In order to keep up with not only the financial and technical progress of the challenge but also the personal implications, John & I will be checking in once a week to recap each day from our own individual perspectives.
I set a very difficult and so far rewarding personal challenge, swearing off snacks at work or spending non-MEG food funds for anything that would change my eating habits at home. I was hungry at work and realized my need for more well balanced meals as well as the need to ensure I ate the meals I had skipped that day, and for many previous years.
What if we can’t find any decent meat on sale? What if there aren’t any good coupons? What if nobody even gives a damn about what we’re doing?
My mind raced about everything you can imagine as we started the challenge. We knew new sales wouldn’t start until the 2nd but we needed a few basics to get started and spent more than we would have liked. When you’re hungry with money in a grocery store, you spend more. My mind wasn’t on day one, but on the thirty days that followed it and what might happen after the month was over.
I ate breakfast and took a sensible lunch that was both filling and nutritious. I talked to some of my employees about their food issues, taking mental notes. As far as it being a special day; every day I am taking part of this challenge is special. I love reading the dialogue you all have left, and well, I am enlightened by every one of them.
The first “real” shopping trip based on a good sale. We managed to get some fresh veggies at a really good price on day two and that made me feel good going forward.
The comments on the blog were picking up steam and that reassured me that we were doing the right thing. My conscience was clawing at me for most of the night and I wasn’t sure what to do with the thoughts.
I went hungry to test my will power and my own integrity. I came to the conclusion that choosing is different than not having the option when it came to food consumption. I’m not a dolt, I knew that ahead of time. The reality of skipping my meal and seeing an employee at work that had no money for something to eat was a wake up call. He was hungry and if I had taken a lunch, I could have offered it to him.
An entire day without food. Sure, it was done by choice but somehow there was no other choice in my mind. This challenge has grabbed us both by the wrist and pulled us into an entirely different thought process about nearly everything we do, so to me I had no choice but to do a day of hunger.
It wasn’t until the next day that either of us realized that we were going without food and for the same reasons.
I reflected back on times when I thought I had it bad as a young boy. I realized that sometimes we all have it bad, I chose to blame a system that kept me from doing what I wanted (parents) and remembered that someone else had it worse (my little brother). I ate a great lunch at work that filled me and kept me going. Water consumption was a big part in keeping back the hunger.
Emotionally, this was a roller coaster day. In fact, the toughest part about the challenge this week so far has been the emotion and thought and not the food itself. This was a day of reflection on the choice we made to do this in the first place and what we hoped to see happen as a result. We just might be learning more about ourselves than we are teaching, but at the end of the day even that is a win-win.
My focus was on home and health. I did very little that day as I had to work. I went for bread and made some shocking discoveries at Walmart Neighborhood Market where 80/20 or 73/27 ground beef were both sold for the same price. Debated spending 26¢ more for wheat bread and opted to get the white loaf for 99¢. I made something that I loved as a kid – cocoa packet brownies.
I’m starting to understand the bigger picture here, and it isn’t what I originally envisioned. This is not just about food stamps. It is not just about knowing (or learning) how to cook and what to cook. It is not just about changing our attitudes about food and our bodies.
This is about changing the world starting at home.
I worked and since we had planned an all-veggie meal, Superman only held 2 oz of carrots, a brownie, and a turkey sandwich. I was hungry within 2 hours after eating. My water consumption that was previously non-existent was up to 2 liters per day, allowing me to pass one of several kidney stones. I plan on keeping up the water consumption even at home.
As the days progress, I get more attuned to what we’re doing and it excites me. The beautiful thing here is that with each day that passes I see John’s excitement grow as well. More than a “challenge”, this 31-day process is an experiment in life and understanding. We started this to raise awareness and we are raising our own about so much more than a $279.18 food budget.
Shopping was the agenda for the day. We got our things together, got ready to go and the car wouldn’t start. Dead battery. Didn’t we just talk about this in a question of the day? Took care of that problem, went shopping and I played butcher for over 2 hours once we got home so no bread was baked. My next day off is not until Tuesday, so I plan to bake then, hoping to make enough bread to last for the week.
Today was the most emotionally wrenching trip to the store I’ve ever experienced. Armed with sales fliers, coupons and a can-do attitude we left the house to shop and the battery was dead. I couldn’t help but laugh at the irony. When we made it to the store, my heart began to race faster and faster as the basket became more full.
I stood in front of items on the shelf and questioned myself, John and the price. I asked if it was really worth it or if we might wait until we found it for less. More than once I stood in an aisle at Wal-Mart with tears in my eyes, completely overwrought with the gravity of the issues we chose to surround ourselves with this month . I’m a nervous wreck today knowing that every penny we have for food for the entire month is on that card in my wallet and a big chunk of it is about to be taken away by the choices we are making right now.
I found an error in my figures and noticed that our daily allotment was off. Instead of $4.09 per person/day we actually have $4.50, or a total of $9/day for the two of us because we added money to cover taxes that wouldn’t appear on an EBT receipt.
As of the last day of the first week of this challenge we have spent half of our total monthly budget, but we have eaten on less than half of our weekly budget. That means we are actually ahead of the game and though it looks like we will run out of money, we don’t see it that way. Here’s another way to look at it:
|Actual Budgeted||Actual Consumed||Actual Saved / Lost|
|Week 1||63.00||27.13||+35.87 (+43%)|
|Week 5 (2 days)||27.18|
While we have spent half of the total budget, we have only consumed 9.7% of the total budget.