"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!

Monday, April 8, 2013

" A Place at the Table" Food Bloggers Against Hunger

Yum

Groceries

When I was in elementary school I hung out with a girl named Donna who lived around the block from me. Her mom worked as a waitress. She didn't remember her dad. Her older brother and sister were in high school. I used to go to the grocery store with her. Why a fifth grader was in charge of shopping I didn't know? Donna was often alone, so I guess if she got hungry she had to shop herself. She paid the grocer with food stamps. I had never seen these before. The only stamps I knew were the green kind that my mom saved up in a booklet and redeemed them at a special "Green Stamp" store for things like crockpots and toasters.

My mother said that Donna could eat at our house whenever she wanted too. I didn't really understand why she had such a privilege that my other friends didn't have. But, sometimes when I ate with Donna she would make really weird things. Like pasta with tomato soup or mayonnaise sandwiches. I didn't understand that sometimes this was all she had to eat.


What would you do if you were hungry? If you only had 3 to 4 dollars a day to spend on food for each member of your family?


I went to the grocery store with $112 (4 members of my family, $4 a day, for seven days worth of food.)

This is what I bought.

What would you buy?

Breakfast
Breakfast
Oatmeal with milk and bananas or apples, eggs, coffee



Lunch
Lunch
 Tuna, cheese, or peanut butter & jelly sandwiches


Chicken & Vegetables
Dinner 1
Roast the chicken on top of the vegetables.
Remove all meat from chicken. Scraps save for chicken soup or chicken salad.

Broccoli Rabe beans and pasta
Dinner 2
Need to cook perishable greens. Broccoli rabe, beans, in olive oil sauce over pasta.


Beef Stew
Dinner 3
Beef Stew: Slow cookers can be found at tag sales.( I got one that way.)
Cook beef and vegetables in a crockpot while at work.

Black beans with corn bread
Dinner 4
Black Beans cook in slow cooker with pepper and some onion too. Make corn bread in a skillet. 

Beef Barley Soup
Dinner 5
Beef Barley Soup

Pasta and Marinara Sauce
Dinner 6
Pasta and Marinara Sauce
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39 comments:

  1. "You don't buy pre-packed food. It lacks nutrition and it costs more."

    These 'food like substances' are filled with low quality ingredients - vegetable oils, high fructose corn sugar, salts, and chemical additives. Unfortunately they are now marketed as healthy choices, organic, etc...

    I'm afraid that many don't even know what real food is any longer.


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    1. I think you are right Dan. I was happy to find out that at our local food pantry they give classes on how to cook with real food.

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  2. Great post Diane! I wish, oh I wish so bad that we could afford more fresh produce, but it is terribly expensive. This is why I am so glad to be gardening. It will truly benefit our family, and it's cheaper, fresher, and with no added "stuff" straight from our backyard.

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    1. Having your own garden is key. Now I understand why all the old Italians in my town always had a garden and would pickle vegetables too for the winter. When I was in Italy I saw the same thing, any where people could plant a little garden they did.

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  3. Hi Diane nice post and very informational!
    I have been donating few of my posts with healthy and affordable recipes that are also easy to make. Eating on a budget does need some planing and lots of information...which is kind of hard to get with all the MISinformation around! :(
    thank you
    Kelthum

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    1. Kelthum,
      Thank you for stopping by. I just subscribed to your blog. It is great to find someone focused on the Mediterranean diet but from a different cuisine.

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  4. Diane this was a great post…your story about Donna brought tears to my eyes. I too, was brought up with grandmothers and a mother who cooked very nutritional food. Potted meals that cost very little to put together and feed the family. We also were lucky enough to always have fresh fruit, vegetables and fish or meat.
    I love that you shopped and planned the weeks meals with your 112 dollars. Kudos to you!

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    1. Thank you Kathy,
      It is funny how around the block can be another world. I am really grateful for what I learned about eating well from all the old Italians who lived in the court behind my house. They helped me to plant my own garden when I was 7... I was so fortunate.

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  5. This is a great post! It is definitely difficult to shop for healthy foods on a budget, but not impossible; it just takes more planning and time. Now, that I'm not working, we have a much tighter budget, so I have to be more creative in meal planning and making food last longer.

    I just stumbled upon your blog and I love it! I am half Italian and I primarily cook the Mediterranean way, so it is nice to find someone who does the same!

    -Melissa @ Fit 'n' Well Mommy

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    1. So glad you found us... great to have you. Hope to hear more from you.

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  6. What a lovely post. It's wonderful how Mediterranean food is naturally affordable and healthy, with such simple and nutritious ingredients that go a long way. I usually make big batches of soups and stews and freeze. I just wish I had the room for my own vegetable garden... One day maybe :)

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    1. Thank you Lisa. I think most traditional food is naturally affordable because it usually has a base of a grain like rice in Asian foods, potatoes and corn for South America and vegetables and a little meat make up the dish. Oh, I hope you get your vegetable garden. Tomatoes and herbs grown well in pots if you have any room for them.

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  7. What a great and important post Diane! I learned A LOT of money saving ideas from my mother. She was great a stretching my dad's pay check to pay for the expenses and feed a family of 7. One thing we did was every gallon of milk that was brought in the house was mixed with a gallon of milk made from dry milk. We also grew our own vegetables or drove to the country and picked them out of my granddads farm. When B and I got married, together we brought home $370/month and had a rent of $80. I was still in college so we had tuition and book expenses. Needless to say we ate a lot of PB&J, mac & cheese, hamburger, beans and rice dishes, plus we had a garden. It taught us a lot and am glad that we had to struggle for a few years before we found good jobs with decent salaries. Oh - and I saved the stamps for those little green books and was able to get some kitchen stuff like a toaster and a good set of knives. :)

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    1. Ah, someone else who remembers Green Stamps! I have to say I agree a little bit of struggle helps to teach you a lot of things. Unfortunately for some the struggle just gets prolonged with complications. We are fortunate it was temporary. I think our parents really came from one of the thriftiest generations. I think a lot of their knowledge has been lost.

