Today's post title doesn't have much to do with anything except for the fact that I love Eric Carle's books. If you have small children, "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" or one of his other classics is probably on your bookshelf. If you haven't seen it, check out "Today Is Monday" as well. You'll be humming the song to yourself all week. And, hey, maybe it'll help with your menu planning!
Speaking of menu planning, you all know about my penchant for bargain hunting and my attempts at frugality. Now, I love me some Aldi, and I coupon cut occasionally, but it's still tough to keep to a strict budget when grocery shopping.
Enter Angel Food Ministries.
From their website: "Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing grocery relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States. The program began in 1994 with 34 families in Monroe, Georgia (between Atlanta and Athens), and has grown to serve hundreds of thousands of families every month across 35 states. In 1994, Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo found their hearts going out to the families of many of the local families in Monroe, GA, affected by the recent industrial plant closings. On their back porch, the first Angel Food distribution fed 34 families. Over the next years, other churches wanted to be get involved, and Angel Food began feeding hundreds of families across the southeast. Now, Angel Food feeds over 500,000 families a month in 35 states."
Basically, AFM is a program that allows families to pre-order and purchase boxes of food each month. With the purchase of at least one of the standard boxes ($30, enough to feed a family of four for a week), additional special boxes are available, such as produce, grill meats, etc. The menu changes every month, but as an example, February's standard $30 box includes the following:
1.5 lb. Sirloin Strip Steaks(4 x 6 oz.)
2 lb. Tray Pack Chicken Breast
1 lb. Boneless Pork Chops
2 lb. Breaded Chicken Nuggets
28 oz. Salisbury Steak Entrée
12 oz. Sliced Bacon
1 lb. All-Meat Hot Dogs
1 lb. Stir Fry (Broccoli, Red Peppers & Onions)
1 lb. Carrots
8 oz. Breakfast Cereal
32 oz. 2% Shelf Stable Milk
35 oz. Crinkle-Cut Fries
7.25 oz. Mac ‘n Cheese
1 lb. Rice
1 lb. Bean Soup Mix
If you want to add the produce box to that, it's just $21 and includes the following:
3 lb. No. 1 Premium Idaho Baking Potatoes
3 lb. No. 1 Premium North Carolina Sweet Potatoes
2 lb. No. 1 Premium New Crop Western Grown Yellow Onions
9 oz. California Premium Raisins
1 lb. Premium California Grown Carrots
1 head Premium Fresh Green Cabbage
3 lb. New Crop Tree-Ripened Red Delicious Apples
2 each Premium Washington State Anjou Pears
1 each Premium Golden Sweet Pineapple
3 lb. New Crop Premium Florida Tree-Ripened Valencia Oranges
Now, lest you think that AFM is just another food bank, there is one major difference. There are NO income requirements. ANYONE can place an order and take advantage of this program. In fact, some churches encourage their members to participate and apply the money they saved to help others in need.
We purchased boxes in December and January and plan to purchase this month as well. The goal for our family of four is to be able to buy nearly all of our food through this program, with the exception of some staples that aren't provided, as well as supplemental produce. Overall, we've been very pleased with the quality of the food included in the packages.
There is no limit to the number of boxes that you can purchase. The only requirement is that you purchase at least ONE of the "standard" boxes. The Angel Food Ministries website even has a section with recipes using the foods in the monthly boxes! Orders and distribution are handled by local church host sites. Many of the sites accept debit cards as online payment. All locations take cash, as well as food stamps.
The bottom line in this economy is that everyone could probably use a little help saving money, and this is a great way to do it. There are locations in 35 states across the USA. Check and see if there's an Angel Food location in your area!