 1st decent bunch. I’ve harvested 8 pumpkins already,though. Things are a little backwards out there in the garden.



new food stamp amount: $221/month for a family of 5

We reapplied for food stamps at the end of May and finally got a decision this week. We were denied but then also approved in the same decision. Because I’m self-employed, they said the amount I made in May put us over the qualifying limit by $87 but then averaged the past 3 months of my income as a guideline of what I might typically make and that put us under the limit.

The other thing that changed is they do not include our twins on our SNAP case because they are full time college students who are not employed at least 20 hours a week yet. So, we’re on paper a family of five but I’m still buying groceries for a family of seven.

I’m confused about some of the rules for when someone is going to college. I was told by one person that if the twins are working at least 20 hrs/week this summer ,then they can be included on our SNAP case but then someone else told me that yes, BUT their income will also count as household income and that would probably put us over the qualifying limit. I’m guessing the latter is how that actually works.

Anyway, as it stands now we were approved finally and our amount will be $221 a month. That’s just short of 2 weeks of groceries for us. The USDA “Thrifty Family Meal Plan” guidelines say we should be spending about $970 for our family size per month but my food budget has been about half that for the past 6 months, sometimes even lower. It’s totally impossible without going to the food pantry every other week.

On the gardening front, things are slow but happening. We’re in a drought-like spell. I have no hose hookup at this house and I’m watering the garden by hauling jugs from inside the house. It takes forever and it’s not the same as a good soaking rain. Fortunately we know people who know how to do things and a friend is going to put a hose hookup in for us soon. This sounds like a much easier solution than my daughter’s suggestion of building an aqueduct or elaborate irrigation system.

So, adding to my $88 worth of rhubarb, I now have chives and chive infused vinegar.
15 oz dried chives-$28 (I arrived at this price by looking at the bulk spice prices at 2 local markets plus what’s available online)
16 oz of chive infused vinegar – $10
several bundles of fresh chives -$8

My husbeast has been fishing a lot lately,too. Having terrible luck catching anything worth keeping but this week another fisherman gave him a nice bass he didn’t feel like cleaning. That was a nice free dinner. I have no idea what a whole bass costs. A 12 oz package of sea bass is $23 where we usually shop but this isn’t exactly sea bass.
I need to remember to add the cost of his fishing and hunting license into my food production expenses tally. So far without that figured in, I’ve spent $120 on seeds,tools,and other gardening things.
I need to keep better track of time spent in the garden. Once I have a good idea of this,I’ll start putting a monetary value to that time,too. Two separate rates – migrant farm worker wage and living wage.






Yes, you can still own a car in Alabama if you get food stamps

Today’s daily dozen… 12 things related to SNAP.

  1. Are There Enough SNAP Shoppers in My Community? – This discusses why farmers’ markets may not find it worthwhile to accept EBT. The small town where we used to live had a certain prestige and we were the only family who used SNAP there.

  2. Alabama isn’t going to take cars away from food stamps recipients – Last week it was widely reported that Alabama Republicans introduced a bill that would prohibit people from owning a car if they get SNAP.  I’m not sure why it was reported the way it was but basically, this bill is like Maine’s asset test reinstatement from last fall. Asset test for assistance is a federal policy that most states waive. This reverses that waiver.

  3. The budget from the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC), a.k.a. “the people’s budget.” is everything we need – “The CPC budget bulks up funding for food stamps, child nutrition programs, Medicaid, and unemployment insurance, along with housing assistance for low-income families. It indexes Social Security to a more generous cost-of-living measure, so benefits increase more over time. It expands both the earned income tax credit and the child tax credit, which top-off the paychecks for poorer Americans with extra cash. And it appropriates federal funding to create either national-level or state-level programs for paid sick leave and paid family leave.

    Along with replenishing these preexisting welfare programs, it would push non-defense discretionary spending back up to its historical average of 3.5 percent of the economy by 2021, down from the historic lows of 2.3 to 2.4 percent it’s at now. “In the long run [the CPC budget] spends a lot on needed public investments to push back against slowing productivity growth,” Blair said.

    But the CPC budget also contains some genuinely new additions: a public option for ObamaCare’s exchanges, funding to provide preschool for all families, a new program to refinance student debt, and a change to the law to allow Medicare to negotiate drug prices with providers. But arguably the biggest addition — in terms of economic impact — is the $1.2 trillion in new infrastructure spending the CPC budget would deploy in its first decade. There’s widespread agreement that at least that much is needed to repair the country’s seaports, roads, bridges, railways and such. And there’s hundreds of billions more needed to update the national infrastructure to make it more green friendly and environmentally sustainable.”

  4. ‘Congrats on Your College Degrees. Here Are Your Food Stamps.’– ugh. Just ugh.

  5. Senators uphold Nebraska food stamp ban for drug felons – Of all the policies that restrict people from getting food stamps, this one always makes me so angry. Felony convictions up the odds of living in poverty after release and then we take away the safety net. It’s ridiculous. I hope Sen Morfeld reintroduces the proposal.

  6. 9000+ Arkansans Losing SNAP at End of Month, Pantries Prepare to Serve More – this is the result of Arkansas reinstating work requirements

  7. Arkansas is looking at restricting certain foods from being purchased– That link goes to a misleading headline that makes it sound like a study was done that shows SNAP recipients buy junk food and “luxury” foods. What’s actually happening is an interim study was requested to look at how people spend SNAP money.

  8. House Agriculture Committee Questions USDA over Proposed SNAP Rule – Basically, those new proposed rules I talked about last week is what they’re asking questions about. Are these new requirements going to deter retailers from accepting SNAP?

