Challenge Accepted

Image via Greater Boston Food Bank
$4.50. That's about how much I'd plunk down for a latte at a fancy coffee shop sometimes. But for this entire week, I'll have to use the same amount to feed myself for a whole day. Yikes. it's not because I lost a bet, but because I'm taking the SNAP Challenge with some fellow colleagues from the Hunger & Environmental Nutrition Group.

SNAP stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (often referred to as food stamps). We decided to take this challenge to gain a better understanding of the struggles of not having enough to eat, a real problem that millions of Americans face each day. Hunger often conjures up the image of an emaciated child in a 3rd world country but with the economic downturn and income gap increasingly widening, it's a real issue that is happening in our own backyard.

Before the challenge week started, I found myself spending about 4 times more energy and time on meal planning and budgeting. I leafed through grocery store ads, set up an Excel spreadsheet, and modified my already low-cost recipes. I used the allotment of $4.50 a day and calculated I have $63 to spend for 2 people for a week. A few "freebies" not included in the budget are cooking oil, spices, salt, and pepper.

Here's my menu for the week:


  • Oatmeal with chia seeds and raisins
  • Yogurt parfait with chia seed pudding and cereal 
Lunch & Dinners:
  • 2 bean & yam turkey chili 
  • Pasta with yogurt, peas, & chili (modified recipe from Orangette and omitted the pricey ingredients like pine nuts and feta cheese)
  • Butternut squash & spinach quesadilla (modified recipe from MindBodyGreen and used spinach instead of kale)
  • Tuna melt with tomato salad
  • Kimchi soondubu jiigae, topped with egg 
  • Orange slices
  • Apple slices or bananas with peanut butter
I splurged on some organic items but definitely cut back on the usual amount of organic produce I'd buy. A few items that I blew my budget on a little: organic apples ($1.99/lb), organic whole wheat tortilla ($2.29 for 10), and some chia seeds (1/2 bag at $4.99 a bag). Noticeably missing are coffee, half & half, and my usual snackity items like crackers and string cheese. It might be a rough week.

Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to get updates about my challenge experience! Stay tuned for photos of meals and recipes! 

To find out more about the SNAP Challenge, check out Feeding America's page for more details!


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