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Dining on a budget isn't generally an issue for Mario Batali, but this week the celebrity chef is making every last cent count, adhering to a $31 dollar per week diet. Along with his family, Batali is living off the equivalent of a food stamp budget, an austere $1.48 per meal.
Batali has undertaken this challenge with the Food Bank for New York City (Batali is on the board there) to bring attention to potential cuts to the food stamp program that Congress is considering. As he told Fox News, the reality of shopping and cooking on such a tight budget has hit home. Prosciutto and pecorino are swapped out for more budget friendly legumes and rice. Meat choices are limited and organic is a no-go.
"Rice and beans is in my lunch every day. We got a bag of mini gala apples for $3. We bought a pork shoulder roast for $8 and got two and a half meals out of it," he said. "I got a whole chicken for $5, but it was spoiled so I had to return it and got a $7 chicken instead. They were out of $5 chickens."
He told Fox News, "I'm (expletive deleted) starving."
Living off of a tight grocery budget made it clear to Batali that while subsisting on food stamps is possible, it's certainly not easy. And the budget cuts that Congress is considering are certainly not going to make it any easier for the 46 million Americans who use food stamps.