I accepted the challenge from Feeding America to eat on $4.50 per day. I made the 3 day pledge, starting Sunday. As a registered dietitian in retail, I plan meals for a living and have to stay within a budget. . . so I planned and cost my recipes, made my grocery list and shopped for the best prices. Here's what I ate:
Day 1: Sunday
Breakfast with Egg Omelet, Broccoli Slaw,
Homemade Wheat Bread, Banana and Skim Milk.
Lunch with Chickpea Hummus, Whole Grain Cornbread Muffin,
Carrots Sticks, Homemade Applesauce and Skim Milk.
I added Sunflowers Seeds I'd planned for my snack to the
Hummus. My Whole Grain Cornbread Muffins were awesome.
(That's a close up in my cover photo).
Dinner with Tomato Tilapia, Steamed Cabbage, Clementine
Orange, Homemade Wheat Bread and Skim Milk.
Day 2: Monday
My High Protein Breakfast. (I eat this every weekday).
Oatmeal, Flaxmeal, Wheat Germ, Greek Yogurt,
Skim Milk and Homemade Applesauce.
I packed my lunch and made the Festive Black Bean
Chili we feature at work. It was awesome! Whole Grain
Cornbread, Clementine Orange and Skim Milk was
filling, so I saved my Graham Cracker and Natural
Peanut Butter for later.
My favorite snack: Hot Air Popcorn. 1/4 cup kernels
makes this hefty serving, at only 13 cents. Low in
calories and sodium and whole grain!
Dinner included 2 Muffin Tin Tacos made with Corn
Tortillas (super cheap), Seasoned Ground Beef,
Quinoa, Cheddar, Northern Beans and homemade
Salsa. Grapes and Skim Milk completed the meal.
Day 3: Tuesday
My daily High Protein Oatmeal with Homemade Applesauce.
Lunch was Pumpkin Lentil Soup, Cornbread Muffin,
Apple, Skim Milk and Peanut Butter on Graham.
I was later getting home today but still enjoyed
my snack of Hot Air Popcorn.
Dinner was Harvest Chicken with Grapes, Olives
and Rosemary over Brown Rice, Green Beans,
Homemade Wheat Bread and Skim Milk.
Living within this budget was challenging, but I knew I could do because:
1) We don't eat large portions of meat. 1-4 oz. (raw weight) portion of chicken is enough for the two of us.
2) I eat very few processed foods.
3) I take the time to peel, cut and prepare my meals at home.
What was hard:
1) You can't do it if you eat out. Even in the Healthy Cafe that I manage, where we don't have much overhead and barely break even, I still have to pay for my staff to make it (the labor). I had to make and pack my lunch using the same recipes we make at work.
2) I could only drink 3 cups of coffee a day (my only vice) and had to shop around for the best price in coffee beans.
3) No wine. No bottled water.
4) No eating while preparing food.
5) No extras, like juice with medicine.
6) While I carefully planned my produce, I ate less than what I would have on other days.
Most importantly, I appreciate that many of my own staff at work cannot afford to eat an entire meal in the same cafeteria where they work. A nice lunch with beverage costs an average of $5. Who's going to pay for it?
How are we ever going to pay for it?