SNAP Hunger Awareness Challenge: Day 5

Planning seems to be getting easier, but still takes so much time. I miss strawberries and red peppers. I have a stack of recipes I can’t afford to make. I do have some money left over again today, but we have plans to go out on Friday night. I might want a coffee drink, or to eat at a restaurant. But I don’t think I’ll have quite enough for that, especially for vegan options. (WHY is a salad more expensive than a burger?)

I baked some whole wheat bread last night, from frozen loaves I bought at a 30% off sale – which has turned out to be quite the windfall. It might not be less expensive than an ordinary store-bought loaf, but it’s probably less than the $5+ sprouted grain loaf that I usually get. I added some peanut butter and a cup of store-brand organic vanilla soy milk for protein. The cup of black coffee was free at a work meeting.

  • 2 (generously-sized) slices homemade wheat bread: .16
  • 1 Tbsp natural peanut butter: .09
  • 1 cup Meijer organic vanilla soy milk:
  • black coffee: free
  • Breakfast total: .25

Lunch was leftover scrambled tofu with Chipotle Black Beans I cooked up over the weekend. With 2 sprouted grain tortillas, some lettuce, and a bit of guacamole, it made a nice taco salad. Plenty of protein and fiber kept me full until dinner.

  • 2 sprouted grain tortillas: .44
  • scrambled tofu: 1.00
  • 1/2 cup black beans: .16
  • 1 cup iceberg lettuce: .21
  • 1 tbsp guacamole: .13
  • Lunch total: 1.94

I wonder if my meals reflect the American average. I don’t think so. The proportion of processed foods is low. I did some batch cooking last weekend, which takes more time than a busy family often has. I wonder about the quantity, and how it compares with the average. Would it keep a construction worker going all day?

The other two people in my family have different tastes, and I think their meals are more typical of the American diet. I priced out an example dinner, similar to what they ate tonight:

  • 2 hot dog buns: .26
  • 2 Oscar Mayer all-beef nitrate-free hot dogs: .75
  • ketchup, mustard, onion, relish (very approximate): .32 (?)
  • 1 cup iceberg lettuce: .27
  • 3 tbsp italian dressing: .13
  • Dinner total: 1.73

It’s close in price to my own dinner, below, but it’s more processed, and I’m sure it contains fewer vitamins and minerals. All of the above items were on sale. We purchase condiments in large containers and refill smaller bottles. Spices are usually purchased in bulk at a local ethnic grocery store. I save a lot of money this way. My dinner:

  • 1/2 head cauliflower: 1.00
  • onion, garlic, spices: .17
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil: .08
  • red pepper chutney: .32
  • wheat bread: .08
  • kiwi: .33
  • Dinner total: 1.98

I still have “extra” money, but I was full tonight, so I’m not using it. I’ve been craving the Indian Spiced Cauliflower dish, which happens to be relatively inexpensive. Would the average person be satisfied with a big plate of cauliflower? I would expect more hot dogs.

Day 5 Total: $4.17 (+ $ 1.34 for the week)
Calories: 1118
Fruit/veggie servings: about 7

Tomorrow (Friday) will be my last day of the SNAP Challenge. I would encourage everyone to try this challenge when it officially begins on September 19-25, even if it’s just for a day. Hunger is a grave concern in this economy, especially in Illinois. You can learn more at

Although I like a challenge and I found this interesting, I do not take this experience lightly. It has opened my eyes and my heart. Approximately 1 in 10 families in Illinois experience food insecurity. It could be a friend, a neighbor… even yourself.

There but for the grace of God [or what/whomever you believe in], go I.

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