Wednesday, September 14, 2011

San Francisco Food Bank Hunger Challenge - Day 4

Tasted like peaches and cream!
Today's oatmeal breakfast was much more satisfying than yesterday's Cheerios. I'm glad we decided to go that route, because more than three hours later I was just getting hungry. I also really like oatmeal, so I don't mind having it on a regular basis. Granted, I'd like it better with blueberries, but I'm not going to be picky. :) It was plenty tasty with raisins and that half of a nectarine!

I finished baking the Snickerdoodles this morning, so there's an abundance of yummy cinnamony, sugary goodness sitting in the kitchen that's pretty tough to resist. Fortunately, they're only 4 cents each, so it's not a big deal.

The last of our tasty pork stew
The morning was spent working from home, taking conference calls and just trying to get things done. Stephen had to go do a volunteer project for work in the afternoon, so we shared our last two portions of pork stew and cornbread (fortunately, he had the brilliant idea to add more water to the pot last night, making for a lot more broth to soak up with the cornbread!). It was delicious, as usual! Stephen packed up his snacks for the trail (some popcorn and cookies), and headed out, while I stayed home to continue working for the afternoon (not implying at all that S wasn't working - in fact, he came back from the volunteer project and continued to answer emails long after working hours!).

I also prepared some low-budget Tuna Mac for dinner, knowing that we were both planning on running in the evening, and that we'd be too hungry to actually make dinner when we got home. There was a recipe on the box of mac and cheese ($0.75) that contained milk, cream of mushroom soup, and tuna, but I went ahead and made up my own thing. Rather than making the mac and cheese by the box directions, I cut out the margarine to save a few pennies. First, I added some extra whole wheat pasta to the pot to make our meal go further. Then I used half of the amount of margarine that was called for ($0.07) along with some flour ($0.02) and milk ($0.33) to make a very thick b├ęchamel sauce to substitute for the cream of mushroom soup that we didn't have (and which would have cost $0.58 more than the sauce I made). I mixed that in to the mac and cheese, added a little bit more milk and the tuna, some salt and pepper, and we had a pretty tasty meal ready for dinner.

While I was preparing our dinner, I made the mistake of eating my two cookies way too soon after lunch, leaving very little for me to snack on between 1:00 and my afternoon run. We had already budgeted everything out for the rest of the day, and I knew we'd be cutting it close at the end of the day, so I had to be careful with the snacks. This is when I realized that working from home is a lot harder when you're on a budget because there's all kinds of food sitting around the house that you can't eat! I'm sure there are plenty of moms who deal with this if they're home during the day, taking care of kids, preparing food for others, etc. If I eat a little bit more than I should, we risk going over our "budget", but I can't even imagine the pressure faced by those who actually suffer from hunger. If they eat just a little bit more than their allotted amount,  it might be their child who doesn't get enough food at the next meal.

I saved some popcorn until mid-afternoon, but as we all know, a little baggie of popcorn doesn't do much more than satisfy the need for something crunchy/salty! At some point in the afternoon, I couldn't think of anything other than food, so I looked for something cheap and healthy to eat. I settled for half of a pear ($0.12), which was good for a while, but then the other half of that pear sat in the fridge and taunted me for the rest of the afternoon (I was so desperate, I actually tweeted about it!). Not to mention, there was also a huge plate of snickerdoodles sitting in the kitchen. So much for not obsessing about food!
Yummy pre-run snack!

When 5:00 finally came around, I broke out my lovely little half of a peanut butter and banana sandwich (our pre-run snack), and then ran over to Kezar Stadium. The first few miles were pretty tough, but then the sandwich caught up with me and I felt much better. I did the warmup and drills with the group, and then sent them off to do their speed work while I did another mile and a half of easy running on the grass. We all gathered for planks, and I was still feeling good, so I ran to the bus, putting me at about 9 miles for the evening (more than usual, and I had a good spring in my step at the end), but then I had to wait for the bus. I missed the 43 Masonic, so I ran up to catch the N Judah, which would take me to the 49 to get home. The N wasn't a problem - just a few minutes' wait, but when I got the 49, the bus that was supposed to come never did. I'm pretty sure the only thing that kept me sane during that whole period was Angry Birds. I also realize that if I were actually living on food stamps, it's pretty certain that I wouldn't have Angry Birds to distract me (I probably wouldn't have gone on a 9 mile run with my running club either, although there are some good programs out there for inner-city youth, so who knows). Point is, I couldn't just step into Walgreens or some other store and get a Muscle Milk ($3.29!!!) or even a banana, which is what I would have done under normal circumstances. As a running coach, I'm always reminding runners that it's really important to eat something small right after a run - this is when the muscles need to repair themselves and store energy for later. Here I had no choice but to wait.

I now realize that many of the people standing around me at the bus stop on Market and Van Ness were probably feeling the same way, except that this is their life, not just an experiment that they "get to do" for a week. Hunger is a challenge that they deal with every day. I'm pretty ashamed to admit that I was so cranky and hungry that this thought didn't even occur to me in the moment. I've gotten so used to having what I want when I want it, that in the midst of doing this Hunger Challenge for the purpose of raising awareness about those who are less fortunate, I didn't even stop to think that I've got it good. I knew I was going home to a warm home and a hot meal; that it was just a matter of time before I'd get home and eat. Only now, as I'm writing this blog has this actually occurred to me, but as the week continues, I will make it a point to keep this in the forefront of my mind.
Collards and Tuna Mac - so good!

Because of our budget, I had planned for him to eat two servings and for me to eat just one, but he was super sweet and gave me a couple extra spoonfuls of his. The collard greens he made were really tasty, and it was nice to finally have some green vegetables! We had each had a couple of snickerdoodles for dessert, and went to bed feeling full. We're pretty damn lucky.

 Here's the breakdown for the day:

$0.12 = (36 raisins)
$0.24 = coffee (4 6oz servings)
$0.40 = nectarine
$0.22 = milk (1 cup) 
$0.02 = 4 tsp sugar
$0.44 = oatmeal (4 half cup servings)
$1.44 total for breakfast

$0.58 for cornbread
$1.97 for stew (see yesterday's post for the breakdown) 
$2.51 for lunch

$0.20 for popcorn
$0.12 for half of a pear
$0.48 for snickerdoodles
$0.80 for snacks

$0.25 for two slices of whole wheat bread 
$0.19 for 2T of peanut butter
$0.35 for a banana
$0.79 for our pre-run snack

($0.75 for mac and cheese
$0.23 for 3oz whole wheat pasta
$0.66 for milk
$0.07 for margarine
$0.02 for flour
$1.00 for tuna
$2.73 for the full Tuna Mac recipe)

$2.04 for three servings of Tuna Mac
$0.75 for collard greens
$0.16 for 4 snickerdoodles
$2.95 for dinner

$8.49 total for the day
$23.89 for the week (our surplus had dwindled to just 11 cents!)


Cookie said...

I found your blog from the Hunger Challenge website and wanted give you props for sticking with the challenge. I don't think I could even imagine doing that!

la maratonista (AKA Jenni) said...

Thanks, Cookie!

beth@kitchenMage said...

I'm reading a bunch of HC posts and am really glad to see the awareness represented by the bolded section. Eating on almost no money is hard. Living on almost no money is harder.