I’m having a really bad health day. For those who don’t know about my health issues, you can read my blog called Dying to Live, where I talk about living with a terminal condition (CTEPH with diastolic congestive heart failure), among several other conditions (adrenal insufficiency, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain syndrome, and possible dermatomyositis–among other things, who know? I mean, they diagnose so many things and throw pills at me (which some I take, some I don’t) so it’s hard to say. The point here is that when I say I’m having a bad health day, that’s a day that, for someone ‘normal’, would probably land them in the hospital. For me, it’s sort of a point of, What can you do? I weigh the options and figure if there’s nothing they can do, why go in and waste the time and money. With the recurring DVTs, that’s where we are. I’m already on blood thinners, I have an IVC filter in place to prevent clot embolism into the heart/lungs (though it limits it, doesn’t prevent it completely), so they wouldn’t do anything but stick me in a bed and make me get poked a couple of times per day for nothing, then send me home in a few days. I can do that at home.
But I have to do that in bed, today, mostly. My right leg is swollen about four times its normal size. Yes, I know that sounds extreme, but it IS extreme. The left leg is swollen a little, but it’s not nearly as bad. My legs look bruised, all up and down them, from the pressure the swelling causes. They hurt. I hurt. I have to wonder: How much has, just three days into it, this challenge affected my health? I mean, I have ups and downs all the time, but this is the worst I’ve been in a long time. I’m not eating my organic veggies, not doing my juices, had regular salt in the rice the other night, and then the emotional stress and strain of the shopping last night. I don’t know.
That said, I’ve managed to get up and make a quick breakfast. Then I laid down until lunchtime, and made a fast lunch, and I’m back in bed again, with my legs just burning like fire, killing me. I might be cooking dinner by proxy tonight. I do that sometimes, where I just sit and tell folks what to do and how much to fix, and they do the work. I try to do easier dishes than the one I had planned tonight though–we’ll see what happens.
A lot of my friends deal with health issues too. The worse the diet, the worse the health issues will become. And then I wonder, how do we work with a food stamp budget when one is sick? And considering that a lot of people who receive food stamps are disabled, permanently, how do they cook for themselves all the time? With this diet plan, I’ve had to cook something every day, or my family would go without. We could eat raw veggies, I suppose, but that would leave us with an expensive diet and nothing really ‘tasty’ to feel ‘satisfied’. How does a person who can’t cook for themselves manage on this budget?
The people who NEED it the most are those who will suffer the most from being on food stamps. An able-bodied, unemployed mother or father can plan and cook and budget and save. It’s not easy, but I’m proving it is at least plausibly do-able. But if you’re disabled? If you work a full-time job or two? If you’re raising kids and running around doing what they need with school, doc appointments, jobs, school meetings, extra-curricular activities, and you’re trying to fit a budget and menu and shopping and cooking into all of that every single day, three meals per day and snacks? When is there time to work, make money, lift yourself up out of this situation? Where’s the hope there’s an end to it in sight? Our society just doesn’t make room for this. We don’t have the type of society right now that allows someone to make those adjustments and still be functional in society. If someone is unemployed, they have to be looking for a job, and that can be a job in and of itself!
Food Stamp Challenge: Day Three Breakfast
Keeping in mind that we have to leverage out the calories, protein and fats and such throughout the day first, then leveraged throughout the week second, breakfast is a little carby, but lunch and dinner were planned with lots of protein, so it works out. We had a blueberry bagel, toasted, with a tablespoon of cream cheese, 1/2 banana, 1/2 apple, 8 red seedless grapes, 6 ounces of milk and about 6 ounces of green tea. It was yummy, quite filling, but very starchy/carby, so I ended up being hungry again by lunchtime, something that usually doesn’t happen to me. I have to force myself to eat a little something at lunchtime, ’cause I’m almost never hungry. I tend to snack at breakfast, skip lunch of just have a snack, then eat a good dinner.
So doing the challenge has really made me have to focus on getting in three meals per day (which is really healthier for you) and having some snacks along the way once in a while. It’s interesting to try to fit it all in. I feel like I’m always thinking about food all the time, like there’s nothing else going on that I’m supposed to be doing, just cooking and planning menus all day. Someone who has to work can’t do that! So preparing a meal at night and then using it for lunch the next day works a little better than having to cook a full meal at lunch. I hadn’t planned for sandwiches and typical lunch-type stuff, but I may need to do some budgeting and menu planning for the book portion of this challenge, to include some ‘brown bagged’ lunches for folks who can’t cook at home during the week.
Total Cost per Serving: $3.24
Which, I know seems high, but I’m putting the entire value of the bagels, apples, grapes, bananas and milk into this meal, then dividing by the #of people, and that means I’ll get all those items to use ‘free’ in the future, so that’s actually really good.
Food Stamp Challenge: Day Three Lunch
At this point in the challenge, I’ve gone two days with very few calories, much lower than we should have, and then with a carb-loaded breakfast, I found by 1:00 this afternoon, I was ravenous and I wanted a ‘substantial’ meal. That is, I wanted meat. I was craving meat and protein. So assessing what I had to eat, I managed to convince myself I should use the gold-covered jalapeno sausages that I ended up paying way too much for during my food stamp challenge shopping trip (You can read the original post here, but essentially, I thought they were $5.97 and they ended up being $10.81, which put them way over my budget and had I known, I would have never bought them!)
So these are about to just blow my entire budget right out of the water! (at least, for a couple of days until it all catches up with me with the freebies I can use).
Sausage, Potato, Peppers & White Kidney Beans
So I used four of the jalapeno sausage links, cut them into circles (these are like a german sausage, only in small links instead of one big round). I used the second half of the fingerling potatoes I’d already budgeted for, so those are free. I used the BBQ sauce that came free with the full-meal deal coupon last night when I was shopping. I used 1/4 of a red bell pepper and I used the last of the free leftover purple onion and all my free spices, and one tablespoon olive oil (which is free now, since I already included it earlier).
