SNAP Challenge – Just $29/Week to Eat!

I’m doing the SNAP challenge, guys!

If you don’t know what that is, it is to live off of $29/week for food. Nothing you currently have can be used, and I am following the rules of this challenge to the max and adding in my own personal extra challenges.

  • First, I will start from the absolute scratch! No food or drink I currently have in my house can be used. Not even that leftover soy sauce packet from when I had Chinese takeout months ago.
  • Second, I will do all my shopping in one trip to simulate how inconvenient shopping when you ride the bus is. If I forget something, too bad. In addition, I will not use a regular supermarket as one complaint against the challenge was that many people on SNAP benefits live in a ‘food desert’ where there are no supermarkets nearby. I have chosen my local 99 Cents Only store. Oh, and no coupons either.
  • Third, I will not use my microwave or oven. This is in case people on SNAP benefits do not have a microwave and their oven is broken and they cannot afford to fix it.
  • Fourth, I will perform this challenge for three weeks. I cannot do four as I am going on a trip at the beginning of November.
  • Fifth, I will not use the local ways of getting 40-60 Lbs of produce for just $10.

In preparation, I have blocked off half my refrigerator and locked up my cabinets so I will not inadvertently use any of the food I have.

I can use all my other kitchen instruments, like pots and pans, spoons, and other devices.

Let’s begin the SNAP Challenge!


The first thing you should know is that the 99 Cents Only stores have some great deals and some that are cheaper elsewhere. It is a type of store that’s good for supplementing your grocery shopping, but they don’t have everything.

For example, they don’t have fresh meats and a very limited produce section. It will make meal planning that much more difficult. I like a challenge though.

SNAP Challenge – Here’s what I got:

  • Milk (Gallon) – $2.09
  • Bread – $1
  • Margarine – $1
  • 18 Eggs – $2.49
  • Salt – $0.59
  • Squash (2Lbs) – $1
  • Garlic – $1
  • 6 Tomatoes – $1
  • White onions (2Lbs) – $1
  • Asparagus – $1
  • Strawberries – $1
  • 3 Bananas – $0.59
  • Quick Oats – $1
  • Brown Rice (1.5Lbs) – $1
  • Kidney Beans (1Lb) – $1
  • Spinach Spaghetti (16oz) – $1
  • Penne Pasta (24oz) – $1
  • Ramen (2 packs) – $0.40
  • Flour (2Lbs) – $1
  • Vegetable Oil (16.91oz) – $1
  • Canned Salmon (7oz) – $1
  • 3X Albacore Tuna Cans – $3
  • Fake SPAM (7oz) – $1
  • Bacon (12oz) – $2

TOTAL: $28.16

After I got home I noticed I forgot to pick up peanut butter! I was going to have peanut butter sandwiches as a go-to thing if I needed something quick. Oh well, I said I would only go shopping once per week. Rules are rules.

I initially thought that this shopping trip was going to be easy, but starting from absolute scratch is hard! I found myself wondering what my last dollar was going to go towards. Should I get these carrots, or this pack of hot dogs, or maybe pasta sauce? Nope, I haven’t picked up any oil yet. So that’s where that dollar went.

After I put the refrigerated items in the fridge it hit me how little I have. I’ve never been a guy to have a bare fridge. I like to see a lot of food. I guess it makes me feel secure.

Look how sad the fridge looks…

Maybe future weeks of the SNAP challenge will be easier as I will have some leftovers? We shall see.

Make sure you come back and check in as I will show you every meal I eat and about how much it costs!

Can I make it?

Who knows. I’m hungry already, it’s time to cook.

What do you think of my purchases, were they smart? What would you buy with just $29 to eat all week? Let me know in a comment below.


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  1. Mr. Robot

    Well good luck with your challenge! Groceries is something I think we can save on but haven’t started looking at it. Actually our shopping costs have increased since we all most buy everything biological/ organic….
    Mr. Robot recently posted…Additional Birthday-buy in SeptemberMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      There is always room to save if you look hard enough. If you save more money, you get more money to invest, which means more dividends Mr. Robot. Is that not a good motivator to find those savings? 😀

  2. Mr Defined Sight

    That is quite a challenge my friend. Where are the Doritos? 🙂 If it were me, I’d have to get some beef in there somewhere but a person is pretty limited with only $29 to spend. You’d think they could bump it up to $50 to make it a little more enjoyable. I’ll be following closely and best of luck!
    Mr Defined Sight recently posted…Suicide and Coping with CoworkersMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      Ha! Even if I wanted beef they don’t sell it at the 99 Cents Only store. Maybe I could get a few frozen meatballs, but that’s as far as their beef selection goes. I’m already planning what I want to buy next week. Should get easier as the challenge goes on. Leftover ingredients and all that.

