I typically shop for sales at Kroger and Meijer anyway, so although I figured this would definitely be a challenge, I wasn't necessarily expecting to go hungry. Kroger was having fantastic sales last weekend, and so I started my week with the following:
-a box of cereal
-half a pound of deli turkey
-two loaves of bread (thanks to buy one get one free!)
-a head of iceburg lettuce
-a package of chicken breast
-a box of value spaghetti
-Jiffy corn muffin mix
-a dozen eggs
-a frozen pizza
-a bag of plain tortilla chips
All of that cost me about $26. I made the assumption that at some point in the past I would have bought basic cooking oil, salt and pepper, but other than that didn't use any condiments.
Breakfast and lunch were really not a challenge at all, although I did get tired of eating plain tortilla chips every day. Also, milk goes a much longer way when mixed with water after adding it to cereal (tricks from my childhood). Dinners, however, were just not satisfying. I alternated between chicken with corn muffins, and plain spaghetti. Often times I would end up making myself an egg sandwich with lettuce late in the evening to make it seem like I was eating vegetables. I must admit, I had $3 to spare and ended up spending it on two junior bacon cheeseburgers and fries at Wendy's. So, it was my choice to not buy vegetables, but for that lunch at least it was worth it! For the rest of the week, however...I'm feeling a bit nutrient deficient at this point.
I also have to confess that I went to a club Friday night, and ended up buying two pieces of pizza from NYPD at 3am, which cost $6. Ridiculous to think that one snack cost almost one-fifth of the total I spent on food for the week.
Anyway, this week left me wondering how being a single person on food stamps might be different than if I were part of a family on food stamps--because depending on how food stamps are actually distributed (is it weekly or monthly?), the ability to buy a larger variety of foods is definitely limited for single individuals. And finally, as a public health student and someone who usually exercises often, it hit home that food restrictions are going to have a large impact on someone's willingness and ability to exercise, which of course has important implications for health--both in the short- and long-term.
I will say that I was the only one of my friends participating in this challenge, and it sparked some interesting conversations when I told people what I was doing. Everyone thought it was a great idea, and many expressed that they plan on doing it at some point in the future because they thought it was a really important perspective to have. I agree with them 100%.