Monday, October 12, 2009

Eat on 30 Challenge


Numbers have a lovely straightforwardness. This weekend Belle decided to give up on 3. She had counted to 10 perfectly fine up to now. A few months shy of three years old, and she just decided that 3 didn’t exist. At first, I thought she might have been regressing or protesting her new sister. After some discussion and a great deal of practicing, I found out that she really just preferred the number 8 and was interested in subbing three out for a better number. I had this discussion with Belle when driving back from dinner at a local Indian restaurant the other night. She sat in her car seat filled to the brim with lemon rice, rava masala dosa and sambar.

And, as I sat and talked with her, I was thinking about the Eat on $30 challenge by running with tweezers. (Go look at what others are doing.  Or follow everyone on twitter.  I am @feedingmaybelle.  Send a request and if you are not a robot or selling me sex, I will accept you.)

The plight of the poor globally and locally saddens me. Cleveland is one of the poorest places in the country. Those on food stamps get about $4 a day for food. There are children just miles away from where my daughter slumbers right now for whom the start of the school year means that they actually get breakfast again. And, how can those children possibly pay attention and learn when their bellies scream in hunger. As a educator, I am saddened to think what potential is being wasted in America because of the way we feed our poor.

Breaking down the numbers of what you consume is edifying but it is of course a conceit. I am choosing to eat at $30 a week ($60 for my husband and I). I am choosing to set aside the time to make certain items like bread and yogurt; I am choosing to get items in bulk to save money. Basically, I am choosing this way of life for this week to show that many others, many children, do not have this choice. (And in perfect honesty, my daughter will not be taking the challenge because I did not want her to forgo organic, local milk and local eggs but if my husband or I use any of it we will tally them. Similarly if use items from the pantry, I will calculate them too)

The plan is not a terribly groundbreaking one, but a plan nonetheless. Use everything; have everything count for at least two meals. Tonight’s whole chicken will be stock for Thursday’s risotto, the pan drippings were deglazed and will serve as the base for tomorrow’s chicken chili. The vegetables for the week have that sort of seasonal utilitarian appeal (squash, beets cabbage) rather than the tarted up options like the purple artichokes and graffiti eggplant of last week.

So, back to the numbers:

Let’s start with the store.  At the market, yesterday I purchased:
2 ½-gallons of milk 2.99 each
Oatmeal: 3.19
1 amish chicken: 9.11
4 apples: 1.84
8 bananas: 1.74
1 cabbage: 1.03
1 bunch beets: 1.69
1 bunch carrots: 1.99
1 bag onions: 1.39
3 yams: 1.68
Total: 29.64

50% of the whole week spent and no carbs, butter, cheese, or juice. But, we are lucky enough to have a stocked pantry; so I am going through and calculate per serving prices on things as well.

Tea=.16 per person
Oatmeal with milk and brewer’s yeast, 1 banana=.64 per person
Handful of almonds=.24 per person
Homemade bread and almond butter=no idea, but lets say $1.06
Apple=.46 per person
Upma (recipe later this week)=.50 per person (I think. Tomorrow I will figure out how much cream of wheat is.)
Roast chicken with Roasted Vegetable Couscous and Wilted beet greens=7.90 for the family (with enough for two lunches)

So we are at about $13.95 and it is only Monday. Will we make it?


Paula - bell'alimento said...

Yay! So glad you're doing this along with us! It's been very eyeopening & yes I've used the calculator more in one day than I have in years LOL Staggering how much it adds up to & quickly!

shaz said...

A really thought provoking idea. Good luck with it (and I [rpmise I'm not a robot)

FoodJunkie said...

Greece is so expensive right now, but still much cheaper than the US. With 60 euros a week (it used to be the same back in the day with the dollar) we also get meat, eggs and dairy.

grace said...

kudos to you! that's a noble goal, and i have no doubt that you'll succeed at this, and do so in a tasty fashion. :)

high over happy said...

It's so cool that you are doing this. I was thinking of participating but knew that we would be having leftovers from the party on Sunday and relying on that would not be in the spirit of the challenge. So I look forward to reading about your week!

lisaiscooking said...

That's a difficult challenge! Especially when you count the cost of pantry staples. Can't wait to find out how the week goes.

Diana Bauman said...

So glad you joined the challenge! Can't wait to hear more on how your week goes!

La Cuisine d'Helene said...

I have seen that challenge. Can't wait to see what menus you will make this week.

angela@spinachtiger said...

I have been thinking about this challenge, and while not doing it, I am very very aware and using everything in my pantry and fridge, eating several meals vegetarian, and utilizing left overs. Kudos to you for raising the awareness.

Anonymous said...

Good luck on the challenge! Looking forward to following your week!

Alicia Foodycat said...

This is a really interesting idea. You always seem to eat really nutritiously anyway, but I am totally in awe of how healthy your meal plan is! Eating cheaply without resorting to battery hens or lots of discount hamburger is good to see.

Dharm said...

Great Idea! Its amazing how expensive things have become and the stats that 25% of the worlds population lived on less than USD$1 a day is really shocking...

maybelles mom said...

Thanks everyone.

Johanna and Dharm, thanks for pointing out the global food issues and how food costs are quite different around the world.