Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Oh my gosh, I am so sick of food stamp food.

So, a curious thing- this weekend, Saturday to be precise, I fell off the wagon, both in terms of food stamp month, and also in terms of eating healthily, which I've been trying to do this month as well. I think in a lot of ways, I tend to reward or motivate myself with sweet food- on Saturday, I was beginning a really intense and somewhat intimidating art project for Mike, was just finishing the tail end of a horrible migraine/period cycle, and had some emotionally intense experiences both behind me and ahead of me. I really really wanted to treat myself to something- more precisely, I wanted to be treated *to* something, so I asked Mike to buy me a milkshake, violating *so* many food stamp/personal health rules.

Later that same day, a friend of mine came over for dinner- this was kind of special thing for me, so I went shopping for our dinner and bought pasta (I had spaghetti, but she doesn't really like spaghetti), cauliflower, asparagus, parmeseon cheese, a baguette, Ben and Jerry's ice cream, two sodas, and an iced latte for my friend. This came to a total of 16.55. It all ended up being split between six people, though not necessarily evenly.

I also cheated the day before, by eating a house dinner of tuna noodle casserole and ice cream and roasted vegetables, which I owe my housemates for.

Sunday- except for getting coffee at Katie's on my way to church, which was critical if I was going to make it through Sunday school- I returned to the food stamp week- I was feeling overally really poorly in my body. The combination of ben and jerrys *AND* a milkshake left me feeling rotten. I ate leftovers Sunday.

I spent 13.43 dollars yesterday on cereal, bananas, hot cocoa, artichoke sausage that was on sale, and spaghetti sauce. Between that, and what I have left over, I should be able to get by the rest of the week.

Today I'm just really craving vegetables, like you wouldn't believe.

How is it wrapping up for everyone else?

Friday, May 18, 2007

eating organic on a food stamp budget, and other brief notes

Eating Organic on a Food Stamp Budget

At least, maybe if you have a lot of time on your hands to cook. Very interesting to read.

I know I have not kept at all to the food stamp budget since I quit last week. I have eaten out so very much in that time, far more than usual, actually. Trying to at least stop eating out so much. Probably won't be able to do the Food Lifeline challenge, though I'll make a go of it.

I got a new job, which starts on Monday. It's not very near any grocery stores or restaurants that I noticed - it's on Nickerson, on the other side of the canal from Fremont, near SPU. So I will probably need to be very good about bringing lunch, which is just fine with me.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Spectacular failure and how it's made me think today.

Today I completely cheated.

I overslept so I skipped breakfast (and had to call a cab!). I had an appointment from 8 to about eleven, and after that I was really hungry. Not so hungry that I couldn't have gone the whole day without eating- I probably could have, my appetite has really decreased this month- but a realistic assessment of all the things I need to do today and the energy I need to have to do them led me to go to a coffee shop and get coffee, salad and soup- so when I actually eat them (in a few minutes), I will have stocked up on a balance of protein, vitamins and carbohydrates (and caffiene) that I think will fuel me through out the day.


1) I feel tremendously- if not guilty, then sort of at least like this is not that desirable. I miss the lunches that I pack. (I'm also in general really irritated that I ended up spending *massively* more money (cab + lunch) through oversleeping than I would have otherwise). I also have been looking forward to the idea of eating out as being a rare treat (which is what it will feel like after this month is over) rather than the sort of default sandwich grabbing for lunch that it's become for me up to this month, and today was exactly that- a sandwich grabbing. That feels distasteful to me.

2) I feel tremendously aware of the artificiality of this experiment. If I were actually on foodstamps, this would not be an option, and that really gives me pause. How much of my existence depends on my ability to power through things, and how much of *that* depends on my ability to be able to get enough energy to do that powering through.

So. There is that. There is also the awareness that I didn't pack dinner either, and am not getting home before 10, so I'll probably grab something to eat outside for dinner, as well. And I can do that because I make enough money and don't have any dependents.

Eye opening for me.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Also, it's impossible to tell if it's related, but my period this month was five days late and very light, but accompanied by excruciatingly blinding headaches/cramps. Mike suggested that it might have to do with diet shifts, so I'm writing that down.
I'm sorry I haven't been posting. Mostly because it's very boring, because it's all the same. Breakfast is an english muffin with butter or marmalade or peanut butter, cereal or cream of wheat, tea. Lunch is a peanut butter or tuna fish sandwich, carrots, an apple or an orange, tea. Dinner has been lentils and rice, or spaghetti with brocolli when I get too sick of lentils.

I estimate I've been eating about 4 dollars worth of food a day. I've cheated twice this week to buy coffee on the way to work (once) and church (once). I also took my second food stamp holiday on Saturday- we (mike and I) made a beef stew for his mom for mother's day/her birthday, and all the ingredients for the whole meal would have put me seriously over my budget.

I also had two work lunches last week, and will have two more this week. I continue to be amazed at how much free food I get, and also at how deeply food plays a role in socializing. I really am looking forward to being able to go out with friends again, though I have to admit, it's nice to be saving this much money.

I find in general that I'm eating healthier portions, overeating less, and craving fatty and sugary things less (but salty and vingery things more).

I really don't think that this would be a pleasant experience for me at all if it weren't for the constant free food, though. Also, knowing how to cook on the cheap anyway- that has been a good thing for me.

I do find that I have even less energy than usual. This is making me rethink whether I want to do this for the rest of the month. I'm think of doing the food stamp challenge from Food Lifeline for the week of the 17th to the 24th, and then letting the 24th be my last day on this program. The food stamp challenge would be eating on 21 dollars a week (severe!). This is in part because I think not allowing myself to eat out on memorial day weekend will be sad, and part because I want to do the food stamp challenge, but also think in general I need to think about getting back to eating vegetables and meat sooner rather than later.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

alright alright

yesterday and today did make up for my over charge on monday and tues. though today i was so hungry i ate my sandwhich at 11 (i was looking at the clock at 10:30) and then got scared that i had 8 more hours until i could eat again. i made it through the rest of the day by munching on free office pretzels.

yesterday: tuna sandwhich. tuna .30, onion mayo .10, bread .30 tjs lasagna. 1.99 milk. .30 oj .30= 3.30
today: apricots. .15, tuna sandwhich. 1- mac n cheese. 1.30, tuna. .30, milk. .30 = 3.05

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

social distortions

I have not been keeping up with this project very well.
But I also just bought my first groceries since maybe 10 days ago.

Explanation: I vowed at the beginning of this project that I would not let friends take me out to eat, but I would eat free food provided at work, and I would not turn down invitations to dine with family, although I would not take food home with me.

As it turns out, my brother's girlfriend is in town, and it was a Jewish holiday on Sunday, and so I have been spending a lot of time with family. Come to think of it, between rafting over the weekend and all the time spent with family I think that this evening was the first time I had to come up with dinner for myself since last week sometime, and dinner consisted of yogurt and granola because I was not in a cooking mood.

