SNAP Challenge: Tuesday

FYI: I didn’t calculate my totals until before dinner today.


  • Homemade granola (1 c) – $0.60
  • Milk (1/2 c) – $0.12
  • Jasmine tea – $0.10
  • Total: $1.35

I felt better about the feasibility of the SNAP Challenge. $1.35 is more than I probably should have spent on my smallest meal of the day, but I felt full and alert. The tea really helped – I use the same tea leaves a few times, so I get a lot of bang for my buck. I included some raisins and walnuts in my granola to bulk it up and add some extra flavor and protein.


  • Leftover pizza – $3.78

Yep, the leftovers screwed me up. That put me at $5.13 total for the day13 cents out of my pocket, plus the five-odd from yesterday. Though I felt okay hunger-wise, I wasn’t comfortable skipping dinner.


  • Bread with marmalade – $0.42
  • Orange – $0.43
  • Total: $0.85

I got home around 6pm.  I bike for transportation, and I eat a fair deal for a woman my age and size even when I’m not biking too much. So, by this point, hunger kicked in – seriously. I’ve felt hungry before -and exclaimed I was “starving” at various points in my childhood, much to my parents’ displeasure- but this felt noticeably worse. It didn’t feel bad because of my immediate hunger – it felt bad because I knew I couldn’t do too much to relieve it. I tried to find a cheap snack – I wanted a slice of bread and an orange, but I priced out the orange and decided it was too expensive. Plain bread seemed depressing, so I priced out some marmalade and decided it would be okay. Let me tell you – that was the best bread and marmalade I’ve ever had. Even though I couldn’t afford to, I ate the orange shortly after anyway, while I was pricing out dinner. It irked me that I could afford marmalade and not an orange. Also, the orange smelled good – I didn’t even know you could smell oranges through their rinds until today.

Now I’d paid $0.98 out of pocket for the day, and I hadn’t even eaten dinner – at this point it looks like the orange wasn’t worth it. I’m still pretty darn hungry at this point, so I decided to not sacrifice dinner. However, my kitchen was a royal mess (I’ll post a picture soon

The royal mess that my kitchen was Tuesday

The royal mess that was my kitchen Tuesday

picture posted), so I was torn between the problem of not eating and the problem of cleaning and cooking. (I think cleaning stresses me out slightly more than cooking does.) I compromised and decided to clean up the kitchen and spend some time outside in the lovely weather, go to a publicly-open young adult religious group that often has free food, and then come home and eat a little dinner.

So, I biked a couple of miles at 7:30 pm, got to the group location, locked my bike up – and found nobody. One of my friends later emailed me asking where I had been, so the group must have been there, but I couldn’t find them. Things like that usually peeve me, but the thought of having spent calories and time to get there to find no food (for body or spirit) downright upset me. So, I got on my bike and went home.

At this point I started to feel lightheaded. It was probably my asthma, triggered by emotions and exercise, rather than hunger – regardless, being lightheaded and hungry on a bike after dark isn’t fun. At the same time that I thinking about how upset, lightheaded and hungry I was, I was also realizing that I really don’t have it all that bad. This is one day hungry, with well-fed weeks before it and well-fed weeks to come. I started to feel ashamed for being self-absorbed and whiny – although how I felt was well outside my norm, it wasn’t unbearable. So I got home, finished cleaning my kitchen, and made dinner.


  • Spinach-Rice Pot: $2.60
Spinach-Rice Pot

Spinach-Rice Pot

Yeesh. As soon as I priced out this dish, I knew it would be a problem. However, spinach doesn’t keep very long, so I made the dish anyway. This means I would have paid $3.58 out of pocket today – my snack and dinner would have been entirely on me and whatever resources I possessed. I had some sauteed summer squash with dinner too, which made me feel better. The squash were given to me as leftovers of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share, and I didn’t feel right about rejecting them, in case they would have gone into the trash otherwise. I wasn’t sure how to price them out as part of a CSA share, so I didn’t. So, my daily total was probably a little higher than it shows. I made some Pineapple-Corn Bread, but the rice pot was pretty filling, so I didn’t eat any. It was $3.17 for the entire loaf – breakfast for tomorrow, maybe?

Spinach-Rice Pot with Sauteed Squash

Spinach-Rice Pot with Sauteed Squash

$8.58+ spent for Tuesday. It’s an improvement upon Monday, but I’m still way above my goal of $5, even though I tried. I’m also still hungry and kind of ashamed for being distracted by it. I keep thinking “Isn’t this one of those mind over body things?” I’ll have to skip dinners soon if I can’t reduce my spending per day. I’m currently telling myself skipping dinner would give me an excuse to go to bed early, in order to make it sound more doable and appealing. I know there’s absolutely no risk for me skipping one meal a day for maybe three days in a row, and yet I’m rather frightened by it. I like having a fairly regular schedule, and missing a meal seems like a big alteration to me. In any case, we’ll see what tomorrow brings.


  • Homemade granola is pretty easy and super cheap. I doubled the recipe from Diet for a Small Planet months ago and have had granola ever since. Making granola is a hot and sticky enterprise, so be prepared. Also, the granola will be denser and not as “fluffy” (for want of a better word) as store-bought granola – it doesn’t clump very well, so the texture might seem a bit odd to you. My favorite thing about this granola is its flexibility – adding different fruits, nuts, and yogurts to it totally changes it. This granola is super easy to make your own.
  • Eating part of the orange instead of the entire thing would have been affordable, met my fruit urge, and prevented some guilt.
  • Spinach and some kinds of cheese aren’t cheap – avoid them if possible during the Challenge.
  • Have snacks planned or priced out in advance so you don’t have to think about what to eat when you’re already hungry.
  • If you can survive without it – don’t eat it.

2 Comments on “SNAP Challenge: Tuesday”

  1. xiousgeonz says:

    It’s harder to do this single-handedly for one week. Have you considered making soup or a casserole and eating it for more than one day?

  2. Yes, it certainly is hard to make a new dish every day on one’s own. I did try to make a few dishes that I could eat for more than one meal: pizza, Spinach-Rice Pot (a type of casserole), Pineapple-Corn Bread, onigiri, quiche, and Hamburger Pie. However, I still have spent a lot of time cooking every day. If I had been more on top of things, I would have made the “Thick as Pea Soup” (which I had planned for yesterday but didn’t have the time or budget to make) on Sunday or Monday and used it for a few meals for the rest of the week. Broth-based soups tend to be very inexpensive, and though they require a larger initial time and energy input, they pay off over time. (In my non-SNAP Challenge life, I tend to double recipes, freeze half of them, and eat the rest over the course of the week.)

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