SNAP Challenge: Wednesday

After going to bed hungry, I was afraid I would wake up famished. Actually, I feel fine – good news! Now, for breakfast at 10:30 am (someone may have been up late working on a blog…):

Breakfast:

  • 1/4 of Pineapple-Corn Loaf – $0.79
  • ~1 cup of milk – $0.13
  • Total: $0.92

I have to say, I am totally surprised by how affordable local milk is for this challenge. I normally don’t drink more than a cup of milk in the morning anyway, so I don’t feel deprived right now. I’m eating less than I normally would, but because the bread has pineapple (fulfilling my dire fruit desire) and honey (sweet!), I’m not feeling cheated. I did lick the plate, though – might as well get all the calories I can. The bread is another complementary protein recipe from Diet for a Small Planet, so I’m getting a fair deal of protein out of it. It would be~6 grams of protein if I had used soy flour, but because I’m allergic to soy, I had to cut it out. Still, that’s not bad for a one-egg recipe.

Pineapple-Corn Bread

Pineapple-Corn Bread

I bet this bread would taste great hot, but I wanted to eat it, not heat it. This is my lowest cost breakfast yet, leaving me with $4.08 for the rest of the day. Onwards! (Update: later in the morning I began to feel a little queasy from all that sugar, but it was totally worth it.)

Lunch:

  • 1/8 Spinach-Rice Pot – $1.62
  • 1 onigiri with nori – $0.22
  • Total: $1.84
Rice Pot with Onigiri

Rice Pot with Onigiri

This is a pretty cheap lunch. It’s also pretty small – the rice ball is the size of my palm, and I have maybe a 1/3 of a cup of the rice pot. However, I have a lot of the nutrients I need here – carbohydrates from the wheat germ and rice, protein from the combination of wheat germ, rice, cheese and egg (the rice pot is another Diet for a Small Planet complementary protein recipe), and vitamins and minerals from the nori and spinach. Even though it isn’t much in terms of quantity, it’s a quality meal (should’ve made my onigiri with the brown rice, though – see yesterday’s post), so I can feel good about eating it. And let me tell you, while I’m in the process of eating this – a rice ball has never felt more filling. Go carbs to fill up!

I’m going to go ahead and plan my snack now to avoid yesterday’s evening meltdown – I think I might be able to skip dinner, but I’ll need to eat something between now and 6pm.

I have some crepes and cheese filling left over from last week that would probably be pretty cheap, but at this point, the thought of costing out any more ingredients repels me.  Orange juice is significantly more expensive than milk  (0.3/oz versus 0.03/oz, respectively), so if I decide to have a beverage, it will be milk. I priced out an ounce of tortilla chips (a handful and a half), and it’s cheaper than a slice of bread, so I’m going to go with that.

Snack:

  • Nachos – $0.29

    Nachos

    Nachos

  • Crackers – $0
  • Total: $0.29

The nachos were an excellent pick-me-up halfway through my work day. The 1/2 teaspoon of salsa I added was enough to give it that extra kick, and it didn’t really cost me anything at all. I’m surprised at how distracted I became when my coworkers are eating – the smell of course gets me hungry, but it caught me off guard that even the sound of eating (which I normally find disgusting) made me hungry. A coworker tipped me off that we had FREE, PUBLIC SAMPLES of multi-seed crackers, so I got an extra 0.5 ounces for my snack. This boosted my fiber, protein, and carb intakes for the day at no cost to my budget. I haven’t been this excited about store samples in a long time!

Free multi-seed crackers!!

Free multi-seed crackers!!

And I just remembered that I forgot to defrost my quiche for dinner tonight…. darn. I guess I’m eating late again.

Dinner:

  • Swiss Chard Quiche – $1.20

It’s 7:30pm and I’m eating a third of my homemade quiche. I made it a while ago and froze it, and entirely forgot to put it in the fridge this morning to thaw. So, I popped it into the toaster oven (toaster ovens are one of my favorite kitchen tools – they’ll fit and cook anything from a casserole to a muffin pan without heating your entire kitchen) as soon as I got home and let it defrost and warm on 250 degrees for an hour and a half. I could have put the toaster oven on a higher temperature and warmed the quiche faster, but I really didn’t want to brown the outside before the inside was thawed. How did I make quiche work for this cheap? Again, I used my homegrown Swiss Chard for the veggie component – free minerals and flavor. I also left out the cheese called for in the recipe. This is actually something I do pretty regularly: I think cheese in quiche is a waste, because I already have the protein from the eggs and I either can’t taste the cheese or it overpowers the dish. My guess is that I saved somewhere between $0.50 and $1.50 by eliminating the cheese. Also – it was great to come home from work and not have to cook, even if I did have to wait a while before I could eat.

I am now at $4.25 for the day, so I have an extra $0.75 cents I am keen on using. I really could stop here, eat nothing else today, and save the $0.75 for a rainy/more expensive day, but I’m really feeling like an orange, apple, or some ice cream. In my excellent lack of planning for SNAP, I bought a quart and a half of ice cream, which I rarely do. It’s been sitting in the freezer this entire time, goading me; I am a real chocoholic, so this has been a struggle. I stuck my finger in it yesterday and licked it so I could at least get the taste of it. So, although ice cream would have basically zero nutritional value, I am sorely tempted to have it instead of the fruit. Also, I’ve reached my $5/day a day sooner than I expected and feel like I should reward myself. I think this is a dilemma most people trying to eat on a very limited budget will run across – when you work so hard to fit your budget and occasionally end up with a smidgeon extra, you want to reward yourself, not eat something nutritious. …I’ve just talked myself into having the ice cream. Let me go price it out.

Dessert:

  • Chocolate ice cream (2 scoops): $0.19
  • Orange: $0.43
  • Total: $0.62

    Chocolate ice cream

    Chocolate ice cream

I don’t know why I was worried about being able to afford ice cream – this is America. Ice cream is more affordable than most things. Here, let me give you some comparisons of what ice cream is cheaper than per ounce: whole grain brown rice, cheese, nuts, concentrated orange juice, cornmeal, garlic, ground pork, cooking oils, raisins, tortilla chips, and whole wheat flour. These aren’t all from one store – ice cream’s just cheap. And this is “natural” ice cream, too, not the stuff you buy in big tubs. (Natural is in quotation marks because there is very little regulation of that term – the FDA has said “natural” can only be used on products containing no artificial or synthetic ingredients. However, as far as I know, the FDA doesn’t audit products using the “natural” label more than once. That said, I more or less trust the authenticity of this ice cream company. But that’s a story for a different day.)

So I got my ice cream and ate it, too. I also got the orange I’ve been craving. And I’m still under my $5 for the day: I finish with $4.87 spent today.

I’ve met my goal of eating on less than $5 for one day! It is, however, just one day; I’m still going to try to fit my $5 budget tomorrow and Friday. I’m curious to see if I will be able to afford a reasonable portion of my hamburger pie for dinner tomorrow night, or if I’m going to be stuck with something really small. We will see! I part with you tonight with a full stomach and in excellent spirits.

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