Shopping list since last monday:
Bananas, yogurt, lemons (for hummus I have yet to make), some tortillas, tahini, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, frozen berries, granola, eggs, red pepper spread, frozen edamame, tofu, carrots, oatmeal, granola. Most food purchased at TJ's. Carrots bought at Asian market in Little Saigon.

I do not know precisely the grocery bill since last monday (30th April) but I believe it to be around $24.

Breakfasts have consisted of bananas or yogurt mixed with frozen fruit/granola. Lunch has consistently been an ENORMOUS fuji apple from a fruit vendor in Pike Place Market (the grocer no longer weighs the apples, but just charges me $1. 8 apples add $8 to total, bringing total since Monday before last to $32.

I realize two things in the midst of this:
Thing the first: Unwilling to compromise meals with my family has really skewed this exercise.
Things the second: When I am really busy (I have been really busy) I forget to eat.

Food used after 1 week:

Adding up what I have used for food since last Tuesday, I have arrived at an estimate for food expenditures of $36, including some vegetable sushi I ate before teaching my GRE class last night. This doesn't include the pizza on Saturday and sandwiches on Sunday, plus soda and chips, which would have pushed my food costs beyond $37.

Sarah shared with us the Food Lifeline food stamp challenge of $21 for a week. People I know who have been on food stamps got considerably more ($30-37.50/week) as single people *with* enough other income that they probably didn't need that whole amount in order to eat well. I would like to see stories from food stamp recipients about this, not that I'm saying they're not true, but maybe food stamp allotments are so capricious in terms of who gets how much money that it seems unbelievable to me. I'd like to hear more stories from people who really do live off of food stamps, and I hope Food Lifeline will make this a part of their challenge.

I'm going to be trying to stick to the food stamp challenge in future days, but it may not be logistically possible at present. I'm going to be bouncing back and forth between homes over the next week, which I wasn't doing during the first week. I'm sure I've not learned as much as I could just yet, but if I'm able to stick to this without too much logistical difficulty, I will, and if not... then hopefully I can rejoin in a week or two.

I'm considering doing the $21 challenge starting May 19. Kinda wondering if I even should. I am insufferable when it comes to being hungry. On $21 for a week, I'm not really sure how I could avoid being hungry, or at least extremely dissatisfied with my diet and possibly tired and listless. Just like Maslow's hierarchy of needs suggests, if I don't get my need for food met, nothing else matters until I do. At that level, I understand how miserable living off such a small food budget can be.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

new beginnings

yesterday TJs spinach lasagna. 1.99. still diggin it. still cheap. last night. sausage (1.05), roasted red pepper (fancy leftover from picnic) 1.30, applesause .30, two rye crackers .25. and hot cocoa .45. 5.34

today i was at work and my body demanded oj. ba bye 2-. i'm fighting off the sick. lunch lasagna 1.99. and for dinner: sausage (1.05), applesauce .30, milk .30. 5.64

that's over for both days (5.28/day), but i'm hopin to make it under tomorrow and the next with pb and jelly. or mac n cheese.

it also means that i can't have frozen blueberries and milk. suffer suffer.
Yesterday I bought 16.50 dollars worth of groceries- two oranges, three apples, celery, three can of kidney beans, three cans of beets, three cans of tuna fish, 12 english muffins, 1 very large bag of frozen corn and one very large bag of frozen brocolli.

This brings me to a spent amount of 58.50 for two weeks. With the cheese and the sour cream that Mary donated to me, I have right now more than enough food to last me through the end of this week. Probably through the end of the month, actually.

Basically my meals look like this:

Breakfast: cereal or cream of wheat, with milk and fruit.
Lunch: Tuna fish or peanut butter and banana, fruit.
Dinner: Spaghetti or lentils and rice. If it's spaghetti, it has sauce, some cheese, corn and brocolli mixed in. If it's lentils and rice, I might add canned tomatoes, brocolli, cheese or sour cream.
For snacks, I pretty much eat english muffins or celery with peanut butter.

I miss coffee, juice, and salad. I miss eating out, but not as much as I thought that I would. I do really look forward to not having the ability and freedom to just eat whenever I want, wherever I want. So much planning involved!

Like Cait, I'm enjoying the discipline of this, and also hating the redundancy of food (so many different forms of butter) in our kitchen.

Monday, May 7, 2007

New groceries:
I can't find my Trader Joe's receipt anymore but I bought one each of the interesting frozen dinners that were under $2, and $2 worth of cheese. Cheese is way cheaper at TJ's than at Safeway, at least some of it, and good quality. The mild cheddar is $3 a pound, which is awesome.
Anyway, that shopping trip came to $7.33, oh plus 2 boxes of mac and cheese on another trip = $8.80
Then at Safeway:
3 cans of green beans (OMG I love canned green beans, a taste I developed who knows where) on sale - 3@ $0.69 = 2.07
2 cans vegetarian refried beans on sale - 2@$1.00= $2.00
Bag of 36 corn tortillas - $1.84 (these are good for you, cheap, delicious, versatile: I recommend them!)
3 cans tuna on sale 3@$0.66 - $1.98
Safeway total: $7.89
So for the week I have $37 minus milk&coffee&groceries so far = $18.30 left
I think I also have about $4.00 left over from last week, but I'm not going to count it because last week was kind of irregular what with the camping trip and all.

I haven't been doing a very good job of documenting what I eat day to day, but I do have a lot of food left over from last week. I might even have more food than I started with. Lord. But here are some basic themes:

Free food: I get a lot of it. The second day of food stamps I helped to run a meeting which meant I got to take home all the leftover food, which was a bag of carrot sticks (score) and chips and popcorn which I packed into my lunches over the rest of the week. Friday I went to school with my lentils which felt so sad for the second day in a row, without cheese or yogurt. I went to the student lounge to microwave it, and there was a whole huge dish of leftover curry sauce! So that basically made my day; I scooped the sauce onto my rice and lentils and was so happy. Then I came home from the camping trip with a ton of leftover food. I'm not sure how to count this, since I did pay for my food for that weekend, and only counted it as $10 instead of $20.. anyway, I'm going to just go ahead and eat it, but I'll be sharing it with Jay too, so I can't really document prices or anything for that. Sarah suggested just thinking about it as food bank food, which is a good idea, except like it's a super posh food bank. It's a bag of baby bell peppers, some guacamole, a whole bunch of grilled chicken, mushrooms, salsa, and rasberry jam. All of those are REALLY expensive luxurious things that I can't afford right now. Except maybe the mushrooms and salsa. So I don't know, it feels like cheating. I'll see how much of it I end up eating and if it does make a sizable dent I'll just note it. Oh and also, the last and most amazing free food - today there was a knock on the door and when I went to answer it I saw two rapidly retreating figures (I think I know who they were but I'm not telling) and on the doorstep, a loaf of home-baked zucchini bread with two wild flowers and a hand written list of ingredients. I feel like gifts delivered by sprites are well beyond the limitations of food stamps, so I happily ate a piece, and LORD am I glad I did because oh my GOD it was seriously the most delicious zucchini bread I have ever eaten, bar none. Really. Amazing. Sarah and Mike, eat some, you will be so happy about it. So that was magical.

