Saturday, September 17, 2011

7th and Final Day

Today I had the pleasure of waking up late. I was hungry when I woke up since I did such a light dinner last night. Going to bed kind of hungry works better on this challenge since it makes the oatmeal, which I have plenty of, seem almost good to eat first thing in the morn'. No hard boiled egg for me today. I am so sick of them.

I wonder what I would eat next week if I took the Challenge for a second week? I really can't eat more rice, eggs or beans. I don't know what I would use for staples...maybe pasta, potatoes and cheap bread...? I'm SO THANKFUL that this Challenge isn't my real life. 

For lunch I decided to make a big batch of "fried rice" and then just leave leftovers for dinner since there didn't seem to be enough to make two separate but interesting meals. I don't know what else I could make with leftover rice, celery, onion, cabbage and one shriveled sad carrot? I'm not interested in doing a complicated recipe so I just decided to pan fry everything and then add the eggs and the rice.

As you can see, I decided not to chop the veggies finely because I was feeling lazy and I think that made this meal very weird. It didn't really taste fried because of it, more like heated up. This meal didn't end up tasting like the fried rice I was hoping for at all but since it's made of most of the food I have left I'm definitely going to eat it for lunch and dinner tonight. 

This Challenge was really enlightening. Even when I tried to pick simple staples it didn't work out easily at all. I'm really happy that the San Francisco and Marin Food Banks exist because while food stamps are certainly better than nothing, the Food Bank is a great resource for extra food (ESPECIALLY PRODUCE) to stretch the budget. If I had been able to visit a pantry or food program supported by the Food Bank I could have picked up a bunch more produce to have this past week which really would have helped.

I'm going to write more on the overall Hunger Challenge later tonight or stay tuned.

I will also update if I end up eating any more food tonight (which I probably will). :)

Breakfast: oatmeal
Lunch: fried brown rice with vegetables
Dinner: leftovers from lunch

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 6: Really Screwed Up!

Breakfast: Sadly, I did what I bet a lot of people on a busy schedule and tight budget do. I skipped breakfast because I didn't have any food to eat but the oatmeal, and I knew I needed that for lunch. Lunch: Big bow-o-oatmeal, 3 hard boiled eggs, 1 carrot, 1 celery (left over in my lunch box at work from when I made fried rice)

With rice and oatmeal as my main staples that are left, the oatmeal is probably going to win these last two days. My brown rice, while healthy, takes way too long to cook. Who has time for that nonsense?

Dinner: For dinner I just made some rice with a soy sauce packet. At the end of a long week, I am not in the mood to make an elaborate dinner. I really don't want any more eggs today. I'm going to save my celery, carrots and cabbage for tomorrow. 

I long for some sliced up fresh fruit. Maybe a fresh salad with all sorts of veggies and fruit in it. Simply not good for the Hunger Challenge since you can't stretch a salad over many days...

Night y'all.


Looks like I'm going to be eating a lot of oatmeal and egg whites today because I forgot to make my rice last night! :(

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Day 5:

Breakfast oatmeal & egg
small amount of leftover
lentils & rice
green beans & 2 eggs

oatmeal and a hard boiled egg
Lunch: Leftover rice with leftover lentil soup (and a lot less than I thought!)
Dinner: Green beans, 2 Eggs.

Dinner: I thought I was going to make these oatmeal rice patties but when I got home from work at 8pm I decided I wanted to eat NOW and not in an hour! So I just fried two eggs and microwaved some frozen green beans. This is probably the level of difficulty I would continue with if I had to do this challenge for more than a week. 

