Preparing For the Hunger Challenge

*This is an old post from my previous site dated Monday, September 8, 2014
If you didn’t know it already, the month of September is Hunger Month. At the end of August, I received an email from the SF/Marin Food Bank alerting me of this as well as a request to be a part of “The Hunger Challenge” for the next five days.

 

I made this, Broiled Eggplant Salad from “Eat Well,” cookbook, before this week’s challenge to see how it would go. The results–pretty tasty!

Join me on my journey through five days of eating on only $4.50 a day. Why am I doing this?
My whole life is surrounded by food: I’m a personal grocery shopper, I came from a family in the restaurant business and I love to garden, cook and dine out at great restaurants. I’ve always had access to food unlike millions of people in this country who struggle to get access to food daily. When I received this email, I thought it would be an amazing way to learn what people go through to get food on such a small limited budget and what that must feel like.
I began planning for this challenge by checking out the “Eat Well on $4/Day Good and Cheap,” cookbook, a resource used for low-income families looking for recipes that fit within their budget.
Reading through the manual and cookbook sent to me, I was thrilled to see notes from the author such as, “More expensive eggs are usually worth the money–they taste so much better than cheap eggs. Even at $4 a dozen, you’re still only paying 33 cents an egg. Really, fresh eggs, like those at the farmers’ market, also make a big difference in flavor.”
Even I have been going through life thinking the good eggs were expensive. I never thought to look at it this way–33 cents per eggs is not that much.
I also loved seeing tips like not focusing meals on meat because it keeps your budget low and will be healthier for you in the long run. I’m glad that they added this. I’m already learning so much and am so excited to a part of the challenge!
Below are the rules I’m following, the foods I’ve prepared ahead of time and my experience so far.

*Note: There are two people in my household, my boyfriend and I. So at $4.50 each per day that gives us $45 for five days.

The Rules:
$4.50 per person, per day budget.
The Challenge Excludes Veggies and Fruits from “The Pantry List.”
Includes alcohol (I’m not sure if this is a rule for the challenge but it’s a rule I’m adopting this week).
Organic Only (This is a real of my own as I wanted to keep the same diet I have now. I realize this is more difficult and limiting as organic can cost more but I’m willing to make the sacrifice for my health).

Cutting Out/Cutting Down On:

For budget reasons, we are going to have to cut some things out of our diet this week or at least eat less.

~Coffee– This is a pricey treat that we will cut down on. We will use whatever we have left, which isn’t much, for the rest of this week and not purchase coffee out or buy more.
~Eating out– Because of the strict restrictions on our budget we will most likely be unable to purchase ANY food outside our kitchen this week.
~Snacks– All per-packeged snacks in general but mostly chips and pistachios which seem to be our pricier purchases.
~Wine and Beer–I’ve purchase two bottles of wine made with organic grapes and this will have to last us the week.
~Avocados–They are just too pricey for this week.

*Note: On the SF-Marin Food Bank Web site, there is a list of ‘Pantry’ foods which are foods that people in need receive from the Food Bank as part as the CalFresh public benefits.

