Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Food Challenge Wrap Up

I spent a total of $35.76 for the week, an average of $5.11 a day.  I went under the allotment amount for the week by $1.49.

I also had one portion of homemade soup that I had left over from the challenge.  If a $1.29 is deducted for one uneaten portion of the soup from the amount I spent for the week, the weekly total would be $34.47, an average of $4.93 a day.

If I had bought non-organic carrots and non-organic potatoes, the amount I spent on food would have been further reduced.  Two pounds of non-organic carrots would be a $1.00 less than organic and five pounds of non-organic potatoes would be a $2.00 less than organic.  The total I spent for the week would then be $32.76, an average of $4.68 a day.

Because the challenge was only for a week, I focused on meeting my nutrition goals more than getting variety in my food.  I did some food preparation on the weekend before the challenge because of limited time on workdays.  If I was doing a one month challenge, it would be easier to add more food variety.

I met my food goals:

• Get at least 5 to 7 servings a day from the fruit/vegetable food group (Actually had 8 to 9 servings a day)
• Have an adequate amount of food to eat (Did not have any problems with hunger)
• Get an adequate amount of protein and fiber
• Low sodium intake
• Have tasty and filling food
• Not too concerned about having a great variety of food because challenge is only for a week

My energy was the same as when I was not doing the challenge.  For 3 days of the challenge, I did my usual 5 pull ups, 5 chin ups, 30 push-ups that are part of my strength training routine.  I did cardiovascular exercise on the 3 of the other days of the challenge for at least 30 minutes a session.  I did swimming, dancing and workouts that incorporated a combination of jumping rope and jumping jacks.

To save money I bought an eight pound bag of oranges and split it with 2 others.  Splitting large purchases with others is a good way of saving money by taking advantage of lower prices by buying in bulk.

Monday, February 25, 2013


After seven days, we have completed the Food Stamp Challenge!  Thanks to everyone who participated and posted comments on the blog.  I finished the challenge with pennies leftover.  My initial thoughts on the challenge was that it was difficult to prepare a variety of meals with the limited budget.  I found myself eating egg salad sandwiches for lunch and egg noodles for dinner on multiple days.

We are looking forward to seeing you on the 28th, 11:00am at the Rockaway Room (1 Davis Drive) for our debrief.  We will have light refreshments at the meeting. Please join us and we hope to see you there.

Last day of Food Stamp Challenge

Happy Monday to all the Food Stamp Challenge participants!
We made it (almost).
Lessons Learned:
  • I need to budget in coffee :-),
  • I didn't need all the food I bought, but as I bought dried beans and lentils I didn't eat, they could be used for next week,
  • Some items would last several weeks - steel-cut oats, peanut butter - which would allow me to make different choices in the following week,
  • Planning my food might be easier over a month and something I am considering,
  • I made healthier choices this week than most weeks,
  • I ate well and was conscious of my food choices,
  • I was able to participate in a pot luck on the weekend with what I had already purchased (as I said, I purchased too much), and
  • What a great reminder it was generally about the benefits of budgeting.
 Have a wonderful week, I am grateful to have had this experience.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Day 3 - needed additional purchase

On Day 3 I realized that I really miss my morning steel cut oats and blueberries, so I had to purchase the oats $6.09 at Safeway) - (still within my allotment) for a total of $36.74 for the week. The breakfast I had planned just wasn't what I wanted (banana, egg, whole wheat tortilla with peanut butter). I like hot cereal in the morning. :-)

Day 4 now - coffee is an issue.... I didn't budget for that.....

Happy Friday everyone!
(I have no idea how the weekend will go, I have a pot luck on Sunday I hadn't planned on, will have to come up with something from my weekly cache).

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Surprises abound in the food stamp challenge....

I have to admit that I don't cook and I don't shop for food - I am fortunate enough my husband does this :-) but he told me I am 'on my own' in this challenge. So it was with some trepidation I committed to the challenge.

Some surprises I discovered so far:
  • I don't know how much I really eat. I spent $30.65 and don't think I will be able to eat all the food I bought at Grocery Outlet!
  • I am finding it harder than I thought forgoing my daily (sometimes multiple times a day) Peets/Starbucks and I was unable to buy the Peets coffee beans for my morning coffee at home (it would be more than 25% of the weekly allowance), switching to tea is not cutting it :-)
  • I am a creature of habit and not everything I eat is available at one shop (I was unable to get  Morning Star Vegetarian Sausage patties, which are a staple for me)
  • I like to shop with my conscience and this just wasn't possible on $37. Organic spinach and vegetables, cage-free vegetarian fed no-hormones/antibiotic eggs, vegetarian meat substitutes, these are all high price items that didn't make it into my basket this week. 
So although I felt I bought lots of food and this week was going to be just fine, I didn't realize the multitude of choices I make around food and beverages each day that I just didn't consider. Living on $37 each week, having to balance nutrition, eco-friendly choices, and treats takes thought and practice. I have a new appreciation for what our clients face.