Not Sharing Food: I hate it. Passionately. I mean, just logistically speaking, our fridge is a nightmarish hellscape. But also, like, used to be every morning Jay would help make me lunch and I would help make him breakfast, which is so nice; food prepared for you by someone else just feels so much more loving than anything you can make for yourself. I really miss that. And I miss the surprise of having groceries my housemates bought appear in the fridge. Buying all my own just feels so well circumscribed, it takes some of the exploratory pleasure out of eating. Plus I am such a mother hen in some ways, particularly in that I really like cooking big meals for lots of people, and sharing my food with my friends. And worrying about scarcity is totally inimical to that impulse. Now that I feel a little more comfortable within my limits I think I will maybe try to share more. Somehow.

No cafes or restaurants: A really interesting part of the experiment. I thought it would be way worse than it is. It requires way more foresight in terms of bringing lunches and/or dinners, of course, but there's something pleasurable in that. I do miss coffee shops, but I've been bringing tea bags and my travel mug everywhere, and there's endless hot water, and some coffee shops have even let me sit there without buying anything, and even given me hot water, so that's cool. I do feel bad though, and won't do that much. Walking down the ave is tough, or down Broadway, because everything smells so good, there's pictures of food, it's stuff that I can't make at home... I'm compiling a long mental list of things I can't wait to eat again. Pho, like Erica said. Ethiopian food, mmm. A big enchilada plate. Thai food...and on and on. But I really like the feeling of not hemorrhaging money all the time, because I really do have strong impulses to just buy little things when I can. Yogurt, little babybel cheese rounds I can get at school, coffee, and so on. I don't have a lot of restraint. I mean, I don't go crazy, but I also indulge myself when I get the impulse. I guess I don't have a lot of splurgey impulses generally, but when I do, I indulge them. On the way to camping, Raz and Jay and I stopped at a restaurant, and though I had decided to let that just count as part of the camping trip and not be part of the food stamp thing, I still felt like I wanted to be frugal. So I ordered the cheapest thing on the menu, and was pretty satisfied. I realized that I almost always get more food than I need at restaurants, and less healthy than I want, and things that I maybe don't even really want, out of a feeling of extravagance and experimentation, as in - if I'm at this restaurant, I might as well get the full experience! But really, eating at restaurants (or cafeterias) is like a daily thing for me usually, and so that sort of "but this is different, this is a restaurant" feeling maybe shouldn't apply. I think I'll work on that less formally after this month is over.

I have more I want to say (about nutrition, note to self) but I'll save it for next time. Love.
This is a bit technical, and non food related, but has anyone else noticed that the number of posts that the blog says we have does not line up with the number of posts that exist?

(Please post responses in the comments, not as a seperate post, por favor :)
Noting that the governor of Oregon has finished his food stamp experiment, I found this article. Also found this feature from The Onion: What do you think?
Super Quick Post (more later):

This weekend:

Friday night, I had spaghetti and sauce and beets and milk. It was a strangely, absurdly satisfying meal.

Saturday I took my food stamp holiday- I didn't actually eat very much at all, but I had two socialization events that I had committed to providing food for- cake for Anna's birthday and Mexican Lasagna for Cinco De Mayo at Jen's house. Mary helped me make both of these, and I took her out to lunch in between events, which came to 17.89 for two. Then, later, Mike and I split a pizza and some ice cream, which come to about 14 dollars for two.

So, one more food stamp holiday left.

Yesterday I had spaghetti for breakfast, a tuna fish sandwich for lunch, and lentils with rice for dinner. Today I need to do something about vegetables. I miss them in my diet.

Shout out to Erica for the recipe! That looks delicious! I think I'll try it next week, after my lentils and rice (I basically made enough to last me for all my meals this week, in case I don't feel like making anything) are gone.

Additional purchases: Cheese and sour cream, for a total of 12.00. Ideally to last me the month.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

free food, cheap food

thought to myself on Saturday morning, "man, am I jealous of Ellen and Sarah, getting free food from work. wish I could get free food." two hours later, about a dozen pizzas arrived. since this was the last weekend of the rush job that I have been temping to help out with, they fed us to boost morale (a lot of people seemed to be pulling overtime). today it was sandwiches (had to throw out some meat) and chips. I do love free food.

channa masala, a super cheap Indian dish, can be made from this recipe:
cost: $1 of potatoes, $.70 of onion, $1.38 of chickpeas, $1 of tomatoes, $.50 of rice, and various spices and condiments, for a very filling dinner for 2 plus leftovers for 2. total $4.58 / 4 meals = $1.145 per meal. takes about an hour to make if you preboil the potatoes while prepping the other ingredients (I spent 10 minutes hunting for garam masala, myself). totally worth it. one of the tastiest dishes I have ever made, remarkably similar to the restaurant version (except maybe not quite as pretty, I chop my veggies all haphazardly).
OK i know I have to make a bigger post sometime soon but I just wanted to write a couple things
down so I don't forget:
ganked one box mac and cheese from the house (I had bought it and not billmonked it so I feel like that's fine) - I think ~ 80 cents?
ganked 4 strawberries from the delivery box: $1.00 (organic strawberries are expensive.)

I'll talk about the weekend's eating later, b/c I need advice. For now, I'm going to spend a few more dollars towards next week tonight.

the big cheat

ok so i blew it this weekend.

i wouldn't have any friends (or rather keep up with the friends i do have) if i were on food stamps. a picnic and a show with drinks put me wayyyyyyyy over. the sun was out. i couldn't bring lentils to the alter we were creating. the sun god needed fresh mozzerella, and basil, and tomatoes and fruit. i know. ridiculous.

so - i think, i'll just have to take this one week at a time. next week, i'll know the dangers the weekend poses and put in effort to plan out satisfying, non go-out or share food activities.

Friday, May 4, 2007

I don't know what I'm going to eat for lunch tomorrow - after bean salad and a sandwich three days in a row already, I am tired of it. Maybe burritos.

So far, eating has been good, though I haven't kept track the past couple of days about my daily expenditure, but maybe after one week is up I can see what I have left and calculate that way.

This evening, briefly stopped in at House on the Hill, followed by my friend's potluck. Ate some salad and dumpstered bread with garlic butter (butter not dumpstered) there, provided by other attendees. Jesse and I stopped by a couple of dumpsters on the way home. Fresh bell peppers and basil, hooray! Cheating, cheating, cheating... I will still try to minimize the effect, factor in the cost, etc.
So, it really really hit me, again last night, how much I use food to socialize.

