So I'll admit, I cheated a bit today because I wanted to finish my yogurt and because I ran over 5 miles. Maybe this isn't fair because some people on food stamps may be athletic.
Also, I've decided I'm allowed to eat free food. I'm not allowed to let people BUY me food, but I can eat samples at the grocery stores (I might be hanging out at Whole Foods for that purpose later this week). Also, I'm volunteering at the high school math tournament next weekend and they provide lunch (plus it would be awkward to slip away to heat up soup or something).
I've priced out a lot of meals and have the next 4 days, at least, planned. Split Pea Dahl, for instance, costs 54 cents! That's 3 solid or 4 small servings, put it with rice (I found some organic brown rice for 25 cents a serving) and you've got a filling, healthy and EXTREMELY cheap lunch. Also, chili is slightly more than $1 per meal, but I figure if I can manage lunches and breakfasts for under 50 cents, I'm allowed a dinner that costs $1.10. And maybe I'll get lucky and get an extra serving out of it.
I went to Publix this morning (should I have gone to Kroger? Possibly, I think I peppers were an extra 50 cents a pound and also Kroger has a pound of apples for a dollar, which might make eating apple plausible this week) and spent $8.75 with the novelty of broccoli. I figure I could make a light dinner of brown rice and broccoli, which would total to $1.05, plus whatever spices I add. I think more than anything, this experiment will show where my food priorities lie. My staples seem to be beans and lentils and oatmeal for breakfast, and above that is veggies. Then milk and fruit, and then, as much as I love chocolate, comes treats like ice cream. After ice cream we have more advanced fruits like peaches (which are on sale, if I'm doing well on my budget, I might grab a couple Wednesday afternoon) and things like prepackaged salad (it's always on sale and actually cheaper than heads of lettuce, plus I think it keeps better). Making meals under a dollar per serving doesn't seem that challenging right now, the trouble is going without all the snacks I eat every day. My eating plan most days looks something like this: 7am breakfast=oatmeal or cold cereal, 10am apple or banana with peanut butter, noon=sandwich, 1pm=yogurt, 3pm= some other sort of snack such as carrots with hummus and probably more fruit, 5:30pm dinner, including fruit, 7pm salad, 8pm sweet snack such as cereal or ice cream. Plus there is the chocolate pick me up I inevitably need at least 3 times a week. I get hungry a lot, and eat small amounts frequently, obviously. The other thing I do when I'm hungry is drink tea, which isn't really possible on such a restrictive budget either. But we'll see, today is going well so far.
After having chili for dinner, I really want a nice bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream, but I can't. I think this experiment might teach me discipline in not eating whatever I'm craving.
Breakfast: Malt-O-Meal 13 cents plus a teaspoon of brown sugar 3 cents. Total=16 cents
Snack: Gala apple=40 cents Total=40 cents
(additional snack only because I ran was plain yogurt with honey and toasted almonds)
Lunch: Split pea dahl 13 cents, plus a cup of milk 30 cents Total= 43 cents
Snack: Banana= 30 cents, plus a tablespoon of peanut butter 8 cents Total= 38 cents
Dinner Chili, cost per serving depends on how many servings I can get, but the total for 4-6 servings was about $4.50, exact numbers are in the calculations, based on the grocery bill, plus shredded Colby Jack cheese I bought on sale for 25 cents per serving.
Snack: Carrot salad= shredded carrot with a tsp of red wine vinegar = 3 cents (cost of carrot in the total spent)
Total Spent= $8.75, total from pantry= $4.03
Total Spent= $12.86
Total Left= $8.22 (this might not seem like a lot, but I have lunch and dinner for the next 3-4 days)