I'm so over cooking and staying up late to make lunch or cook rice. It's just not realistic to think this is easy. It's just not realistic to think that $4.72 is a lot! Some of the comments on this blog act like $4.72 is totally doable...I challenge them to prove it. It might be doable, but it's barely sustainable and requires a lot of attention. It's not the easiest way to live. It adds a level of stress to an already stressful life. Stress, about something as wonderful as food. One more thing to worry about, it's just another "bill" to pay. Not fun at all.
frozen blueberries & yogurt

Dessert:  The rest of my plain yogurt and some frozen blueberries

My Grocery List:
Brown rice: $3.58 1.5 bags left (a lot)
Lentils: $2.58
18 Eggs: $3.68 8 eggs left
Frozen green beans: $1.67 (sale! 3 for $5, but I only bought one) 3/4 of the bag left
Frozen spinach: $1.67 (sale! 3 for $5, but I only bought one)
Huge container of oatmeal: $2.50 (sale! 2 for $5, but I only bought one) a lot left
2 cans of tomato paste: $1.18
Hot Italian Turkey Sausage: $2.29 (clearance 50% off usually $5.79)
Plain Non-fat Yogurt: $3.49 
Frozen Blueberries: $2.99 (I cheated, I already had these and they are from Trader Joes) 3/4 of the bag left

2 onions: $0.51 1 onion4 carrots: $0.34 2 carrots left
Celery: $0.69 5 stalks left
Purple cabbage: $1.68 Half a cabbage left
2 apples: $1.14
1 orange: $0.39

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Day 4: The Left Behind Series

apple/yogurt snack 5pm
So today was uninspiring to say the least. I decided to eat up most of my leftovers!
Work was so busy that I didn't take a picture of most of my food today! And I apologize.
Breakfast: mug of oatmeal (eaten in a meeting)
Lunch: Leftover turkey sausage and rice (eaten in a meeting)
Snack: Apple and yogurt
Dinner: Lentil stew leftovers, an orange
leftover stew dinner + orange

You might have seen my post yesterday totaling all the food that I have left, and it's not a lot. Mostly some rice and oatmeal. I still have 3 more days too! Luckily my friend Calley is a professional chef and is suggesting some great recipes to me so I might try them out. TALK ABOUT GETTING PROFESSIONAL HELP!

Which brings me to this thought I had the other day when reading Hunger Challenger Heather's blog. Heather is purposefully not making stew and such because she rightfully believes most people don't have time for this nonsense. She is instead eating faster things, like sandwiches, that are less filling. I think that was probably a better decision. I really don't think that these rice and lentil dishes are realistic at all. I've been eating leftovers because I'm so busy and I don't have kids, I only work 40 hours a week, and outside of work I pretty much only do what I want. I can't imagine what someone who has real time restrictions would say if I told them tonight that I plan on sauteing oatmeal and rice patties. 

This is not a fun way to live. Food is involved in so much of our culture and social life. I can't hang out with friends because I can't afford it, I can't invite a friend over because if they ask for food I can't offer it. I can't eat what I want because if I don't already have it, it's just not an option.

I am totally out of fruit, almost out of dairy, almost out of veggies and looking at trying to think of clever ways to eat oatmeal and brown rice (and I guess I will have to cheat and use condiments I already have...which maybe isn't exactly cheating).

I'm exhausted. Good night.


This morning I woke up and realized I left most of the turkey sausage sauce on the stove over night and forgot to put it away in the fridge. THANK HEAVENS I remembered to portion some out for lunch today prior to sitting down to dinner. Unfortunately, this means I have lost a full meal's worth of turkey sausage, tomato and spinach that I could have had for dinner tonight.

I'm afraid to eat the sausage sauce that was left unrefrigerated AND ESPECIALLY since I'm on food stamps, there is a good chance my job doesn't have health benefits. I cannot afford to get sick.

This mini-disaster has made me want to take stock in what food I have left.

My Grocery List:

Brown rice: $3.58 1 and half bags left (a lot)
Lentils: $2.58 1 jar of lentil soup left
18 Eggs: $3.68 11 eggs left
Frozen green beans: $1.67 (sale! 3 for $5, but I only bought one)
Frozen spinach: $1.67 (sale! 3 for $5, but I only bought one)
Huge container of oatmeal: $2.50 (sale! 2 for $5, but I only bought one) a lot left
2 cans of tomato paste: $1.18
Hot Italian Turkey Sausage: $2.29 (clearance 50% off usually $5.79)
Plain Non-fat Yogurt: $3.49  Half a container left
Frozen Blueberries: $2.99 (I cheated, I already had these and they are from Trader Joes)

