But where are the puppy treats and my hair gel?
Prepare for shock and awe. According to government sources, roughly 25% of the food Americans buy goes to waste. That’s about one pound of food, per American, per day — thrown in the trash. Sadly we’ve crossed the line from Land of Plenty, to Land of Waste.
Unfortunately I’m a member of another group – the one that rarely throws anything away. I just let it die a slow death in the fridge (usually in the vegetable drawer). I bit the bullet today and cleaned out that dreaded drawer and discovered with horror that I had unwittingly created an ice cold compost pile. There were little shriveled-up things in there that an archeologist couldn’t identify.
Well, I’m changing my ways. I read about the Illinois Challenge which was a eye opener. Sponsored by the state’s Food Bank, the project challenged citizens to spend no more than $25 on food for a week! That’s about $3.50 a day and only $100 a month for a family of four – the equivalent to what families receive each week in food stamps.
I’m thinking, no way! Rebel, Lucky Dawg and I spend that much in one week. In fact their treats run me more than the food bank’s daily suggested budget. Well, enough of that. They can eat their dog food from now on – in fact, we may all be eating dog food if I stick to the challenge. (They will probably run away from home, so if you see them wandering the streets with a lean haunted look in their eyes, please return them to me.)
On Friday I began the challenge as kind of an experiment. I went to the store with $25 and change. I purchased an off-brand box of mac and cheese that was hiding way down at floor level (58 cents). I also bought a bag of Tyson’s flash frozen chicken tenders ($4.97 on special at Kroger), a bag of white beans ($1.12), two cans of tuna (2 for a buck – again, an off brand called “Tuna of the Pond” or some such).
I also bought a can of black beans, a bag of brown rice and some store brand peanut butter. Oh, and a dozen eggs for $1.75.
Oops. I had only six dollars left for things like fruit and vegetables.
Out of habit, I reached in the dairy case for a bag of Klondike bars, Yikes – no can do – more than my daily budget. Scratch that. I doubled back and bought the smallest bag of dog food they had, and a head of lettuce. I was hoping I had enough multivitamins to get me through the week. A loaf of double fiber bread brought it up to $25 plus tax.
There was pitifully little in my shopping cart. It reminded me of my closet…lots of clothes but nothing to wear. I had food in the cart, but nothing to eat. Where were the chips, the cookies, or my beloved avocados? They were $1.99 for one itty bitty little fruit that was so small it practically slipped through the wire shopping cart.
I arrived home with a heavy heart. I couldn’t imagine feeding a family of four on this little pittance. Dutifully I made bean soup using four of the chicken tenders which I boiled to make a thin broth. I didn’t have enough money for the canned variety. I poured some over the dog food for my canine friends. They took a sniff and looked at me. Where was their mélange of hot dog and bacon drippings I frequently pour over the dry dog food to spice it up?
I ignored their unspoken whines. I was on a roll and feeling all self-righteous.
After five days of bean soup, Mac & Cheese and tuna, I’m thinking I’ll make myself a Halloween mask and go Trick or Treating. When they answer the door, I’ll say “Trick or fruit, maybe an asparagus spear?”
Oh, good lord. What will I do for the Trick or Treaters that come to my door expecting little Snicker bars? Thankfully, Halloween is on Friday and I start a new week on my destitution diet. Next week is going to be really tight. How does Purina Puppy Stroganoff sound?