Published November 21, 2012
Newark Mayor Cory Booker says he plans on living on food stamps for at least a week after receiving a challenge on Twitter.
Booker is a vegetarian, yet creating a meal on food stamps will still require that he make some lifestyle adjustments--while adding in a dash of creativity.
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average monthly food stamp benefit was $133.26 per person in New Jersey in fiscal year 2011. While he won't have the more expensive meat products to buy, the busy mayor won't be able to purchase convenience foods either. When you're on food stamps you're not allowed to buy prepared items: no fast food, deli sandwiches, for example.
Based on that, Booker will have have to focus on making meals at home with a pretty limited shopping list. Here are a couple of menu ideas for Newark's mayor as he prepares for his challenge.
Burritos are easy to prepare, and stuffed with healthy items like fresh vegetables, beans and rice, they offer a high-protein meal at a minimum cost. You can add sauteed vegetables, like carrots, onion or bell peppers --or when time permits cook up a little tofu or add in roasted vegetables.
Casseroles are a great way to prepare a balanced meal ahead of time from items that are relatively inexpensive, such as soups, pastas and frozen vegetables. Best of all, it's one of those meals that keep in the refrigerator until you're ready to eat it again. Be creative and use all major food groups.
Soups go a long way on a limited budget. Not only does it warm the body on chilly days, it's another great meal that can be made ahead of time, frozen, and then pulled out again when you're ready to eat it. Add ingredients you purchased for other dishes, like carrots and onions. Fresh greens, such as kale and spinach can be added during reheating to add a healthy kick.
Being on food stamps doesn't mean denying yourself a treat. French toast is best made with stale bread, which is always a bargain at the store. It can be dressed, like our recipe below that calls for Mascarpone cheese, but that can be substituted for cheaper cream cheese or honey-sweetened yogurt. Don't have maple syrup? Try sprinkling sugar on fruit slices to add sweetness some sweetness.