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

Hurricane Irene: Caffeine Withdrawal, Cowboy Chili, and Dinner by Candlelight

It took a hurricane to keep me off caffeine for a day.

As Hurricane Irene worked her way up the East coast on Sunday, I awoke at 6 a.m. without power. I looked at the trees blowing in the wind. With no coffee or Internet calling my name, I fell back asleep. At around 9, we all got up and installed batteries in a portable radio. We heard the news that, yes, there was a hurricane outside and much of the area was without power. We had bowls of cereal with still-cold milk.

I am a coffee fiend, and I was definitely feeling the withdrawal. A low-grade headache and lack of energy were with me most of the day. (Giving up caffeine for a day was one of the items on my 101 things list, and I had been putting off giving it a try.)

I went back to bed and slept until 12:30, as did the rest of my family. I virtually never can fall back asleep once I’m up!

After a lunch of pasta salad that I had prepared the day before, we broke out the board games, which was another item on my list of 101 things.

We all played Monopoly while listening to news updates on the radio.

After a late afternoon update that the storm had passed, we ventured out into the neighborhood for a walk. The rain had stopped, and the wind still gusted occasionally. Some trees were down and we talked to one neighbor whose roof was damaged, but overall our area was fortunate to not have much damage, although the power was out everywhere we saw.

My sons got hired by a neighbor to do some yard work. While they were down the street, my husband and I started making some “Cowboy Chili” over a fire in the backyard. I had some still-frozen ground turkey and homemade chicken stock that I wanted to use up before they went bad, and then I just used whatever else I had on hand.

Cowboy Chili

  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • canned beans: kidney, pinto, garbanzo
  • can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups homemade chicken stock (or water)
  • small can green chilies
  • small can enchilada sauce
  • spice mixture: handful each of cumin, coriander, chili powder; dash each of oregano, salt, and pepper

I usually cook my chili for a long time over low heat. Over the fire, though, it came to a rapid boil and was done in no time. I let it cook for about 10 extra minutes after it was assembled.

It was delicious.

Another item on my “101 things” list was dinner by candlelight. This was not how I initially pictured it, but it was good all the same.

After dinner, we hung out around the radio listening to a show of great stories about nemeses on NPR. I remembered my dad’s stories of how excited he was as a boy to wait for “The Shadow” to come on the radio.

We were very fortunate that none of us was hurt, and we had no damage from the storm.

And we had such a great day: it took a hurricane to get us to sleep in, go for a walk together, play a board game, cook over a fire, and gather around the radio. It’s hard to imagine a more perfect day spent with my family.

Great as it was, I let out a little squeal of delight when the power came on late the next morning.

Were you affected by Hurricane Irene?

101 things in 1001 days:

  • #45. Have dinner by candlelight.
  • #55. Play, give away, or throw out each of the 32 board games in my basement. (1/32 completed.)
  • #99. Give up caffeine for a day.