2 onions: $0.51 1 onion4 carrots: $0.34 2 carrots left
Celery: $0.69 5 stalks left
Purple cabbage: $1.68 Half a cabbage left
2 apples: $1.14 1 apple left
1 orange: $0.39

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Day 3: I Went To a Butcher Shop. I Never Sausage a Place!

the ingredient
What do you know?
Today wasn't so bad!
The day started off with...oatmeal and a hard boiled egg. SHOCKING! (no photo because it looked like a bowl of oatmeal.) I almost skipped breakfast because plain, flavorless oatmeal isn't very exciting, and in a way I think it makes me hungrier...

the final product
Lunch: I finally got a chance to make fried rice! I've never made fried rice before and apparently everyone else in my office has. So I had 4 cooks around the stove helping me! (FYI: There are many different opinions on whether or not to put the egg or rice in first...I chose to put the egg in first.) I used 1.5 carrots, 1.5 stalks of celery, two eggs and a quarter of a mason jar worth of brown rice. As you can see I had some carrot and celery left over which I saved (of course!) I added salt and soy sauce for flavor so this was a high sodium meal for sure.
I'm extremely lucky to have a full kitchen at work. I know this is not normal. Gosh, some people don't even have kitchens in their homes (SROs, motels etc.) and rely on hot plates and microwaves. I think this lunch turned out pretty good. It didn't really taste like fried rice though, it reminded me of matzo brei...go figure! I did add some soy sauce from a packet which I didn't buy but found  in a drawer.
Snack:  apple w/ plain yogurt

Dinner: I decided to have more rice but finally with my discount turkey sausage!! I tend to get disproportionately excited about things but it is nice to finally have some flavor and meat in one of my recipes! I think this excitement is warranted! (Don't worry, my roommate already warned me about the recent ground turkey recall and it doesn't include the Jenny-O brand.) I took the sausage out of the casings, cooked it through, added some of the spinach and tomato paste and made a kind of sauce which I put over the brown rice. The sausage and tomato paste must have been really salty because I didn't add extra salt and yet this tasted very salty to poor blood pressure. Clearly because I have ASPIRATIONS TO BECOME AN EGG I ate another hardboiled egg while preparing dinner because I couldn't wait.

While the Hunger Challenge isn't always fun, I'm enjoying the amount of attention I'm putting into my food. It's nice to think about food as fuel again and really appreciate how lucky I am to have unlimited access to food every day. Once again, I spent almost an hour making my dinner. I'm gonna guess most people do not have the time or know-how to do this. I didn't get a chance to eat dinner until around 9 pm either. I can't imagine working all day, especially if it wasn't a desk job but a job that involved more physical activity, only to have to come home and cook for an hour. I hope I can remember this grateful feeling even after the Hunger Challenge is over.

Also, can I just say "God Bless the Internet" because not only was I able to find the exact scene from Supersize me that I wanted but I'm also able to cue it up to my FAVORITE part of the entire documentary. Nothing. NOTHING. NOOTTTHIIING is better than the oh-so-quiet way this boy says sausage. And every time I want to say sausage I think of him.
Do yourself a favor and watch this video.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Day 2: First They Came for My Brain

Breakfast: oatmeal
Day 2: Oh today, today, today, today. What a day!
What kind of day was it, you ask? A crazy one. It started off with my alarm going off about an hour after I thought it would (how on earth did this happen? One word: Poltergeists). Then when I got to work, I had to do some crazy unpacking of my cubicle at my new desk and catch up on a lot of different projects and tasks. But I was determined to make it a good day!

Technology tried to kill me
Then technology tried to kill me. I had to repeatedly struggle to get a certain file to upload to our database. It was. Not enjoyable. Not enjoyable on a regular day. And certainly not enjoyable on a Hunger Challenge day. I got a little cranky. I got a lot cranky. I apologize Tina if you are reading this :)

Then, I had to run out of work like a bat out of hell around 3pm to work at the Giant's game until 8pm. I ran around like a banshee for 5 hours but I did good. I kept a good attitude while my stomach tried to eat itself. I even resisted smacking a smug man boy who said that a $5 donation wouldn't end he wouldn't donate at all! Blah.

