SNAP Challenge Week 1


challenge_facebook_logo_1The first week of our SNAP Challenge went well.  We only spent $87.89 at the grocery store and actually have quite a few things leftover so I am going to try to delay shopping until Friday.  You can see what we bought and what the price breakdown was on this spreadsheet; I will be updating this spreadsheet every time I go grocery shopping so feel free to look at it again as the month progresses.  As a reminder, we decided since we are doing the SNAP Challenge for a whole month that we would ignore the official challenge rule to not use things we already have.  We did a fair amount of eating items out of both the fridge and freezer, which enabled us to have a lower grocery bill and to have enough money to buy a pricey item like real maple syrup (since we don’t eat corn syrup, artificial is out of the question).

We did plan the week’s meals out ahead of time; this was our plan:

  • Sunday, December 1
    • oatmeal and/or yogurt and/or muffins (made the previous day)
    • baked potato with chili (leftover from the freezer) and salad
    • curry roasted cauliflower with rice and fried tofu
  • Monday, December 2
    • oatmeal and/or yogurt; eggs, home fries, toast, fake bacon (from the freezer)
    • potato soup (from the freezer)
    • spaghetti and tomato sauce
    • almond joy pie
  • Tuesday, December 3
    • oatmeal and/or yogurt
    • nachos (chips, cheese, black beans, onions, lettuce, sour cream, salsa)
    • grilled cheese and tomato soup
    • almond joy pie
  • Wednesday, December 4
    • oatmeal and/or yogurt
    • fried rice (rice, egg, tofu, green cabbage, garlic, ginger, onion, celery)
    • latkas with sour cream and applesauce, braised red cabbage
    • almond joy pie
  • Thursday, December 5
    • oatmeal and/or yogurt
    • leftover fried rice
    • spaghetti squash with tomato soup re-purposed as sauce, mushroom ravioli (from the freezer)
  • Friday, December 6
    • oatmeal and/or yogurt
    • leftover fried rice
    • grilled cheese and tomato soup*
  • Saturday, December 7

*So we broke some “rules” last week.

The biggest rule breaking happened Friday night when we took advantage of a friend’s incredibly kind offer to babysit and we went out for our annual date night.  ee4b078c5edf11e3b3db0ea9ea681b0f_8It sounds like a joke, but we literally go on a date once a year, generally in December, sometimes twice a year if we can swing it on our anniversary too (here is our date night selfie last December when we went to Sushi by Yoshi and to see The Hobbit at The Dreamland not long before Zara was born).  Between Chris’ crazy schedule, breastfeeding logistics, living far away from family, and not being too keen on leaving our kids with babysitters, dates just don’t happen.  Honestly, we don’t really miss them, but when my friend Cassie offered to babysit and her offer was perfectly timed with Chris’ job transition, we thought it would be a crime not to take her up on it.  We ended up going out to dinner and a movie;  by the time we had wine and some quite delicious food at Skyline (now run by Chris’ old sous chef from JORDANS) our bill with tip was about $150.  Then Chris (who has a weak spot for carbonated HFCS, I try not to judge him too harshly…) had to get a giant pop and some popcorn at the movie, so we super broke the food budget and the rule about including eating out into it.  Part of me wanted to say no, we must stay home with the kids and eat leftover tomato soup and grilled cheese for the sake of the challenge, but honestly I was hoping you would forgive me considering we do this once a year (and because I am fully aware of the fact that people who are living on food stamps would not have the ability to spend that much on food in one night).

The other instance of technical rule breaking occurred the following night when we went to a potluck at a friend’s house.  This is technically rule breaking because the official rules of the challenge tell us not to accept free food.  This guideline specifically cites not accepting free food “at work, including receptions [and] briefings,” which leads me to believe that the reason for this rule is that FRAC is assuming that persons who qualify for SNAP would be less likely to work in positions which would give them access to free food.  I’m not sure if I think that would be true or not, but I do think that anyone who cannot afford to eat should take advantage of every opportunity for free food that is available to them, and I especially believe that pooling resources with others through potlucks is a great way to have a variety of foods available without breaking the bank.  When we were on Nantucket and we were super budgeted on everything including groceries, I LOVED my monthly potluck group.  Not only was it fun to get together and share a meal while our kids entertained one another, it also was a way for me to get a delicious dinner with several different options without a lot of work cooking or a lot of money spent.  I am now completely sold on potlucks — I would do one at least once per week if I could, and I completely advocate for every person finding their own group with whom to do regular potlucks.

So, anyway, we did technically break the rules because we ate some other people’s food on Saturday night, but I don’t feel too apologetic about it.  We contributed rice and beans, roasted chicken, and wine to the event, so I think the cost to us may have evened out since we also fed other people.

The Bottom Line After Week One: Even if we hadn’t done any rule breaking, this week really wasn’t that hard.  We knew it wouldn’t be given all the things we were planning to eat that we already had.  I tend to be a bit of a stockpiler, so we actually should be able to go a while longer without shopping.  As long as the milk holds out, I think I should be able to make it to Friday without stepping in the grocery store, which will really help our grocery budget.

Sunday, we made an impromptu trip down to Denver to get the company car for Chris’ new job (we sold the ridiculously fancy truck so now we are back to just one car payment, yay!).  Then, we spent the night in Cheyenne before driving back, so we, of course, did some eating in restaurants out of necessity.  In two days, we spent $96.84 in restaurants.  Ouch.  This week I am going to try not to call a free pass on the restaurant tabs, so it might mean some creative dining since those two days basically consumed our entire food budget for the week.  I’ll keep you posted on how it goes, and I promise some recipes posts are coming soon!

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