Wow, day one of the SNAP Challenge is in the books! It was a pretty good day. Even though I’m only one day in, the planning, shopping and first day have been incredibly eye-opening – I’m taking lots of notes of my thoughts along the way.

Beverages: Thank GOD my office has coffee or I would have really been in trouble. I think coffee would have costed far too much of us to “waste” money on a beverage, especially because I can’t drink Folgers and I’m assuming that is the cheapest out there. Anyone else know of anything cheaper, yet decent tasting?

milk + coffee at the office

Breakfast: We needed to make a decision together on breakfast and it needed to last the entire work week – greek yogurt was on sale for 10/$10 which was tempting but ultimately we decided on peanut butter sandwiches. We were able to find natural peanut butter for the same price as the hydrogenated oil-filled peanut butter, which was thrilling. The bread was not as exciting – obviously my usual sprouted bread was out, but “wheat” bread at the store has the same nutrition stats as white bread…in other words, it is essentially white bread with brown food coloring. Ugh.

2 Tbsp peanut butter + 2 slices wheat bread

Lunch: The classic frugal food – rice and beans! I needed a bit of vegetable, so I divided a bag of frozen spinach into 4 lunches, which is a lot less than I would normally use, but some vegetables are better than none! Lunch was absolutely delicious but not filling in the least. I was hungry 30 minutes after eating it. Volume-wise, it was a large meal, but my body does better on high protein and high fat meals, which were lacking here. Thankfully I had a very busy afternoon at work and didn’t have much time to think about it.

brown rice + frozen spinach + red beans + cajun gravy (yum) + tofu

Snacks: One theme that I noticed at the grocery store was always choosing the cheapest option. In my “normal” life, I’d scrutinize the ingredients, look for whole grains and place anything that contained a huge list of ingredients, hydrogenated oils and corn syrup back on the shelf. Not so much here, whether it was bread, crackers or peanut butter, I always went with the cheapest option. Even though saltines have essentially no nutritional value, they taste great. :)

1 oz cheddar cheese + saltine crackers

Dinner: Is it horrible that we were both really excited for Ramen Noodles? Of course, plain ramen won’t do, we definitely needed to add some vegetables and protein, but this was a really fun dinner and I think Richie might be able to talk me into adding it into the dinner rotation once in a while. They are 4/$1 by the way…

ramen plus: ramen noodles + sauteed broccoli + 2 fried eggs

 

Snacks included many more saltine crackers after dinner…I was hungry but we didn’t really have anything else to snack on.

Nutrition Stats: about 1,900 calories, 75 grams of fat, 235 grams of carbohydrates, 26 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 75 grams of protein. I’m looking forward to seeing tomorrows stats and hoping they will be a bit higher in protein and fat – it is what my body does best on! Carbohydrates leave me constantly hungry… 

15 Comments ( Reply )

  1. Megan (Braise The Roof)
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 12:08 pm

    Haha, that ramen dinner actually looks pretty tasty! This definitely throws into perspective what being on a REALLY tight food budget looks like. Not as easy as one would think! As for coffee, I buy the Joe’s Dark from TJ’s (in a blue container)- it’s $4.99 for a pound and it’s good! Did you have any doubt that’s where I got mine? ;)

    Reply

    • emily (a nutritionist eats)
      Jul 10, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

      No doubt in my mind…that was just too much to spend. I guess I could have gotten some from the bulk section of a grocery store – didn’t think of that!

      Reply

  2. Erica
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 12:34 pm

    What a great challenge! It really hammers home something that I think a lot of middle/upper income people don’t quite get: eating healthy is extremely difficult, if not impossible, on a tight budget! So when we (and I include myself in this) are self-righteous about our healthy lifestyles or judge other people on their weight, we may actually be judging them based on their socio-economic status. In other words, they may not have any other option than to eat what they eat… They may work two jobs, have no time for cooking or thinking up elaborate meals on a budget. They probably also didn’t have the opportunity to get an education (which, in turn, means that they probably don’t know as much about nutrition as the average college-grad).

    Sorry – diatribe over!

    One question: did you spend all of your weekly allowance, or did you leave any for incidentals?

    Reply

    • emily (a nutritionist eats)
      Jul 10, 2012 @ 9:49 pm

      We did not spend all of the money yet. I only purchased enough to last us through Friday lunch. I also didn’t buy any food for snacks, which I’ve been regretting the last two days so I’ll probably head to the store tomorrow for a few more fruits, veggies and something to snack on!
      I totally agree with you, I think it is really easy to sit back and judge when we should be considering the many factors working against people on this kind of budget.

      Reply

  3. Faith @ For the Health of It
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

    Carbohydrates are definitely cheaper than healthy fats and proteins, so I can see where this is definitely a challenge for you! Seems like you’re doing a great job of bulking everything up with extra vegetables, though, which should help some!

    I do agree on the saltines though – so empty but so tasty! The desk I sit at had some leftover saltines from the coworker who used to sit here before she quit – I totally gobbled those down in a heartbeat!

    Reply

  4. Mercedes@Satisfy My Sweet Tooth
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

    Wow, Emily, this is so interesting to see! It really shows how easy it is to take fresh produce for granted! It is so sad that the processed poor nutrition carbohydrates are what is the least expensive and you are so right that they don’t keep you filled up at all. This is making me so sad!

    Reply

  5. catherine (FOOD SNOB)
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

    Carbs are so cheap, and it’s such a shame. Good luck this week — it might prove to be a tough one!

    Reply

  6. catherine (FOOD SNOB)
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

    Oh, and I’ve had the same thoughts before on coffee when the budget has been ultra-tight — why spend so much on something that provides no nutritional value? Phooey.

    Reply

  7. Sarah Fox
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 9:57 pm

    Emily- really interesting! I would guess you have to stick to frozen/canned for veggies and fruits- you will be craving a gigantic salad when you’re done with this challenge! I’m interested in what you find for healthy fats and proteins on the cheap.

    Reply

  8. Jenn (eating bender)
    Jul 10, 2012 @ 11:09 pm

    This challenge is fascinating! Thank you for walking us through the steps you took with each meal. It’s really eye-opening and I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts at the end of the week. You certainly seemed to make the most of it (minus the snack issue, which I wouldn’t have thought about until my stomach was grumbling, either!) and the ramen dinner does look yummy with added veggies.

    I love that you are doing this with your new job and that you are still enjoying it. I looked at the website and it seems like a very cool organization! Can’t wait to hear more. :)

    Reply

  9. mary beth
    Jul 11, 2012 @ 10:29 am

    Emily, I am so intrigued by this! I can’t wait to see how the rest of the week goes. I’m curious if you have noticed a change in your weight/body with more carbs and sodium rich foods?

    Reply

    • Emily
      Jul 13, 2012 @ 9:26 pm

      Not sure about weight, but the first few days I felt like my stomach was “flabbier” than normal…it also may have had something to do with not exercising as much as normal this week. Hard to say.

      Reply

  10. Katie
    Jul 13, 2012 @ 11:07 am

    What’s the cajun gravy? That rice and bean bowl looks good! :)

    Reply

    • Emily
      Jul 13, 2012 @ 9:29 pm

      The cajun “gravy” was actually really good, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out! I diced an onion, sauteed it in olive oil and then added a bunch of different cajun seasonings, and then ketchup, hot sauce and water and let it thicken up.

      Reply

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