Each day I’ve been eating a bagel, 1/2 cup plain yogurt, a banana, a second fruit, ramen, cheese, and eggs, rice, and beans. Yesterday was the last day of bagels and ramen. I’m hungry, like a hippo. A hungry hungry hippo. Possibly the green one, if you want specifics. I have more than enough eggs, beans, and rice. I should have bought less of those things. I’ll remember that for the next time we do this challenge (Wait, What? #SNAPChallengeOkanogan will live on? Why yes, yes it will. Not only in our empty stomachs, but in our county).
It is much easier to go without adequate food during the week while you’re at work. Today was my first real day off and all I wanted to do was stuff my face! One more day. And, during this day, I shall be reduced to eating quite a bit of rice and beans and the rest of my eggs.
The biggest thing that I have learned so far is that cooking skills are necessary if you want to do this right, and don’t want to fail The Challenge because of a boring flavorless menu. My cooking skills are nonexistent. I mean, what I’ve been eating has been bland. I think I’ve added salt once or twice to the bean and rice mixture. All I know for certain is that Tapatio has kept me from the brink of madness.
The cool thing is that there is lots you can do with rice and beans without having restaurant-worthy skills! In fact, I have discovered skillet meals! There’s a cast iron in my kitchen, and it will become my new best friend. The Washington State Department of Social and Health Services publishes this neat little booklet that helps you eat well within your SNAP benefit allotment: http://www.dshs.wa.gov/pdf/Publications/22-146.pdf. Page 10, the Master Skillet Recipe page, is my favorite. All you have to do is add beans, veggies, sauce, and rice to the skillet. I obviously needed to look at a diagram to understand the importance of the sauce. It is, after all, one of the main Master Skillet Recipe categories!
There are plenty of organizations that publish materials to help people spend their SNAP benefits wisely. Most of them recommend buying in bulk, buying canned items, and using sauces and spices to liven things up. Of course, one must have a kitchen to do these things. Not everyone has access to a kitchen, nor the time it takes to cook a healthy meal. The question then becomes, how do you survive on such a small budget while not being able to cook in a kitchen?