O, For a Cup of Coffee…


Ash Wednesday marked the first day of our family’s commitment to stick to the limits of the average SNAP benefit in PA  ($3.85 a person a day in 2014).  And for most of the day, it went remarkably well.  Except, that is, for a few tiny things.

I had been particularly concerned about the reality that I was going to be giving up coffee for this experiment. Every morning I make myself a french press full of coffee that I drink throughout the morning.  I’m the only coffee drinker in the house, so I don’t ever worry about someone taking my last cup.  I use about 3 Tablespoons of coffee every day, and not the cheap stuff, either.  At least since the end of college, I have stuck to Fair Trade coffee, and I was unwilling to give that up just to save a few bucks.  Which means that each 12 oz bag of coffee I buy is going to cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $8-12.  A 12 oz bag will make you 62 9-oz servings of coffee, which means that each time I fill my cup up, I am drinking anywhere from $0.13 to $0.19 of my daily allotment.

And then there is the way I prefer to drink coffee.  My grandpa used to tell me that only people who don’t like coffee mess it up with milk and sugar.  Well I enjoy my coffee (A LOT), but what I really like is a cafe au lait, and that milk adds up.  On SNAP benefits, the coffee I like to drink suddenly became a luxury.  Every cup was going to cost me nearly $0.50, compared to $0.03 for a bag of tea.  The decision was easy.

So I bid farewell to my delicious coffee and put away my beloved french press. And I took advantage of a free drink loaded on my Starbucks card to enjoy one final delicious, ridiculously overpriced coffee.

So that’s where I am.  In the place of coffee, I have armed myself with a box of Tetley’s and, by God’s grace, I have yet to experience a caffeine headache. I haven’t snarked at my family in the morning, and, surprisingly, I haven’t missed coffee all that much (then again, ask me in a week).

For the rest of the family, things have been going pretty well.  Mini-me doesn’t seem to notice anything has changed, and Baby is just along for the ride.  As for the adults in the house, our plan is to eat mostly vegetarian, and to focus as much on whole grains, legumes, and dairy to make a balanced diet.

Wednesday, Feb 18th

Breakfast Sarah: 1c Oatmeal, half banana, tsp honey, tea $0.46
Mini-Me: Egg, Orange, blueberries $1.20
Alex: Oatmeal, 4 dried apricots $0.43
Lunch Sarah: Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich $0.73
Mini-Me: Salami, Cheese, Peanut Butter and bread $0.81
Alex: Peanut Butter Sandwich, Leftovers $0.63
Dinner Shell Pasta, Broccoli and Cheese $4.38
Snack homemade Pretzels $1.32

Total Saved So Far: $12.04