This post is part of FAQ Friday. Yes, I know it's Saturday, but I really enjoy FAQ Friday, so I'm doing it anyway, because it's my blog and I can do what I want to.
Why don't you use Angel Food Ministries?
First, to explain, Angel Foods Ministries sells boxes of food for $30 which are supposed to be worth $60, so that sounds like quite a bargain. It is not a handout, as you pay for the groceries, and it is not bound by income restrictions, as WIC, Food Stamps, and often food pantries are. Anyone of any income level can take advantage of it. I have been asked about it several times.
I don't use Angel Food for a simple reason: it's not a good deal.
I have some general food shopping rules:
Produce: I don't buy produce for more than $1.00 per pound. I sometimes stretch this rule to allow for $1.00 to be the average in a meal. This rule allows me to regularly purchase: oranges, apples, pears, bananas, berries, potatoes, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, and carrots along with a larger variety during various seasons when other items go on sale.
Meat: I don't pay more than $1.50 per pound for meat. Within that I can get chicken quarters, whole turkey, whole chickens, ground beef, brisket beef, beef ribs, ground turkey, pork shoulder, ham and eggs. I break this rule for bacon, like yesterday for Christmas, or tuna, which often goes on sale.
Grains and Spices: I have no rule for grains and spices, but I shop around for prices and buy in bulk if it saves. I count some produce as a spice, like ginger, chili peppers, and garlic.
I looked for the best prices for the Angel Food Ministries boxes. You have to buy a whole box, you can't just buy individual items. Angel Foods Ministries best price on meat, for example, in their December menu, is 10 pounds of poultry for $20, or $2.00 per pound. You can get whole chickens for $0.88 per pound without looking too hard, so you can get 10 pounds for $8.80.
Their fruit and veggie box, for $22.00 includes 3 pounds sweet potatoes ($0.75), four large russet potatoes ($0.50), 3 pound bag of onions ($1.20), 1 pound carrots ($0.45), 1 head cabbage ($0.80), one stalk celery ($1.30), four lemons ($1.20), six oranges ($2.00), four grapefruit ($3.00), 1 mango ($2.00), one avacado ($0.79), one pound kiwi ($2.00). It's been a while since I've priced kiwis, mangoes or grapefruits, so I guessed high for those. So, for $22.00, you can get $16.00 worth of produce. No one in my family likes grapefruit, so those might even go to waste. I would rather buy produce that I know we like for a reasonable price.
Even worse, the meat and produce boxes are additional boxes. You have to buy their $30 signature box to get the meat and produce box. Their signature box, in December, includes nutritional gems such as: chicken nuggets, fish sticks, french fries, shelf stable milk, white flour tortillas and a "dessert."
It's possible that in some areas, like maybe Hawaii, the prices of Angel Food Ministry boxes beat out shopping around. However, I use a price chart, find the best prices for the food my family eats the most of and get lower prices than Angel Food Ministries. I'm not going to say it is not worthwhile. For people who live in an area with a very high cost of living, and for the perpetually lazy who can't bother to make themselves a price chart*, this is a good deal.
* (A price chart, or price book, is made by listing the foods you most frequently buy and checking local stores to see where you can get the best price on each. I don't stop at every store every week. I buy a few week's worth of an item each time I go to the store.)