Monday, April 27, 2015

Food Stamps Challenge, Canadian Edition: Day 1

Today I begin the challenge...  After a long shop at No Frills, armed with shopping list, notepad, calculator and pen, this is what I got for $35.15, just 10 cents under the $35.25 ($29 American) allotted for food stamps.  

Honestly, I think that's pretty good for $35.  I bought 19 items, consisting of 5 bananas, 5 apples, bag of pasta, 2 boxes of PC Mac and Cheese, cookies, eggs, Mr. Noodles, granola bars, small pack of butter, bread, milk, peanut butter, 3 soups, tomato sauce, frozen pizza and a box of Mini Wheats.

I managed to get some protein with the peanut butter, eggs and almond granola bars.  I also have some fruits and vegetables with the bananas, apples, soups and maybe the pizza (since it has spinach).  I wouldn't call this a healthy diet but I think it's quite likely that it will last me a week.  Everything was around $2, except for the $4.49 pizza and the butter, which was $3 for a little stick.  In hindsight, I regret buying it, since it doesn't have nutritional value and I'll only use it for the mac and cheese and toast.  I could have bought some instant coffee with that $3!

While we're on the subject of coffee, it is not pleasant being without coffee when you try to work a shift on 6.5 hours of sleep without any of that magical bean juice, I mean, that waste of money that doesn't provide any nutrition.  I didn't get coffee or tea (and definitely not alcohol) because I didn't want to spend money on something that wasn't food.  Anyway, I think this amount of food is enough for a week.

Throughout the challenge, I will weigh myself and record my meals everyday to show you how I budget my food and whether there is a change in weight.

Today's Weight: 148

Breakfast: small bowl of Mini Wheats

Work snack: granola Bar, cookie

Lunch: Mac and Cheese (1/2 a package), 1/2 a can of tomato soup

Dinner: Mac and Cheese (1/2 a package), 2 scrambled eggs, apple

Other than the lack of coffee and sleep, the first day went fairly well.  It's hard to gauge how you're feeling when you're tired and that affects your mood all day.  I realized that in order to not eat more than 3 meals and maybe a snack, you have to plan your meals out, preferably with 4 hours between them.  I did fine for breakfast, snack and lunch but 3 hours after lunch I was already hungry, probably because I'm used to larger meals or eating and snacking more often.  Altogether I'm enjoying the food (obviously because I got to eat mac and cheese) and I feel full after each meal.   I'm also drinking water after each meal so that I can digest the food better and so that I feel more full when I'm done eating.  

I wasn't sure whether I should forego my daily B12 vitamin or Advil for headaches, but decided against it.  I suppose I was more inclined to leave them out since Advil is $3-5 and vitamins are fairly expensive.   If anyone actually reads this thing, let me know if there is an argument for including them in the comments. 

A little background on myself:
I'm a slightly overweight woman in her 20s with a vegetarian diet.  As my blogger name suggests, I am indeed a hedonistic hermit.  I love my junk food, alcohol, coffee, tea, sugary drinks sometimes.  I almost always have something sugary in the house.  For my meals, I usually gravitate toward 3 things: black bean burrito, pasta with tomato sauce and dal makhani curry with naan.  Then I'll add some fruit or a salad for nutrition.  But I eat many other foods as well.  My spread for this challenge isn't far from my current diet; I often have scrambled eggs, soup, cereal, toast, pasta, etc.  The pizza is new but I thought it would provide several meals for $4 so I went for it.

Another thing to include is that I've never encountered poverty in my life.  I've always been some form of middle-class, whether it was lower or upper middle class.  My mother was a lawyer and until she died a few years ago, my dad, brothers and I lived a comfortable, almost indulgent lifestyle.  She bought so many fancy things that we didn't need, we shopped at Whole Foods sometimes, we ate out at restaurants often and money wasn't as important as the healthiness and quality of the food when we were grocery-shopping.  

It's hard to admit but when our dad tightened our belts and we swapped the Starbucks for Folgers it was difficult for me to adjust to the change (the loss was probably part of that but it was a big change for us as well).  That was the closest I've been to anything resembling poverty.  In reality, we just started living a reasonable lifestyle where we spent modestly and focused on buying what we need.  There was no starving or hardship, just some upper-middle-class kids becoming lower-middle-class kids.  I later learned that our mother left dad with a large amount of credit card debt.  It wasn't that she didn't make a lot of money but she couldn't control her spending.  

Now I know why dad got a second job and felt anxious about spending too much.  Luckily he got rid of the debt and paid off the mortgage with the Life Insurance.  Now I still try to focus on the essentials, but I often get swept up by temptation when I see something appealing or something that's on sale.  To sum up, I have never been poor or homeless and my lifestyle is still fairly indulgent and sometimes expensive.  

I suppose another reason that I'm doing this is that I will move out of my dad's house soon and this might be my future.  I've been saving a lot of money, but it never hurts to think about your food, what it costs and how to budget for both survival and nutrition.

Well, I got through day 1, let's see how day 2 goes.  With a good night's sleep in my future, I'm feeling hopeful.

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