Days 10 and 11: Ok so far

June 12, 2010|Posted in: Uncategorized

A third of the way into our June Food Stamp Challenge

Thursday I made a point to stop at the nonprofit with extra bread and found that there was a delivery of day-old artisanal and sandwich bread and pastries. I filled a shopping bag with sliced bread and sourdough. Some of the sliced bread went into the freezer; some thick-cut bread I set aside to make French toast this weekend. There were a few dinner rolls, which one daughter and I ate in the afternoon for lunch. Odds and ends and scraps of stale bread go into our chicken feed bucket — I take broken and stale pieces from the non-profit’s offerings and this helps with my “pet food” budget as well. These bits would end up in the trash otherwise. We are now set for bread for at least 2 weeks. Cost = $0. Savings of $3 to $5 per loaf, based on grocery store prices. I wish I hadn’t bought that bread on Tuesday. Oh, well. This, too, may have consequences by June 30.

Friday (yesterday) was the last day of public school in Alameda, so feeding The Boy, and possibly some friends (ack!) now comes into play on the days he lives with us (half the week).

Thursday Menu
Breakfast: Coffee, cereal and milk, remaining cherries
Snack: Nectarine, water, (tea and cookies while visiting a friend = $0)
Late Lunch: Small salami sandwich (on dinner roll), handful of grapes, 2 cookies, coffee (Patrick: salad, leftover baked cod)
Dinner: Homemade pizza*: whole wheat dough (yeast from pantry), cheese, mushrooms, olives, fresh tomatoes, 1/2 can tomato sauce; Parmesan cheese and pizza peppers left from previous takeout (“free”). Steamed zucchini, tossed green salad. Cost for dinner: $4 to make pizza. Veggies: Approx 25 cents per person. Dinner total per person: $1.58.

Friday Menu
Breakfast: Coffee, scrambled eggs, toast.
Lunch: The Last Hurrah: Leftover pizza, mac and cheese, etc.
Dinner: A’s-Giants baseball game: Take-alongs: previously purchased corn nuts, peanuts, chocolate bars, Crackerjack, tap water. Purchased today: Subway $5 footlong cheese/veggie sandwich to be shared. Beer purchased at ballpark ($10 budgeted).**

*Pizza! Hot Pockets!
I’m a big fan of homemade bread and pizza — but don’t always have time to stand there kneading. Bread machines are often found at yard sales for a few dollars (I’ve had mine since 1996). If there is a timer function, a working parent can load the machine with pizza dough ingredients (flour, oil, salt, sugar and yeast) and have risen pizza dough ready when he or she gets home from work. The same is true for homemade bread — a breadmaker will bake a loaf while you sleep, or while you work.

The recipe I used, that came with the bread machine’s handbook, allowed me to double the recipe. I plan to use the remaining dough to attempt some homemade Hot Pockets, to avoid purchasing those expensive little food atrocities again. I also have leftover ingredients, including the tomato pizza sauce. That is on the weekend to-do list.

**Baseball!

We were invited as guests to see Bay Area rivals the Oakland A’s and the San Francisco Giants go head to head at AT&T Park. This is a lovely ferry ride across the Bay from our house at Alameda Point. However, trying to stick to our food stamp budget adds an extra twist. The other couple suggested we bring along Subway $5 footlongs, and that seems like a good compromise between trying to take our own hot dogs from home (cheap, but not able to keep them hot) or paying top dollar for the hot dogs at the park. A $5 Footlong split between us makes a decent sandwich meal, combined with the snack foods we are also taking (outlined in Tuesday’s post). I don’t drink much beer, just a sip or two, but Mr. Husband (a diehard A’s fan) likes to have a beer at the ballpark. A $10 budget should cover a couple of beers — enough to feel like a good time without destroying the budget.

