Up for a Challenge? Try this

The LA Times did a feature on two reporters who changed their food budget to $67/week. In Los Angeles. During a recession.

We weren't the first nor the most severe members of the Food Stamp Challenge -- in 2007, several members of Congress budgeted just $21 a person, the national average a food stamp recipient receives weekly. The focus of our challenge was different. We weren't making a statement about hunger awareness or pretending we were poor; we wanted to change our lifestyle and our budget.

The federal food stamp formula is complicated and depends on income level and number of family members. More than 31 million Americans received food stamps in December, the latest data available, believed to be the highest rate ever.

We decided on some ground rules: We wouldn't count the cost of food we already had in the pantry or freezer, and though we would accept gifts from family, we wouldn't from friends, i.e. our parents could buy us dinner but our friends couldn't pay for drinks.

It wasn't as easy as we thought. For a couple who grow their own tomatoes and have olive oils for different occasions, it was hard to find a balance between eating affordably and healthfully, much less deliciously.

But, by the end, I had found that it was even possible to make your own bacon if you plan it right.

I want to get my budget under control and try this. Maybe. I thought $300/month for a family of four was pretty frugal. That was my grocery budget the entire time Tim and I were living together – with two growing children, it got pretty tight there at the end with shipping and travel costs being passed on to consumers at the grocery store. I became a HUGE fan of Farmer's Markets. Thankfully my kids also like fresh fruits and vegetables. I need to reinvest more time into planning meals and such, to save money and eat more healthily.

And with Josh’s increasing dietary restrictions, we may have to go organic soon.

Are you up to the challenge? Now is the perfect time to start.

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