Last night after class I wanted to hang out with my friend Nikki, and she wanted to get some pizza, so we went to Hot Mammas. Now, the pizza there is super cheap per slice, and I could have at that point eaten it and still have been well within budget- but the whole "no prepared foods" thing was quite present. So I just drank water while she ate, and it felt really weird to me. I'm totally not anti pizza! I like pizza a lot, in fact! And I was hungry!

Tonight I'm going to spend time with my friend Justin- he will probably have food there. Saturday I'm going to my friend Anna's birthday party, which will have food there, and then to my friend Jen's Cinco De Mayo party- with more food! I really think that I need to reconsider my personal no eating at friends to make it less extreme. Like, maybe, no dinners or whatnot at friends, but if I'm invited to a birthday party or something like that, eating is allowed? Because otherwise- it's just really awkward.

And again, the thing that really sticks out to me is how lucky I am to have friends who can afford to express their generosity with food.

On the other hand, in terms of not buying lates, hot chocolates, or dinner out- I'm really enjoying that. I'm really enjoying the austerity of my meals.

Also, today: cheerios with strawberries and milk (mix it up!), lunch was provided at work ( a grossly over mayoniosed submarine sandwich), and dinner will be lentils and rice and tomatoes and feta cheese at home. I'll figure out exactly what it comes to then. But thus far, a fifty cent breakfast.
yesterday was 2.50. TJs spinach lasagna (so healthy! so many vitamins) and oj. and work's anniversary celebration (so inspiring!) was dinner.

today. total cheat. :) went out for breakfast after yoga with carmie. at a cafe! so that was 4.50 for muffin and fresh oj. the nice thing about budgeting - it felt like a real treat. budgeting relieves an underlying stress i have about where does it all go? um. i this may break from what-we-are-supposed-to-be-learning.

lunch was free from work. i'll edit this to add in my dinner.

where is everyone?

if details got you down, share something else from your experience.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

I was verrrrrry hungry when I got home last night. Also, very tired- it was past midnight, Mike and I had gone to see a concert, after I had had a busy food bank day and two hours of belly dancing.

I had a tuna fish sandwich on an English Muffin- 66 cents total.


This morning, the same breakfast as yesterday.

Lunch was some canned soup (tomato, pasta and sausage) from QFC, made in my office. 1.69 cents. It was also gross and way too high in sodium. I also drank some V8 juice (88 cents, on sale), making my sodium intake for the day complete.

Snack: an apple, approximately 50 cents.

Dinner will wait until I get home at 8. Tonight I'll need to make a big batch of spaghetti and sauce or lentils and rice or something.


Tomorrow will be in some ways an easier day for me, food wise. Breakfast and lunch are provided at work.


Already, I miss coffee shops.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

today's food and thoughts

Today I ate:
6 oz juice
cereal and soy milk
bean/corn salad with salsa, lettuce, and bell peppers
sandwich with cheese, lettuce, meat-like product, and mayo
butternut squash soup
chips with sour cream and salsa
some chocolate UFOS
estimated cost: 5.25 (daily allotment is about 5.35, yay 10 cents under)
[realized I forgot to include the chips and peppers in my "in stock" list but they are together worth less than a dollar at yesterday's levels(hardly any chips, 1/2 bag of peppers)]

the bean/corn salad is the best thing ever - I got it from a blog I read, the woman designed it for her Weight Watchers diet but I think it is nutritionally excellent for non-dieters too (and it has an amusing name): http://www.sundrybuzz.com/2007/03/20/spicy-shrink-yer-butt-salad-recipe/
I've also been perusing some websites for cheap recipes. this is the best one I've found so far. I love bean salads (esp. when they do not include green beans).

I wonder how food stamps are used by the average person. what do they buy? how much do they spend on different food groups? are our choices different from the average? why might that be? how are our choices affected by our pre-experiment class position, social life, or past experiences? I have noticed so far that meat/fish/poultry, if it appears at all on our shopping lists, is a very small part of what we have bought, but the thrifty food plan sample menus feature meat/fish/poultry at every dinner and many lunches. how does this affect what we can buy, our nutrition levels, our satisfaction with our meals?

I know that I could get a lot of this food cheaper if I could buy it in bulk with others. is there a better way to provide food to people other than food stamps? the good thing about food stamps is that people can buy whatever kinds of food they want - the government isn't telling you what to eat beyond the no prepared foods-type restrictions - but I kinda want to take advantage of economies of scale, beyond government commodities like cheese and canned vegetables.


of note. i was too embarassed to ask my grocery store if they accepted food stamps. and it was damn near impossible (impossible for me, but i'm not rulin it out) to find out accredited stores online. and generosity is more difficult. gann, (gulp) yes you can have another piece.

today was cheap. staff mtg provided breakfast. lunch was the rest of my quiche. 2.38 dinner was burritos. .30 tortilla .30 cheese .25 beans .75 pepper .30 milk .25 salsa. = 4.53 i'm too tired to make lunch for tomorrow.
So, I figured out that if I was spending 37 dollars a week on myself, then for the month I would be spending 148 dollars. As of yesterday morning, I had spent two dollars on cheerios, two dollars on milk, and about 80 cents on canned tomatoes. For lunch, I grabbed a box of on sale mac and cheese (50 cents), used half of my canned tomatoes, and some of my milk (no butter).

I went shopping at Safeway for some provisions. i had intended to do the shopping for two weeks, but a serious barrier was that, not having a car, groceries can be *heavey*. I ended up laming out and calling Mike to ask him to pick me up, but that was after I'd already bought the groceries, so I ended up not getting some of the more necessary, but bulky/heavy things.

Purchased items:

Cream of wheat (on sale) 4.19
2 cans red kidney beans, on sale, total 1.76
10 lb bag of rice- 3.87
Canned beets 80
Safeway peanut butter- 2.00
2 2 lb bags of Safeway lentils, on sale, total 1.38
Safeway spaghetti, 6 lbs, 2.98
Hunts Canned Spaghetti Sauce- 1.48
Low sugar orange marmelade-3.57
Unsalted butter, darigold- 4.29
Whole Wheat Bread- 1.79
English muffin (6 count) 1.19
1.41 lbs bananas- 1.11
1.78 lbs yellow onions- 2.65
garlic-50 cents
2 lb peeled carrots- 2.99
4 lbs strawberries-3.49
3 cans of tuna fish at 1.98

Total 42.02

So, that means I have spent 47.32 cents on food for the month, and have about one hundred dollars left.

Today I had:

My regular cereal (cheerios (20 cents), milk (ten cents) with bananas (18 cents). That was 48 cents total. Also had an english muffin (19 cents) with some butter on it (maybe five cents worth of butter? I need to figure out how many teaspoons are in 2 lbs of butter!). So the grand total for breakfast was:

72 cents!

For lunch I had a tuna fish sandwich (1/2 can tuna fish (33 cents), 1/4 of an onion (33 cents), pepper (no idea, this is something I'm going to continue to use from our house), 2 slices wheat bread (14 cents each).

