daily eats: 7.11.12 {SNAP Challenge}

Wow, I’m thrilled that you guys are as into this “project” as I am. I wasn’t sure if it would interest you, but it is fascinating to me and I’m so glad I can share it all with you! Thank you for the cheap snack and meal ideas (I’m looking forward to grilled cheese and popcorn)!

I’ve been feeling like I made a lot of mistakes on my first shopping trip, despite all of the planning, and feel I could have made some “healthier, less processed” choices. However, I’ve always been realistic when it comes to food and nutrition and I don’t think its feasible to eat brown rice and beans for every meal. Would it be healthier than ramen noodles or packaged rice mixtures? Of course! But there are times when dinner needs to be on the table in minutes and when you simply can’t stomach more beans.

With that said, I’m about halfway through the week and there are a few things I plan on doing differently. One  is having eggs every day, for one meal or snacks. I think it would help me feel more satisfied throughout the day. (I’m not sure if I would get sick of having eggs every day after a few weeks…something to consider but I’m going to try it for the rest of the week.) Here we go – day 3!

Workout: this is the first day I’ve been able to get in a formal workout. I took a 45 minute spin class.

Beverages: coffee + milk at work! (2 cups today, I needed it!)

Breakfast: that same pb sandwich. It could be worse, but I’ll be adding some eggs and fruit to the mix the rest of the week.

Lunch: that same bowl of rice, beans, frozen spinach, tofu, and onion sauce. Delicious but not as filling as it should be.

After work, I stopped by the Korean market on the hunt for cheap produce. I left with fresh veggies, two pieces of fruit and a treat! I’ll break all of my groceries down at the end – how much I spent, what I got for it, etc. Side note: the Korean market has an entire aisle of frozen dumplings. I’ll be heading back after the SNAP Challenge for kimchee dumplings. :)

Snack: 1 oz cheese + 2 carrots

Dinner: was a nice hearty meal that was also delicious and probably Richie’s favorite so far. I browned our second package of (99 cent!) ground bison with onion, one bunch of spinach and a can of diced tomatoes served over spaghetti. I wished I could have used more sauce over my pasta, but it needed to be portioned into 4 servings right away. I think normally, we would have eaten 3/4 (or maybe more?) of the sauce mixture but it is hard to say as we usually eat the amount we want, not the amount we can have.

 Dessert: Was kind of an impulse buy at the market…I probably shouldn’t have bought them but I needed a little something sweet! (They reminded me of Pokey sticks and totally hit the spot.)

Nutrition Stats: About 1,980 calories, 70 grams of fat, 260 grams of carbohydrates, 86 grams protein)

daily eats: 7.10.12 {SNAP Challenge}

Two down, 5 to go! I was wondering last night if I could count wine as a condiment…


milk + coffee at work!


peanut butter sandwich (again)

Lunch: More bread… Lunch was delicious but I was still hungry after eating it. Overall, it contained protein, healthy fats and vegetables but if I were to have something similar normally, I would change a few things. I would normally use the entire can of tuna over a huge bowl of salad greens and other raw vegetables with some whole grain crackers on the side. I’m not sure if it is the lack of volume from the vegetables in these meals that isn’t filling me up or smaller amounts of protein and fiber…maybe both?

1/2 can tuna + 1/2 avocado sandwich + 2 carrots

Snack: 10 saltine crackers (only thing I had at work!)

I wanted to stop by the grocery store to pick up a few more vegetables, possibly fruit and SNACKS but I was running late and needed to get home to the dog (we are dog sitting)…is this what it is like to be responsible for someone or something else?! :)

I had a few more crackers with some cheese as it was my only snack option. (Originally I mixed some beans with a bit of cheese, but I couldn’t do it, so bad.)

Dinner: Has an interesting story. We were at the meat counter shopping the other day and I noticed a yellow sticker that read “$.99 special!” and found a pound of ground bison a day away from the use or freeze by date, so they had marked it down to 99 cents! I originally picked up one of them and was going to use it instead of the chicken sausage I had planned on. It turns out that the one pound of chicken drumsticks that I was planning on getting ($1.48/pound) were only available in a value pack so they were way out of the budget. I ran back to the meat/fish counter and they had one more pack of the ground bison left so I grabbed it! We totally lucked out, I have no idea how often you can find these sort of deals, but I would doubt very often.

bison patty (about 3 oz) + lettuce + tomato (from the garden) + mushroom rice (packaged)

 I was still a bit hungry after dinner so I had 4 more saltines with some peanut butter. I know that yesterday I said the saltines were tasty, but I’m kind of getting sick of them now…

Nutrition Stats: About 1,860 calories, 83 grams of fat, 205 grams of carbohydrates, 19 grams of fiber, 30 grams of sugar, 82 grams of protein. 