  9. Tampons Shouldn’t Be Tax Free. They Should Be Covered by Food Stamps and Medicaid. – yes. yes, yes.

  10. Thousands of Unemployed Missouri Residents Will Soon Lose Their Food Stamp Benefits – same story as Arkansas

  11. Rules for SNAP benefits tightening in Maryland – same. Changes start April 1

  12. Proven at last: Want to raise a sneer? Buy organic while poor. – Oh,hell yes.

Pantry Anarchy: Hot Dog & Cabbage Soup (plus how to make veggie stock or broth)

Pantry Anarchy: Hot Dog & Cabbage Soup (plus how to make veggie stock or broth)
Because recipes were made to be broken when you’re broke.


You have no idea how much I hate hot dogs. Ask anyone,especially my boys. When they get to have hot dogs, it’s like a holiday. And of course, they love hot dogs. Lucky for them, the food pantry has hot dogs. Hooray.

One of my favorite soups is Cabbage & Sausage, so I decided to pretend hot dogs are a really lovely chorizo and make soup with them.

For this soup, I only needed onion,cabbage,potatoes,tomatoes,and hot dogs. Oh,and soup stock.

I didn’t have any pre-made broth or stock or even homemade in the freezer, so I had to make a batch of veggie stock. Veggie stock is easy to make but you just have to have a little bit of extra time to make it. I usually make a large batch at once and freeze what I’m not going to use right away. You can also can it with a pressure canner.

Instead of composting all my veggie scraps, I will add them to my veggie scrap bag in the freezer. I try not to add too many brassicas (broccoli,cabbage,etc) because they tend to overwhelm the flavoring but everything else is fair game. Potato skins,carrot peels, stems,leaves…..whatever. When the bag is full, it’s time to make stock. To make stock, you just throw all your scraps into a pot,add enough water to cover the veg, and simmer for about 45 minutes. Honestly, it’s that simple.

If you want to make broth instead of stock, saute onions,carrots,herbs in oil FIRST, and then add your veggies and water.

Broth is seasoned , stock is not. That’s the difference.

Ok, back to my Pretend Chorizo and Cabbage Soup.

To make the soup, I sauteed onions, then put 4 or 5 cups of stock in a pot with the onions. Added ¼ head of cabbage,chopped and 3-4 potatoes,diced and not peeled. Tossed in a can of crushed tomatoes and a smattering of whatever herbs I had on hand . Basil and garlic,mostly. (I am running extremely low on herbs and spices). Next, I added the hot dogs. I boiled them ahead of time to….get the nitrates out? Is this a myth that actually works? I have no idea (and can’t google right this second) but it made me feel better to do it.

And this is why I love making soup. You just throw things in a pot and pretend you know what you’re doing.

All the ingredients I used except herbs were from the food pantry but this would be a low cost meal if you’re buying ingredients. I wish there was an app that told me if I’ve mentioned something multiple times already elsewhere on the blog because I’ve probably said this a million times but during a usual shopping trip, I always buy a cabbage because they’re usually inexpensive and I can stretch it through several meals plus they dont go bad quickly. (obviously,not going to be a good tip for those in food deserts w/ little or expensive produce. Apologies.)

If you like the work I do here at Poor as Folk, please consider being a supporter at Patreon! Your support will keep content on the blog free and available to all on the internet as well as help me develop printed publications.  Donate here:  Poor as Folk on Patreon


Daily Dozen: SNAP News

[contents: food stamp cuts, block grants, former prisoners,senior citizens,Jeb Bush. Specific states: Pennsylvaia,Nebraska,Illinois,Massachusetts,Maine ]

  1. Food Assistance Cuts Affecting Up To 1 Million Impoverished Americans Ignored By Network News –  22 states reinstated policies that cut food stamps to around 1 million people and major network news sources never talked about it.
  2. Why Half a Million People Will Lose Their Food Stamps This Year – a refresher on why these cuts are happening
  3. For Maine Families Depending on SNAP for Groceries, Every Penny Counts – this shows what shopping looks like on SNAP plus mentions important things like lack of transportation and food accessibility
  4. Nebraska Could Be The Next State To Stop Punishing Drug Felons Years After They Leave Prison – hallelujah
  5. Put SNAP Into Block Grants? No Way – I covered this a little bit in the last SNAP news update. GOP wants to end the SNAP program and give states “block grants”. This is what that would mean.
  6. Editorial: Hunger has no place here in the US -this is really just a praise peice for Rep Jim McGovern from Massachusetts but brings to light key issues surrounding hunger in the US. McGovern is easily the most vocal rep that I can think of on this issue ,so I don’t even mind the praising tone
  7. 1700 Beaver County residents could lose food stamps in June – cuts in PA coming in June
  8. Are SNAP benefits really too low? On one hand, SNAP IS an effective anti-poverty program but in some areas, the amount really is too low, in my opinion. As much as I dislike SNAP challenges, we’ve seen politicians and celebs demonstrate that it’s really frickin’ hard to eat on SNAP and it isn’t just because those people are used to eating outrageously. If it’s being suggested that SNAP amounts are already enough, that essentially says that low income people don’t deserve to eat enough or well.
  9. SNAP and Seniors: A Health and Economic Issue -you don’t even have to read this one to know it’s shameful
  10. When we deny food stamps to ex-offenders we set them up to fail – precisely. It makes no sense at all
  11. Food stamps to be offered for more Illinois families – Good news for Illinois . SNAP is being expanded to include more families.
  12. Jeb Bush, Please Educate Yourself About Food Stamps – yeah, I doubt that’ll happen