I also have some carrots and strawberries that I'll nibble on all day. Probably 30 cents worth of carrots and 50 cents worth of strawberries.

I've also had lots of free tea at work.

For dinner I'll have two peanut butter and marmalade sandwiches, more strawberries and carrots, and a v-8 juice that I'll buy at the store for 1.15 cents. The sandwich will probably cost 24 cents all together.

Thus bringing the total of food I'm prepared to consume or have consumed to: 3.65

I also realize I did not bring enough food to keep me from being realy, really hungry today.

Lots of water. Live and learn.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

exposing the liberal bias of the media

newsbusters said that gov was pulling a "media stunt" and used low figures. they posted a table from the usda with 35 for a household of 1. we're kosher.

gov of oregon joins us!

the governor of oregon is doing it too! http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/us/22oregon.html?ex=1178251200&en=e77c14265acfde87&ei=5070
except he's doing it on $3/day, which is the average amount a resident of oregon receives. are our figures too high?

grocery shopping + starting stash

Went grocery shopping this afternoon with Jesse. Figuring out my food expenditures is a little more complicated because when I am here we tend to split food - so the list that follows is adjusted for that, to reflect only my portion of whatever he or I bought. Hopefully I can lay all this out there and then not have to do such a detailed list every day. (What Blogger needs is LJ-style cuts, we're going to have some long posts...)

Total bought today: 31.45
Total value of available food: 52.84

Bought today:

At Trader Joes:
eggs = my half was .50
plain yogurt = 1.99
cheddar cheese block = 2.18
marinara sauce = 2.29
black, white kidney, and garbanzo beans = 2.07
kidney beans (organic, it was all TJs had) = .89
sour cream = my half was .85
chocolate mint UFOs = 1.69
can of corn = .69
vegetarian deli slices = 1.99
shepherd's bread = 2.49
rice milk (all out of fortified soy, oh no!) = 2.69
frozen stir-fry veggies = my half was 1.00
potatoes = my half was 1.00
salsa = my half was 1.50
coconut milk = my half was .50
pasta = my half was 1.50

At Safeway:
lettuce = 1.00
cabbage = 1.28
tortillas = my half was 1.35
ice cream = my half was 2.00

Total purchased:

Already have:
3 servings of a bag of frosted mini-wheats = 1.00
part of a soy milk carton = .50
8 teabags = 1.00
6 Emer-Gen-C packets = 1.50
can of tomato soup = .89
butternut squash soup, partial container = 1.00
cheese = 2.50
tofu = 1.00
juice = 8.00 (here I am totally cheating - there is no room in the fridge here for another carton of juice, but we have a preponderance of frozen bottles of dumpstered Naked juice. so... I am going to cheat in the following manner - a 64 oz container of Naked juice will run you around 8.00 (and we have such a container) and I'll carefully monitor how much I consume.)
Thai green chile sauce base = 1.00
onions = 3.00
and various and sundry condiments, no specific value.

first day!

nutrition is a trick. upon close inspection my beloved perogies are just vegefiber getting pushed through my gut. with the value of carbs. which are oh so easy to come by.

lunch: 1 burrito from TJs: 1.80
i made one quiche for dinner:
cheese .80
spinache 1-
1/2 onion .75
5 eggs .80
crust 1.70
dill .10
italian .10
milk .10
=5.35/2 (gann had a piece, i had two)= 2.68 (i'll have the rest tomorrow)
oj - .50
Total Cost: 4.98

Free: one cup tea from work and one cup milk and ice cream from gann.

A kind of interesting article about local food stamp purchasing power.

For anyone wondering, yes, TJ's does take food stamps.
First Day

I hadn't gotten around to shopping last night, so I was preparing for a very hungry day, since all I had was the cheerios that I had purchased and planned on finishing up (stale cheerios in June? No thank you!) and the house milk that we (Cait and I) decided to continue using, as it would be a silly thing to let it go to waste.

However, my office is being fumigated, so I've come home. As soon as I'm done with my work, I can run to the grocery store, and get my staples!

This morning, I felt strangely much hungrier than I usually do, so instead of the one bowl of cheerios with milk that I usually have, I ate 2 bowls! Walking to work, I realized that I was overful, leading me to think that I was pre-emptively compensating for anxiety about going hungry/deprivation.

Since being home I've had a lot of water and tea. I'm pretty ravenous, which is a lame way to go shopping- my impulse will be for the super quick to fix, high caloric things that are not going to help me stretch my budget.

I think since I am doing this for the month, or aiming to, I'll go shopping with a budget of 70.50 cents. (THat is double my weekly budget minus for weekly milk expenses and the cheerios I've already purchased and the tea bags). My goal is to get lentils, rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, spaghetti sauce, tuna fish, peanut butter, bananas, oatmeal, etc. I think frozen vegetables on sale will have to compensate for fresh vegetables. I also think that I'll want to get some frozen entrees for work.

The real challenge (as Cait and I discussed yesterday) will not be trying to get calories, but trying to get meaningful calories. As it is, I struggle to get enough of the B vitamins, Iron and protein in my diet. And mygeneral desire to avoid heavily processed foods and foods that have a high fructose/corn syrup content will really be challenged. I anticipate organic fruits and vegetables to go out the window.

I think I'll try to get those large cans of V8 juice, which are pretty high in sodium but also in lots of vegetables, minerals and vitamins.

Anyway, I also do want to save some money for this weekend- I'll need to bring something for my friend Anna's birthday and something for a Cinco De Mayo celebration- once again, the role that food and being able to spend relatively freely on it in my socialization is really being highlighted for me!

(And on that note: last dinner of non-food stamp times? Cait and I went to the B&O- we each had a lasagna and a hot cocoa- meal with tip was twenty dollars each. We went out with a bang!)

First shopping trip

So because of my weekend camping trip, I had $27 to begin with. Minus $1 for milk (what we calculated we pay through our milkman) and $2 for coffee (what Jay and I estimated we would spend; right now we make coffee for the two of us every morning from the stash I brought from Uganda, and it seemed silly to brew two separate pots, that's $24 I had to work with. I didn't want to spend it all in case I had a major craving at the end of the week: craving contingency money is important. So I did my shopping at Safeway. Here's what I got:
Cheerios (on sale) - $2
Grape Jelly (on sale) - $1.69
Peanut Butter (on sale - also non hydrogenated! woo!) - $2.00
1 bag lentils - $0.69
1 bag brown rice - $0.69
Big bag of spaghetti (on sale) - $1.25
2 Oriental Ramen (I know you can get em way cheaper elsewhere)- $0.50
1 can tuna (on sale) - $0.66
2 yogurt (on sale for 50c ea) - $1.00
Safeway crushed wheat bread (on sale) - $1.50
2 oranges (on sale) - $1.30
3 bananas - $1.08
1 roma tomato (on sale) - $0.33
2 fuji apples - $1.74
3 carrots - $0.55
a few celery stalks - $0.41

plus 1 jar of tomato sauce i'm carrying over from tj's - $2.00

Total: $19.39

Surprises: I was really happy to see there was an alternative to Adam's super expensive peanut butter for simple, just peanuts, non-hydrogenated peanut butter. I was dismayed at how impossible it is to get cheap jam that doesn't have high fructose corn syrup. As it is, I'm eating 100% more high fructose corn syrup now than before. The main tragedy for this week is NO CHEESE. I will probably go back later and buy some with my contingency moneys. Cheese is one of the most compelling arguments for sharing food. Cheese in the 2lb bricks is, I think, more than twice as cheap per pound than in the smallest quantities. I could spend 3 dollars on a teeny amount of cheese, or 6 on four times as much. Also, I am appreciating vegetables and fruit way more right now than I do when I get them through the free organics box. I mean, I gave up cheese before I would give away one of my oranges or apples.