This is such an enlightening experience, I would encourage everyone to try it!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

End of Day 1

My food purchases for the week are a total of $34.09, slightly below the $37.25 allocated for the week.  I might purchase some more food items for the week.  I think I probably have enough food to last for the entire week. 
I ate the following on day one of the challenge:
Breakfast – eggs (two large), oven roasted potatoes, (approximately 11.4 ounces pre-cooked weight)
Snack - oatmeal (½ cup dry measure) with milk (½ cup), peanut butter (1 tablespoon) and sweetened with Splenda, date pieces (1.4 ounces)
Snack- orange (small)
Lunch – soup (24 ounces) made with canned tomatoes, broccoli, carrots, 10 bean mix and textured vegetable protein
Snack- oatmeal (½ cup dry measure) with milk (½ cup), peanut butter (1 tablespoon) and sweetened with Splenda
Snack- apple (1 large)
Dinner – barley (½ cup cooked), tofu (3.5 ounces), peas (4.5 ounces)
Dessert – yam (9.5 ounce pre-cooked weight), Banana (one large), milk (1 cup) and sunflower seeds (½ ounce) cooked yam and banana were frozen and blended with milk and topped with sunflower seeds, thick enough to eat like ice cream and the yam and banana provide the sweetness
Protein: eggs, milk, beans, tofu, textured vegetable protein, peanut butter
Fiber: oatmeal, beans, barley, apple, peas
Vegetables: carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, yam, potatoes
Fruit: dates, orange, apple and banana
Sodium: only items with added salt are canned tomatoes and peanut butter

Very low priced food items purchased:
Yam - 3 pounds and 4 ounces for .99 cents (sold by the each price for extra large) .31 cents per pound – if purchased in 3 pound bag of small yams for $1.99, .66 cents per pound
Black bean soup - 14.5 ounce can for .50 cents from close out rack
Peanut butter – 12 ounce jar for .75 cents
Milk non-fat – 1 gallon $2.39
Apples – Braeburn and Jonagold .49 cents a pound
Oatmeal - .69 cents a pound (Costco price for 10 pound box is $7.99, .80 cents a pound)

Organic food items purchased:
Potatoes Russet – 5 pound bag $2.50
Carrots – 2 pound bag $1.99
Black bean soup – 14.5 ounce can .50 cents

How I felt during the day:
  • I had plenty of energy all day
  • In the morning, I did strength training for 30 minutes
  • Soup was very filling and my appetite decreased in the afternoon
  • I did not feel any hungrier than when I am not doing the challenge
  • I spread my food consumption to 8 times during the day so my hunger level does not fluctuate much during the day
  • At the end of the day, I felt satiated and my energy level was the same as when I am not doing the challenge

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

End of Day 1

Day 1 went ok.  I had a piece of toast for breakfast, a egg salad sandwich and banana for lunch, and egg noodles with green onions and bean curd.  I drank water all day, no special beverages.  On to day 2....
Dinner on Day 1

Day 1 of Challenge

Welcome to Day 1 of the Challenge. Last year I successfully did the $4.50 a day Food Stamp Challenge from January through March. Living on $5.32 a day is very doable with some planning.

I did my shopping at Sprouts Farmers Market and Grocery Outlet. I did not use any coupons for several reasons. Most coupons are for prepared foods and these types of foods are usually more expensive and are usually not as healthy as homemade. Grocery Outlet only accepts coupons they issue, and there were not any current coupons. Sprouts Farmers Market had a coupon last week for $5.00 off a total purchase of $30.00 or more. Unfortunately, the coupon was in the weekly ad that was mailed to me and not in the weekly ad available at the store. I received the weekly ad in the mail a day later than usual, so I did not have the coupon when I went shopping.

My food for the challenge is Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian - Only animal products that I am eating are milk and eggs - I can also eat cheese but did not find any low enough priced.

Here is a tip that I have found helpful. Before you go shopping, decide what you want to accomplish in addition to staying within budget.

My goals:

• Get at least 5 to 7 servings a day from the fruit/vegetable food group
• Have an adequate amount of food to eat
• Get an adequate amount of protein and fiber
• Low sodium intake
• Have tasty and filling food
• Not too concerned about having a great variety of food because challenge is only for a week

Some other tips:

• Beans and grains that you cook are great way to save money because they are low priced when compared to other food options - additionally many of them are a good source of protein, fiber and other nutrients
• Making bread is economical and fairly easy - it can be made just using flour, yeast and water - whole wheat flour is best because of nutrition and taste
• Tofu is a good source for a complete protein and is often a more economical choice than meat or poultry
• Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are often a better buy during the winter than fresh - canned and frozen foods are usually harvested at the peak of ripeness when nutrient levels are often at their peak

Monday, February 18, 2013

Prep for Day 1

Tomorrow is Day 1 of the Food Stamp Challenge.  To prep for that, I went to Pacific Market to shop for food.  The weekly budget for the challenge is $37.25.  I found myself wanting to buy the food items that I want to buy but had to hold back and look for Plan B after adding the cost of my initial items into my calculator.  I must say this shopping trip was very difficult.  The thought that I had the whole time was.. "Why didn't I look for coupons??"  At the end, I spent a total of $15.18 on my first grocery shopping trip.

I was very tempted to buy a bunch of top ramen but I wanted to avoid food with high sodium.  It looks like I will be having tuna and egg sandwiches for lunch and egg noodles for dinner the next two days.  On to Day 1!

Friday, February 15, 2013

4 Days Until the Challenge!

Participation Guidelines
  1. Each person should only spend a total of $37.25 for the week ($5.32 a day) on food and beverages.
  2. Limit purchases to amount of food that can be consumed in one week.
  3. Limit shopping at one or two stores; this makes the challenge similar to clients who have limited transportation.
  4. Only buy food at stores that accept CalFresh EBT card.
  5. All food purchased and eaten during the Challenge week, including fast food and dining out, must be included in the total spending.
  6. During the Challenge, only eat food that you purchase for the project. Do not eat food that you already own (this does not include spices and condiments).
  7. Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or coworkers, including at receptions or briefings.
  8. Keep track of food spending - submit Food Log and share your experience!