Saturday, June 11, 2011

Reflection on 5 days of Food Stamps

I began this assignment with a plan of how I was going to be able to make it through the week while at my rotation and in my fourth week of marathon training. I knew that I needed to have a plan in order to make everything work together. Typically I write out a week’s worth of dinners and use that as the bases of my grocery list. I estimate possible leftovers then add additional items to the list to fill out both lunch and breakfast. I did the same for my week of food stamp meals however I was much more conscientious of what I was going to add for breakfast and lunch due to the cost associated with my typical choices.

One of the major changes to my normal routine was one shopping trip for the week at HEB. I normally shop at Whole Foods and get most staples, fruit and vegetables on one day I typically will go to the store at least one other time to pick up something else like fresh seafood or other item that does not keep well. This past week I only shopped Sunday for the remainder of the week.

Lunches normally consist of leftovers or big fresh salads (mostly bought from the Whole Foods salad bar when I am working at the office). I knew that this was not an option for this week as I would be at Cedar Springs. I decided to make a bulgur based salad with chickpeas and veggies dressed with a red wine dressing for my lunch for the week. I also added a few slices of bakes tofu to the dish to add some more protein. Both recipes I found on the Snap website.  I portioned out the tofu and salad for the week in five to go containers and was all set for lunches.

Breakfast was also changed during this week. I normally have a smoothie with oats and spinach added after I workout and a mid morning snack at about ten. This week I went for something I knew was affordable and hopefully sustain me through to lunch—oatmeal. I added peanut butter and banana to it in order to make the meal more balanced.

I found most of the recipes that I used for dinners this week on the snap website with some slight variations. The arroz con pollo turned out to be a big hit with the addition of some oregano and a jalapeno. Typically I don’t use recipes when cooking dinner. This week I felt that it would be best to follow some from the snap site due to cost savings.

While the plan got me through the menu planning, shopping and some preparation it was defiantly not a fool proof option. Most of the time I am fine having the same things a few times during the week, but not being able to have a choice for my meals this week made me reject both my breakfast and lunch by Wednesday. On my run Wednesday morning all I could think about was how much I didn’t want oatmeal and what did I have that would fit my budget so I could have something different. I ended up with a one egg breakfast taco that made me much happier. Lunch Wednesday turned out to be peanut butter and jelly since I couldn’t do another day of the bulgur salad. It seemed so strange to me that this rejection of my own food occurred. Most days out of the week I have the same smoothie over and over again while I have plenty of options around me. When I was restricted with my choice (ie only oats) I wanted nothing to do with it.

It was interesting to me to be working in an eating disorder facility during this experiment. I felt that I could begin to understand the prison that restriction is. It was also difficult to pass up a cupcake that was offered due to a birthday in the office. When my five days were over I was seriously craving many of the foods that I had to say no to during the week.

It was also rather difficult to maintain proper nutrition for my marathon training. I was not able to have my normal pre run snack, recovery drink, typical amount of food and my electrolyte replacement tablets. I run about six days most weeks and meet with my group one of those days for a quality workout. This Tuesday’s quality workout was really lacking in quality. I came to the run knowing that it was going to be tough. I didn’t have enough time to get in a snack between my lunch and my run. While normally I would have popped a  gel I did not have that option this week. Also, I had been drinking water all day as I do normally however my food stamps meal plan lacked the electrolyte replacement tablets that I put in every other liter of water. I was a little nervous of the consequences of that move. We had a six mile run Tuesday evening and it was the hardest six miles I have run in an extended period of time. By the end of the run I was experiencing symptoms of heat stroke and dehydration. I was glad that I was familiar with the signs and symptoms and knew what to do to get through my workout. I really hope I don’t have to try that again.

I don’t think that the diet that I followed was nutritionally adequate for the week. It was lacking in vitamins and minerals while I even made an effort to add vegetables and fruits where I could. I know that I am not the typical food stamp user and was thankful for my knowledge of cooking during this process. I know that my culinary background was helpful in stretching the budget and using the carbohydrate base of most of the week’s dishes like a blank canvas and squeezing in nutritionally dense foods where I could.

