This week I am taking part in the SNAP Hunger Challenge from Feeding Illinois during Hunger Action Month. I’m eating for $4.50 a day, the average SNAP benefit (formerly known as food stamps) for an individual in Illinois. My goal is to gain a better understanding of what it’s like to obtain healthy, nutritious, and filling food on a limited budget. Will I get enough protein, fruits & vegetables?
Day One: “Expensive” Breakfast and Batch Cooking
The day began with what turned out to be a relatively expensive breakfast. At least, it felt expensive:
- 1 Ezekiel sprouted corn tortilla (small): .22 (33% off at Jerry’s IGA closeout sale)
- 1/4 cup scrambled tofu w/ onions & peppers: .50
- 2 tbsp chipotle black beans (homemade from dry beans): .08
- Breakfast potatoes (homemade): .10
- Breakfast total: $.90
Flavorful and filling (especially the beans), but not very large. For lunch, I made the guys some chicken parmigiana with frozen chicken patties, leftover marinara sauce, and mozzarella and asiago cheese. I would normally throw in a Boca or Morningstar chik patty for me, and hold the cheese, but at the usual regular price of over $6.00 a box, one chik patty would have blown my budget. So I cooked up a package of mushrooms that were getting old – I already find myself more sensitive to food waste. I topped the mushrooms with marinara sauce, and paired it with some couscous from the bulk bin at World Harvest.
- 1 cup couscous: .64
- 1 cup mushrooms, sauteed w/ Earth Balance: 1.50
- 1/2 cup marinara sauce: .33
- 3 organic strawberries: .20
- Lunch total: $2.67
I didn’t plan to eat the strawberries, which were relatively expensive at 2.50 per quart, even by my usual standards. But there were just a few left, and they were almost past their prime, so I enjoyed what now felt like an indulgence. I’m glad I did too, because we went bowling in the afternoon. By the time we finished 2 games and headed home at 4pm, I was feeling hungry again.
Dinner was a vegetarian split pea and lentil soup, cooked from a Bob’s Red Mill mix that I picked up at the Jerry’s IGA closeout sale. (I had no idea they had such a large natural foods section!) I added my own chopped carrots, celery, onion, garlic, vegetable broth, and spices. The soup was good, nutritious, and relatively filling with the accompanying cantaloupe from our CSA share. At .25 per cup, I’m glad I have a ton of leftover soup. It will be good for packing in my lunch this week.
- 2 cups vegetarian lentil soup: .50
- 1.5 cups cantaloupe: .24
- Dinner total: $.74
Day 1 total: $4.31
Fruit/veg servings: 5