…And for his next trick, chef Mario Batali, along with his wife and two teenage sons, is attempting to live on food stamps for a week in protest of potential cuts pending in Congress that could affect the 46 million Americans who rely on SNAP benefits to obtain food.

At about $31 per person per month, he’s making the $1.48 per person meal budget work by forgoing organic foods and turning to lentils, cheaper cuts of meat, and lots of peanut butter and jelly for the kids. When asked how it’s going, Batali, who is on the board of the food relief agency Food Bank for New York City, says he’s “$#&@#!! starving.”

At least he’s being honest. As described in this Washington Post article, the Food Bank for New York City issued the challenge to celebrities such as Batali and others eager to pull a publicity stunt give this “conversation starter” a go.

While it makes me roll my eyes a bit, at least Batali’s rolling his eyes at himself a little too. He adds, “We, hopefully, aren’t pretending or being like a bunch of yuppies saying, `Oh yeah, this is how you can do it. Look, we can grind our own oats!’ We want people to think about calling and talking to their representation about cuts to the Farm Bill and the food stamp program.”

Cynic I am, I still hope Mr. Batali gets something meaningful out of this exercise.

For one of my nutrition courses a few years ago, we had to do something similar for a week and keep track of how much our food cost us. I remember it being doable but tricky. Yes, there was a lot of peanut butter involved, and a lot of homemade soup. Not that that’s is so hugely different from my typical fare (especially these days), but it was certainly a valuable learning experience.

Do you follow a particular food budget? How do you make it work for you? 

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