Day 5 – Hunger Challenge

son's breakfast - note: the last piece of toast

I feel bored writing about our mornings, there’s so much of the same.  Oatmeal with almond milk and half a banana for me.  My daughter shared some oatmeal and a few slices of apple and grapes.  She put up a little fuss at breakfast.  My son got up earlier and ate the last piece of toast (along with yogurt, aple and a bowl of cereal).  I imagine this would be a regular problem in a large family, but it doesn’t happen much with only two kids.  Even the bread heel wasn’t an option as I used it for my tuna melt the other night, knowing no one else would want it.  We usually put the ends in the freezer to have on hand when we feed ducks at the park.

son's lunch, again
daughter's lunch
my lunch

While I was making my son’s lunch – he just keeps requesting the same turkey wrap, carrots, pretzels and grapes –  I decided to make a few hard boiled eggs.  My daughter loves making egg salad face sandwiches and I thought she’d like that for lunch with me.  I even went to the store and used up close to the last of my money (bread, carrots, flatbread, avocado, tofu, chicken, tortillas).   But no, she didn’t want that.  I enjoyed my sandwich – with no face.  She said “Why didn’t you make a face?”  I said “Because if you don’t have one there’e no one for my face to talk with.”  She had sunflowerbutter and fruit spread wrap, carrots and grapes.  There was one addition.  Cucumber slices.  The garden mom gave it to us at school pick up.  Score!

 

The afterschool snack was not exciting as we had 15 minutes to unpack bags, eat something, fill water bottles and change for soccer practice (both kids).  They had a Clif Z bar, as did their coach dad.  They hadn’t had one in a while and I keep them on hand for hiking or an emergency snack at a sports game/practice.  So this seemed like a treat.  My son remembered he didn’t eat his pretzels at lunch, so he packed them up for after soccer.  He’s now being resourceful and planning against hunger.

 

So I was glad I was able to buy more things today.  It wasn’t much, but staples we ran out of and a few things to get us through dinners.  I went to Trader Joes’ again, eventhough I usually buy meat, fish, chicken at Whole Foods.  It’s too too expensive for the challenge for these items.  I did still buy organic.  I also was happy to see the product demo for a taste of blueberry pancake with syrup.  I could’ve eaten 10 more samples, but I stopped at one.

dad's dinner
daughter's dinner - no meat, no sauce

Tonight was a stir fry.  A stir fry is great because you can add anything.  It’s also a good way to use all your veggies.  It seemed a treat to have two proteins – tofu (1/2 package) and chicken (2 small breasts, less than 3/4 lb total).  (My diet is lacking protein this week)  It also didn’t contain any left-overs or make-overs from previous meals.  My daughter not eating meat of course.  My son wanting chicken and my husband and I having both.  I had “bought” rice from my pantry, which wasn’t great planning.  There was only a little left of brown and the same of jasmine.  So I made a mix to get 1 cup and cooked it together.  This is one drawback to having too many choices – partial bags, but maybe not enough.  This meal was easy…First I heated some oil in the wok.  I rinsed and pushed out the water from the tofu and cut into chunks, then added it to the wok.  I removed the tofu and stir fried the chicken pieces.   I removed the chicken then for veggies I woked up some broccoli, carrots, and kale in some vegetable broth.  Everyone could add the veggies to the rice with their tofu and/or chicken.  I had bought a premade thai curry sauce for flavor, that we buy anyway.  It’s great for quick mid week stir fry, without having to measure and use lots of ingredients (which I don’t have access to this week).

edanamme

I also boiled some frozen organic edaname.  Half of which my daughter ate before dinner.  It’s hard this week to offer enough veggies for them to snack on before dinner, and be able to use them for the main meal.  It was good and we were full.  I even packed up the left-overs – a single serving, just barely big enough for my lunch tomorrow.  Something to look forward to…

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Day 3 – I am Hungry Challenge

Today was rough.  It wasn’t about not enough food, it was about not being near my food when I needed it.

First I woke up with swollen eyes.  I’m guessing because of the sodium in the canned tomatoes from the fondue from last night’s dinner.

For breakfast I had my usual oatmeal and half a banana.  Although we were running late for school, so I didn;t get to finish it.  My daughter had her yogurt, with granola and fruit.  My son had a 42 second egg and cinnamon toast.  What’s a 42 second egg?  I crack an egg into a ramekin and mix in a splash of milk, then cover with a piece of wax paper (important so it doesn’t explode all over).  This timing works for my microwave.  But you may have to adjust for yours.  It’s a great, quick way to make an egg.