- Chop potatoes and put them, spices and olive oil into a pan. (I used garlic, seasoning salt, black pepper and paprika–I’m really missing my turmeric) Stir to coat the potatoes with the spices and cook until the potatoes are nearly done and are the consistency you like–I like mine soft inside and a little crunchy on the outside.
- Add the sausage to the potatoes and stir in. Add the onion to the pan. Cook until onion is almost translucent.
- Add 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce and stir to coat everything with it. Cook until meat is warm ( sausage is pre-cooked).
- Add red bell pepper slices (sweet peppers, bell pepper, etc.).
- To use some of the leftovers I had, I still had about four cups of white kidney beans prepared in the fridge, so I put one big serving spoonful of white kidney beans (probably a little less than a cup or so) into the mixture. This will add bulk and stretch it, without really changing any flavor and it was a freebie on cost. Heat until bubbling and simmering.
Calories per serving:
Cost per serving: $ 3.93
This is sort of high for a lunch during the week, especially when I still have dinner yet to go and breakfast was high too, but remember, I’m introducing the entire cost of these items at one time, even if I don’t use them all (because you have to buy the whole package, whether you use it all or not), so it’s really high when I first introduce the item, but it will be super cheap later when I only have items left that don’t cost anything more to use. I’ll be over for my daily today, and I’ll still be over for the average total, but by next week, most things I use will already be ‘paid for’.
Food Stamp Challenge: Day Three Dinner
This is the infamous Chicken Livers dish menu from Facebook.
Look, in America, we are weird about food. My friend and book cover designer, Farah Evers, posted on my Facebook picture of the chicken livers and has been badgering me for the the recipe ever since. She said, “I love all things offal!” She plans to make my recipe, with her own unique flare, I’m sure. She’s not from America. This type of eating is something she’s used to. Here, people turn up their noses at organ meats. But when I lived with a Mexican family (as in, people from Mexico itself), they used organ meats for lots of things. There was, of course, also the menudo, which is quite tasty if you’ve ever had it. The only reason something is ‘gross’ is because we were ‘taught’ to think it was so.
But the reality of it is, there’s really nothing that is gross to eat if you think about it one way or everything is gross to eat if you think about it another. After all, when you’re eating cow, what you’re really eating is muscle and fat tissue, cartilage, connective tissue… you’re eating a once-living thing that is now dead. The meat is going to be cooked. Once it’s cooked, it’s fine to consume. Why is any particular PART of the animal supposedly more ‘gross’ than others? In fact, some of the best tamales I’ve ever had came from head meat and some of the best stews I’ve eaten came from organ meat.
So chicken livers, while not something I’ve gone out of my way to buy in the past, really aren’t all that strange. I’ve had neck bone and neck meat of both chicken and beef too, and you would probably really like both. Harder, tougher cuts, but treat them right, and they are tasty and super cheap. Chicken livers are super healthy, when consumed properly and in moderation too. And they are cheap.
So here’s the recipe: Michy’s Chicken Livers Recipe.
The cost for this meal? $2.50 per person, including some expensive (by budget standards) onion rolls from the bakery at the grocery store.
I’m not including the Bountiful Baskets stuff in my budget yet, so right now, that makes the day’s total: $9.67.
My average daily cost per person for the three days now has been: $7.93 per person, per day–thus far.
This is still way above where I need to be, but remember, I’ve introduced the FULL COST of some items that have multiple uses that I haven’t used all of yet, like when I counted the entire cost of the gallon of milk, but there’s still half a gallon left in there and it’s ‘free’ every time I use it (like today when I had cereal with milk).
I had one cherry tomato and one radish and a couple of grapes that I pilfered from the fridge while I was cooking. I also tried one of the chocolate frosted mini-wheats type of cereal squares. They were on sale, cheap, and they were chocolate, and we have a chocolholic in the house, so I got it for that reason–just to snack when someone had a craving for something to munch on but didn’t want to ‘eat’. the problem I’m having with snacks is, I’m tired of raw veggies, and can’t find easy, quick snacks that aren’t highly processed. Friend of mine on Facebook shared a link to a quick cracker recipe and I can make some kale chips (but I’d have to go shopping and it takes a lot of kale to make enough chips to be worth it–so I don’t know if that’s in the budget).
I ended up eating an entire half of a package of cream cheese this morning, just ’cause I didn’t want to ‘cook’ anything and was ‘hungry’ when I woke up and everyone else was asleep. I probably could have eaten some of the leftovers, but my mind was in this ‘I want a ‘snack” mode. So snacking, something a lot of us probably take for granted, is a tough one on this challenge and I need to address it more.
For now, I’ll sign off and give you more stuff on Day Four & Five, probably will have to combine them. Except for the brunch of Saturday, most of the stuff wasn’t really ‘recipes’, so it should be short to combine them and get some figures. I’m starting to run out of some of the stuff I bought but still have lots of stuff that’s ‘free’ to use too. For example, I’m down to only four eggs and a 1/2 gallon of milk now. I was out of cherry tomatoes, but the Bountiful Baskets got me two new grape tomato containers, so I won’t have to replace those–yay!
More to come! Thanks for sticking with me. In the meantime, ideas for super cheap, but also super-easy and not very time-consoming HEALTHING snacks that can be made up in advance but eaten whenever a snack attack hits are welcome. I’ll take any ideas you have. Debra gave me some Cheeze-its recipe… so what else have ya’ll got? It has to have ‘simple’ ingredients, be mostly easy to make batches of it, and not very expensive.