Sunday, June 23, 2013

Day Two

This morning I overslept and only had a couple of minutes to eat before dashing off to church. Luckily I have that huge tub of instant oatmeal! I topped a bowl with a dollop of yogurt and some peach slices, then mixed it all together to get some delicious peaches & cream in every bite.
Estimated meal cost: $0.95
My Sunday School teacher brought donuts to church. Yay for free dessert! I got home really late, and I had a delicious dinner waiting for me in my slow cooker, so I ate a lite lunch consisting of a PB&J sandwich with some sliced cucumber.
Estimated meal cost: $0.55
When the smell wafting through the air was overpowering me and my mouth was watering, I pulled my dinner out of the slow cooker. This morning in my rush I threw in two chicken thighs, one chopped up red potato, a few carrots, and some lemon pepper seasoning and then covered it about halfway in chicken broth.  The result was so tender that the meat literally fell off of the bone inside the crockpot. I put together a small side salad, and while this meal might not be as photogenic as some of the others it was by far the most delicious.
Estimated meal cost: $1.50
That's the kind of Sunday dinner I grew up on. Meat, carrots, and potatoes left to simmer so that when we returned we were met by the sweet smell of Mama's cooking. For dessert I baked the other half of the peach and made a simple oatmeal topping. Normally I would have cut some butter in with the oatmeal, but I didn't have any, so I used a bit of peanut butter instead. The flavor would have complemented apples better, but the consistency was close to what I needed.
Estimated meal cost: $0.80
It may not have been the most decadent dessert in the world, but on my limited resources, it was just the sweet bite I needed, and it was healthy too.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day One

This morning I woke up early to head to the National Zoo with my friends. In keeping with the spirit of this challenge, it was some free entertainment. (Well, free in the sense that it's funded by taxpayer dollars.) Before I rushed out the door I whipped up a bowl of oatmeal and topped it with half an apple and a tablespoon of peanut butter, and I drank it with a glass of almond milk.
Estimated meal cost: $0.87

After the zoo, we went for a walk in Rock Creek Park. It was great exercise, the scenery was pretty (although that creek is not the cleanest looking water I've ever seen), and it almost felt like you weren't in the city (if it weren't for the very audible cars on the other side of the trees).
By the time I got home, it was 2:00 and I was definitely ready for some lunch! I made a  turkey sandwich with lettuce, tomato, mayo and mustard and ate it with the other half of the apple from breakfast. I drank lots of water to rehydrate after all that time in the sun. 

Estimated meal cost: $1.05
By the time dinner came around, I was so much in my normal routine that I started eating before I took a picture to show you! The plate was full when I started eating. I made a nice salad of romaine lettuce (I got six hearts for $4 on a buy one get one free sale!), tomato, cucumber, carrots, ham, and a drizzle of balsamic dressing.
Estimated meal cost: $0.75
Day one of the SNAP challenge was filling, delicious, and nutritious! The balance of fruits, vegetables, grains and proteins gave me energy to tackle the day. I guess you could say it was a snap!

Friday, June 21, 2013

SNAP Challenge Accepted

With a debate raging about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more than 2 dozen Democratic politicians and many more ordinary citizens took the SNAP Challenge, pledging to live on the average allotment of a SNAP recipient, $31.50 per week. Most posted a few pictures of meager looking meals and lamented that they couldn't purchase fresh fruits or vegetables on the budget.

I may not be on food stamps, but I am a college student making just a little more than the cost of my rent for the summer. I'm counting my lucky stars that my internship is paid at all. So I know a thing or two about the search to eat nutritiously and frugally. Apparently, most congressmen don't. This doesn't come as a surprise, considering the state of the national budget. 
The debate wouldn't be complete if somebody from the real world without a legislative agenda took the SNAP Challenge with some resourcefulness and ingenuity. Unlike Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and her colleagues, I'm actually trying to succeed. Snap challenge accepted!

So tonight I went grocery shopping and spent $59.28 on a loaf of bread, a carton of almond milk, italian seasoning, lemon pepper seasoning, onion powder, mustard, low sodium chicken broth, 2 cans of black beans, a box of rice, a jar of peanut butter, 2 pounds of lunch meat, 5 pounds of chicken thighs, 2 pounds of baby carrots, 10 apples, 5 pounds of potatoes, 3 cucumbers, 2 peaches, 2 tomatoes, 6 hearts of romaine lettuce, one mango, and a box of Ziploc bags. SNAP doesn't cover non-food items, so that would have to come from my personal funds, meaning that my food totaled $54.83, almost ten dollars under a two week budget of $63.

For the next two weeks, I will live on these foods. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll show you the few things I had left in my kitchen before I went grocery shopping.

The oatmeal, which is still mostly full, was $3.79. The jam, which is nearly empty, cost $2.59. The mayo, approximately half used, cost $2.99. The salad dressing, which is also nearly halfway gone, was $2.00. That totals $11.37, which in addition to the $54.83 spent tonight equals $66.20. Yes, that's slightly more than $63, but all of those ingredients are partially used, and in most cases nearly empty. I don't know how much the yogurt or the salt and pepper cost, but the yogurt is also almost empty. Realistically speaking, staples will carry over from week to week. Additionally, some SNAP recipients are employed, and the allotment is calculated with the expectation that part of their income will be spent on their food. 

Tomorrow morning will be day one of the SNAP challenge!