Sunday, July 6, 2014

Reverse SNAP Challenge, Days 2 and 3

As I predicted, the second day of my Reverse Snap Challenge was a lot easier than the first. The leftovers we ate were already accounted for in my summary for Day 1, and most of the other foods we ate were the same as those we'd had the day before, so their costs were already calculated. The only recipe I had to do the math for was the rhubarb pie we brought to the potluck we attended in the evening. And although we ate a truly amazing and delicious variety of food at the potluck, we didn't need to keep track of every bite of it, since the food we ate was, as I reckoned it, bought and paid for fair and square with the food we brought. (And a good thing too, since there's no way we could possibly have done the math on that many different dishes, even if we'd had all the recipes.)

The rhubarb pie was also a very simple dish to calculate. It had only six ingredients—seven if you count water. The pound of rhubarb was from our garden, and thus cost nothing, though I'll reckon up what it would have cost to buy along with all the other garden produce at the end of the challenge. Aside from that, it had 1 1/2 cups or organic sugar ($1.31), 2 tablespoons of corn starch (10.6 cents), 2 1/2 cups of flour (37.3 cents), 1 teaspoon of salt (about a penny), and 13 2/3 tablespoons of butter (85.2 cents). In addition, Brian used about three tablespoons of cinnamon sugar to turn the leftover piecrust dough into little cookies he calls "pie rolls," which we ate as part of our lunch on Friday. Since the cinnamon is finely ground, I assumed that it weighed about 8 ounces per cup, the same as baking powder, and that a teaspoon of it thus weighed 1/48 of a pound. Three teaspoons of organic cinnamon thus cost 61.4 cents, making it one of the more expensive ingredients in the whole recipe, and three more tablespoons of sugar cost 16.4 cents. Total cost for the pie and pie rolls: about $3.43.

Our actual menu for Friday:
My usual breakfast (toast and cocoa): 26.5 cents
Brian's usual breakfast (cereal and juice): $1.05
Lunch: leftover spinach casserole, 1 organic banana (21.7 cents), 4 ounces of the Trader Joe's cherries (74.9 cents), the last muffin left over from our previous batch, 1/2 cup of milk (9.4 cents), and pie rolls. Total: $1.06.
Rhubarb pie for potluck: $3.43
TOTAL COST FOR FRIDAY: $5.81, well under our limit of $9 per day.

Saturday's menu:
My usual breakfast (toast and cocoa): 26.5 cents
Brian's usual breakfast (cereal and juice): $1.05
Lunch: leftover spinach casserole, 1 organic banana (21.7 cents), the last 3 ounces of the Trader Joe's cherries (56.2 cents), 1 ounce string cheese  (bought on sale at ShopRite, $3.49 for 12 ounces, so 29 cents), and two graham crackers (10.7 cents). Total: $1.18.
My usual afternoon snack (popcorn and egg cream): 38 cents
Additional snack: 1 square of Trader Joe's chocolate (1/9 of a $1.99 bar) and 1 ounce organic raisins ($2.99 a pound at Trader Joe's). Total: 31 cents.
Dinner: 6 ounces of green beans from our garden, with a couple of teaspoons of olive oil ($11.79 for 3 liters at ShopRite) and some salt; 1/2 pound of Polish sausage from the Amish market ($6 a pound); leftover rye bread; 4 ears of sweet corn from H Mart (4 for a dollar). Everything was cooked over charcoal and was delicious, and the cost was only $4.04, with one sausage link left over.
Dessert: S'mores cooked over the coals. We used 3 1/2 graham crackers, 5 squares of dark chocolate (not the good stuff, just 1/3 of a Hershey Special Dark bar I picked up at the Stop & Shop for $1.85), and 6 kosher marshmallows that I got on sale at the Stop & Shop right after Passover ($2 for a bag of 30). Total: $1.20.
1 cup of coffee (brewed from 2 tablespoons of IKEA Mellanrost, bought last January at $3.49 a bag) with 2 tablespoons of So Delicious coconut creamer ($2 a pint on sale at the Whole Earth Center) and 2 tablespoons of whipped cream ($2.79 a can at ShopRite). Total: 34 cents.
TOTAL COST FOR SATURDAY: $8.77, just under our $9 limit for the day.

This means that our total food cost for the first three days of the challenge comes to $24.73, or $8.24 per day, which is just within the limits of our $9 daily budget. Admittedly, we would have been over the limit if we'd had to pay for the produce we used from our garden—but then, if we'd had to pay for it, we probably would have bought something cheaper instead. So at this point, we're on target, even without any changes in our eating habits. Three days down, four to go.
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