My son's toast and 42 second egg

I made the school lunches.  Typical veggie, fruit, crunchy snack (here crackers) and roll up.  His is turkey and hers is hummus (remember she doesn’t eat meat).  It looks like an orange color theme today.

school lunch

My planning problem was mid day.  I dropped the kids, went for a run, got ready and went to a meeting.  I figured it would only last about an hour, so I’d grab lunch before getting the kids when I got home.  Well the meeting was with a wonderful group of people and we were talking and went over 2 hours.  During the meeting we sat down for their coffee break and they invited me to join them for birthday cake.  I turned down the cake and explained about the challenge.  At this point I was very hungry (red velvet cake smelled great), but hadn’t had lunch and even if it wasn’t the challenge the cake on an empty stomache would’ve felt bad.  Turned out I felt bad anyways – since I hadn’t eaten since 7 am.  If it weren’t for the challenge I would just stop someplace near the school (La Boulange or Whole Foods) and get a salad or sandwich and eat it leisurely.  Instead I remembered I had a Cliff Z-bar (emergency for the kids) in my purse which I ate on the way to my house because I had a horrible headache.  I think from lack of food and lack of iced tea. (I unfortunately bought unfamiliar, inexpensive tea bags and brewed it myself thinking I was prepared with hot and cold options.  But, yuck.  Too much spice and cinnamon.  I miss my Mighty Leaf and Tejava).  When I got home I had 5 minutes to use the bathroom and make a wrap (turkey, cheese, hummus, tomato) and ate it in the car on the way to pick up the kids from school.  That wasn’t until 2:20 pm.

my wrap to go

The kids were happy with their smoothie popsicles for their after school snack.

smoothie pops

Dinner was still just the kids and I.  My husband is back tonight.  We got home late from Tae Kwon Do, so I put out some of the left-over cut veggies from the fondue to ease everyone’s hunger,  while I made dinner between kids’ showers and homework.  They chose minestrone soup (Trader Joe’s from a can), tuna melts and spinach salad.  This was good and quick.  However halfway through dinner I got a horrible heartburn pain.  I actually had to take an antacid and lay down for a few minutes.  I’m guessing (and who knows?) maybe I was so hungry and ate too fast that I gave myself the gas and then heartburn.

soup and sand
spinach salad - note croutons from left-over baguette

So if I’m planning to be out and about I need to pack something for myself to eat (an apple, half a sandwich), so I’m not stuck having to come all the way home to make food.  I would usally have some raw nuts with me, but didn’t think I should splurge at $9 a pound for this week’s shopping.

 

 

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Hunger Challenge/Meatless Monday – Day 2

Today was easier than yesterday.  I knew it would be.  The kids have more of a routine, are at school and not asking about the unsmiley faces.  There’s been lots of talk and then stress at my house about what’s going to happen during the week in regards to food.  I imagine in a house where food is lacking this would always be on a child’s (and parent’s) mind too.  Wondering if you’ll be provided with enough to fill you up (physically and emotionally).

My husband ended up on a plane today for 24 hours, so we didn’t need to worry about him.  No, it was work related.  At least I don’t think  he wasn’t trying to get out of the challenge.

Breakfast was the usual for me – oatmeal with a sprinkle of granola and a half of banana.  The kids had yogurt with berries and granola and orange juice.

kids' breakfast
my oatmeal

I made my son’s lunch for school.  I had to remind him that we were not only on the challenge but it was Meatless Monday so no turkey sandwich.  He settled for sunflower butter and fruit spread plus carrots, pretzels and grapes.  My daughter and I had lunch at home after I picked her up from kindergarten.  Her wrap was avocado, cheese, and spinach.  Mine was the left-over roasted veggies from dinner with hummus, avocado and spinach.

son's lunch
daughter's wrap
my wrap

Later was snack time between school and Tae Kwon Do.  My daughter suggested smoothies which was perfect.  I plopped in about a cup of frozen pineapple, a banana, about a cup of orange juice and about 3/4 cup yogurt.  We all had some and put some in popsicle molds to freeze and eat tomorrow.

smoothie (and those pretzels again)

 

Dinner was very exciting.  My kids love fondue.  And this is a fun and easy recipe for pizza fondue (see recipe on previous blog here), which works great for Meatless Monday too.  What’s not to like – tomaoes, cheese and spices?  Plus they love to break out my fun orange fondue pot I found on Etsy.  (We serve in it only.  I don;t risk burners on the table with kids).  Although my son questioned why I was opening a can of tomatoes saying “Aren’t canned food bad?”  We usually use Pomi in a carton, but I explained about the price difference and they were still organic.