Foods That Can Be Purchased Outside of Budget:
*there is a recommended amount of each food depending on household size. I will be listing the amount I purchased for my household of 2 for the week. Let’s see if it lasts!
Cantaloupe (0) I may get this mid-week.
Carrots (6)
Onions (1) I may get more this week.
Oranges (0) I may get some mid-week.
Pears (0) I may get some mid-week.
Potatoes (6)
Stone Fruits; peaches, plums, nectarines (5)
Strawberries (0)
Tomatoes (6)
Watermelon (0)
Eggs(0) I may get these mid-week.
Rice (1.5 lbs)
Staples I Already Have in my Kitchen:
Grapeseed Oil, for dressings and frying
Balsamic Vinegar, for dressings and veggie topping
Red Wine Vinegar, for dressings and potato salads
Garlic
Salt and Pepper
Dried Herbs including; basil, oregano, thyme
Spices including; cumin, garlic powder, cinnamon, curry powder
Raisins
Tamari Sauce (like soy sauce)
Hot Sauce
Flour
Coconut Sugar
Vegan Mayo
Vegan Margarine
Tahini
*Note: “The Good and Cheap Cookbook,” recommends purchasing these expensive items one at a time as to not overwhelm your budget. I’m very fortunate to have these items in my kitchen already.
Tips I’m Using Throughout the Challenge:
Purchase Pantry Items Beforehand–“Pantry Items” are items which the Food Bank provides for families. (I am saving some items for Wednesdays Farmers Market at Civic Center because it’s one of the more inexpensive markets).
Planning meals, snacks ahead of time–This truly does save money. Imagine if every meal you had was fresh, homemade and ready for you at the you want to eat it? You would leave each meal satisfied avoiding the urge to splurge on snacks and meals outside your home.
Eating vegan, vegetarian meals–I already do this but it was also a recommendation to leave meat out of most meals as it saves money.
Cookbook used for families on food stamps–“Eat Well on $4/Day Good and Cheap,” Cookbook, provided by the Food Bank has tons of tasty options that I can’t wait to try.
Purchased Items to Keep Track Of:
Oatmeal-$2.50
Zucchini & Green Beans Greens Beans-$3.00
Bananas-$1.20
Avocados $1.50
Wine-$8.68
Mushrooms-$4.00
Bread- $4.00
Tofu-$2.75
Garbanzo Beans-$4.78
Trail Mix-$7.49
Beans-$1.50
= $41.37

yikes!….

Update: listed my mushrooms too high so….I have more money in my budget! I couldn’t be more excited. Headed to the Farmers Market tomorrow to decided what to get. Stay tuned.
Things to Prepare Ahead of Time:

Rice
Beans
Granola Bars- OhSheGlows granola bar recipe. I used this recipe because it’s vegan and looked yummy. I made some adjustments–I used one less banana because I didn’t have it and used a mix of nuts, seeds and berries as opposed to purchasing them separately.
Tuna- I have an amazing vegan tuna recipe from Vegan Junk Food by Lane Gold.
Roti- Traditional Indian bread pocket.

Recipes From Cookbook To Try:

Egg Sandwich w/ Mushroom Hash
Brussels Sprouts Hash and Eggs
Hot Tofu Pot
Roti- traditional Indian bread pockets
Homemade Pasta
Snacks to Make Myself:
Chips
Granola Bars
Chocolate Cookies
Caramelized Bananas
What better place to begin this journey than “the people’s Farmers Market” also know as the Alemany Farmers Market in San Francisco. This market was the first Farmers Market in the state of California leading the way for the array of markets that would pop up all over the state.

“Ugly but Good,” Early Girl Tomatoes

I thought it’d be the perfect place to start because it’s known as one of the cheaper Farmers Markets among the many in the city. It was a great market with plenty of vendors and a line for parking right when you drive up.

Stone Fruit at the Alemany Farmers Market

Green Beans from the Alemany Farmers Market
The challenges I foresee for my household are:
Preparing Meals ahead of time–Not eating everything I prepared ahead of time in one sitting.
The coffee and wine supply. I don’t think I need to explain this one…
The Snacks–I’m already craving pistachios and missing my chips. Better get up and start slicing some potatoes!
Dining Out/Going to a Bar–It’s nice to grab a treat or a happy hour beer out at a bar.
If you want to join me, please feel free to do so! It will be challenging, I promise you that, but I’m hoping that we will all learn something along the way by putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes.
I’m hoping to further prove that doing this challenge while buying organic is still doable.
Follow me each day as I will be posting my meals for each of the five days as well as my struggles, successes and what I’ve learned from the challenge.

Learn more about The Hunger Challenge here to get started!

Other Helpful Links:

SNAP

Huffington Post Article

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