Welcome back to the Food Security Challenge, where I continue work on what has to be a very short book, entitled Doing Santa Barbara on $6.46 A Day.
I am into a routine now, where my meals are very controlled. Here is my daily menu:
BREAKFAST: Oats with nuts and fresh fruit. This sets me up with the slow-release of energy of the oats, the protein and disease-fighting capabilities of the nuts and blueberries. I eat this after exercising, so it helps me recover from this too.
LUNCH: A salad with a protein. Sometimes a chop salad, sometimes more a lettuce-based traditional salad. The variety comes with what protein I pair it with – canned tuna, chicken, some of my infamous ‘how dare he eat it on food stamps’ smoked salmon or rice and beans (combining to make a complete protein). The dressing also stops it from being monotonous. I can include some soy sauce on one day, or fresh lemon or mustard. This all helps my olive oil and vinegar take on different faces.
DINNER: This is the main meal of the day, with fish or chicken, chili or curry or Chinese. Sometimes with rice and beans or with a tortilla or salad and another hot vegetable like broccoli. I might cook 3-4 times a week and the rest of the meals are leftovers.
SNACKS: I might have half an apple or a few Kitten Cookies if I am totally out of control.
This can be monotonous, however it also allows me to not have food as the focus of everything. I can’t always reward or punish myself with food if things are going well or bad. In theory it should be good for me to lessen the use food as an emotional crutch. Maybe this is the cheapest therapy session ever. (This challenge makes me want to perform ridiculous calculations, so I reckon I could get 3 minutes and 50 seconds with a reasonably priced therapist for my $6.46. I think i’ll take the food.
While we’re on the bean counting, I went shopping for only the second time in my challenge. I spent a very modest, very controlled $ 11.61, which with the $ 83.76 I spent in my initial splurge, leaves me $100.67 for the remaining 20 days of my challenge.
This means I am down to $ 5.03 a day instead of the $6.46 that the food stamp program allows – but with some major items that will last multiple weeks already purchased. I think I’m in good shape, but I know that as I get closer to the end of the month, that money will suddenly gurgle down the drain (or my gut) with increased speed!
My focus in this challenge is at looking at the challenges faced by senior citizens in our county and I had a great opportunity this morning to visit one of our 15 countywide Brown Bag program sites. Brown Bag provides staple grocery items and fresh produce to seniors twice monthly. Those who cannot pick it up receive deliveries.
I visited the site at Goleta Valley Community Center and chatted with lead volunteer Robert as well as a number of other volunteers who range from married couples having a date activity to UCSB students.
The quality of the food and the attentiveness of the volunteers created warm feelings all round.