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Monday, September 15, 2014

SNAP Challenge: Day 1

Day 1 went surprisingly well. Bailey and I shared some cereal for breakfast, I had a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and she had some raspberries and cheese cubes. Dinner with Yaya, Nana, and Senator was broccoli casserole with some chicken added in. I did find myself pretty hungry between lunch and dinner and resorted to snacking on some of the rice for the casserole. I've realized that I will probably need to cook some more rice to serve as snacks for the week. All of my meat except for a pound of the ground beef is spoken for so maybe I'll make some kind of beef and rice mixture.

A few things I did in advance that helped;
1) I separated my chicken breasts into individual sandwich baggies, stuffed them all in a freezer bag, and froze them. That way when it comes time to thaw out some meat for dinner the chicken breasts aren't stuck together in one frozen mass and I can choose which size I want. (I wound up with about 5 large chicken breasts and 3 slightly smaller ones.)
2) I separated my ground beef (the 3 lb package) into 3 (1 lb) freezer bags. I flatten them and press all of the air out and then once they're frozen hard they stack up like books. It makes it very easy to store and it actually thaws quite quickly because it's so flat and thin.
3) I prepped Bailey's cheese cubes, cutting a large block of cheese into 1 oz cubes and then cutting each cube into 8 smaller cubes. Now when she asks for a snack I can just grab 8 cubes out of the fridge and throw them on a plate for her.
4) I divided my 6 oz container of raspberries into 3 (2 oz) servings. Again, this makes it easy to grab Bailey a snack when she says she's hungry.
5) All of my pantry items are divided by meal into separate grocery bags so that when it's time to cook dinner all of the ingredients are right there together. I'm actually trying to implement this on a regular basis using some plastic baskets or crates but so far I've not found a place to keep them where Bailey won't get into them.

The prompt for today from the Feeding America website is this:
How did your shopping cart look compared to a normal week? What choices did you have to make about the types of food you could afford, where you shopped, or the nutritional quality and variety of foods?

My shopping cart looked pretty similar to a normal week. I didn't buy as many bulk items as I normally would have. I tend to stock up on things that are on sale such as pork loin for pork chops, chicken breasts, ground beef, cheese, items that I use regularly. This week I tried to only buy what I needed for the week. What I noticed my cart was lacking was fresh produce. I try to keep plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables in the house for healthy snacks for Bailey but all I could fit in the budget this week was a tiny container of raspberries.

I stayed with my normal grocery store. I shop at Kroger and it is less than 3 miles from my house. I have a Kroger plus card. The cards are free and can save tons of money. There were plenty of great sales this week and though I couldn't take full advantage of them I did try to fit some of the sales items into my menu. I had planned on making chicken soup this week but when I saw that the 3 lb package of ground beef was on sale and Manwich was also on sale I swapped the relatively expensive chicken soup for sloppy joes. I figured either way I would have to buy the ground beef and since I had to buy the 3 lb package to get the deal I thought I might as well use as much of it as I could.

There are some nutritional compromises I am willing to make and some that I am not. Normally when buying bread I would go with a 9, 12, or 15 grain bread, the ones with all the nuts and seeds in them. This week I bought the Kroger brand wheat bread for $1.00. I would also have chosen to make my own cream of chicken soup for the broccoli casserole but I didn't want to buy butter or flour or chicken broth.

Things I refused to compromise on were the hot dogs and Bailey's juice. I absolutely will not eat the meat hot dogs. They have to be all beef. I got lucky and they were on sale this week but I would have paid the $5 for the good hot dogs if they hadn't been on sale. As far as Bailey's juice goes I will not give her any juice cocktails with artificial colors and flavors. She gets only 100% fruit juice. Apple juice is the least expensive so I frequently buy the Kroger 100% apple juice. The average price is $1.99 but I have been known to splurge on Welch's juice or Juicy Juice when we have a little extra in the budget. One thing is for sure, she is never going to one of those kids who lives on Kool-Aid. She may get some Kool-Aid on special occasions (instead of soda) but it won't be a regular thing.

Overall I think my shopping was almost normal. I was very careful when choosing products to stay on budget, but the budget is not that much less than I normally have to spend. I just wish I had more fresh produce in the house.

So in summary we consumed the following today:
3/4 cup cereal
1/2 cup milk
2 slices bread
2 Tbsp peanut butter
2 oz raspberries
1 oz cheese cubes
1 1/2 cups rice
1 (26 oz) can cream of chicken
1 (10 oz) can cream of chicken
1 crown broccoli
2 chicken breasts
8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

I don't have any of the casserole left so I guess tomorrow's lunch will be peanut butter sandwiches again.

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