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  8. Diane, first off, thank you for linking up to to the In and Out of the Kitchen link party.

    Second off, I love your post. Funny, when we are children we don't really think much about others. We just think, hmmm...they are a bit different from us. I remember having playing at a friends house - when her father came home everyone shut their doors and was real quiet. I didn't realize till later that the father was abusive and they were all afraid.

    I just love your meal plan and all of your tips on how to shop! I am so glad you linked up to Food Bloggers Against Hunger.

    Cynthia at http://FeedingBIg.com

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    1. Thanks Cynthia,
      I'm so glad I found you out in blogosphere... it is great to link up with someone who gets were you are coming from.

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  9. Great post, Diane. I grew up on food stamps, received free lunches at school, yet did not feel poor -- my mother made sure of that as we learned to be thankful for what we had. Our garden and livestock provided good nutritious food which was a blessing, though hard work. You did a great job with is post, providing helpful information about budgeting meals as well as raising awareness. Thanks for sharing on Hearth & Soul Hop. :)

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    1. Thank you Judy. Your story is very inspiring. I appreciate you telling me about it. It is a little surprising how many of us have experienced food insecurity (as they call it now). It is really wide spread and upsetting that it occurs in a country that is so rich in food.

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  10. Hey just looking over the food items and thought you could have bought more food for less if you would buy grains and beans in bulk and making your own bread saves a huge amount of money:)
    Moira

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    1. You are absolutely right, but the only store around here that sells bulk is an expensive high end healthfood store.

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  11. Interesting post! I agree with shopping once a week - food can be upcycled. (: The leftover roast can make wonderful school sammies or be added into beans in your crock. And I pretty much think the crock pot is a miracle for working women, as are dry beans!

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    1. Couldn't agree with you more.. like your ideas for the roast too. Thanks for stopping by.

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  12. I found your statement "the average family on a limited budget probably would not buy what I bought on this shopping trip." very interesting. Unfortunately I would have to agree from what I see in the grocery lines every week. I found this post very inspiring and I loved the meal plan. Thank you.

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    1. You have to know about food and you have to know how to cook to buy what I bought. Not everyone got to grow up next door to their Italian grandmother. I was happy to hear that my local food pantry pretty much requires people to take their cooking and nutrition classes. As with almost everything education makes a big difference. Thanks for your comment.

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  13. Nice post. I had a similar experience, and found it very eye-opening and heart-opening. I like how you organized your groceries by meal and photographed them in those groups. I found I could stretch my weekly budget by buying mostly in bulk and extending certain staples such as a large pot of cooked beans over several meals with various recipes. I wrote about my experience here: http://planithealthier.wordpress.com/2012/12/07/filling-up-on-a-new-experience-hunger/

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  14. Thanks for stopping by... I loved your post. You really lived the life for a week... really intense.

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  15. An outstanding, not-to-be-missed post, Diane.
    I'm going to feature this on Rattlebridge's Facebook Fan page and Tweet about you, too.

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    1. Thank you very much Michael... I really admire your blog, so this means a lot to me.

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  16. I think you spent your money very wisely...I see so many young people with nothing but processed food in their grocery carts...it really bothers me that they have no idea in the world how to cook a nutritious meal for their family.

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    1. I think it is mostly due to not having been raised by families that know how to cook from scratch.

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  17. Hi Diane,
    Your Post for Food Bloggers Against Hunger was really outstanding. Thank you so much for putting me on to this so I could participate, it was awesome to participate and have a small voice with such wonderful blogs like yours.

    Thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday and hope to see you again soon!
    Miz Helen

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    1. Thank you very much Miz Helen,
      I'm so glad that you participated... this is a horrible problem that just should be in a country that is as bountiful as ours.

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  18. Hey Diane, this post is very close to my experience...as a new immigrant to US about a decade ago, we went through similar budgeting challenges. With an infant and a toddler at home, the challenge of providing healthy nutritious meal was a constant battle waged. Great post!

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    1. I'm sorry you had to go through a bad food time it happens to more people than it should in this country. We have so much food here and lots of excess. It needs to be distributed better. In the 1970s we did a much better job.

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  19. Just wanted to let you know that your post on Food Bloggers Against Hunger will be featured at tonights In and Out of the Kitchen Link party! I am so excited to feature you, I loved this post and I love your site!

    Cynthia at http://FeedingBig.com

    Please grab the "I"ve Been Featured" button when you link up for the party tonight! Can't wait to see what you bring this week!

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  20. Just wanted to let you know that your post on Food Bloggers Against Hunger will be featured at tonights In and Out of the Kitchen Link party! I am so excited to feature you, I loved this post and I love your site!

    Cynthia at http://FeedingBig.com

    Please grab the "I"ve Been Featured" button when you link up for the party tonight! Can't wait to see what you bring this week!

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  21. An excellent post and my sentiments exactly Diane. its about time everyone learnt this. Its not that hard. Sounds like we had similar upbrings and I'm so glad I did. Am featuring this post at tomorrow's party. Thanks for sharing and well done my friend!

    Anne xx

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    1. Thank you so much Anne... It was good to grow up knowing that everyone doesn't get to start off on the same foot. We have a lot of politicians who don't get that.

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  22. Good Morning Diane,
    I am honored to feature this post on Full Plate Thursday this week. Thank you for bringing this awareness to everyone. Have a great weekend!
    Miz Helen

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