Slow Food and the Hunger Challenge

I love this line from the $5 Challenge:

“Because slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food.”

On Saturday, two different food-related challenges coincided, Slow Food USA’s $5 Challenge and the San Francisco Food Bank’s Hunger Challenge. I missed most of the Hunger Challenge, a week-long event in which people spend only $4.72 a day on food to experience eating on a food stamp budget. I did manage to try it for one day.

Here is how the day went, with costs being my best estimates.

Breakfast: oatmeal with peanut butter and banana

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal, $0.21
  • 1/2 cup almond milk, $0.22
  • 1 banana, $0.49
  • 1 T natural peanut butter, $0.11
  • dash cinnamon, $0.01 (?)
  • coffee with half and half, a few cups homemade, $0.50

Breakfast cost: $1.54

Lunch: egg muffins and an apple

I saw egg muffins a while ago and have been wanting to try them.

  • 6 eggs, $1.25
  • 1/2 cup milk, $0.24
  • 2 slices rosemary ham, $0.80
  • 2 slices American cheese, $1.00
  • 1/4 onion, $0.11
  • 1 slice wheat bread, toasted and diced, $0.11
  • salt and pepper, $0.01 (?)

Egg muffins (for a serving of 3): $0.88 (Total cost for 12 egg muffins: $3.52)

Apple, $0.89

Lunch cost: $1.77

Dinner: chili and cornbread

I brought a big pot of chili and some cornbread to share after a night of tennis mixed doubles.

Pot of chili:

  • 1 lb. ground beef, $3.49
  • 1 green bell pepper, $0.79
  • 1 red bell pepper, $1.69
  • 1 1/2 onions, $0.66
  • 1 carrot, $0.28
  • 3 cloves garlic, $0.18
  • small can garbanzo beans, $0.89
  • small can kidney beans, $0.89
  • small can black beans, $0.89
  • large can diced tomatoes, $1.33
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock, $0.25 (or free, depending on how you think about it)
  • spices: cumin, coriander, chili powder, oregano, salt and pepper, $1.00 ( I actually have very little idea how much these portions cost. The same goes for a tablespoon of olive oil that I browned the meat in.)

Cost for a 1 cup serving: $1.03 (Cost of the big pot of chili: $12.34)

Whole-grain cornbread:

Cost for one piece: $0.10

Dinner cost: $1.13

Total cost of meals: $4.44.

(Beer not included.)

Overall, I think these challenges went well. I definitely think people can eat well for less than the cost of a “value meal.”

As for the Hunger Challenge, I know that eating for $4.72 every day would be much harder than it was to try it for only one day. It also makes me crazy that the U.S. government is subsidizing junk food through corn subsidies that end up pumping Americans full of high-fructose corn syrup while the cost of a fresh tomato is overly expensive for many people. (“Right now it’s harder for many people to buy fruit than Froot Loops.”)

Do you ever feel like you have to eat junk when your budget is tight? Does it anger you that junk food is often cheaper than fresh produce?

Related posts:

Hunger Challenge 

 Update: I did the challenge the next day, too. Here’s how dinner worked out.

Hunger Challenge

About Marcy

I blog about trying to get out of my comfort zone, completing 101 things in 1001 days, and writing my memoirs. I am a teacher and writer living in Connecticut.
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28 Responses to Slow Food and the Hunger Challenge

  1. Shannon says:

    Funny, I just had sticker shock last night when I rang up my three fresh apples at the store and saw they cost me about a dollar apiece! Yikes! We can certainly afford to buy the apples, but it did make me wonder about folks with limited resources. Would they spend $3 on apples when they could use the same amount to buy a frozen pizza to feed the family dinner? Sad…
    Shannon recently posted..YARN, ART, AND A FABULOUS WEIGHT WATCHERS CAKE RECIPEMy Profile

    • Marcy says:

      Yes, I find that fresh produce is expensive, but nutritious foods like brown rice and black beans are very affordable for people who can cook their meals themselves.

  2. Great job! I had never heard of these challenges. I’m the same way though, I spend so much on produce I’m not sure how well I would do on $5 a day?
    Shannon ~ My Place In The Race recently posted..An Off Kinda DayMy Profile

  3. i love this – i have never heard of these challenges either, but it was great to see your price breakdown. you ate great on not much money at all. way to go!
    Sara @my less serious life recently posted..my less serious day: bananas are backMy Profile

  4. Rachel says:

    it makes me SO mad that fast food is the really only constantly accessible food to those who live below the poverty line, more often than not. in a country so afflicted by the “obesity crisis”, we sure aren’t doing enough to help. because the real help would not be in education alone, but in making healthy food accessible to all! seriously. it makes me so ticked!

    on another note, cornbread and chili is one of my absolute favorite meals. you just can’t go wrong with it

  5. Heidi Villa says:

    Omg… got to follow you. It is weird how far we have come from being sustainable in feeding ourselves. Turning one flower beds into produce beds, buying more slow food such as dry beans, brown rice, and other low price healthy foods, you can cut your food bill by much. We have lost our way. Or should I say we sold it for the idea of convenience.
    Heidi Villa recently posted..Healthy Recipe Under $6My Profile