Lunch: lentils
I got home so so hungry around 9pm and then realized I didn't have anything but lentil soup! I CAN'T EAT ANYMORE LENTIL SOUP! So I had a hard boiled egg. (See? I am going to turn into an egg.)

Dinner: I figured I should make some brown rice and add an egg, some veggies and stir fry something great! At least this way I would be sure to have something different for lunch tomorrow!

40 minutes later, I'm just not in the mood to eat anymore. I'm just tired and a little bummed out about some things. I don't want to cook up the eggs and veggies. I'm just going to save this rice for tomorrow. WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MADE!

Dinner: Rice
(saved for tomorrow)
My mood is clearly less excited than yesterday. Real life is getting in the way of cooking up a storm from scratch and "playing" this game of the Hunger Challenge. I can't imagine having to have a stressful job and personal life while being this hungry. No wonder people just reach for the Easy Mac. Being an adult and being hungry is tough, but I can't imagine being a child and going to school to learn, all while you are rumbly in your tumbly. Terrible!

So in summary today I had: Breakfast - oatmeal, Lunch - left over lentil stew, Dinner - a hard boiled egg 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 1: I Got This

First day of the Hunger Challenge! I woke up bright eyed and bushy tailed! I have a whole week's worth of food and I'm feeling like I can totally do this! (Talk to me Thursday when my body is made up of lentils and eggs entirely.)

Breakfast: I had one hard boiled egg before my run, because I'm not trying to pass out (a la DJ Tanner). When I got back I had a big bowl of oatmeal which without walnuts and cinnamon was not as good I was hoping. I like hard boiled eggs, I think they are delicious. So this isn't such a sacrifice. I hard boiled a bunch of eggs yesterday to save time this week. Hopefully, I don't come out of this hating eggs. My soul mate Paul Newman can eat 50 eggs, so I will probably be okay.

Snack: I ended up having another hard boiled egg as a snack a few hours later when I realized that I would have to spend at least an hour making my lunch!

Lunch: I let myself get hungry for lunch and then I realized everything I bought needed lots of time to cook. I've already discovered the first fatal flaw of this week. COOKING TIME! I wish I had a crock pot. Oh well. For lunch I decided to use some of my veggies to make a stew, it took almost an hour after chopping and cooking. Once it was ready I also added a dollop of plain yogurt like my Indian roommate in college taught me. Perfect! It taste good but it took so much time to make that I don't think it's a feasible recipe for a lot of people. Also, it smells bad. :(

so good!

Lentil stew i

omg look! onion,
celery and carrots!
1 lb lentils, 1/2 the head of cabbage, 3 carrots, 4 celery stalks, 1 onion, most of a can of tomato paste, 8 cups of water, spices I already had: garlic powder, curry powder, salt and pepper. Yields 3 large mason jars worth.

Dinner: I had hoped to make some egg fried rice with a side of veggies but I had to be somewhere at 7pm. I didn't have time to make the rice (40 minutes) and fry up everything. So lentil stew left-overs it is! :(

Today wasn't so bad. I went to the Opera in the Park with my college alumni group (aka lots of old Jewish ladies) and gosh darn it if they didn't keep trying to feed me. One was also very concerned that my Keds didn't have laces in them. I tried to explain the Hunger Challenge and the idea behind it and the consensus was that I should have saved more money for fast food.

I am kind of bummed to think I'm going to have lentils tomorrow for lunch too since I just got home and don't have time to make something new. This is not only going to be just a hunger challenge but also a tedious flavor and gas fighting challenge!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

T- 1: Hunger Challenge Shopping!

Safeway haul
LET THE CHALLENGE BEGIN! Today I went grocery shopping for this week's Hunger Challenge. I tried not to take too long scrutinizing prices since I imagine not everyone has the luxury of time. I still decided to hit up two stores. I went to Safeway for most things and to my local produce mart for fruits and veg. 
produce corner market

I had already decided I was gonna rely heavily on rice and eggs this year. So I had a pretty good idea what I was going for at Safeway. HOWEVER, I had the best luck! I wasn't even going to buy raw meat but I decided to see what was there and LOW AND BEHOLD...Hot Italian Turkey Sausage! There was one package and it was on clearance. I BOUGHT RAW MEAT ON CLEARANCE! Don't tell my mom. She already calls me to warn me about recalls on Spinach in Arizona and Strawberries in Oregon. Clearance meat might give her a heart attack.