Food today:
cheerios & coffee for breakfast
pb&j sandwich, spaghetti and sauce, half a carrot for lunch
plus i brought a bunch of teabags so i'll be drinking tea all day instead of coffee

How's everyone else's first day going?

Monday, April 30, 2007

links of interest, today's food

Look at this article I found! I would call it awesome, but it's not really - more just extremely locally and topically relevant:

Also, yet another person doing the food stamp experiment - nice to see that so many others have given this a whirl:

Today's food:
Breakfast: whole wheat bagel, cream cheese = estimated 75 cents, orange juice = estimated 35 cents, Earl Grey tea with soy milk and sugar = estimated 40 cents
Late lunch/early dinner: small veggie pho at Pho Than Brothers (damn, will I miss eating there for a while) = $4.20
Late dinner: homemade burrito with cheese, beans, sprouts, sour cream, salsa = estimated $1, small glass of Naked juice Green Machine = free to me (probably 25 cents value)
Total spent: $4.20
Total cost: $6.70
Total value: $6.95

OMG - only one hour left!

and i'm totally unprepared.


i don't even know where i can buy groceries. does anyone know if TJs is allowed? i'm pretty sure my tops grocery had a sign...

but no more quick jaunts to my neighborhood bodega. nix.

today was a 5 dollar sandwhich and

free: sweet sweet coffee from the office. and tea. and dinner with matt.

so a 5 dollar day. kinda.

i'll be more official. starting TOMORROW!
Monday (last day of normal food buying habits).


Cheerios and milk and a banana. About 50 cents.

Snack at eleven: Half of a chocolate muffin, lots of water, all left overs from last Fridays meeting at work. Free. (Also pretty gross).

Lunch- Half of a ham sandwich, grape juice from the corner store. 4.95. A mocha from cupcake royale. 4 dollars. (Four dollars?!?)

Snack at work to deal with being stressed out- sunflower seeds. Mike bought them last week for our trip to portland. No idea what he paid for them. I'll say I ate probably 15 cents worth.

So far, having not eaten dinner, it's been about ten dollars.


So, also, I was thinking- if we were really on food stamps, we'd get one lump sum of money at the beginning of the month, and would have to budget from there. I'm thinking about doing a large grocery shopping thing on my way home from work. 37 dollars times 4 weeks worth of groceries. But- so risky. What do you think?
starting to get nervous about all this. I tend to use food/drinks as a reward for myself. now that I realize that for at least a week there can be no spur-of-the-moment convenient purchases of treats (none of my current frequent haunts/work locations are within a quarter-mile, or maybe even a half-mile, of a grocery store, never mind the fact that hot coffee is not a food-stamp item), I am starting to care.

I will have to tote around plenty of tea bags and Emer-gen-C so I don't become obsessed with the idea of buying a cup of coffee, because even though I can easily go a week without coffee, it will be forbidden fruit, and then I won't be able to stop thinking about having some.

Even thinking about this experiment is revealing a hell of a lot of weird behaviors and thought patterns I have about food, health, taking care of myself, and being satisfied. I'm sure there's lots more to come.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Friday, finished:

Met with Mary and Natalie to catch up at a Mexican Food Restaraunt. Mary paid for me, but if i had paid, it would have been 6.50. I had an enchilada from the a la carte menu. And lots of water.

After that, Mary and Natalie and I went to Dilletentes- I had a steamed milk with almond in it, and we split a slice of cake three ways. The cake was 8.00, the milk was two dollars. Mary and Natalie both had mochas that were about four dollars a piece. Mary and I treated Natalie to this and split the total bill two ways.

Total expenditure for Friday was, in terms of amount eaten, fifteen dollars, amount expended, 12 dollars and fifty cents.

Saturday I spent the night at Sophias, and babysat for fourteen hours. All the food I ate that day was food I ate sort of on the job that was paid for me by Irene, Sophia's mom, and food that I would have access to were I on food stamps.

Breakfast- we made pancakes from scratch. No idea. I had coffee from across the street, which cost 2 dollars, but Irene had left money specifically for me to get coffee.

Lunch- We ate at the pad se ew place (?) where Irene takes Sophia on Saturdays. Irene gave me the exact amount of money to buy the exact thing that she buys Sophia every Saturday. It came to 15.75 with tip, and there was enough food for the two of us to split easily, and to take home for Irene.

Dinner was Pizza- again, Irene left the exact amount for us to get a large cheese Pizza from Zeeks. 17 dollars.

Total food spent for my food consumption: 17 dollars. Total food I spent on myself: 0 dollars.

(I had forgotten how low my food costs were as a nanny!)

Sunday (Today)

Skipped breakfast totally, had some finger snacks at church (swedish meatballs, crackers with goat cheese (that I assure you was a total accident/mistake), sliced apples, coffee. Free to me and I have no idea how I can figure out how much that food actually cost. Maybe let's say three dollars worth of food I ate?

Mike and I went for one last fling of eating out for a late late lunch/early early dinner at Cedars. We split Nan, Chicken Tandori, Coconut Curry. I had a chai tea. It came to 26 dollars, we split it between us.

Total food spent on myself today: 13 dollars.

I've really really really used eating out as a mood of social interacting a lot recently. That will be a big challenge for me to deal with, the sudden change in that. Also, I'm really beginning to appreciate that one of the ways that I am personally quite priveleged is that people are generous to me, and that I have a lot of social relatonships in which food is purchased for me. (I noticed, also, that i purchase a lot of food for other people- I haven't been tracking money that I spend on food for other people as a food bill that would be covered for food stamps. Should I?)

Overall, I'm averaging spending about 13 dollars on myself per day. With a food stamp budget, it will be about half than that. Also, I do frequent coffee shops so much- my gosh, I am personal friends with the coffee shop owners in my immediate vicinity! So that will also be a challenge, too.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

anticipated challenges

1. For the first week-ish of this experiment, I'll be staying at Slant (I have a temp job in town and this is so much easier than commuting from Lake Stevens/east Everett every day, plus I get to hang out with rad people). So I should be able to do pretty well for the first week.