  6. “Right now it’s harder for many people to buy fruit than Froot Loops.” – I love that quote – well, love it in a ‘hate it’ kind of way! I definitely believe it’s easy to eat healthy on a limited budget – you just have to be creative with everyday staples!
    Callie {rawxy} recently posted..Chedda OnionsMy Profile

  7. Thanks for this post. I definitely get frustrated sometimes when I go through the catalogues and get bombarded with all the junkfood that is 50% off the already cheap prices… yet fresh produce is really expensive. (Today Brocoli was $7.99kg and didn’t look good! I’m not paying $4 for one bunch!) I try to combat it by finding what’s on special and developing a mealplan based on what’s cheap & available, rather than the other way around.
    Hayley / HappyHouseWifey recently posted..My little protestMy Profile

  8. Seana Smith says:

    Great to see good food cooked well at low cost – ideas and inspiration for all of us. Whole foods and especially fruit and veggies are so vital for all of us.

    Lovely to meet you via the Rewind.

  9. It’s a sad reality – and an indication of where our priorities lie.
    :-)
    Mum on the Run recently posted..Grateful For… Traditions & TearsMy Profile

  10. MultipleMum says:

    Oh Marcy, you know I love a challenge. You did so well, even for a day or two! I am always amazed that it costs so much money for quality vegies and you can buy something in a jar for a couple of bucks. It should be much easier AND cheaper to be healthy, but it is not! I will have to try this sometime. Thanks for sharing and for joining the Weekend Rewind x
    MultipleMum recently posted..Weekend Rewind: A little burst of SpringMy Profile

  11. Ooh Marcy! All your photos are making me hungry. I know what you mean. When putting together a meal at home after deliberating about going the fast food option, my family feels better in the end. Often, after having a fast food meal, the kids say that they’re still hungry. Thanks for sharing this post on the weekend rewind!
    Alice @ MusicAl Mama recently posted..Chosen by Miss ChattyMy Profile

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  13. kgwaite says:

    GREAT post. And those egg muffins? Got to try them. They look delicious.
    kgwaite recently posted..Horror StoryMy Profile

  14. May says:

    The subsidies have definitely skewed the market…and not for the better.
    I have high hopes for a decent garden this year to stretch our food dollars. I tried last year but my lot can only survive so many days of 107+ degree heat without suffering!
    May recently posted..The MissionMy Profile

  15. I found you through Lightning Bug. I remember when I was undergoing fertility treatments (on a VERY limited budget) years ago my doctor commented on the fact that she knew that low income families (like ours) tended to eat a diet VERY high in carbohydrates which was the worst thing for me because my PCOS would respond much better to fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. It’s unfortunately far less expensive to feed a family boxed mac and cheese than it is to feed the same family whole grain pasta with sauce made from fresh veggies. I can also say that the only time in my life that I haven’t had to battle obesity was when I lived in Acapulco for a while and ate a naturally Mediterranean diet. LOTS of fish, fruit and veggies and LOTS of time in the sunshine!
    Beth Zimmerman recently posted..Money & FearMy Profile

  16. It is not only the expense but I know that in a lot of the poorer neighborhoods that even being able to find fresh produce to buy is hard. The neighborhoods are under-served by grocery store chains. There has been a steady effort in the Chicago area to change this. Thanks for your efforts! TALU

  17. Great post! That makes so much sense – the why healthy cost more. There comes a time in the year when blueberries and strawberries are priced so high I don’t get any. I almost never buy mangos and cherries as much as I love them. You CAN cook a whole meal for the price of one pound of cherries and could probably buy a large fast food meal. It’s not fair. It makes no sense to think that buy cherries is an extravagance. We should be saying that about eating fast food. TALU

  18. It ABSOLUTELY makes me crazy thinking about how expensive it is to buy fresh produce! Aside from having a black thumb, living in an apartment with no space for it means it’s not even possible for me to start a little garden to supplement in some areas. The best I can do is grow herbs, etc. in a window. As for the food stamps, that’s another crazy thing. I have an extended family member who was disabled and in need of food stamps and it got to the point where they were cut back to less than $10 for a MONTH! What was she supposed to do with that?!? This is someone for whom working was not an option. It’s a crazy world we live in. Kenya’s comment above reminds me of how much I miss the days when I was a kid and we had an area near my neighborhood where wild blueberries grew. I cringe at the prices of blueberries thinking back to spending my summer collecting them for free LOL. I had quite the nose for them too – I’d be driving somewhere and suddenly smell that there were blueberries in the area. :) [#TALU]

  19. michellepond says:

    Thanks for taking up the challenge and initiating some great discussion. The egg muffins look delicious!

  20. Yes it does anger me. Fresh fruits and veggies are so expensive in grocery stores and you would would think it would be opposite.

  21. Pingback: What I Ate in Costa Rica | (Don't Be) Too Timid and Squeamish

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