Following are some food trifles and questions that trying to eat on $4.50/day have raised in my mind:

  1. Apples: Jim had been gone for a few days and I had carefully rationed out the apples left for the week. The day he returned I went to the refrigerator to eat the last apple. It was gone! I knew the apple came out of our joint purchase, but still, I had counted on it. Sigh.
  2. Burnt eggs: Jim was hard boiling some eggs but then took a phone call that distracted him – until he smelled something burning on the stove. At first he was going to put the burnt eggs in the compost, but I, the intrepid Food Challenge Enforcer, said “Let’s see if it’s still edible?” (When one doesn’t have eggs to spare, one is willing to experiment. J) In case you ever have need of this piece of trivia, Yes, burnt eggs are not that bad. I probably lost about ¼ of the egg in the peeling process, but I’m still alive. Jim ate the other egg.
  3. How to count leftovers, staples, guests, and trips:
  • Some of my food calculations have been complicated by not knowing how to count leftovers from one week to the next. Since Food Stamps are given on a monthly basis I figure it’s OK to be a little over one week and make up for it the next.
  • I’ve been a little more ambivalent about using staples that had been in our pantry before Lent. Stuff like flour, sugar, and spices are pretty easy because they are basics and theoretically last a long time. The cost could be spread over several months. But what about foods like quinoa, popcorn, ketchup, pickles, mustard, salad dressing etc. that make eating more pleasurable but indeed cost more money. I haven’t been counting these in the budget because we’ve had them around the house as stock items. I realize this isn’t a pure experience of $4.50/day but it is making me more self-aware of my eating habits. I’m also aware from our experience of  a month of hosting a young family on Food Stamps that they move a lot and keeping a stocked pantry is not possible for many.
  • We had 2 guests last week and will have another for several days this week. (Do we up our allowance adding in their $4.50/day or do we just buy extra for them?)
  • Last weekend Jim was out of town and this weekend I will be at a conference for several days.  I deducted Jim’s “per diem” on the days he was away and will do the same for my conference. Of course I will get “free” peanuts and drink on the planes (at the low low price of a plane ticket). Once on the ground, however, I think I’ll just eat modestly and not worry about the cost when traveling. (Of course my sponsor will reimburse me for my meals but it doesn’t seem quite in the spirit of the Challenge to use this as a time to splurge.) Rationalization for eating out: Food Stamp recipients have soup kitchens and their kids get free/reduced school lunches, and Thanksgiving baskets. Don’t write to me about being insensitive; it’s irony.
  1. Less food = higher gas prices: I filled up the car with gas at Kroger’s this week and found to my dismay that I didn’t qualify for even the 10 cents/gallon discount. In the past we always had bought enough Kroger groceries to at least get this discount. I guess buying less food means paying more for gas.

So, these are recent trifles that have caught my attention. Some of them would only be noticed by a person who has enough income (and a compulsion to calculate) to do the Food Stamp Challenge as a voluntary experience.

Lest we become self-righteous in calculating our virtue and sacrifices, I remind myself of this prayer, “Oh Lord, help me forgive those who sin differently than I do.”