I started the SNAP Hunger Challenge yesterday, sort of.
Sundays are a typically busy day for me, and yesterday was no exception. It had me up early, heading to my parents' house in Paxton and then church in Loda. Then back to my parents', then to Champaign-Urbana for various obligations, including helping someone host an end-of-summer party.
The downside to a day like this: not much time to plan what to eat.
The upside? I didn't consume any of my own food. None. Not exactly in the SNAP Hunger Challenge's rules, but I hadn't planned far enough ahead of time to do anything about it.
So I accepted coffee and lunch at my parents' house, as I do each Sunday. Then, I ate veggies and pizza and cake at the party. I felt bad, but it was a delicious failure.
Today, I'm a little more with it. I have time to plan what I'll eat – which means I also have more time to panic. That “What am I going to eat?” feeling is back, in a big way.
I'm also running into another problem, one food blogger Jason Brechin also mentioned. I totally forgot about leftovers and other expensive items in my fridge.
Unless I want to be really wasteful, I had to drink that homemade soy chocolate chai tea in my fridge this morning. (Darn!) I'll need to eat French onion soup and stuffed acorn squash and drink the apple juice and chocolate soy milk in my fridge. (If you couldn't tell, I went a little nuts with cooking Saturday, anticipating more inexpensive meals this week.)
Below is my menu for today. Forgive me, I don't have exact prices because I'm using items already in my pantry and don't know what I paid for some of them.
Breakfast: navy beans and a scrambled egg, seasoned with salt and pepper. It wasn't very good, but it did fill me up.
Snack: A piece of leftover chocolate cake from my friend Erin and toasted wheatberries. I bought the wheatberries (which is another way of saying plain ole wheat) from Beachy's Bulk Foods in Arthur last weekend.
Hard red winter wheat was 69 cents a pound. I saw a recipe for this snack in my “More With Less Cook Book.” If you toast the wheat in a skillet with some canola oil, it puffs up, almost like popcorn. It's crunchy and filling, but not nearly as good as chocolate cake.
Lunch: Leftovers from Saturday, plus some leftover party items. I feel bad for accepting free food, but a commenter on my previous blog suggested it was the only way to get through the week.
Dinner: I'm trying a recipe we ran last winter in our slow-cooked column, for Pizza Sloppy Joe. It calls for textured vegetable protein, which is a soy product. I bought the TVP at Beachy's – half a pound for 85 cents, and used about half of it in this recipe. With the canned ingredients and spices, I'm guessing this recipe comes in at about $2 for six servings.
I tried sprucing it up with fresh tomatoes, jalapenos, basil and oregano. At lunch, it smelled great, but the texture looked a bit questionable. We'll see how it turns out.
Here's the recipe, from the “Fix-It-And Forget it Big Cookbook.”
Pizza Sloppy Joe
Makes: 6 servings
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 6 to 8 hours
Ideal slow cooker size: 4-quart
1 cup textured vegetable protein
7-ounce can mushrooms, undrained
15-ounce can low-sodium tomato sauce
14 1/2-ounce can low-sodium Italian diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon minced roasted garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in slow cooker. Cover. Cook on low for six to eight hours.
Are you taking the SNAP Hunger Challenge? What's your favorite recipe so far? Comment or e-mail me with it, and perhaps we'll have enough to run a story in the paper.
Photo of TVP is from this website.