SNAP Challenge: Days Four & Five


  • Breakfast: Coffee
  • Lunch: Left-over Lasagna
  • Dinner: One-pot chili, two servings
  • Freebies: Some pumpkin bread with cream cheese icing and way too much of an almond Kringle, all courtesy of work. 


  • Breakfast: Coffee from home, then coffee with half-and-half from work
  • Lunch: One-pot chili, two servings (I get really hungry at work), an apple, and a free banana
  • Dinner: Early Thanksgiving dinner at someone else's house. 
  • Freebies: The banana, dinner and some cookies at work 

So this week has been full of freebies! Three meals courtesy of my parents, one meal courtesy of Eric's dad's side of the family, and free sweets at work. This is not usual for me. Most weeks, we might go out for lunch or dinner once or twice, but every other meal is on our dime. 

(Not) Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta is very tasty

(Not) Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta is very tasty

But the real question is, could I have fed myself on what I had? I believe the answer is yes. I still have four servings of one-pot chili. I just made this Creamy Tomato Spinach Pasta, minus the "creamy" and plus ground beef, ate two cups, and there are 11 cups remaining. I have half a loaf of bread, most of the peanut butter and jelly, and most of a bag of apples. Two onions, most of the olive oil, 3/4 of the butter, nine eggs, and two heads of garlic. Oh, and 3/4 of a pound of ground beef. 

Even with one and a half days to go, I think it's safe to say I could have survived on this food. And that I'd have stuff to carryover for next week.

The one thing I am almost out of, that will work out perfectly as a matter of fact, is the coffee. I paid $2.79 for 11.3 ounces of ground coffee and that's allowed me to make one French press's worth of coffee every morning. 

Lazy Man and Money recently posted an interesting article: How Much is Your Caffeine Costing You? In the post, he analyzes the costs of various forms of caffeine, how much they cost for average consumption, and how that cost works out over a lifetime. It's pretty interesting. 

I managed to convince myself that I'm not doing that bad, this week, with my cheap coffee. However, I spent almost 9% of my food budget on coffee. The latest research (ha ha - I know, it's hard to take that seriously) seems to show that drinking coffee is good for you, so I guess I could consider the coffee a supplement, rather than a grocery expense, but SNAP benefits don't cover supplements. 

The tea I drink likely doesn't deliver anywhere near the caffeine I'm getting from the coffee, which I hope doesn't screw me up next week. I drink coffee at work approximately three days a week, usually, and the rest of the time all I have is tea. 

Besides these things, the other big issue that's been on my mind is the sustainability of this way of eating. I read an article this morning at Frugaling called The Empathy Revolution We Need: Worker-Owned, Fair Trade and Organic Foods

I find food discussions on personal finance blogs to be very interesting. It probably goes without saying that to eat food produced by fair trade and organic means costs more. You find all sorts of arguments, in both directions, on personal finance blogs. But when I'm not doing a challenge like this, most of the time I consider it worth the cost. 

I buy the good eggs, for $4 a dozen instead of $1.59, and we have a quarter Longhorn, bought from a local ranch, in the freezer downstairs. But then we have plenty of regular, mass-produced food in the kitchen, too, including coffee and chocolate that aren't fair trade. I buy organic tea and organic vegetables most of the time. But not all of the time. Sometimes, I let cost guide my purchases. 

I guess I'd say my food purchases are somewhere in the middle of the spectrum between sustainable and not sustainable, empathetic and callous. So you save money on groceries, but you pay another way, whether in terms of human suffering or environmental damage.

Possibly (probably) we pay with our health, too. You probably already noticed that the only fruit I bought was apples, and the only vegetables were canned tomatoes and the spinach in today's pasta dish. That probably wouldn't help me maximize my physical health over time. 

So with a day and a half to go, I find I've got plenty of food to eat, but there is something missing - the assurance that my behavior isn't hurting others any more than necessary. Not that I've been perfect there, but this seems much worse than usual. 


Week Ten: Diet - SNAP Challenge

  1. Day One - Grocery Shopping
  2. Days Two & Three
  3. Days Four & Five
  4. SNAP Challenge Wrap-Up