The 2011 Hunger Challenge is going to kick off at some point, with all the breast-beating and moaning about "raising awareness" of the plight of those who mooch food stamps off hard-working taxpayers and bitch about wanting more of their "rights" from "the guvmint." During the challenge, a bunch of disorganized people, especially bloggers, will try to feed themselves for $4.72/day, possibly even for a week, while setting up a bunch of arbitrary rules like "no free samples or food bought by friends!"
Which only proves that they're idiots. If you're truly hungry, you take food anywhere you can get it. If you're going to be short on cash for a long time, you get smart about acquiring and preparing food for the least amount of cash for the most amount of tasty calories. If you're whining about how you'll have to starve an entire day while the office holds a buffet, and can't have any coffee because a mocha costs too much, you're not hungry enough.
By the way, that $4.72/day represents the amount you get for food stamps alone, which are supposed to supplement your food budget, not replace it. Whining idiots.
As for the inanity and insanity that feeding yourself is impossible for less than five dollars a day, let's look at the true cost of breakfast.
1 Box Aldi's store brand bran flakes: $2.50
Sevings per box: 18
Cost per serving: $0.14
1 Gallon store brand Vit D milk: $2.89
Cups per gallon: 16
Cost per cup: $0.19
Cost for a bowl of cereal: $0.33
Let's try this again with a heartier breakfast like two eggs and a bowl of grits - a better breakfast if you're going to be on the run, and want the calories.
Eggs: $1.28/dozen = $0.22 for 2 eggs
Grits: $3.40/box with 14 servings = $0.25/serving
Cost for two eggs and about half a cup of cooked grits = $0.47
Either way, breakfast costs less than fifty cents. You could have that for all three meals and not break $1.50 - but we're moving on to lunch.
My Housemate goes through a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter, and a 3-lb bag of apples a week. ($1.82, $1.79, and $3.49 respectively, as we buy a name-brand bread)
This means over 5 days, his lunches cost $1.42 a working day.
Last night, I felt lazy, and cooked from prepared ingredients, making dinner a little more costly than usual. Balancing this, I was testing out some bratwurst found on sale. And no, I'm not going to be idiot enough to make stupid rules like "Use the full price if you bought it on sale." You know what? If it had cost full price, I wouldn't have bought it. I'd be using a different meat bought on sale, a meatless dish, hunted meat, or really darned good cow that I personally eyed before its death and feel is worth every penny I paid to farmer and processor.
So, Bratwurst Stroganoff
1. Start water boiling for rice - one cup water per person, to which you'll add a little salt and 1/2 cup rice when it boils, cover and turn down to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat when done, even if the rest of dinner isn't finished yet.(3 servings = $0.57 cents)
2. Dump bratwurst in pan. Set to medium-high. (0.89 cents)
3. Roughly chop an onion. Add to pan. ($0.25)
4. Stir to ensure sausage browns, and onions saute in bratwurst grease.
5. Add a little paprika. Contemplate, and add more to taste. Add a dash of black pepper, and some garlic. ($0.02)
6. Add one can mushrooms, drained. Let everything brown some more. ($0.59)
7. When everything well browned, deglaze with one can mushrooms, undrained. Look in fridge, shrug, and add half a cup of white wine, as well. ($0.59 and $0.60)
8. Add can of condensed cream of mushroom soup. ($0.69)
9. Stir, set lid on, turn to low, and let bubble to itself. Clean up everything, set table.
10. Pull bag of spinach out of freezer, dump in bowl, add a little water, and microwave by directions. ($2.20)
By the time the spinach is done, the sausage stroganoff has melded together, the rice will be long done, and the table is set for dinner. Serves 3 for $6.40, or $2.13 each, and you'll likely have leftovers.
That's a day's meals for $3.89 to $4.03, depending on breakfast, and accounting for an expensive unusual ingredient - wine - in my dinner. You'd have to have two more bowls of cereal to even get to the $4.72 the government extracts from me at gunpoint and gives to others in the form of food stamps.
This wasn't even a "I'm feeling tight budget" day, this was a "let's try this on-sale meat to see if I should stock up in the freezer with more" day. For tight budget times, I have lots of beans and rice recipes that'll keep body and soul together.
I'm in favor of young people out on their own starving every now and then - if you don't grow up learning to save, budget, cook, and clean up after yourself, the inevitable realization that paying all the bills leaves less than $20 to feed yourself for a week is the slap in the face by reality that forces the thoughtless to become thoughtful, and start to take the painful steps toward being responsible for themselves.
I'm not opposed to safety nets, but I am opposed to ones extracted from me by force and presented as a "right" to people who feel entitled to take it and demand more instead of accepting responsibility and getting back on their own two feet. If you're making Stroganoff, you're not hungry enough to really feel motivated to spend less elsewhere, or jump for something that'll bring in more food on the table.
Therefore, based on this experiment, I meet the hunger challenge and prove that really, the government should cut food stamps by at least $2.00/day.