While my son was at Tae Kwon Do my daughter and I made a trip to Whole Foods for a baguette, some celery, a box of crackers, brown sugar (not my usual, but cheaper version) and a few plums ($8.46).  There were a few discussions when my daughter said “Mommy can we get this?” or “Mom we’re out of this.”  I had to remind her about the challenge, which she mistakenly (or freudian) calls “the hungry challenge”.  She’s only 5, but she’s starting to catch on…if we buy the olive bread for $4 instead of the french for $2, then we can’t buy the crackers.

Since my husband is gone I removed a few big scoops of the tomato puree to reserve for pizza sauce later in the week, and then saved on cheese too.  I also transformed the lentils from left-over Sunday night to a lentil salad (now cold with rosemary salt, vinegar and oil).  I made japanese sweet potato chips for dipping.  We also dipped the baguette, red pepper, broccoli, and celery.  My son doubted that a family on food stamps could make this since it was so good.  I said yes they could, as long as they had the time and energy and liked to cook (no orange fondue pot necessary).

cooking fondue
Dinner

 

 

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My Hunger Challenge 2011

I did my first challenge 4 years ago as one of the founding bloggers, and a few
things have changed in the country since then…

1. The amount has gone up from $4 to $4.72/day/person (this is average for
those in California – it’s less in other
states). Likley to be reduced by Republicans in January.

2. The amount of people on food stamps has increased to 44 million nationwide –
21 million are children. The number of new recipients increases 15% each
year.  I find these numbers staggering!

3. Nationwide one out of every seven Americans relies on food stamps. And
locally one out of every five children, adults and seniors living in Marin and
San Francisco counties struggle with hunger every day.

The challenge is to shop, cook and eat on a food stamp budget ($4.72 per day) and make yourself and others aware of what millions of Americans face every day. By participating in the challenge and sharing with friends and family about your experience (through blogs, facebook, twitter and actual conversations) the awareness and issues are brought to light.

Unfortuantely I wasn’t able to participate in last year’s challenge, as my dad was living with us on hospice care.  I couldn’t imagine having to add that to my caretaking, and spending extra time and energy on worrying about a meal budget.  I am lucky.  People living on food stamps don’t get a “time out” when taking care of a sick loved one.

A few things have changed in my life since that first challenge too…

1. My kids are older (now 5 and 8).  This is a big.  They were too little to know about budgets and hunger.  They were also too little to have many friends over, which I’d have to feed.  And they couldn’t open the refrigerator themselves.

2. We eat a lot less meat in our family.  This actually helps with the budget and we are more versed with beans, legumes, tofu etc.

3.  We’re a bit out of practice.  Lately I’ve been spending more money on groceries as there is a new Whole Foods next to my kids’ school.  This is good because of the convenience, but I know I end up spending more as I run in to pick up last minute items.

Here are the rules I set up this year, which are not unlike those from 2009 (check back):

1. Stay true to my philosophy of creating healthy, fresh foods for my family.  This means buying organic when possible and of course for the dirty dozen.

Kids get theirs.  Like any parent – you’ll sacrifice yours (food, shelter, etc) for your child’s needs.

2. I’m shopping carefully and not at once.  Just like our usual grocery shopping we don’t do it all at one store and we go more than once a week.  I also wanted to have money left after my big shopping to figure in those items I’ll need to buy again before the week’s up such as bread, milk, hummus.  Plus I want to always have fresh produce on hand.  I’m using our usual grocery stores – Trader Joe’s, farmer’s market and Whole Foods.

3. My budget is based on $4.72 x 3 (son, daughter and self), plus 22.03 for my husband.  He’s at work or meeting for lunches and out of my control, so I subtracted 33% from his share.  I hope that seems fair.  Thus our total for the week is $121.15.

4. Using my pantry.  I also don’t spend all my money and set aside about $5. so I can factor in things that you don’t have to buy every week and use a small quantity such as pepper, salt, oil, vinegar, baking soda.  I did have to buy brown sugar as I was out and needed it.  Eventhough I won’t use it all in one week, it is normal to have to buy something for the pantry.

5. Hitting the “food bank” pantry.  It’s great to know the Food Bank is there to help me with such items as potatoes, pasta, beans, etc if I need it during the week.  With so many people relying on the food bank, and funding and budget cuts, I’ll use this as a last resort.  This is really what makes the difference for many families.  It is an incredible operation full of great volunteers.  They even have community gardens and fresh produce available to those in need.

Stay tuned and see how my family does.  Hopefully they won’t give up on the challenge or me by Saturday.

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