The Greater Philadelphia Food Stamp Challenge concluded (for us) last Thursday, ending a week of eating on the budget of a SNAP recipient household. We started the week with $64.40 in an envelope and a mostly emptied refrigerator. Three days into the week, we only had $5.50 in the envelope but plenty of leftovers and pantry items remaining.
On the final day of the challenge, we finished the last of our tea, oats, bread, rice, eggs, and fruit. We used the last of our food budget to purchase a box of brownie mix ($1.50) and a tub of strawberry ice cream ($2.99), ending the week with $1.01 left over. I was very excited that we could afford to purchase dessert; but it also felt so extravagant. We were meeting with a group of friends after dinner that evening, so I decided to share the brownies and ice cream with everyone else, too. In thankfulness for the food that we had shared earlier in the week, it seemed right to give what we could.
The brownie mix called for two eggs and 1/2 c. of oil. I used the last two of our eggs, but I couldn’t afford to purchase any oil, so I melted a stick of butter instead. It worked just fine. The only remaining food items from the week were: a little bit of milk, one serving of peanut butter, some jelly, two sticks of butter, some sugar and flour, a bit of cilantro, several carrots and stalks of celery, four onions, a few cloves of garlic, one serving of left-over chicken, two servings of left-over black beans, and three brownies. We benefited from three “free” meals during the course of the week, so considering the amount of left-overs remaining, we had purchased nearly the perfect amount of food that we needed.
Here’s a list of what we ate for the last two days of the challenge:
Breakfast – Steel-cut oats with apple, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and milk
Lunch – Bacon, lettuce (previously purchased), tomato, cheddar cheese, and mayonnaise (previously purchased) on multigrain bread and carrot and celery sticks
Snack – Banana with peanut butter or toast with jelly
Dinner - Left-over Sweet-and-Spicy Chicken and Cuban Black Beans with brown rice or barbecued chicken breast, southwestern macaroni and cheese, tossed salad with Ranch dressing, cornbread muffin, and vanilla cupcake (at Campaign for Working Families volunteer banquet)
Breakfast - Steel-cut oats with apple, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and milk
Lunch – Peanut butter and jelly on multigrain bread, carrot and celery sticks, and banana or apple slices
Dinner – Left-over Cuban Black Beans and brown rice with tomatoes, scrambled eggs, and cilantro
Dessert – Brownies and strawberry ice cream