Preparing myself for eating on $4.50 a day
SNAP Hunger Challenge Week is coming right up, and I'm getting more nervous about it each day.
These are my worries:
What am I going to eat? For all my blogging about recipes, this is a problem for me more frequently than it should be. I'm lagging in the meal-planning department, I'm sad to admit.
How am I going to calculate the cost of each of my servings? I'm afraid it's going to take as much time as the actual cooking. Plus, I plan to use inexpensive staples I've already purchased (things like beans, whole-wheat pasta and frozen vegetables) that I'm guessing will allow me to stay within $4 a day. However, I'm not sure exactly how much I bought them for. This will make calculating price per serving difficult.
Will I get enough nutrition? When I was first asked to participate in the challenge, all I could think of was when state Sen.Mike Frerichs did the challenge a few years ago, and reported in our paper that he planned to eat lots of pasta and carbs. Plus, things like cheap macaroni and cheese are out for me, because I'm lactose intolerant.
Am I going to get sick of certain dishes? Actually, I should rephrase that: I am going to get sick of certain dishes. Oatmeal is inexpensive and a smart breakfast choice. I like it, but not every day. I'll need to either deal with it or come up with alternatives.
What about snacking? I'm not very friendly when I get hungry. I try to plan for snacks – things like apples, peanuts or other filling, nutritious items. Sometimes, though, I forget and end up buying a snack – usually something not so nutritious and less inexpensive. The delicious 50-cent chocolate muffins in our break room come to mind.
Now that I'm anticipating the SNAP challenge, I'm realizing that 50 cents is a sizable chunk of my daily food budget. So, I guess this worry goes back to – am I going to be able to plan well enough to get through this?
Am I going to be able to resist taking free food from others? The challenge's rules say not to, but I have a hard time saying no to most offered foods. For example, I'm invited to a party during the week of the challenge. How on earth am I going to resist the pizza they'll serve, or treats in the newsroom? This already feels like a diet, in the sense that I'll feel like I'm denying myself and as a result, want to eat more.
What about having people over for dinner or feeding others? I guess they can eat what I'm eating ... but I plan on eating mostly meatless dishes, and some people (my boyfriend, for example) aren't so into meatless. I'm feeling relieved, at this point, that I'm in a household of one.
I'm guessing these worries are the whole reason foodbanks sponsor the SNAP Challenge. I can't imagine living on $4 a day every day. I'm guessing I'll either figure out the answers to these questions or slip up. I'll keep you posted.
In the meantime, if you have advice or recipes for inexpensive, healthy meals, could you send them to me or leave them in the comments? I'm going to need all the help I can get.
This appetizing photo of oatmeal is from this website.