  3. Cato @thedollarbuild.com

    That’s one heckuva challenge! As challenging as the spending limit is, I’d probably struggle even more with only being able to scoop up everything I need in a single trip to the store. I usually have to make a couple trips during the course of a week just because I’ll forget one thing or run out of another. I’ll be interested to read about how this experiment goes. Good luck!
    Cato @thedollarbuild.com recently posted…How I Used My $950 Financial WindfallMy Profile

    1. MrDD

      I made a list of the ‘must-haves’ and then picked the rest when I got there. The thing about the 99 Cents Only stores is that they what they have changes from week to week. Like they had no potatoes when I went. Other times I have gone and they had no onions. It all comes down to what they can get cheap enough to profit from at $1. But, yea, I know what you mean about forgetting things. Before I went to the checkout I took everything out of my basket to calculate my total again, but I forgot to put the peanut butter back in the backet! So none for me this week. Might have to get two next, as I am craving a simple peanut butter sandwich.

  4. The One In Debt

    I imagine there will be a lot of repeat meals. Is there a Mrs with child? They would be able to receive WIC while on SNAP. that would give good amounts of milk, cheese, and cereal. Best to you on your challenge. Look forward to following.

    1. MrDD

      I do have a wife and kids, but this challenge is for me only. They are actually at her parent’s house for a vacation. So I took the opportunity to start up this challenge! I will have the results of the first week out in a day or so, stick around!

  5. the Budget Epicurean

    That’s smart, to block off the fridge and cabinets. Would be so hard to not give in to temptation when you know there’s other food around. How did the rest of your family take this challenge?

    1. MrDD

      My wife took the kids to her parents’ house, I will join them later. But this gave me the chance to do the challenge for a few weeks.

  6. Sandra westfal

    I think a large bag of long grain rice, a bag of onions, a bag of carrots, a bag of potatoes. These ingredients can be the basis of many different meals. You could add different ingredients like a pepper or tomatoes or do a primaveria with multi vegs. A can of soup for lunch, a chunky can of beef sirloin soup.I think you might go look at sales in the gerocery store too.

  7. Chantal Rouleau

    Well, I am so glad to have come across your page. Thank you
    I am a 54 yr old woman
    I recently moved in an apartment with my 27 yr old son
    Cause the cost of rent is through the roof now
    In the last 7 yrs I have purged everything I owned
    In the last year I have lived with friends
    Now, I’m starting from the start
    No spices, oils or just the staples that we take for granted.
    And I’m in Canada so the prices are a little higher

    So I am in for the challenge…I may go to $50. a week just because $1 for eggs, for an example does not exist here LOL!

    I want my living situation to change and improve…I am so ready for this.
    Thank you and be Well!

    1. MrDD

      I am lucky to leave near the border with Mexico and along a major shipping route, so we have low transportation costs for the food being brought up. Which means our fresh foods are often very inexpensive compared to many other areas. So I understand why you would go with a $50 per week budget.

      I hope your living situation improves and let me know how you get on with the food budget and meals!

  8. Teresa M Fox

    Thank you for doing this challenge. I believe people dont realize how difficult it is. I am 66 and receive snap benefits. Thankfully i only have to feed me. My daughter is grown. And you are correct about the microwave. Mine went and my daughter surprised me with a new one and it wasn’t easy for her either. Also, do you know you can buy soda and candy with SNAP but not toilet paper?

  9. Brigitte

    It’s great for everyone to learn about snap; how many of us get snap for many reasons I to shop dollar stores I look for marked down chicken: fish beef once a month.I can’t thank you enough.

    Best of luck

  10. Misty

    Do you show what you actually made with these ingredients somewhere? I think you did well with the monetary limit.

    1. MrDD

      Ah yes, check out this post here. http://www.doublingdollars.com/683-2/

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