Would you guys like to see another day or two of the SNAP Challenge meals? I don’t want to bore you, so let me know! I would also LOVE your suggestions for cheap, filling snacks! 


daily eats: 7.9.12 {SNAP Challenge}

Wow, day one of the SNAP Challenge is in the books! It was a pretty good day. Even though I’m only one day in, the planning, shopping and first day have been incredibly eye-opening – I’m taking lots of notes of my thoughts along the way.

Beverages: Thank GOD my office has coffee or I would have really been in trouble. I think coffee would have costed far too much of us to “waste” money on a beverage, especially because I can’t drink Folgers and I’m assuming that is the cheapest out there. Anyone else know of anything cheaper, yet decent tasting?

milk + coffee at the office

Breakfast: We needed to make a decision together on breakfast and it needed to last the entire work week – greek yogurt was on sale for 10/$10 which was tempting but ultimately we decided on peanut butter sandwiches. We were able to find natural peanut butter for the same price as the hydrogenated oil-filled peanut butter, which was thrilling. The bread was not as exciting – obviously my usual sprouted bread was out, but “wheat” bread at the store has the same nutrition stats as white bread…in other words, it is essentially white bread with brown food coloring. Ugh.

2 Tbsp peanut butter + 2 slices wheat bread

Lunch: The classic frugal food – rice and beans! I needed a bit of vegetable, so I divided a bag of frozen spinach into 4 lunches, which is a lot less than I would normally use, but some vegetables are better than none! Lunch was absolutely delicious but not filling in the least. I was hungry 30 minutes after eating it. Volume-wise, it was a large meal, but my body does better on high protein and high fat meals, which were lacking here. Thankfully I had a very busy afternoon at work and didn’t have much time to think about it.

brown rice + frozen spinach + red beans + cajun gravy (yum) + tofu

Snacks: One theme that I noticed at the grocery store was always choosing the cheapest option. In my “normal” life, I’d scrutinize the ingredients, look for whole grains and place anything that contained a huge list of ingredients, hydrogenated oils and corn syrup back on the shelf. Not so much here, whether it was bread, crackers or peanut butter, I always went with the cheapest option. Even though saltines have essentially no nutritional value, they taste great. :)

1 oz cheddar cheese + saltine crackers

Dinner: Is it horrible that we were both really excited for Ramen Noodles? Of course, plain ramen won’t do, we definitely needed to add some vegetables and protein, but this was a really fun dinner and I think Richie might be able to talk me into adding it into the dinner rotation once in a while. They are 4/$1 by the way…

ramen plus: ramen noodles + sauteed broccoli + 2 fried eggs


Snacks included many more saltine crackers after dinner…I was hungry but we didn’t really have anything else to snack on.

Nutrition Stats: about 1,900 calories, 75 grams of fat, 235 grams of carbohydrates, 26 grams of fiber, 20 grams of sugar, and 75 grams of protein. I’m looking forward to seeing tomorrows stats and hoping they will be a bit higher in protein and fat – it is what my body does best on! Carbohydrates leave me constantly hungry… 

SNAP Challenge {eating on a food stamp budget}

This week brings something a bit different around here…


For the next 7 days, I’ll be spending no more than $31.50 for all of my food and beverages, which as you can imagine, is a lot less than I normally spend on groceries. And it has absolutely no room for eating out, which makes me incredibly nervous as I LOVE to eat out. Thankfully Richie is taking on the challenge along with me which means we get more money to spend for the week and he won’t be tempting me with expensive foods like cheese!

Why a SNAP Challenge? My new job, (which I still haven’t filled you in on, sorry!) is at a non-profit anti-hunger organization so we are all taking part of this SNAP challenge. Obviously one-week is just a tiny glimpse into actually living on this sort of food budget, but I think it will be eye-opening to say the least. I know I have already learned a lot.


  • $31.50 for all food and drink (the average SNAP benefit) for the week (comes out to $1.50/meal)
  • Monday July 9th – Sunday July 15th
  • I’ll be eating only foods that I purchased for the challenge, but condiments already in the kitchen are ok to use
  • Want to join in? Use the hash tag #SNAP4aWeek and tweet pictures of your meals to @StopHunger – we would love to have you join us! Full guidelines are here.

The next few days I’ll be sharing daily eats on my food stamp budget and I’ll be sure to share all of my thoughts at the end of the challenge.