“SNAP” Shots of the Last Few Days…

It’s been a few days since Jeff and I embarked on our SNAP challenge. It was quite a busy weekend, so I quickly ran into some issues that (a) wasn’t surprising (b) annoying but nevertheless eye-opening.

First of all, I want to talk about our initial shopping adventure at Jon’s. Ironically, I don’t think I’ve ever thought about food so much while grocery shopping.  I am used to dropping things into the cart, never really thinking twice about how much things cost. I already make healthy choices when it comes to buying food, but it did take a lot more time to make those choices when I had a limited budget.  Friday’s food shopping experience was definitely an exercise in shopping for what was essential to keep me decently fed for an entire week. I used to easily spend about $100 on groceries weekly.  As many of you can probably relate, aimlessly wandering the aisles of the grocery store can really add up so in the last few months, I have been trying to plan my meals weekly in order to save money.  If I spent anywhere between $75-$90 on food for the week, I would feel excited about saving SO much. So, I was a little nervous about taking on the SNAP challenge because I would only be spending about a third of what I’m used to.

At the end of our SNAP shopping spree, I was surprised that I was able to come home with so much food after spending only $36.29.

The fruits of my shopping labor.

The fruits of my shopping labor.

On the morning of the first day of the challenge, I made a tasty omelette dish for brunch using kale, mushrooms and onions over brown rice. The meal cost about $1.58. It was a great meal, however, like Jeff, I also ditched the coffee this week for the essentials– which made for a foggy morning and an annoying caffeine headache for the rest of the day.

Ahoy, there.

Ahoy, there.

Saturday was also my friend Katelyn’s son’s 1st birthday at the Long Beach Aquarium. A couple of hours into the party– I was starving. Since it was a social gathering and there was food offered to everyone attending–I made the executive decision to eat, no–devour two delicious nautical-themed cupcakes. And I have no regrets.  Though, I realized that I should’ve at least brought an apple or two to snack on to hold me over until I could eat at home again. Later that evening, the grown-ups had an after-party dinner at Bubba Gump’s. Since I didn’t order anything but an iced water with two lemons, a couple of people offered to buy me dinner, which I graciously, but reluctantly, refused.  The waitress was particularly concerned as well, offering me a cup of chowder or even a side of salad with a knowing look in her eyes. I did share some appetizers, after it was clear that they didn’t get it for the purpose of feeding me. Appetizers are not necessarily filling so I became pretty aware of left-overs– my eyes scoured for them ravenously and shamed anyone would dare abandon half a plateful of french fries.

On Day 2, I was scheduled to work all day at a flu event for a local church (I’m a parish nurse who works with faith community centers to provide healthcare services to their congregations and neighboring communities…but more on that later). Learning my lesson from the previous day, I stuffed my narrow, yet surprisingly roomy, lunch box with 4 slices of bread, 2 apples, a banana and my jar of peanut butter. I ate toast and peanut butter for breakfast at the office before the day started, and took advantage of the free coffee at work. Normally, I would just go to Starbucks for my usual upside down non-fat caramel macchiatto and egg white feta & spinach wrap because “I didn’t have time” to make breakfast. Well, clearly, if you’re on a strict budget…you make the time.

Thankfully, I was able to save my peanut butter and bread for another day.  A group of filipino ladies from the church made lunch for all those who worked the event. It was quite the spread and it was also pretty healthy: a dish called sinigang with salmon, a cranberry salad, roasted chicken, rice, and even a tart bamboo salad. It was amazing.

Feasting, filipino style.

Feasting, filipino style.

As much as I love food, these last couple of days made me realize how much I take it for granted.  It takes time and effort to make healthy meals while trying to stay within my limited means. I know I’m still not technically poor, so my experience does not at all level with those who truly are. On top of that, I don’t have to worry about the day to day in trying to make ends meet. But even in the busyness of life, I can easily see how a person can go through a day eating just one meal– maybe this is why lower income communities are so generous with food with one another.  But that’s for another blog post 🙂

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1 Comment
  1. Wow, what an experience. This is so motivating and really makes me appreciate what I have… and even more, give willingly to those who don’t. Thank you for doing this Linell!