Hunger Challenge, Day 1, Version 1

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EDITED TO ADD:  So the guacamole was WAY out of date.  (WHY??????)  So I made Ramen.  While making the ramen, I started getting my tuna-scented pasta salad ready.  During the preparations, the ramen got done.  So I poured it into a mug, and kept on chopping.  Did you know that after 15 minutes of neglect, ramen becomes a gelatinous mass unfit for even prison inmate consumption?  Now you do.  So at that point, I opened a bag of gummi bears and called it dinner.  So-yesterday, a TOTAL swing and a miss.
Gentle Reader,

Today, I started the Hunger Challenge.  Today was also a Monday.  (You knew that, right?)  And today, I had to complete a Lifesavers Mission in the very most awful place that you can complete a Lifesavers Mission.  (You didn’t know that part.  But take my word for it.)

So, naturally, I overslept and didn’t make my Hunger Challenge Breakfast of hot tea, and instead, used the dollar I had left over from my shopping trip (more on that in a moment) and bought the LAST DIET COKE in my house.  Guzzled it down with nary a pang of guilt, for you see, I had to go to the most awful place that a Lifesaver can go on a mission.  Fortification was needed beyond my dainty cup of Irish tea.  Really, unless my mama makes it, I’m not a breakfast eater.   If I ever meet Prince Charming, and have kiddos, someone is going to need to train me or something.  Apparently schools are cracking down on sodas for breakfast.

And, since I didn’t have time to MAKE TEA, I certainly didn’t have time to make the tuna pasta salad I had planned for today’s (and tomorrow’s and probably Wednesday’s) lunch.  So I planned to skip that and count on my charm and poise to carry me through the afternoon.

(I’ll let you gather yourself.)

So after my FOURTH TRIP IN ONE DAY ON THE SAME ISSUE to the Most Awful Place Ever, there was going to be violence if I didn’t get some lunch.  So, people, I cheated.  I confess to you, that one day in, I cheated.  AND, if that wasn’t enough depravity, I cheated by dashing into a 7-11 (What you Hoosiers would call a Circle K) and picking up a TRIANGLE SANDWICH.  You know what I’m talking about?  In the triangle plastic thingey?  With the strangely drippy cheese?  It was all I had time for.  And a Hawaiian Punch.  Because I am a mature adult who needed just a wee bit of sugar to keep her from completely losing her grip.

I am now home, the laundry is humming (I love doing laundry, so really, after a harried day, this is fantastic.) and the idea of cooking anything for dinner is just about the silliest thing I’ve ever heard.  Guacamole and pretzel chips it is.  (Because I am out of tortilla chips.)

So since I’m ultimately the one that’s got to eat the foods on the Challenge, I feel like I have some kind of input.  I’ve made an executive decision.  Today will be my shopping post, I’ll have a few “deep thoughts” (I’ll let you gather yourself…) and tomorrow, we begin in earnest, and my Challenge will be extended an extra TWO days now.  So the 13th through the 19th.

So shopping!

(Not ashamed at all that I have to multiply 4.72 times 7 on a calculator, thankyouverymuch.)

For $32, I got:

Which actually ISN’T THAT MUCH.  I have the makings for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, bacon sandwiches, a tuna sandwich, tuna pasta salad, Hoppin’ John for dinner a couple of nights, Spaghetti for dinner a couple of nights, scrambled egg sandwiches for dinner a couple of nights, of course my Crystal Light, and tea, and some green beans to eat for, you know, vegetables, and bananas, because it seems like everybody on the challenge eats bananas so it seemed like the thing to do.  And Butter (of course).  And milk.  For the tea.  And so if I get too hungry for a snack, I’ll at least have that.

Since I’m “segregating” my Challenge food, and since I spent $32, now $33, my whole budget, the good news is that I don’t have to do math to figure out my portion sizes/costs.  In a way, I think that’s more realistic, because foodstamps are loaded (at least in most states) onto an EBT card at the beginning of the month, so you can go shopping whenever.  (The thing that is scary about that is that it assumes the ability to budget, which I really wish someone would teach me how to do…so imagine someone on a very tight, very fixed income?)  So if I were actually living on foodstamps, I’d both probably learn how to budget much better than I currently do, and do my shopping once a week (to cut down on magazine purchases).

