SNAP Challenge: Thursday


  • Chai tea: $0.21
  • Pineapple-Corn Bread: $0.40
  • Super Oatmeal: $0.34
  • Total: $0.95

    Pineapple-Corn Bread, Super Oatmeal, Chai Tea, and Water

    Pineapple-Corn Bread, Super Oatmeal, Chai Tea, and Water

I really felt like chai this morning, so I had some before I priced it out. “An eighth of an ounce can’t be that expensive,” I told myself.

Well, having chai nearly cost me half of my breakfast this morning. I was going to make some “super” oatmeal (add peanut butter to get some extra bulk and protein – complementary protein analysis courtesy of Diet for a Small Planet again) in addition to my bread, but I didn’t want to go over a dollar for breakfast. It looked like I was going to be stuck with the corn bread again (queasy sugar stomach, here I come!).

How much corn bread I actually ate

I forgot to cut the bread in half before I took the other picture, so this is how much I actually ate.

But then I had a brilliant idea – have half the corn bread, and then I can have oatmeal! Oatmeal is cheaper than the bread, so I’d get more food for a cheaper price. The amount of bread I ate yesterday morning plus chai would be $1; halve that amount of bread, add the chai and oatmeal, and you get $0.95 – five cents off my breakfast with more to eat. Now that’s a price I can stomach! (Sorry.)

I’ve now eaten my breakfast at 9:50 am. Anyone want to take a stab at guessing how long it took to price out, plan, and modify my breakfast, compared to the time it took to cook and eat it? (This is actually a topic I’ll be covering in a SNAP Challenge follow-up post two weeks from now – stay tuned!) The oatmeal was incredibly filling, so I only ate a couple bites of the bread. I’ll eat the rest as a snack later, so I’m leaving my breakfast price as-is.


  • Quiche: $1.20
  • Green Sunshine Salad: $0.26
  • Total: $1.46

Okay – I’m eating this as I type, because pricing out the salad and my snack for the day left me with no time to eat before work. I’m having more of the quiche from yesterday, and I again forgot to take a picture before I ate it. Maybe I’ll get one uploaded later.

Green Sunshine Salad

Green Sunshine Salad

I do, however, have a picture of the Green Sunshine Salad I am halfway through. Once again, my chard comes to the rescue – without it, I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford/make this dish (it called for kale, of which I had none). The chard makes the salad a little bitter, but because it’s been marinating in the fridge for a while -a good thing with this dish- you can’t tell. The olive oil gives me some healthy fats, I get protein from the nutritional yeast and sunflower seeds, and I get veggies with the chard and the onion. Excellent! Now it’s time for non-SNAP Common Ground work. I’ll be back in touch for snack time.


  • Milk: $0.12
Weighing the Cheddar

Weighing the Cheddar

It was kind of a busy day, so I just drank some of the milk I brought to work today around 5 pm. I’ve borrowed a scale for pricing out my food at home that measures in ounces, but the scale at work only measures in fractions of pounds, so it was a party trying to figure out how many fractions of a pound of milk I had while I was hungry. I’m going to eat the rest of the snack I packed once I get home.

  • Tortilla chips: $0.15
  • Cheddar: $0.13
  • Total: $0.40

I totally brought a block of cheddar to work because I didn’t have time to price it out at home. And then I brought it home, because I didn’t have time to eat it at work. Funny how these things work out, eh? Anyway, I ate the chips when I got home, and ate the cheddar while cooking dinner. It was a pretty wee little smidgeon, but it was snacky and satisfying. I have now spent $2.81 for the day, leaving me with $2.19. Now, dinner – can we make a meal based mainly around meat work on this budget and fill me up?


