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BOSTON UNIVERSITY// //SNAP CHALLENGE

Dec 15 '13

NPR Blog

Someone sent me this link - pretty cool idea - http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/12/11/250185245/social-supermarkets-a-win-win-win-for-europes-poor. The comments are also interesting to read through just to get a sense of other people’s views on SNAP. 

Tags: Alicia
Dec 15 '13

DAY 7!!!!!

Hi all!  End of my final day - yahoo!

I wish I’d taken a picture of the end of my giant pot of Waterzooi/ Chicken Stew.  Overall I think that was my best success.  By the last day,  I still wasn’t tired of it and it always held me over ‘till morning.  I think I will make it again!  

I still have mixed feelings about trying to go all ancestral/paleo.  Buying the sweet potatoes was a bad budget move - it put me over and left me no wiggle room for the 2 breakfasts I left out.  Yesterday I made $0.10 worth of oatmeal and added my apple of the day for flavor (not a win); see photo above.  This AM I was really busy and thus skipped breakfast, but still.  I wish I didn’t have to cheat.  On the other hand, I certainly was eating more healthily than I expected to.  Low salt, lower fat, high fiber. All those good buzz words that have a good or bad connotation depending on who you are talking with.  I haven’t had the time to do the nutritional analysis that Tania has done though.  If I have time, I might.  

Other thoughts all circle around how monotonous my food was.  I was SO EXCITED to cook my sweet potato and egg for lunch as above.  They were almost like sweet fries (but a tad over done), and a warm fried egg- yummy!  

Also similar to Dan and Tania, I don’t feel hungry, per se, but still not quite as full as I would prefer to be. Maybe I’m just used to too much food, as I was able to function fine on my 1300kcal/day, but I still felt something was missing.  

I found it the hardest to decline free food (which if I were truly on SNAP I would never decline, as I love eating).  It was also hard not to snack, and very difficult to not buy nibbles etc when I had to go to any store.  Maybe I am spoilt, but it just felt unfair and arbitrary.

Starting tomorrow what I am looking forwards to the most is being able to eat a wider variety of food. Yes, I usually have the same breakfast every day, and a similar lunch and dinner, but as a true American, I love variety, and more so, the possibility of variety.  I also will be glad to be able to shop without stress.  I expect to be a bit aghast at my grocery bill, and probably feel guilty too, but boy will that range of food taste good!

More coherent thoughts to come later!  

Thanks all! - Cynthia

Dec 14 '13

Day 2

Hi everyone, today went well. I had egg fried rice for brunch, and am having some chicken with cabbage and rice for dinner. I had a pretty low key day at home, so I don’t feel (too) bothered by the smaller portions/inability to snack. That being said, I indulged a little for dinner and had some extra cabbage. I’m also realizing that the biggest challenge this week might be how to use condiments to mix the flavors of my meals up. Tonight: sriracha + soy sauce.

 

Lastly, I got invited to a friend’s birthday dinner tonight, and had to decline going out to eat with them. I’m joining everyone for cake later, but it’s still disappointing not being able to participate fully. I suppose I could have gone and not eaten, but when i’ve done that in the past due to allergies restaurants tend not to like it, especially if you don’t order a drink. It’s interesting to think about how much food is integrated into our social lives.

Dec 14 '13

DAVID: MEAL # 15,16,18,19

Had the same thing for all 4 of these meals:

imageNot bad but not great either. Just simple pasta with onions garlic anchovy and 2 meatballs (for lunch and dinner)

Glad this will be over soon..

Tags: DJP FOODINBULK
Dec 14 '13

Final thoughts
I rarely eat out or buy lunch at school, and never get prepared food at the grocery store, so in some respects the SNAP challenge is probably less of an adjustment for me than for some. Also, I go to school just a few blocks away from my kitchen. If I need more food, it is just a short walk away. My frustration at being unable to get a snack at school or to give in to a sugar craving is nothing compared to someone who, if hungry, has a 45 minute commute back to their kitchen. And this is just between SNAP challenge participants. Obviously, my frustration would be a much bigger monster if the challenge didn’t end after seven days, if I had another month of double portions oatmeal/split pea soup to look forward to.

Some thoughts from the week:

1) So much of our socialization centers around food and drink. I can’t afford to go out for lunch or for a drink is one thing. How about: I don’t want to invite you over for lunch, which would be cheaper than going out, because I’m not sure I have the provisions and possibly am uncomfortable showing you what I can provide?

2) Shopping took so much longer and was a lot more stressful. I usually enjoy grocery shopping. Not this time.

3) I almost wish I hadn’t touched the found turnips. I probably would have run through the potatoes, possibly the kale. Would I have any food left? But on the other hand, those turnips were a life-saver. They were such a treat mixed with the potatoes.
That’s exactly what is unattainable on the SNAP budget: treats. And I’m talking of turnip-as-treat, not the cookies-and-chocolate kind. I also am an apple snob (cheers Cynthia!) but my usual varieties were another unaffordable treat. The affordable kind were quite bland. I ate them because I needed to eat fruit according to My Plate, but only for that reason.

4) Without variety, eating can be uninspiring and kind of a chore. I noticed that I was using a lot more salt than I usually do. To make up for the lack of variety? Possibly. I can’t imagine why else. Maybe this is another factor that drives people to select less healthy food options at the grocery store.

Best of luck to those still going or just getting started!

