Shopping and Planning – Hunger Challenge Day 1

The hardest thing about the challenge is planning.  Last week a friend invited me to see a film called Food Stamped.  I told her how timely it was (thanks Ann) because of my upcoming challenge.  The filmakers, Shira and Yoav Potash (husband and wife) made a film about living for a week on the food stamp budget.  What they started as a fun challenge and YouTube video, ended up being a one hour edited documentary that has played around the country.  Besides their shopping trips to Berkeley Bowl and taking bread out of dumpsters, they edited in some interesting facts and food issues our country is facing (farm bill, for one).  The most intriguing interviews for me were with members of Congress (all democrats) who took the challenge (said they were grouchy and sleepy) and a school director in the mid-west (proud to get ideas for school menu items from fast food marketing).  The film is successful in sharing their challenge experience and giving insight into America’s food issues (obesity, manufacturing, distribution, education).  The other major difference between Shira and Yoav’s experience and others who have taken and written about the challenge, is going the extra step to visit a nutritionist and see how their meals added up health wise.  Turns out good choices but a lack of calories.  But what my friend and I discussed after watching the film, was that it lacked passion.  These people didn’t set out to fix the system, just show it (which of course is valuable too).  I had to remind myself that not everyone knows or has experienced this.  It’s new to many in this country.  Too bad.  Where are the solutions and follow-up?  If you haven’t seen it, queue it on NetFlix.

Anyways, it was good as it got me thinking and planning (and starting my lists and budget).  I shopped yesterday at Trader Joe’s and my own pantry.  I know the prices from past reciepts and checked the store so I would not be buying things I already had in my pantry (don’t want to waste food either).  I spent $50.56 at Trader Joe’s and $29.69 from my pantry.  The problem is I have other food in the fridge and pantry which will not be included in this week’s food.  With my kids (and husband) this is a problem.  I moved all the food not to be eaten this week to shelves with unhappy faces so they know not to eat it.

Unhappy Fridge


Today I went to the farmer’s market and spent $15.10 on fresh produce and a baquette for dinner.  Which leaves me with $26.31 for the rest of the week.  Hopefully I can get a few things we’ll be out of and maybe hit the Thurs. or Fri. farmer’s market again.  It struck me by how much better the prices are there.  I also did more shopping there.  Wandering around and checking prices.  Lately I’ve been stopping at Whole Foods more becasue there is a new one by my kids’ school.  But I need to stop that for now and reduce overbuying there in the future.

food from farmer's market


The first day has come to a close.  Being a Sunday it is harder than during the week.   On the weekend my family often goes out to eat for one meal.  Also we’re used to bringing more snacks (nuts, energy bars etc) if we’re out and about doing physical activites.  (Note to self – Get and make a few more snacks for the week.)  This morning we went to the farmer’s market and while I bought some produce, (and had free samples) we didn’t have any crepes or muffins or coffee.  We had brekfast before we went and came home when it was time for lunch.  Here’s some of what we ate today..

For breakfast the kids had french toast topped with yogurt and berries (no syrup, too $)

Making Breakfast
French Toast with Yogurt and Berries

I had my usual oats with soy milk and topped with a sprinkle of granola and a few berries.  I eat oatmeal every morning anyway.  I vary the fruit on top.  But it fills me up and gives me good energy for the day.   My husband went for a run and came home to a bowl of cereal and banana.  We only have two cereals now.  We usually have 4 or 5 to pile in the bowl.  My husband was hungry later at the park.  My daughter and he were playing restaurant and he joked was able to order all the imaginary food he wanted.  Fake eggs, bacon, pancakes – bring it on!

Making sunflower and fruit spread sandwiches

For lunch my kids wanted to make their own sunflower and fruit spread sandwiches with carrots, pretzels and grapes on the side.

My husband and I had turkey, cheese, hummus, spinach and tomato wraps on flatbread.

Orecchiette pasta with lentils and roasted veggies
dinner deconstructed for the kids

For dinner, I made a variety of our farmer’s market veggies by roasting in the oven with some olive oil and sea salt.  We had the lentils and orecciette, which I had purchased from our pantry.  We also made kale chips.  The kids ate their’s separate, while I layered the veggies and kale chips over the pasta and lentils for my husband and I.  It was a hit and we completed day one.