  • Hamburger Pie: $1.66
  • Apple: $0.32
  • Total: $1.98

Finally! A meal that I can justify putting on a dinner plate instead of a salad plate! (Well, that I can kinda-sorta justify.) Regardless of the size of this meal, it’s the first meal I’ve eaten since Monday that feels like a regular meal. It’s filling, it’s rich, and… I have an apple. I have been jonesin’ for an apple ever since I found out I couldn’t afford them. Like the ice cream, I bought a whole bag last week, and it’s just been sitting on my shelf… watching me. Always watching.

Hamburger Pie

Hamburger Pie

But seriously – I got to have an apple. I’m taking a bite of it right now (8:50 pm). And it tastes great. I had no idea how much fruit I normally eat, nor how much I would miss it and crave it. At least from the way I’ve done the SNAP Challenge, it doesn’t seem like fresh fruit would be terribly affordable on $5 a day. This has very suddenly made me appreciate fruit a whole lot more.

I actually hadn’t made this meal before, but it was a good pick. My Hamburger Pie recipe has every component of a healthy meal, except fruit. It has meat (pork and beef), dairy (cheese), carbohydrates (mashed potatoes and probably the tomato soup), and vegetables (green beans and onion). Actually, tomato is more a fruit than a vegetable, so I guess Hamburger Pie is a complete meal. Not bad for $1.98! (Before anyone turns me in to the Vegetable Police:

Hamburger Pie and Apple

A big plate for dinner!

tomatoes are scientifically classified as a fruit. They are legally classified as a vegetable due to a court case about tariffs in the late 1800s.* This debate went all the way to the Supreme Court, as you can read here if you don’t trust Wikipedia on Nix v. Hedden. Me, I’m sticking with science. Tomatoes are a fruit.)

Today I spent $4.79, leaving me with $0.21 to spare. I don’t feel like ice cream tonight, so I guess that makes a day of it. More tomorrow on my last day of the SNAP Challenge!



  • While I was writing the breakfast portion, I left the uncooked quick oats + water on the counter. When I came back, the oats had absorbed all the water – they were ready to eat. Revelation: you don’t need to cook quick oats to make oatmeal. I’m not sure if this makes me an innovator or the slowest person on the block, but I wanted to share my findings anyway.
  • If you’re not drinking water during the SNAP Challenge (or in general) – START. Water will save you a ton of money (maybe literally) by filling up your stomach and keeping you hydrated. Firstly, tap water is basically free, and we have some of the best water in the world – take advantage of it. Secondly, when you’re thirsty, you often mistake that for hunger. Drink water first whenever you feel hungry – it will fill your stomach, prevent some of that tummy rumbling, and diagnose if you were actually hungry or just thirsty. Yes, you might have to visit the restroom a little more frequently if you stay well hydrated, but you’ll feel better for it. As an example: as a 5’9″ tall, 135 lb (before the SNAP Challenge, but more on that later), physically active, female young adult, I drink almost a gallon of water every day.
  • If you don’t like water (which isn’t all that uncommon), don’t worry. There are lots of things you can do to make water more appealing: add flavor packets, carbonate it, add flavor syrup, dilute it with juice (you get less calories from the juice, but your water is now naturally flavored at a pretty low cost), or make tea (the chai tea in the picture is my fourth cup made with the same leaves – it’s a little diluted, but very recognizably chai tea). These will all cost money -some options more than others- but if you really aren’t drinking enough water, they’re worth it.
  • I have to grudgingly thank my significant other for encouraging me to buy instant mashed potato mix. It’s a long story, but essentially: I didn’t want to buy it, and he thought it would be a good idea, and I thought it sounded disgusting, and he pointed out I had eaten some before and liked it, etc. etc. Main point is, I bought it. Second main point is, it enabled me to make the Hamburger Pie. Not just for the SNAP Challenge – period. I hate making mashed potatoes from scratch. It has to be Thanksgiving for me to give it even a second thought. So, yay for instant mashed potato mix.

* I learned this in my Intro to Vegetable Gardening class in college last year. Any U of I students reading this – it is a class totally worth taking!


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