Thursday, September 15, 2011

San Francisco Food Bank Hunger Challenge - Day 5

Seeing a pattern here?
This morning started with another oatmeal breakfast. I'm still convinced that this is the best way to go, because I felt full a lot longer. Unfortunately, we're out of nectarines, so we didn't get any fruit this morning. We're definitely having to make some tough decisions. Since we were out of nectarines, we decided to each have an egg with breakfast, but in trying to save the $0.04 that it costs for a tablespoon of oil, we ended up with some sorta crunchy fried eggs (sorry, sweetie!). I'm just glad I didn't ruin them completely - that would have been a total waste ($0.40 is a good chunk of the budget - can't afford to lose it!). 

We packed lunches again for the day. I didn't really want bologna sandwiches again (even though S was a sweetheart and made them for us - thank you!), so I took the leftover Tuna Mac from last night along with the other half of a pear, a banana, and two snickerdoodles. Stephen took his two bologna sandwiches, a pear, and two snickerdoodles. I did a much better job of spreading things out today - I held off on the pear until after 11:00, and I didn't eat lunch until 12:30 when I'm usually eating at 12 on the dot. 

Yay for leftovers!
I spent most of my lunch break chatting with my coworker Andrea, who's also doing the Hunger Challenge. I wish I'd planned better, because the meals she's eating sound a lot healthier than the ones I've been eating. Shopping at the markets in the Mission seems to be key. The produce is a lot cheaper there, and we could have gotten a lot more fresh veggies for our money. Andrea also calculated what she had been spending on food, and she's going to donate the difference from the week to the SF Food Bank. I think it's an awesome idea! After the reading the NYT article about the poverty level in the U.S., she also decided to divide that amount of money by the Federal Minimum Wage and volunteer that number of hours at the SF Food Bank. Very cool idea, and I wish I'd come up with it (but I might just copy it!).

Yummy snacks and my trusty pink water bottle
Today was a lot better in the food rationing department. Since I ate lunch a bit later, I also managed to hold off on eating the cookies until later, having one before my 2:30 meeting and one after. I saved my banana all the way till 4:15, when I was getting ready to go home. I met Stephen on the way there, and we walked home from the bus stop together. He had a better day too, spreading his two sandwiches out over 1.5 hours, but the cookies didn't do too much to tide him over throughout the afternoon. We decided to split a peanut butter sandwich when we got home because we knew it would be a while until we'd be able to eat - I had a video conference for work, and he was going to look at an apartment. 

Only thing missing was some Tapatío!
Stephen got home just as I was putting the rice on for dinner, and he had just bought a bunch of produce at a little Asian market in the Richmond, so we did a little food prep while dinner was cooking.  He did an amazing job shopping - 5 ears of corn for $1.00 and 6 pounds of tomatoes for $0.59, among other great finds!!! I fried up some onions and bacon to add to the beans that we still had left over from Days 1 and 2, and then I chopped up some more onion and tomato to make some "pico de gallo" (wish I'd thought about cilantro before he went to the store!), which really spiced up the beans and rice. We had some corn with it too - lots of starch, but better for us than the Tuna Mac we had yesterday. :) 

After dinner, we walked up to Whole Foods to buy some more bulk oatmeal and cornmeal. On the way home, I realized I hadn't gotten the quarters I needed for laundry, so I asked Stephen if he had any. He stuck his hand in the pocket of his fleece to check, and pulled out a chocolate chip cookie! He had grabbed two of them on the way out the door, and then put one in his pocket because he wanted to eat it, but needed his hand free. He somehow forgot about it and found it an hour later on our walk home. Hilarious!

When we got home, we sat down to plan out tomorrow's meals. Let's just say we totally got into it, arguing over spreadsheets (Stephen is a whiz at Excel - I prefer pen and paper) and whether or not we could afford a second can of tuna to get some more protein. It got pretty tense for a bit, but thankfully we were able to laugh it off once we realized how silly it was. Thing is, for most of the people living on this kind of budget, there's nothing silly about it. It's serious business making sure that you're getting enough nutrition and staying within the allotted budget. After a couple of days, we're even more convinced that it would become second nature if for someone who is constantly living under strict budgetary constraints - walking into any store, you would generally know how much your typical purchases are going to cost you (except maybe those that are more variable like milk or fruit), and at a quick glance, you would know if a certain product was something you could buy. Not that it makes things any easier. I'm sure that part of this "being used to it" includes skipping complete aisles at the grocery store, not even thinking about getting that cereal your kids like, or foregoing healthy fruits and vegetables in exchange for other, more filling foods that are less expensive. The Food Bank helps solve some of these problems, but there is no reason that anyone in this country should have to face these issues on a daily basis. Now if we could just get the government to get their act together...

Here's today's breakdown:
$0.12 = (36 raisins)
$0.24 = coffee (4 6oz servings)
$0.40 = 2 eggs
$0.22 = milk (1 cup) 
$0.02 = 4 tsp sugar
$0.30 = oatmeal (2/3 cup each)
$1.30 total for breakfast

$0.62 turkey bologna (4 slices) (S)
$0.50 bread (4 slices) (S)
$0.31 cheese (1 oz) (S)
$0.02 mustard (2t) (S)
$0.66 Tuna Mac (J)
$2.11 total ($3.41 overall)

$0.25 pear (S)
$0.12 1/2 pear (J)
$0.35 banana (J)
$0.19 peanut butter
$0.25 2 slices of bread
$0.16 snickerdoodles (2 each)
$1.32 total ($4.73 overall)

$0.33 Pinto beans (1/4c dry) 
$0.23 bacon (to flavor the beans)
$0.15 Cheese (1/2 oz)
$0.40 Corn (5 ears for $1!)
$0.31 Rice (1/2 cup dry)
$0.06 tomatoes ($0.59 a pound!)
$0.05 3/4 of an onion
$0.24 Corn tortillas (2 each) 
$2.03 Total for dinner  ($6.32 overall)

$0.08 2 snickerdoodles (J)
$0.18 2 chocolate chip cookies (and some pocket fuzz) (S)

$6.58 total for the day
$30.47 for the week (beefed up the surplus again!)


KLO said...

Great job on your hunger challenge! Keep it going!

Sylvie said...

The Mission is key. I remember my sister being astounded by the produce prices she saw there while visiting SF. Although the final moments of the HotC farmers' market, when all bags are $1, are good too.

carrie said...

That is hardcore, niece. And it would seem I am behind on some goss. (Again!)

San Francisco Food Bank said...

Your blog is amazing. I'm really impressed with not only how seriously you are taking the challenge but your wonderful analysis. Also, please tell your friend Andrea thank you! :)