Wednesday, April 15, 2015

The Learning Opportunity

So, anyone who has a social media presence at all knows all too well the big fail that was Gwyneth Paltrow's attempt to participate in the $29 food stamp challenge.  I've read several articles, critical, about the situation.  And, we talked about it in our office.

I had several initial thoughts from the photo she posted.  1) It was not enough food for a week of eating,  2) several of her purchases were flavorings and not really foods, 3) girl is gonna get tired of black beans and rice and 4) that's enough food, perhaps, for a weekend but not seven days.

Limes (why so many limes?), cilantro, garlic, a single onion and pepper are more flavorings than food.  I think she was thinking she'd cook up a big pot of beans and rice and create a couple different dishes out of it . . . like a black bean salsa.  Surely that would be why she'd buy one ear of corn, for a salsa?  Right?  And she wasn't planning on multiple meals out of that one sweet potato, right?

I did 5 minutes worth of research and this is how I'd spend my $29 dollars: (I went to a local food store chain and looked up prices.  I am not considering sales tax in my calculations but that is offset by the consideration that the store is considered one of the more expensive food stores in my area.  I'm pretty sure I could get the items cheaper at Wal-mart, thus affording sales tax.)

1 lb dry beans (black beans or pintos) - 1.45
1 lb brown rice (just because it is more nutritious and more filling) - 1.50
1 lb sharp cheddar cheese (block, not pre shredded) -  4.49
1 loaf whole wheat bread - 1.99
Peanut butter - 2.50
2 lbs carrots - 1.89
12 oz apples - 1.50
1 head garlic - 0.59
1 packet taco seasoning - 0.69
36 oz grits - 1.99
3 lbs sweet potatoes - 2.67
8oz butter/canola oil blend - 2.79
bag mixed kale/spinach/greens - 3.00

Here are some of my meal ideas:

  • beans and rice bowl topped with some chopped greens and a little cheese
  • cook 1/2 sweet potato/handful kale/a couple of carrots together, serve with grits 
  • rice with spoonful of butter, diced apple 
  • peanut butter and apple sandwich
  • roll out a couple slices of bread to make "tortillas" and create a sweet potato and black bean burrito with taco seasoning/garlic
  • Salad of greens with slices of cold grits fried polenta style with carrots, apple, and cheese.
  • Cook an apple and sweet potato together to make a "butter" and have it with either toast or          PB/apple/sweet potato sandwich serve with carrot sticks and slice of cheese
  • Mash black beans with taco seasoning and spread it on toast with greens
  • saute greens with butter and garlic, serve with grits and cheese

Of course, there are straight up PB sandwiches and grits with butter and cheese.  For a treat, grate some of the cheese and make a grilled cheese sammy.

I will admit that there are more carbs in this menu/list than I would normally buy.  Doing this list immediately made me long for the farmer's market in town.  I would trade store bought apples/sweet potatoes/bagged greens for cukes/squash/eggplant/peppers and onion in a heart beat.

But, I could feed myself on this for a week.  I would have some food left over (3 lbs of grits?!)  But, I would have some variety, some protein, and learn to appreciate the sweetness of carrots, apples, and peanut butter.

I did originally have oatmeal on the list.  But, I felt that grits could be used as a breakfast as well as dinner carb, and I didn't want to buy milk for oatmeal.

The decision to purchase no canned foods (other than PB) and meat was intentional.  I feel that the nutritional value of fresh produce outweighs the increased volume from buying canned veggies.  Also, although I am not a vegetarian, I have no problem eating vegetarian for long periods of time and meat is so very expensive.

I wonder if I could increase the budget to $60 and feed myself and the Phenom on it just to see how it would work?  He's pretty tied to junk food.  Maybe I propose it to him and see if he's game rather than springing it on him.  The lack of twinkies (apparently the chocolate covered ones are the best thing ever) or coke products or chips might create some form of adverse reaction.  $60 would allow for coffee.  We could not do this if the phenom could not have coffee.  And, I'd want to do it when I could shop at the farmer's market.  Our farmer's market takes WIC and SNAP recipients can get vouchers for the market upon request.

HOWEVER, even as I write this, I'm totally aware that I will have the luxury of a car to get from market to store, I have adequate storage and cooking facilities, and the time to plan for this to be a ONE time event in our lives.  Which kinda makes me as bad as Gwyneth, doesn't it?

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