Did you know that September is Hunger Action Month? Millions of people struggle to get by because of underemployment, stagnant wages and rising costs of living. Currently there are more than 46 million people that turn to the Feeding America network each year for extra support. That’s a lot of people and many in your own community.
I work in a school system where over half of all of our children receive free and reduced lunches and breakfasts. I’m so grateful these our kids can get free meals. In the summers we have lunch programs Monday-Friday where kids under 18 can go and get a free bagged lunch daily. I’m so glad that these programs are in place.
So the challenge is to create a meal to feed 4 people while spending $5.50 or less (TOTAL,not per person). This is because the average daily allotment for SNAP is $4.15 per person so a family of 4 receives roughly $16.60 per day which comes out to $5.50 meal. Let me tell you, while shopping and trying to find food that costs under $5.50, would feed a family of 4, and would be filling, it was really hard. I’d say you would be lucky to find some meat on sale to add to your meals.
I ended up going to Aldi’s because you can get fresh produce at a decent price. I’m glad we have one of these available in our area because it benefits so many people. Surprisingly when I priced out the kielbasa there it was $3 and I knew my local Martin’s had it on sale for $2 so I went there for the kielbasa. I bought food for 2 separate meals using the SNAP budget and stayed under budget. My total budget for 2 meals was $9.87 which is under budget though this meal cost $5.62 but I still had rice, garlic salt, and margarine leftover for another meal.
The real test was when I was cooking. It’s hard to make a flavorful meal with $5.50 because I couldn’t assume people had pantry staples like oil, salt, and pepper. I actually bought a small garlic and salt shaker with parsley for under a dollar because I figured that would add plenty of flavor and could be used in many meals. Instead of butter I bought margarine because it’s much cheaper. Rice is always a filling and cheap staple.
I cooked up this meal in about 20 minutes which makes it an easy weeknight meal. I was surprised that it was pretty flavorful. Between the kielbasa, garlic salt, and margarine the dish had a nice flavor. It was very filling and would be a great cheap meal that you can make any day of the week. I also had more than half a box of rice left over, three and a half sticks of margarine left over, and the garlic salt left over. If nothing else I could make garlic butter rice as a side dish to go along with another meal for no additional cost.
I’m glad I participated in this challenge because it was very eye opening. I’m sure this is the budget many of my students are on. I am hoping that with this event people on a budget can get some new ideas for cheap, delicious, and filling meals. I was happy to be able to include a meat, a fresh vegetable, and a starch all in one pan for my meal.
- 1 lb. kielbasa
- 4 T. margarine
- 1 lb. shredded cabbage or coleslaw mix
- 1½ c. instant rice, uncooked
- 2 t. garlic salt
- 1 t. black pepper (if desired)
- Cut the kielbasa into ¾ inch disks then cut each disk in half.
- Put the kielbasa in a skillet and cook over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove from pan.
- Add 2 tablespoons margarine to the pan and melt. Add the cabbage and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes or until it is wilted.
- Meanwhile cook the rice according to the package directions.
- Add the kielbasa back to the pan along with the remaining butter and cooked rice. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until margarine is melted and ingredients are well combined.
- Sprinkle with garlic salt and black pepper and mix well.
September is Hunger Action Month – a time to bring attention to food insecurity. According to the US Department of Agriculture, 1 in 8 Americans were food insecure in 2017. That’s 40 million people – more than 12 million of which are children – with a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life.
The meals below were made with a budget of $5.50 – the average amount a family of four would have for a meal on a SNAP budget. We’re sharing these recipes today to show you how far these dollars go – or don’t go – and to encourage you to donate to organizations addressing hunger issues. Feeding America and local food banks are the boots on the group helping feed your neighbors daily.
As a group, we’re supporting Feeding America’s efforts to end hunger. We are collecting donations for Feeding America here: http://help.feedingamerica.org/goto/FoodBloggers Will you forgo your morning coffee stop and donate $5 to help feed the needy instead? There are also many great local organizations fighting hunger too, including Western Maryland Food Bank.
Hunger Action Month Recipes
- Kielbasa and Vegetable Skillet from Kate’s Recipe Box
- Italian Sausage Alfredo Tortellini from Intelligent Domestications
- Budget Beef Vegetable Lo Mein from Palatable Pastime
- Veggie Burrito Bowls from Simple and Savory
- Cheesy Black Bean Frittatas from Cindy’s Recipes and Writings
- Creamy Spinach & Black Bean Falutas from Savory Moments
- Mindful Shopping, Cooking Frugally, and Helping Others from Culinary Adventures with Camilla
- Feed a Family of Four for One Day in under $16 from A Day in the Life on the Farm
- Pasta e Fagioli (Italian Bean Pasta) from The Baking Fairy
- Sausage Green Bean Alfredo from Cookaholic Wife
- Sheet Pan Crustless Quiche from Frugal & Fit
- Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet with Buttered Rice from Hezzi-D’s Books and Cooks
- Chicken Caesar Pasta from Corn, Beans, Pigs & Kids
- Stove-Top Chicken Noodle Soup from Blogghetti
- Pepper Jack Quiche with a Potato Crust from Faith, Hope, Love, & Luck Survive Despite a Whiskered Accomplice
- Broccoli Mac Kielbasa Casserole from A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures
Thanks to Kate of Kate’s Recipe Box for organizing this event!