Planning Ahead and Proceeding with Caution

Planning ahead for meals seems to be key to work on a tight budget. The first entry speaks of Challengers spending hours to plan and prepare meals in advance. Even with a few dollars to spare, these Challengers decided to hold off on purchasing a sweet treat as a precaution.   

We looked at our watches after we finished washing the pans and putting away what will be today and tomorrow’s lunches… 10:15pm.  We had effectively been planning, purchasing, and preparing food for four hours and still hadn’t made a complete meal! The beans were still soaking and would have to be cooked and added to our quinoa salads in the morning.  While these two CalFresh Challengers enjoy cooking, we are lucky to be in a financial situation that allows us to spend time doing so as a luxury rather than a necessity.  This Challenge has already forced us to slow down, prioritize and spend much more time thinking about food than normal.

After putting everything away and reviewing our purchases, we had spent roughly two thirds of our weekly food budget. (We skipped meat and stuck to high protein, lower cost beans, eggs, and quinoa.)  Even though we seemed to do a pretty good job of budgeting and finding deals, I couldn’t help but feel overly cautious in the grocery store.  Leaving VONs with a little more money left than we expected, we wondered out loud, “Is it ok to use some of our reserves to buy snacks or a sweet treat, or should we hold on to a few dollars just in case something happens and we run out?” After hearing horror stories of past Challengers who wound up with rotten produce or my own experience of running out of oatmeal and eating pasta for breakfast last year, we decided to air on the side of caution… at least until our sweet toothes kick in!

This morning we got up, looking forward to getting an early start to the week, only to remember that we needed to finish making our lunches before leaving the house.  It’s going to be an interesting week!


-Submitted by a CalFresh Challenger