Dec 14 '13

I spent a lot of time thinking about food and nutrients this week, in part because I did want to try to eat a nutritious and healthy diet according to choosemyplate.gov. Tracking my intake on supertracker.usda.gov was an easy albeit time consuming way to check my progress. It also helped keep my mind off the candy I was not eating (my obsession with candy is the reason I failed the SNAP challenge in the spring). Plus it was a wonderful procrastination tool.  

The good news is that I did very well with copper, magnesium, and vitamins B6 and K. The bad news is…well, see the graphs above.

Dec 14 '13
There was too much to do this morning so no pancake breakfast. Actually I surprised myself by reaching for the oatmeal. I love oatmeal and I eat it nearly every day. I was eating about three cups of it a day last week however, and I thought my body would reject it outright. But with a little bit of milk, walnuts and cherries, oatmeal is an altogether different beast. One cup today is already more than twice as many calories as the two cup breakfast I’ve been eating, and it has nearly a third of the daily protein I’m supposed to be getting. 
Why am I so hung up on calories and protein you wonder? Because a week ago on my first day SNAP challenge day, when I ate my normal amount of food but using only SNAP challenge supplies, I ate only 1056 calories and 15% of the target protein. The next day after what I considered serious adjustments, I was still under 1250 and at 33% protein. It was only after split pea soup entered the picture that the protein requirement was met, but the calories barely made it past 1500. And it took so much food to still fall short.

I love food and eating usually makes me happy. But I have had to eat such high volumes this past week that it was no longer enjoyable. I definitely needed more calorie-dense food in my shopping cart.

There was too much to do this morning so no pancake breakfast. Actually I surprised myself by reaching for the oatmeal. I love oatmeal and I eat it nearly every day. I was eating about three cups of it a day last week however, and I thought my body would reject it outright. But with a little bit of milk, walnuts and cherries, oatmeal is an altogether different beast. One cup today is already more than twice as many calories as the two cup breakfast I’ve been eating, and it has nearly a third of the daily protein I’m supposed to be getting.

Why am I so hung up on calories and protein you wonder? Because a week ago on my first day SNAP challenge day, when I ate my normal amount of food but using only SNAP challenge supplies, I ate only 1056 calories and 15% of the target protein. The next day after what I considered serious adjustments, I was still under 1250 and at 33% protein. It was only after split pea soup entered the picture that the protein requirement was met, but the calories barely made it past 1500. And it took so much food to still fall short.

I love food and eating usually makes me happy. But I have had to eat such high volumes this past week that it was no longer enjoyable. I definitely needed more calorie-dense food in my shopping cart.

Tags: Tania leftover
Dec 13 '13
Day 6 & 7Last dinner, above. Swiss chard and eggs with oatmeal cakes and chipotle, again. The pink drink in the glass is vitamins. I started feeling a cold coming on a couple of days ago and after spending almost all of Tuesday sleeping, I decided to resume taking vitamins on Wednesday. I finished all the split pea soup and potatoes and green beans yesterday and today, and have a little food left. Enough for a tight day.Stay tuned for nutritional information and final thoughts on the challenge.
Fabian: come over for dinner sometime.

Day 6 & 7
Last dinner, above. Swiss chard and eggs with oatmeal cakes and chipotle, again. The pink drink in the glass is vitamins. I started feeling a cold coming on a couple of days ago and after spending almost all of Tuesday sleeping, I decided to resume taking vitamins on Wednesday.
I finished all the split pea soup and potatoes and green beans yesterday and today, and have a little food left. Enough for a tight day.
Stay tuned for nutritional information and final thoughts on the challenge.

Fabian: come over for dinner sometime.

Tags: Tania dinner
Dec 13 '13

Day 1

Hi everyone, I’ve been following all your posts, and am excited to start this challenge today. I live with a lot of severe food allergies, and have always wondered how people manage their dietary restrictions when they have to live on a budget. Quite often I’m restricted in what I can buy because of manufacturing practices (i.e. have to buy a certain brand). In general, I only eat what I make, including bread, granola bars, and other baked goods; I grind and brew my own coffee; and I can’t eat any free food unless I know how it was prepared. Overall, I spend a lot less money on food than I did before I developed my food allergies, but the way that I plan my meals requires me to spend a lot up front on ingredients. Just buying one ingredient (flax seed) to make granola bars, for example, costs $16.80, but it will last me several months. I don’t think that’s really an option for people on a tight budget though.


Like all of you, I found that my $30 went really quickly. I can’t eat peanuts, nuts, soy, legumes, beans, peas, chickpeas, or seafood, so I have to rely on fresh meat and dairy for protein. Also, the canned fruit I wanted wasn’t an option because of cross-contamination, so I could either buy the more expensive organic versions or nothing at all. I ended up not getting any…no fruit this week :(


I found a family-pack of chicken drumsticks on sale for $6.18, which was great but did make me wonder why it was so affordable. I must have checked the expiration date on it at least 3 or 4 times. I also bought some eggs and a box of powdered milk (I usually go through 2 gallons/week). The rest went to vegetables and a bag of rice. The first nutritional sacrifice of the week was switching from brown rice to white rice…total bummer/worried about the switch to a simpler carb. For coffee, I wasn’t sure what to do because I have to buy the whole bag. I decided to follow in Farnaz’s footsteps and calculate it out. The bag I have open now costs $10.99, and comes out to $0.35/day for my usual 2 cup amount. Here’s what I have for the week:


Chicken drumsticks $6.18
Dozen eggs $3.00
Coffee $2.45
Box of powdered milk $5.99
5lbs of white rice $5.79
3.4lb pumpkin $2.35
Cabbage $5.29
TOTAL $31.05

Dec 12 '13

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