Don't have the time, but have the itch? Scratch cooking.

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Even if they know how to cook, Challengers are finding that their lack of time inhibits their ability to do so. Cheaper, basic ingredients and knowledge aren't very much use when there is no time to utilize them. Imagine the frustration of wonderful CalFresh recipient cooks who are forced by their situation to opt for the cheap, faster food. Today, we took a tip from a previous challenger and ate breakfast for dinner.  We didn’t plan on it, but after getting home late, it was too late to cook a traditional meal.  Earlier in the day I made some breakfast burritos to have on hand for a quick and inexpensive breakfast.  I ended up eating two this morning because I was so hungry, but then we needed to eat the remaining burritos this evening with some leftover rice.  Unfortunately this means that we did not have any veggies for dinner! We technically have some leftover roasted broccoli, but I completely forgot about it.  At least we were under budget today at a total of $8.13.  However, now we don’t have a ready made breakfast for tomorrow, and I will have to get up early again.

I find myself reflecting on the difficulties of cooking in advance.  I normally have a few frozen meals that I have made up for days like today.  However, with a limited budget, it is difficult to buy food in bulk to be able to cook in advance.  Additionally, if you are working more than one job, it may be impossible to find the time to make a large batch of meals.

-Submitted by: CalFresh Challenger

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Today as I was preparing breakfasts and school lunches and reflecting on the past couple of days of the challenge, it struck me that my family have some pretty important advantages that many CalFresh recipients may not: someone with the time, experience, and energy to prepare all our meals from scratch (aka, me). There's no way we could make it through the week with enough food for 5 people if we bought much of anything prepared (even something relatively healthy like a pre-roasted chicken is double the price of a raw one). What it would be like if I was a single mom with my same three kids, coming home from my job or jobs, and knowing that I had to spend the next hour cooking, rather than helping kids with homework or doing laundry or chatting with friends or even sitting down for a few minutes of quiet? It's easy to see that there would be a huge temptation to swing by fast food on my way home, even knowing that it would consume the entirety of our food budget for two days.

-Submitted by: CalFresh Challenger