Today is the final day of the United Way of King County Hunger Action Week Challenge. When I agreed to participate this year I wanted to approach the challenge differently. Last year when I participated I made and baked a variety of meals and dishes stretching each dollar to prepare lots of healthy and delicious food. I wanted to inspire others and send a message on how low budget cooking and baking is not only doable, a family can eat a wide variety of wonderful food. Fast forward to this year’s challenge and the focus is entirely different. In fact, they way I approached and prepared meals for this challenge are like night and day.
This time around I shopped at only one store, made 2 trips, and prepared very simple dishes. For breakfast and lunch we ate the same things each day with little variety. Dinners were also very basic but yet filling and enjoyable. Some would call my meals boring and that’s alright by me. My focus wasn’t creative cooking or baking, my focus was feeding my family. We spent a total of $122.03 on groceries and eating out. We consumed $101.75 in food with only a few items left.
Each morning I was greeted with emails from people following the challenge preferring to have private dialogues. One person in particular asked me, “Do you really think living off a food stamp budget is hard?” Truthfully, no.. I don’t think it’s difficult.. at least for me. Our food budget is less than the Hunger Challenge allotment and we are well fed. The more savvy you are with time and money management, organization, and cooking ability – the more creative a person can be with providing healthy and a wide variety of meals. If a person doesn’t have time or skills to stretch each dollar I imagine it would be very difficult to live off a food stamp budget. Ironically last year several food bloggers were criticized because of their resourcefulness.
One thing I’ve learned to appreciate about the UWKC Hunger Challenge is how it forces a person to look at food waste. Its so easy to throw away food. But when a family has limited amounts, its vital to use every bit of it in order to stretch it out as much as possible. The Hunger Challenge also renews an appreciation for the foods I take most for granted. For those reminders alone I’m thankful to have participated in Hunger Action week.
As to the challenge itself, there were elements I didn’t like. For instance, I normally buy a 25 lb bag of rice at the Asian market for $15 ($.60/lb) knowing it will last me months. I bought rice only once this week in the bulk section of the store. Even at bulk pricing, rice was $1.69 lb, nearly triple the price of what I normally would have spent.
Hunger Action Week is about raising awareness of hunger happening in our own communities, not to see if people can live off a food stamp budget. With more and more families needing additional help to put food on the table, organizations like the United Way of King County and local food banks help provide basic foods families need.
This year UWKC is trying to raise $10,000 for “Yes We Can! Project”. They are trying to rent out a cannery to preserve food that would normally go bad and thrown away. By teaming up with local food banks, they hope to preserve and distribute vegetables and other canned goods to families who are in dire need of additional food to feed their families. To donate, details can be found here.
Friday nights we typically get pizza and watch a movie. Fortunately for us we had enough money to buy 2 large pizzas for $11. For those of you who are curious to know how we did today, here is a breakdown of our meals.
PS: Thanks United Way of King County for being an advocate against hunger.
2 bananas $.28
2 cup oatmeal $.26
2 cups milk $.36
2 cups Cheerios $.40
2 pieces of toasts $.20
3 pbj’s $1.20
2 bags of popcorn purchased at school $.50
1 orange $.33
1 banana $.14
3 egg salad sandwiches $.84
1 glass of milk $.18
Snacks = $1.00
half bag of goldfish crackers $.50
banana peanut butter smoothie $.50
Misc. = $1.50
Butter used this week
Dinner $11 for 2 large pizzas at Little Caesars
Total today = $18.19