Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Things are going well

The project is going well, other than my slip-up at lunch on Monday. I have to stay mindful at times and not visit the vending machine upstairs just because I've hit a lull and need a distraction.

Today, so far, I've had cereal with milk for breakfast and a couple of tuna salad sandwiches for lunch. That's about a quarter for breakfast and a dollar for lunch (I woke up hungry so had the two sandwiches to hold me until supper.)

I anticipate eating an orange shortly. And should I be absolutely starving, there's an apple on my shelf, too (I won't be.)

Tonight, if I don't fall asleep early, I'll be doing some cooking. Sauce for lasagna; small meatloafs; an interesting looking stew with dried apricots, almond slivers and assorted spices. These are all items to cook ahead and split into individual servings. Most will go in the freezer while a couple of each go in the fridge for this week's meals. Then I'll stop until I rotate everything out of the freezer.

I'm a week into this, and for the most part I've not suffered or been unable to survive on $4 a day for food.

One nice thing -- years ago I bought a boatload of Pampered Chef stoneware -- for the most part it goes unused. However, I do have a pan that makes four small loafs. That's what I'll make the meatloaf in tonight. Consistency in size will make it easier to have individual servings. And I guess I really should use the pan if I'm going to keep it. I also have a very nice size pan for making lasagna. Hmm. There's a message here or something.

That's it for today's update. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 06, 2014

An admission

I've been doing really well at spending no more than $4 a day for food -- until today. I even brought my lunch today, but I had to run an errand.

And while I was out, I was lured into Sonic for a cheeseburger.

I am embarrassed and chagrined that I was so easily swayed. But I will get back on track tonight when I get home.

My plan for tonight is to make a lasagna and a meat loaf from the ground beef I bought yesterday at Aldi's. Last night I made tacos from the odd quarter pound in the package, leaving two pounds to split between these two recipes. Both are favorites and last a long time. I also have a honkin' huge onion that I'll use in both.

One of the nice side benefits of the SNAP challenge is that I haven't added any new food to the garbage pan. I've used up what I've had, which is so important.

This morning's breakfast was a bowl of cereal with milk. It's kept me filled. The cheater burger really let me know that it wasn't THAT good and I won't have to repeat that misstep.

Over the weekend I was mostly sick and in bed asleep, but I did get up a couple of times and nuked some hot dogs with chili. Tasty sick food (for me) and I didn't have to think about it. I was well under budget.

Oh, also, my blood sugar was 70 this morning when I tested. I suspect it probably was affected by the drugs I've been taking for my neck pain. I'll have to be careful not to go any lower, although we all know it is so much easier to bring blood sugar UP than it is to get it down. I'll check it again tonight before supper. I opted not to use any insulin this morning because I didn't want to risk going lower. I'll re-assess that tonight, too.

Here's to the jingle in your pockets!

Wednesday, October 01, 2014

October 1: The SNAP experiment begins

Good morning, all.

Here's a quick reminder of what's going on here for at least the next month. I'm doing an experiment to see if I can live with a food budget that falls within the SNAP guidelines. That budget is about $4 a day per person. Some numbers say $4.50 -- I'm aiming low just to see what is possible.

I'm starting this experiment with several advantages. The most important are that I've already got a very well-stocked pantry, refrigerator and freezer. My personal goal is to use those resources first before spending more money at the store. I'll have to make educated guesses about the cost of the items I have on hand, but I will do that as honestly as I can and will note when those are best guesses.

I've started the day running late, so I didn't have time to make breakfast from scratch. Instead, I had about two ounces of deli-sliced ham left in a package and I nommed on that as I drove to work. Best estimate: 69 cents.

Lunch today will be a chicken salad sandwich with Aldi's Little Chef chicken salad with cranberries and pecans. One container at $3.79 has five servings; today's cost is 85 cents. Two slices of bread, 10 cents. I'll have an orange, estimated at 69 cents since I bought several pounds at one time. Total estimated cost, $1.54 for lunch. Total cost for breakfast and lunch, $2.92.

Tonight I will be cooking a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The package was $4.85 (I believe. I will confirm at home.) I'll cook all the breasts and put half in freezer bags for another purpose, then will make chicken and noodles; planning to have six servings from this. I previously purchased noodles on sale for $1 a package. So my estimated costs for this pot will be $2.50 for the chicken (estimating high) and $1 for noodles. I'll mix in a can of cream of chicken soup (Aldi's) which I think was 89 cents. So that will be a total cost of $4.39 for six servings, or 73 cents per serving.

I'll also make a pan of cornbread for about a dollar and divide it into six portions. So add another 17 cents for tonight's dinner total of 90 cents.

I'll leave a couple of servings in the refrigerator and three in the freezer to put in rotation so I don't get tired of it before I use it all.

Total for all this day's food will be $3.82. Just under the $4 budget. In review, I think I will add a portion of mixed veggies to the dinner menu. One-sixth of a $1 bag (another 17 cents.) puts me at $3.99.

I'll let you know if that's sufficient.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Greetings, everyone!

I'm reviving my blog after an absence of 3.5 years. Oh my, how is that possible! I guess we can thank Facebook.

Why am I back, then? Well, I'm starting a project tomorrow (Oct. 1, 2014) and Facebook just isn't the right place to write about it. I need a forum that will allow longer-form writing, so here I am, home again.

The project I am undertaking is a challenge to myself to live within the food budget allowed to SNAP participants. I know the amount per-person varies (I've worked for DHS in the past and did a lot of food stamp cases in the dark ages, so I know the variables.) For the purpose of this experiment, the budget I will be using is $4 per day for food. Wow. Will it be tough? You bet. But I have a lot of reasons for wanting to test myself this way.

As I posted on Facebook, I read a newspaper story by a reporter who had decided, with spouse, to attempt to live a week within the SNAP guidelines. The story wrote about how hard it was to stay in that budget and how painful hunger is.

Here is my personal challenge: I want to try this for the month of October, not just a week.

Here are the things I have to work out: I have a lot of food in my home. The more I have thought about this project, the more I realize I could survive a month -- maybe longer -- on my pantry and freezer. But I can't then turn around and say I spent zero dollars and did just fine.

To try to do an honest test, I have decided this will be a two-part experiment. First, I will live on these resources and try to give a honest price to what I use, for however long they last. After that I will report when I start spending again on food and see how I do with $4 a day.

I welcome anyone who feels led to walk this road with me. I'll post on my blog as we go along.

There are several reasons I feel called to this. First, if we expect the least among us to survive on this amount, I want to know I can, too. Second, if there is information I have or knowledge I gain that could help someone else, I want to share it. Third, this is the harvest season. I am grateful for all I have --in abundance --and I want to be mindful of these gifts and not wasteful. This is one of my biggest sins.

Hope you come back tomorrow and join me on this journey!