Of course, neither the sandwiches nor the beer can be purchased with food stamps — but they do come out of our regular budget, and the point of this exercise (the JFSC) is to stay within a prescribed food budget. So the $15 spent tonight will be included in the final tally.***

Cookie Mookie
When I made cookies the other day, I messed with the recipe because I am lazy. I had warmed just one cube of butter. I didn’t want to wait any longer. One cube meant half a recipe. So I jazzed them up by adding what was on hand — cinnamon, nutmeg and chopped walnuts (using my thrift-store nut-chopper jar). The butter-wrapping paper greased the cookie sheet. I always save the butter paper. Otherwise, you have to tear off a paper towel and dip it in oil or butter, etc, to grease pans. If you keep the butter wrappers in a ziplock or tupper in the freezer, you always have greasing papers. Anyway, we don’t have paper towels, because I stopped buying them last year.

I no longer use my cooling racks because cookies are a little greasy on the bottom, and they are also a crumbly mess. Using a couple of sheets of newsprint as a cooking rack soaks up extra grease and contains all the crumbs. The paper then goes into green waste, or in our case, the compost pile. We use newspapers under bacon, too. We just don’t buy paper towels anymore. And on a FS budget, paper goods like napkins, towels, Kleenex, etc. aren’t covered — so think about ways to switch off these products if you’re on a tight budget. A one-use, disposable item (from diapers to cleansing wipes, Swiffers, etc) are a waste of money. Use cloth and wash after each use, and save your money as well as the planet. <-- free eco┬ásermon today! BTW, newspaper is virtually sterile if you use the inside pages. The only paper that is not clean what has been handled — the outside sheet that hits the ground or that you touch when you buy it. The inside is sterile enough to birth a baby on. Take it from me, lifelong journalist. I knows dese tings.

*** Post Script ***

Baseball! A beer budget! HA!
Re last night’s baseball game and my best-laid plans: A draft beer was $9. So how far do you think that $10 beer budget went? One beer. And at that point, Mr. Husband refused to play in the JFSC any longer. He had a couple of beers and a hot dog, and my clever plans went awry. True that I didn’t spend any extra on myself — all the food I brought along was tasty and filling and within budget (total of $10 including snacks and sandwich). Mr. Husband enjoyed his peanuts, and the gourmet cornnuts were very good. But he wanted a couple of ball park hot dogs with all the fixins and a couple of beers, and that was the end of the food stamp game for the evening. None of his food or drinks would have been food stamp purchases anyway, but they did add about $30 to the total monthly budget. This will be duly noted at the end, when we tally up. And that’s all I have to say about that.

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of six books: three novels, one poetry collection, and two women's history. She was the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California, in 2014-17. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. She has a BA in journalism from San Francisco State University, and MA in Early 20th C. British Literature from Cal State Hayward. Julia's articles have appeared on Salon, Thrillist, Paste, Scary Mommy, Narratively, Yahoo News, Your Tango, and Sweatpants & Coffee. Her articles have also run in Redbook, Woman's Day, Country Living, House Beautiful, Town & Country, the San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Magazine, Quill, and MadeLocal. She was the founding editor of weekly Alameda Sun and literary zine Red Hills Review. Her poetry has been in The East Bay Literary review, Postcard Poems, Americus Review, Cicada, Tiferet Review, and many others. Julia has been recognized several times by the San Francisco, East Bay and Peninsula Press Clubs as well as the California Newspaper Association for her blogging since 2003.

2 Comments

  1. noreply@blogger.com'

    The Non-Consumer Advocate
    June 12, 2010

    Leave a Reply

    Oh, Mr. Husband must LOOOVE me.

    -Katy

  2. noreply@blogger.com'

    julia park tracey
    June 13, 2010

    Leave a Reply

    He has no problems with you, Katy. He just drew a line. It would have been a waste of the tickets, he thinks, to go and not emjoy ourselves. It brought up a lot of issues on the topic of budgets, food, hunger, “fun,” and choices for poor people. I’m writing about those topics now, for my next blog. But you, rest assured, we love ­čÖé

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