Turkey Sausage SALE!
Last year, I took the Hunger Challenge for the first time. I suffered. The average food stamp allotment last year was $4 a day, this year it has increased to $4.72 and I can already see the difference! You wouldn't think $5.04 would make a big difference, but it certainly does.

My Grocery List:
Brown rice: $3.58
Lentils: $2.58
Eggs: $3.68
Frozen green beans: $1.67 (sale! 3 for $5, but I only bought one)
Frozen spinach: $1.67 (sale! 3 for $5, but I only bought one)
Huge container of oatmeal: $2.50 (sale! 2 for $5, but I only bought one)
2 cans of tomato paste: $1.18
Hot Italian Turkey Sausage: $2.29 (clearance 50% off usually $5.79)
Plain Non-fat Yogurt: $3.49
Frozen Blueberries: $2.99 (I cheated, I already had these and they are from Trader Joes)

2 onions: $0.51
4 carrots: $0.34
Celery: $0.69
Purple cabbage: $1.68
2 apples: $1.14
1 orange: $0.39
Total: $30.39 I still have $2.67 cents! I guess I should charge myself to drink the free coffee at work since not every job offers free coffee. Maybe I will be good and put my $2 and change towards that...or maybe if I start to get grumpy at the end of the week I will buy some more food. :)
See you tomorrow for DAY ONE of the Food Bank Hunger Challenge!

Side note: Last year I calculated to price of every meal and it was highly annoying. So this year I will just know what I spent for the week (the maximum is $33.04) and however I divide it on certain days, I'm not going to worry about it.

Monday, August 22, 2011


It's almost time for this year's Food Bank Hunger Challenge!

I am gearing up to be grumpy creative with my spending, cooking and consuming next month the week of September 11-17 when I will be eating on a "food stamp budget" for the entire week. This year the budget will be $4.72 a day which is the average amount allotted to a food stamp recipient in California.

Misery loves company so I invite you to join me and sign up for the 2011 Hunger Challenge! While I joke about this project, it's actually an amazing experience and I really do hope that you will give it a try. For so many hunger isn't an experiment but an every day reality.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I DOUBLE DOG DARE YOU to get your gift doubled!

The SF Food Bank has HUGE NEWS! All gifts this week (through Friday and up to $25k) will be DOUBLED by Keurig, Inc./Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. Can you imagine trying to learn to read or do even do algebra when you are hungry?? RUMBLY IN MY TUMBLY! This is why the SF Food Bank recently expanded its partnership with public schools to provide healthy morning snacks to schoolchildren – snacks such as fresh oranges, bananas, apples, granola bars, milk and more! Orange you glad?

Mostly I just want to feed the hungry poor kids of SF and Marin that are already at a disadvantage for a myriad reasons and not having enough to eat just makes no sense in this country. There is food all around! The fair is a veritable smorgasbord!

My suggested campaigns:
The new San Francisco Food Bank’s Double Down: a one-of-a-kind “sandwich of opportunity” features a healthy school snack (a fresh piece of produce, cheese and healthy crackers with cheese) and the chance to give a hungry student a much needed bite to eat which will calm a hungry tummy at school! Double Down today and give the opportunity to excel! This opportunity is so rare, there’s no room for a bun!

The SFFB Double Dares YOU!: The San Francisco Food Bank Double Dares you to feed a hungry local student! Double your gift and provide healthy school snacks (a fresh piece of produce, cheese and healthy crackers with cheese) and the chance to give a hungry student the ability to concentrate in class! Consider yourself “Double Dared” today and feed a hungry student!

Being hungry is distracting and with kids in our local schools not eating breakfast or not having breakfast at all -- a morning snack is necessary to keep the focus on the teacher and not the tummy! HUNGER, I REBUKE THEE!