2. I have just discovered that my favorite lunchtime at-work frozen meal (TJ's spinach lasagna, $1.89) is not big enough for lunch on its own, AND that it tends to give me heartburn. Bummer.

3. Not consuming dumpstered juice, bread, or produce will be pretty difficult for me. I understand the value of not taking this way out for the experiment - nevertheless, I love avoiding waste and dumpstering is one of the ways I do that.

In short, my biggest challenge is not the amount of money I have to spend - I have successfully eaten off a food-stamp sized allotment for much of my five years of adult life. It will be avoiding spending the money on things that are not food-stamp approved (like coffee from a coffee shop - I'm working quite a bit next week, and I'm going to require caffeine), and forcing myself to buy things that I would normally dumpster. Also, I am trying to gain a few pounds, and eating much more than I normally do may be difficult on this budget.

Today's food breakdown:
Breakfast: Frosted mini-wheats knockoff, soy milk = estimated 50 cents, coffee from coffee shop = $1.48
Lunch: TJ's spinach lasagna = $1.89, mango Naked Juice = free (valued at $3.29 or so)
Snack: 2 Emer-gen-C packets = estimated 50 cents, rye Triscuits = estimated 50 cents
Dinner at my parents' house: homemade pizza on pre-made crust = my share, estimated $3
Total paid by me: $4.37
Total cost: $7.87
Total value: $11.16

Wow. That was a lot more than I expected. My cocky comments above should be disregarded.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Breakfast- cinnamon toast crunch plus milk. The cinnamon toast crunch was 2 dollars a box, with about ten servings per box, so I'll estimate, what- 20 cents per serving? With hormone free milk delivered to our house- I think that is, maybe, another ten cents? So that would be about 30 cents a serving? Cereal, clearly, will constitute a huge part of next months meals.

Lunch- an apple (75 cents apiece, according to our little organic food slip), a v8 juice for 1.50, a mocha for 2 dollars, and lots of water (free, from work). So that was- 4.25

Dinner was really late: I went out with Mike, Justin, Susan and Patrick. We ordered alltogether a lot of food- a pizza and a half, an order of meatballs, a salad, an order of garlic bread, an order of cannolli and an order of spumoni. I think our total came to 67.oo- that includes drinks (which I don't know who had what- I had water) and doesn't include dessert, which was free. I paid 12.oo dollars. That means my total for yesterday was 16.55. (Mike and I were sort of in feast before famine mood, even though I ate probably half a slice of pizza, a meatball, and a bite of spumoni. It was really strange how much I wanted the option of eating a lot of food, even though I wasn't even remotely hungry.)

I don't remember doing it, but this morning my mouth tasted strongly of grapefruit juice, so I think in my sleep I went upstairs and had grapefruit juice. Who knows how much. So that's an additional- what- maybe thirty cents? so 16.85 total for yesterday.

Friday (so far)

Breakfast was a work meeting, where food was provided. I had a croissant, some little baby quiche, several cups of coffee, some strawberries and some grapes.

Lunch has been oatmeal. Approximately 50 cents.

Dinner I think I'm eating at home, then going to meet friends, so there might be dessert or drinks afterwards.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday: Breakfast: Bowl of cinnamon toast crunch w/delivery milk+coffee - <$1.50?
Lunch - some horrible cafeteria pasta & broccoli slop + coffee -$6.25
+ lentils, rice&yogurt from home; orange (from the box) - probably no more than $2.00
Dinner - DICK'S DELUXE yeah dog & fries - $3.50
Late night snack: cinammon toast crunch! - <$1.00
Total: ~$14

Breakfast: bowl of joe's o's ($2 a box) with milk (local, hormone free, delivery) and strawberries (organic, from the box)
coffee from uganda.
I estimate this breakfast was ~$1.50
Snack: apple (organic, from the box) ?? $0.50?
Lunch: Croissant sandwich at school + crackers + coffee = $7.10
Snack: a friend gave me a cookie in exchange for carrying his tubs of brains (really). This is the sort of thing that I would definitely still accept during the experimental month.
Dinner: Haven't eaten yet, but probably pasta ($0.80/bag) & sauce (<$2.00 jar) from TJ's, with a little cheese - $1.00/meal
Probably a bowl of cereal later on: <$1.00

TOTAL: $11.00

I usually only buy lunch at school ~once/week. Clearly that will have to change. Pasta and sauce, lentils and rice, and cereal on sale or from TJs are going to be staples, I think.
Also, I get free dinners through my grad program about once a month, and through other school-based routes a few more times, and I usually bring tupperware so that it lasts for a few more meals. I'll probably keep that up; exploiting free food seems different than being taken out by friends.

As for this house, we should talk with Jay and Susan about suspending or decreasing the box and the milk deliveries for the month. I don't want the food to go to waste, and don't think it would be fair to use them. Oh also, I already paid for food for the weekend I'm going camping, which was like $15 or $20 for the weekend. I'm not going to deduct that whole amount, since I paid for it before the draconian measures, but I'll just deduct $10 from that week's total budget, so I'm not funneling saved money towards later in the week, if that makes sense. So, $27 for week 1 for me, $37 thereafter.

Not sure yet what my rules will be about restaurants & friend's houses. Definitely limited but not sure to what extent yet - total or with a few exceptions.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Rest of the day:

At a meeting with some fellow volunteers, the host of the meeting provided cheese (cheddar and swiss), nuts (pecans, walnuts and almonds), apple slices, dried apricots, crackers (vegetable flavored triscots), and olives. Basically two small platefuls (saucer size?) of the above were my dinner. I came home afterwards and am nursing a class of hot cocoa.

I wonder if I am actually addicted to hot cocoa?
Man, all our guilty food secrets are coming out:

Yesterday, lunch-

Ham sandwich, orange juice, hot cocoa. David paid for all but the hot cocoa. I think he paid about 6 dollars all together? I paid a dollar fifty for the hot cocoa.

Dinner- was really late. A vegetable lasagna that cost 3.57, and a bowl of cereal, which I will estimate cost maybe fifty cents all together. I also ate three bites of the lentils in the refrigerator. I think they were made by Cait, probably bought by Bill monk- I have no earthly idea how much I would have paid for them.

Today, so far:

Breakfast, more cereal (cinnamon toast crunch, on sale for 4 for ten dollars. I'll go home and figure out how many servings per box) with 2 per cent milk.

Lunch: A V8 juice (1 dollar 15 cents on sale at the convienence store near work), a piece of chocolate a coworker gave me, lots of water, apple from our fruit bowl.

I'll figure out how much the apple cost too.

How do I live?

You're probably better off not reading this.


Bacon cheese burger and onion rings and a 12 ounce coke : $6.72
Cottage Cheese, sprite, two burritoes and a power aid: $5.00

day's total is $11.72

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Also, though it's rare for me, on the days when there is food in my office, I'll eat it.