This project was just as difficult as I had imagined and even more difficult than I thought it would be in some respects. I knew that it would be difficult to work on a budget, but I was able to overcome that and get some variety in for the evening meal. Aspects that were more difficult than expected were the repetition of foods and the lack of adequate quality as well as quantity for my training. I am glad to have done the experiment and had fun coming up with creative dishes based on the snap recipes I found. I’m sure that the three others that I ran with on Tuesday are glad that I can get back to being the one who doesn’t mess up her nutrition and has solutions for their nutrition issues. Now I’m headed to Whole Foods to restock the pantry. 
Day 4
Breakfast: two egg breakfast taco with spinach= $0.74
Lunch: left overs + apple = $1.53
Dinner: Turkey Burger and baked sweet potato fries= $2.08

Day 5
Breakfast: oatmeal with pb chopped apple and cinnamon= $0.42
Lunch: left overs + apple= $1.82
Dinner: homemade mac-n-cheese (nondairy) with broccoli and not dogs=$2.36

Total for the week= $20.09 
total i had to spend =$21.90 
lets go celebrate with the $1.81 i have left :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Day 3

on my wednesday morning run...i thought about breakfast...and the thought of the same oatmeal again was not at all i decided to switch it up...which is strange because normally i would choose oatmeal but knowing that i kind of "had" to choose it made me not want it at i made an egg/spinach/salsa breakfast taco and crossed my fingers the cost was was almost $0.40 more than the oats but i was happy for a change...

same thing happened with it was pb+j with veggies and an apple...which turned out to be not filling enough...i'm starting to get how it would have to work in order to stay's keeping it carb i had been the first two days...

Breakfast: egg, spinach, salsa, tortilla=$0.94
Lunch: pb+j on wheat, 1/2 cucumber, 1 normal carrot, 1 small apple=$0.57
Dinner: arroz con pollo = $2.13
treat: 1 liter sparkling water $0.53
total so far =$10.96

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Day 2

I knew now that the hunger level was going to be i knew that i could get through the next days...but i was a little worried about how my workout was going to feel with no electrylyte supplementation during the day or pre run...i had made sure to save my apple from lunch for an afternoon snack to help the run...but unfortunatly i never got around to eating the time i did i was on my way to run practice so that was not a good choice either...mild dehydration symptoms by the end of the 6 miles....made it through strides and strength...then home for something...and fast...turned out to be left overs from last nights pasta (it was just sauce left) so i made more noodles to go with...and added salt...

Breakfast: oats+PB+almond milk+banana (i ate as a morning snack) $0.59
Lunch: bulgur salad + Tofu - apple (i never got around to eating) $1.03
Dinner: left over sauce (i counted all ingredients in yesterdays total)+noodles+spinach= $1.25
Total = $2.87
running total =$2.87+$3.92=$6.79

Monday, June 6, 2011

The remainder of Day 1

so i was a little surprised that i left some oats in my bowl this morning before heading out the door...i thought about saving them and packing them in my lunch as a snack "just in case"...i've been worried that my meals would not be satisfying...i decided to not and see how things went...

i started a new rotation today at a facility that does partial hospitalization...i was not sure of the was it okay to pack my lunch or did i need to model behavior for patients....i packed and decided to go for it...

turns out this was a good option...worked through lunch and was satisfied (i was surprised)...i even saved the apple i packed for a later afternoon snack

Lunch: bulgur salad + 2 slices baked tofu + 1 small apple = $1.53
Dinner: spaghetti w/sauce + salad = $1.80
Total for the day = $3.92
Recipes i am using are below...they are from the snap website....and i have altered some slightly...if anthing significant is done i have factored that in to the cost of the recipe...
Baked Tofu -i subbed 1/2 tsp sesame oil for the vegetable oil


2 Tablespoons soy sauce

1 minced clove garlic or 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger (optional)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 package (16 ounce) drained tofu, firm or extra firm, water packed

Italian Broccoli and Pasta

2 cups fettucini noodles, uncooked
3 Tablespoons chopped green onion (also called scallions)
2 cups broccoli florets
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 can (14.5 ounce) stewed tomatoes
2 teaspoons grated Parmesan cheese--                                                  
-I cut out the cheese here 

5 A Day Bulgur Wheat


1 medium chopped onion

1 cup chopped broccoli
1 cup shredded carrots
1 small chopped green pepper - may use red or yellow pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley or 2 Tablespoons dried
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 1/2 cups dry bulgur
2 cups chicken broth, low-sodium
8 ounces canned, drained chickpeas 
-i added some red wine vinegar and used veggie broth and subbed olive for canola 

Food Stamps Day 1

Today starts five days of living on the amount of money one person gets in food stamps...$4.38 per day $21.90 for the five days. As students of nutrition we are striving to see if nutritional adequacy can be met on this amount of money. I have to say that my grocery cart yesterday (in preparation for the week) contained very few fresh fruits and veggies....we shall see how this goes...

one tibit i wanted to share a 6 pack of ramen is $0.89....6 packs for 89 cents...WTF....don't worry i left them right where they don't even want to know the sodium content...yikes

Breakfast: 3/4 cup oatmeal, 4 oz unsweetened almond milk, 1 Tbs peanut butter, 1 banana = $0.59