The Problem

The two main problems that cause people to struggle with living on food stamps are: most Americans don’t know how to Smart Shop; most Americans no longer no how to cook a wide range of foods.

This can be fixed quickly.

First, Smart Shopping is easy. It basically requires you to plan some of your shopping in advance and look around a bit more once you get to the store. Here’s more information.

Learning the basics of cooking (making spaghetti, cooking a piece of chicken in the oven and even warming convenience foods) is pretty easy. However, learning to cook is like learning to use a new (very simple) software program – if you have to read tutorials and figure it out yourself, it can take a while. If someone stands next to you and shows you how to do it, it only takes minutes.

This is where the federal and state governments come in. They need to re-introduce home economics to high school curricula. No one should leave high school without knowing how to grocery shop and cook simple meals at home.

Part of the problem with grocery stores is that they are not set up with a primary goal of helping you find the most affordable food choices. It’s just the opposite. I could write an entire article about the world-class psychologists who are hired around the world by supermarkets to get consumers to impulse buy. Grocery stores use a wide variety of techniques–from keeping their stores cold, to moving the aisles every few months to putting kids’ items at kids’ eye levels to raising prices just before putting those items on “sale”–to get you to spend extra money.

Part of any high school home ec curriculum should teach future consumers how to recognize and avoid these traps.

GenXers barely know how to use a microwave and so they were not able to teach their Millenial children how to even use a can opener. This is a problem, even for adults who aren’t on food stamps and can lead to a decrease of at least $500,000 (and probably more) in retirement funds for U.S. adults.