Saturday, November 10, 2012
Food Stamp Challenge -- Day Three
The picture above represents my last purchase for the 7-Day Food Stamp Challenge: three mushrooms that I bought for 66 cents at the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op. I have twelve cents left from my $34.30 budget, but doubt I'll be able to find anything to buy for twelve cents.
But I needed these mushrooms to supplement the can of Del Monte Mushroom Pasta Sauce I purchased at Dollar Tree. The sauce had not one single visible piece of mushroom, so I sautéed these three small mushrooms and added them to the sauce. Pasta with canned mushroom sauce was probably not my most nutritious meal of this challenge, considering that the second most plentiful ingredient listed on the sauce label is high fructose corn syrup. But the label assured me that a single serving would give me 45 percent of my daily requirement of Vitamin C, not to mention 9 percent of my potassium, 15 percent of my Vitamin A, 2 percent of my calcium, and 4 percent of my iron.
That wasn't why I bought it, though. I just knew that after all the time I was going to spend making the labor-intensive chili and minestrone soup, I was going to want to have an easy dinner option too. And I guess that's another reason why having to rely on food stamps isn't easy. It's not just the part about trying to stretch the small amount of food stamps so that the food will last until the next benefits are available. It's the time that it takes to create a meal plan and then cook things from scratch.
So tonight's dinner was quick and easy. In addition to the pasta with mushroom sauce, I chopped up about half of the remaining cabbage and a clove of garlic, then sautéed them lightly in a little oil and seasoned them with salt and red pepper flakes. Not bad. The accompanying beverage was once again a glass of ice water.
Working backwards, lunch was a plate of sauteed yam and apple, sweetened with cinnamon sugar. Since this budget doesn't leave any room for dessert, this sweet lunch was a welcome treat. I also had celery sticks spread with peanut butter, which I'm really starting to enjoy. My drink was iced tea with lemon.
Breakfast was oatmeal with rice milk, cinnamon sugar, and chopped apple. I also ate a few apple slices, and had a cup of hot tea with lemon. My breakfasts will start to be repetitive now, alternating between oatmeal and rice. But even when I'm not participating in the food stamp challenge, my breakfasts tend to be repetitive, usually a rice cake with peanut butter or a whole-grain bagel with margarine or Tofutti. So I don't mind having the oatmeal and rice for a change.
I end Day Three feeling well-fed, but missing snacks, dessert, wine, and the ability to go out to eat. I'm sure there's a lot I'll take away from this experience, but one big thing will be a big reminder to not take the good things in my life for granted.