Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The SNAP Food Challenge

So, today starts Day 1 of my SNAP food challenge.

You see, there is a meme going around where people try to live on $29 of food per week. I suppose the purpose of the SNAP Challenge or Food Stamp Challenge is to raise awareness.  Though its been going on in some form since 1999, so its impact on awareness is questionable, I guess.  Anyway, lots of people have participated.  It hasn't gone well for some, and some participants have actually gotten pretty harsh criticism, like actress Gwenyth Paltrow, for instance.

I thought the idea was interesting and that I would try it out, so starting today, I will "live" blog all my meals here every day for this week.  Living on $29/week is a pretty tight budget of $1.30/meal.  Several politicians have tried living on $4.50/day, which is a slightly more forgiving $31.50/week.  If push comes to shove and I hit that higher number, I'm fine with that.

Regardless, its certainly a bit tighter of a food budget than I'm accustomed too.  I'm trying not to make any crazy changes to my diet, but I'm sure my lunches and snacks will have to change.  That is the goal, at any rate.

But I like the idea that it might raise some readers awareness or at the very least my own awareness.  I also think the entire "you can't eat healthy AND cheap" meme is a myth, so this will be a sort of experiment and example on that point as well.  That said, outside of trying to actually stick to the budget, I'm not going to great lengths to plan or cut corners or be cheap.  I'm just going to use what I know about nutrition and cheap foods to try to stick with it.  And yes, I realize I don't have all the disadvantages someone actually having to live on $29/week has and plenty of advantages they don't have.

What counts: I'm logging all the food I eat in MyFitnessPal (a great app, BTW).  I'll list the calories I eat every day as well as any interesting nutritional information I glean from MFP.  I'll also be listing the cost of each meal and tallying them at the end of each day.  If you notice a price seems too low or that my math seems off, let me know in the comments.  For the most part I'll be working off receipts and dividing total cost by servings, so I should be pretty close, but I imagine I'll have to guess for a few.

What doesn't: I pay something on the order of a couple pennies per gallon for water, but I'm not going to count that.  I'm also not tracking pepper or salt I use in cooking.  I will track more expensive spices so that I don't "cheat" the challenge.  Otherwise, I'm including pretty much everything.

Here we go.  Wish me luck.

Day 1: (1680 cals) ($4.90)

Breakfast (510 cals) (About a $1)
1/3 cup Bob's Redmill Steel-Cut Oats
Tbsp peanut butter
1/3 cup raisins
4 cups coffee

Lunch (550 cals) (About a $1.25)
2 El Monterrey Burrito
1/2 cup Refried breans

Snacks (35 cals) ($0.50)
3 oz. baby carrots
half Cucumber

Dinner (585 cals) ($2.15)
8 oz boneless skinless chicken breast (bought on sale for $1.88 lbs)
1/2 of a Dole Caesar salad kit

Day 2 (1650 cals)($5): 

Breakfast (510 cals) (About $1)
1/3 cup Bob's Redmill Steel-Cut Oats
Tbsp peanut butter
1/3 cup raisins
4 cups coffee

Snacks (35 cals; $0.50)
3 oz. baby carrots
3 Cuties

Lunch (360 cals; $1.50)
Lean Pocket (I got these at a really nice price of $1.67)
Refried Beans
2 eggs

Dinner (750 cals; $1.95)
Parm crusted chicken
Green beans

Day 3 (1320 cals; $3.50)

Breakfast: (220 cals; $0.85)
3 eggs
little milk
coffee

Lunch: (500 cals; $0.70)
Ramen Noodles
Frozen spinach
sweet potato

Snack ($0.25)
Popcorn
Cucumber

Dinner (585 cals) ($1.75)
6 oz boneless skinless chicken breast (bought on sale for $1.88 lbs)
1/2 of a Dole Caesar salad kit

Day 4

Breakfast (250 cals; $0.75)
2 cups Cheerios
milk
coffee

Lunch (XXX cals; $1.75)
Beefaroni
Carrots
Apple
PB

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