SNAP Challenge – Days 3 and 4

I should probably subtitle this “How I tried Sweet P’s Brownies.”

Friday was really hot, again.

Having not had many weekends off since May due to one thing or another, the shrubs in front of our house were looking a little ragged.  I actually got out in the late afternoon (the heat seemed to abate, just a tiny bit) to trim the most egregious bushes.  I probably worked for about 30 to 45 minutes, but it was just too hot.  I came in and really wanted a beer, but had the usual ice water.

I was going to make the chicken enchiladas, but A) I forgot to buy the salsa (when tomatoes are in season I usually make my own) and B) it was just too hot to think about starting the oven.  I boiled some elbow macaroni.  Minced some onion, carrots, celery, and parsely.  Cut up some chicken.  Mixed the whole thing with some mayonnaise and called it dinner.

It was so hot my wife and I went to the movies at the local museum which screens  independent art-type films.  We saw Before Midnight.  I loved it.  It takes place in Southern Greece over the course of one summer day.  In one scene everyone was sitting at a table eating and drinking.  Conversation flowed.  Great dialogue and beautifully shot.  Wine, grapes, cheese, tomatoes … a scene like that can’t happen when living on a SNAP diet.  The food is too expensive and wine is not included, and you can’t invite your friends over for an evening of leisurely conversation.

We left the museum and had to purchase some milk for the morning.  We went to a nearby supermarket.  It gives silver or gold coins as a sort of a slot machine bonus when you check out.  Basically, if you use your frequent buyer card, you can play a video slot machine.  If three silver coins appear, they give you one.  If three gold coins appear, you get one of those.  On one of my previous trips in the last few weeks, I got a gold coin.

As we went into the supermarket, we went past the bakery section and saw that with a gold coin Sweet P’s Brownies (a 11.25 oz tub of approximately 16 small brownies) were only $0.48.  We were tempted to buy it, but knowing that I had to pick up some more food on Saturday, we held off.

So, this morning my wife and I went across town to another supermarket.  We stopped on the way to pick up a loaf of bread at a bread discount store.  This stop was not really out of the ordinary as I purchase loaves of bread and English muffins from them fairly regularly.  I was glad to find a loaf of whole wheat bread for $1.49.

We went to the supermarket with only $27.11 left to spend.  I knew I had to get the salsa (I use salsa rather than enchilada sauce) and another box of cereal.  We also purchased a half-dozen eggs for egg salad sandwiches, which meant we didn’t have to purchase another jar of peanut butter as we were hitting it pretty hard.  We also got a can of diced tomatoes for chili.  We got more celery as we’ve been eating a lot of that as well.

I didn’t want to spend all of the remaining money in this trip.  I wanted to hold aside at least $5.00 in case we needed more milk before Tuesday.

We typically have fruit at the end of our meals.  The bananas I bought the other day were gone.  At $0.69 a pound they’re a great price.  But we wanted other fruit, so we started trying to figure out what to get.  We first looked at canned fruit figuring they would be inexpensive, but they were $1.79 a can for 3.5 servings (which really is not quite 3 servings). We thought that was actually pretty expensive so we went to look at fresh fruit.  I picked up a bag of apples for $4.99 – there were ten of them.  Cantaloupes were $2.99 a pound.  Red seedless grapes were $1.99 a pound, but we’d probably scarf those down in no time.  Nectarines were on sale at $1.49 per pound – we got four of them for $1.83.  Since we were going to pass another supermarket on the way home, we decided to pay for our groceries and check the fruit prices at the next store.

Well, canned fruit was $1.69 a can.  Bananas were still $0.69.  We bought bananas and a large can of sliced pears for $2.39 – it says it there are seven servings.

I came to realize that fruit is relatively expensive whether fresh or canned.  Budgeting $0.50 a serving of fruit is not unreasonable, except for bananas.  We paid $1.95 for seven, about $0.28 per banana (yeah, it’s too hot to do math as well).

We got home with $7.82 left to spend in the challenge.

One of my daughters learned to make enchiladas today.  You can probably guess the filling.  As we had some minced onions and some shredded chicken left, I mixed it with some (you guessed it) for another chicken salad sandwich.  This finished the chicken.

I had dinner with my daughters as my wife had to attend a fund raising function where she works (she will have to figure out how she will handle the food).  We had some leftover rice from Wednesday, which we ate as well.  So, with enchiladas, rice, and a banana, I’m feeling full after dinner for the first time since I began this challenge.

The three of us were talking over dinner how we really missed having something sweet.  My daughter who works at a movie theater has had to forgo free candy (which seems to be readily available for staff) as well as hot dogs (employees can eat the overcooked ones they can’t sell) all week.  I miss something sweet, too, although in the back of my mind I keep thinking, “Actually, not eating something sweet is really a good thing in the long run.”

I mentioned to the girls that with the gold coin we could get the mini-brownies at Big Y for $0.48.  It was a sort of no-brainer.  So, we bought them.

Even though a single serving is two mini-brownies, I limited myself to one.  I had it with a glass of milk, the first time I drank something other than water or coffee since Wednesday.  The milk and the brownie were really delicious and felt extra special.


About Quentin Chin

Eclectic interests: religion, technology, food, music, current events. I live in the reality-based world.
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