Saturday, October 11, 2014

Day 5: A Road Trip on a Food Stamp Budget

Day 4 went much like day 3, given the day was filled with good bye celebrations for my boss. I sat through the pizza party eating lentils and rice, but in the end could not resist the cake. I mangled a piece getting it out of the cake pan onto a could not be served in that state so I ate it...  I am weak, and hunger makes it that much harder to stick to one's principles. It was downhill from there.
Day 5 was a different challenge: a road trip. I currently work in DC on a short term basis but own a home 5 hours away. I had not been home since Labor Day so was eager to get out of town.

I went for a run in the morning - my first real exercise of the week. I normally try to fit in four or five workouts a week, but suspended all workouts for this challenge, figuring it would be a bad idea on limited Calories. This is an important point: basic fitness is not possible on the food stamp budget. But given my failures on Days 3 and 4, I was no longer worried about my ability to sustain forty-five minutes of exercise. I spent the rest of the morning packing and preparing for the trip, then left shortly before noon.

It wasn't until after I had hit the road that I realized I would have a bit of a challenge with lunch - cold chickpea stew, cold chorchori, cold lentils, or cold chana saag? After 4 days these are not even appealing hot, let alone cold... so I went for an apple.  I stopped halfway at a rest stop and spent $1.50 on a bag of pretzels from a vending machine. I have exactly $0.08 left for the week. Usually when I make this trip I think nothing of spending $5 on a sandwich, plus another $2 on a soda, and maybe another $2 on some kind of snack or treat. That would be two days' worth of food on a food stamp budget.

Meanwhile, life goes on with its own challenges. I got to my house to discover a large window, shattered, that I will have to repair or replace. I learned my neighbors needed me to attend an emergency meeting because an energy company just rerouted a proposed fracked gas pipeline through our neck of the woods. So I quickly heated up some chickpea potato stew and headed to the meeting. I got home between 9:30 and 10, exhausted and yes hungry. Unable to face my Indian food options once again, I made myself some grits with honey and went to bed. I am really glad I bought grits - great comfort food, versatile, and still tasty after five days....

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