The preceding paragraph was my first “Deep Thought”.  My second, and last, “Deep Thought” for today is that I was able to compensate.  Sure I had planned to do without, take my lumps, because I hadn’t planned, but when the time came, and I NEEDED FOOD, I could go get some.  I had an emergency diet coke in my house.  There was a 7-11 nearby and I had enough cash to go get something to eat.  So I did.  But if I had no money, and failed to plan ahead, I would have been grumpy, cranky, and grouchy the entire afternoon.  (Which, those of you who know what I actually do for a living might think, “eh, she’d blend”, but I take pride in being nice, personable, and friendly…there is NO NEED FOR CRABBINESS IN THIS WORLD.)  If I were working at a job that was in foodstamps eligibility territory, it would likely involve the service industry of some kind.   Too many grouchy afternoons, and I might find myself without a job in a very tight market.

Hunger is all around us, people.  Your local food banks need love YEAR-ROUND, because there are grumpy, lunch-less people year-round.  Donate food, if you want.  It’s been my experience that most food banks have negotiated with major distributors, so your dollar will go much further with them than it will on your own.  So, if you don’t have an opinion on the matter, give money, if you can.  (I think that the concept of a canned food drive is TOTALLY important to give a public face to the issue, I’m not knocking those AT ALL…plus, it’s a great way to show little ones about how to give.)



3 thoughts on “Hunger Challenge, Day 1, Version 1

  1. Well, I’m now on Day 3. I’ve come in under my budget each day, but I have also been kind of on the brink of starvation any part of the day not directly following mealtime. If Wordie’s mistake was not planning ahead, my mistake was planning myself into a corner. For the dinners I’m making, I just used recipes off of this website: They have the per-serving price listed, so that took the brain-work out of it. BUT, in order for that to work, you have to stick with the suggested serving size. What was I thinking? I’ve never stuck with the suggested serving size, ever, in my whole life! And while individual servings aren’t too expensive, I can’t afford to have two.
    Mistake No. 2: Not planning for low-cost fill-in snacks. Yesterday, for example, I had Breakfast: Coffee $0.71. Lunch: High fiber English Muffin: $0.41 with a little peanut butter $0.19 and a cup and a half of grapes $0.74. (For lunch and breakfast I broke down the ingredients by taking the total cost of the item and dividing it by serving size.) Dinner: Turkey Chili $1.75 and a high fiber English Muffin: $0.41. Dessert: Tiny, tiny popsicle: $0.25. This comes to a total of $4.46, with a surplus of $0.26. I could easily have scarfed down two (possibly three) servings of that turkey chili. And I added a little cheese and sour cream which I didn’t account for. (Totally cheating on my second day.) What I need was a little something cheap and filling to add to round off the day. I could have had another popsicle for $.25 but I knew that wouldn’t fill me up, (and I want to preserve my popsicles for the rest of the week) so I didn’t bother.
    Actually, one of the other things I’m realizing with this experiment is that it’s not the pure cost that’s the issue—Special K and I eat pretty cheaply most of the time anyway. Being sub-employed at the moment, we doctor up ramen and rice a roni twice a week at least. BUT, the freedom to be able to wait until things are on sale and stock up, or to invest in a semi-expensive bottle of spices knowing you’ll use it over time—those are the luxuries. When the frozen chicken breasts go on super sale at Kroger, we get three bags. You could never do that on $30/week. A quarter teaspoon of rosemary is not going to break your daily $4.72 budget, but having to buy a $6 bottle of Rosemary out of your $30 for the week might be harder to justify. (We actually haven’t counted spices we’ve used. Wordie said she thought spices were free as long as they were something that would be normally stocked in the average household. We’re pretending we’re an average Mexican household this week cause two of my recipes call for cumin.) It’s no wonder that people will go for foods with artificial flavors and seasonings already added.
    It’s pretty interesting to see how your decision-making has to change. And sometimes what individual items cost is really surprising. Like we got a pound of jalapenos for $1, but a single red pepper was $1.60. We thought we’d scanned it incorrectly! I’m also realizing what I clearly spend all my money on (salad greens, cheese, ice cream, beer and wine are all off the table this week. Which is so sad cause we just got a pack of Octoberfest that’s looking all lonely in the fridge right now.) Speaking of which, I think I might be an alcoholic cause I would have knocked over a liquor store for a glass of wine last night. So, godspeed Hunger Challengers! (It’s gonna be a long week.)

  2. HA! I was just thinking and lamenting my lack of snack planning. Though I did get a can of salted peanuts for that very purpose. I should have invested that in chocolate. I am making Hoppin’ John for dinner tonight, and was thinking about what I needed to do this afternoon versus cooking preparation (one advantage to being able to “mostly” work from home) and I thought, oh, I need to chop the onio…wait, I got the tiniest onion possible at the store so as to save money and I need that for the spaghetti sauce (because something tells me the jarred Ragu is going to NEED it.)

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