And finally- I think probably for myself, what I intend on doing, is Monday night buying 25 dollars worth of groceries, and posting what I bought, and also posting what I will eat each day.

Then anything I buy above and beyond that, I'll post that daily too.

I'll also post how I feel about things. Right now, i eat more or less a diet that makes me feel pretty good in my body. So i am curious what will happen, you know, when my diet is pretty suddenly restricted.
Hey guys!

Excellent questions. I think that basically, my inclination is to not do anything that would involve waste. So, for example, if you have a lot of produce in your kitchen, or fresh milk, come Tuesday, then I say use that. I think that we can also continue to use spices and condiments because, as Erika pointed out, those generally exist well past people's other food options.

As far as our friends taking us out or whatnot- those were just my suggestions, and basically that came from a desire to not allow us to game the system. I think most of us have friends who are affluent and generous, and would probably let us get away with eating out on them for a few weeks with no problem. I don't think this is the accurate experience of most people who go on food stamps, though, you know? So my suggestion of that was, basically, coming from a place of wanting to get a better understanding of what it means to be in a place where this is my income, this is my scope of resources.

Really, though, I recognize that we all have different motivations for doing this. So a lot of the things I suggest- those are basically guidelines that I think would help *me* with this project, given my motivations.

I think it will be really different for different people, perhaps?

So these are the guidelines that I'm going to suggest, and probably use for myself. And I don't think everyone needs to follow the same guidelines- I think it's important to make this work for everyone, so you all will know what is realistic and what is not for you. But I would suggest maybe that people post their guidelines, so that anyone who reads this has a good idea? (Maybe in our profiles?)


After talking to some of the social workers in my agency, I'm basing mine off a food stamp budget of 150 dollars per month. This balances out to 37.50 cents per week. This is our best estimate of what I would get in Seattle as a single healthy woman in my 20s. It's based on the web site that I had sent out, as well as the case workers estimation of the system here. They estimate that this would be slightly higher for men our age, and slightly lower for elderly people.

I am going to go through with my housemates to take some of the food that already exists in our house in canned/dried food form to create a "food bank". I think the food bank experience would be a good one, but I personally would find it awkward to go to a foodbank. I've talked this over with a few of my colleagues in the food bank, and while they support this in theory, and think it's an awesome thing, we agreed it would be awkward to serve each other for lots of reasons. And taking things from my own food bank feels like stealing. So, the food bank experience is out for me.

So to create a kind of artificial food bank for myself (and those of my housemates who are participating), I want to go through and create a cabinet that is a kind of food bank.

If you have food stamps, you cannot use them for alcohol, cigarrettes, prepared food (no restaraunts, coffees at coffeeshops, etc). So I am going to abstain from restaraunts or coffee shops for the next month. Which will be really hard for me.

As far as the produce box we get (for anyone who doesn't know, I live in a house where one of our housemates, Caitlin- her parents have purchased as a present for us a weekly box of organic vegetables)- well, a lot of this depends on how many of our housemates actually end up doing this. If all but Jay and Cat do this, I am afraid that the produce would go to waste. On the other hand, there is no way that I would be buying organic produce for myself if I were on foodstamps. So- to be honest, I'm stumped. Cait, Mike, Susan- any ideas?

(I feel the same way about the milk that we get- very stumped. but also not wanting it to go to waste. but also aware that organic milk would be well beyond my lifestyle were I on foodstamps).

Finally- as far as meals go that our friends make for us- this one is difficult, because so much of our socialization lies in eating together. My feeling is that if I am too draconian with myself, I'll fail. So I am giving myself two passes to eat dinner at a friends house.

Other additonal boundaries- only purchasing food from places that would accept food stamps, and that are within walking distance for me.

So those are the limits I'm proposing for myself. What do you guys think? What are your limits?

my thoughts

I am not sure, but I don't *think* that most people starting on food stamps begin with only spices and condiments. I think using what I already have after the date we begin is fair, especially if I count its cost toward the allotment. I would like to be able to participate but given that I live in about three different places right now, it's not reasonable for me to not use food that is already available to me (otherwise I'd be toting a cupboard with me everywhere).

By the way, what figures are we using? I saw the $26.90 (women) and $29-something (men) weekly figures that Sarah mentioned, is that what we are using?

Lately it's been very hard for me to gauge how much I am spending on food. I share a lot of food. I'm not sure how I will be able to keep track of expenditures, but I'll need to figure it out in short order.


Starting in May:

1. Are we going to post every day our expenditures? (I hope so. It'll help keep me honest.);
2. Sarah mentioned that we can't have people take us out for dinner. Is that still the rule? If so, then can we accept free food from friends? Or with wabi the free box from Cait's parents. Off course, you can pretend that you buy it and just incorporate your share of the box into the cost of food for May.

It may make sense to post our grocery bills/wk and the over the counter items/day. As the cost of items bought in bulk might be difficult to gauge, e.g. a glass of milk.

If we are going to start at zero and not use previously bought groceries, it might be a good idea to start using up your perishables.

My apologies if Sarah has already gone over this. I'm kind of new to the world of blog.

Office food.

Perhaps I have an advantage because I work in an office where there is often left over food from meetings and community food donated by good natured souls. I am also very good at stockpiling free food without getting noticed.

Two donuts, $0.00

What am I getting myself into?

What kind of idea is this? Word to the wise kids, when you enter a relationship make sure there is some sort of paper work involved so you do not end up intentionally starving yourself for a month.

I've gotta talk to my lawyer.

So, let's begin.

Ok, so I think we are starting officially living off food stamp allocations next Tuesday?

I'll report what I had yesterday, just for good measure.

1) Morning, steamed milk with almond in it, 2 dollars.

2) Lunch- prepackaged oatmeal, tea, apples. All purchased communally by the house, so I have no idea how much I personally paid for this lunch. But I will estimate that this was a five dollar meal.

3) Dinner- hot chocolate, three bites of left over thai food, a bowl of spaghetti with corn, tomato sauce and cheddar cheese, a handful of snap peas. The hot chocolate, spaghettie, corn, tomato sauce and cheddar cheese were billmonk purchases. The snap peas are gifts from Caitlin's mom. The thai food was leftover from a dinner Mike bought me. I'm going to estimate this to be a 7 dollar meal? Maybe?

4) Dessert- my friend Kim took me out for dessert at B&O. I had more hot chocolate and a slice of lemon cream pie. This came to 11.50, which Kim paid for.

Ok. Today, Tuesday the 24th.

Breakfast: Grapefruit juice, (purchased by Anna and David on Sunday). Cheerios, which I bought awhile ago and bill monked to the house. Milk, which was also purchased by Susan and bill monked to the house.

Afternoon snack when I got a headache: Trail mix that Mike bought for our train ride to Portland, and 1/2 of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, all of which also was from what Mike bought for our train ride to Portland.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Wednesday April 18

coffee at Katie's -- 1.60
cafeteria pizza - 4.30
lentils from noah - free as a bird