Day 2 was by far my favorite day of the challenge! We had 3 delicious meals and all of them were pretty easy to make.
Breakfast was cereal and fruit. This was something we would normally eat and it was super quick to make. DH had bananas instead of apples, but otherwise the meals were the same. Our only complaint was that there really wasn't any protein in it. We were both hungry again by mid morning.
Total cost: .80 per serving (1.60 for 2 servings)
Lunch creatively used the leftover honey lemon chicken in a side salad. I don't usually repurpose my leftovers when I take them for lunch-I dump them straight from the pan into a Tupperware and call it lunch. Turning it into a new meal actually made the leftovers less boring. DH travels a lot for work and I'll end up eating the same meal for lunch and dinner for several days in a row. If I can figure out ways to repurpose them it might make it a little less boring.
Lunch was a yummy salad with vinegrette dressing. The salad used chopped tomatoes and cucumbers-which were part of the cucumbers I chopped up for the wraps!
The first step was washing and shredding the lettuce. This was the small amount of lettuce in the salad. I was getting worried that it wouldn't be enough! Each salad was only 1 cup of lettuce!
Adding the chopped cucumbers and tomatoes. I'll admit that I chopped up some extra veggies since I thought the salad wasn't going to be enough....Shhhh!
The ingredients for the dressing. The plan didn't give us a recipe so I made my famous mixed vinegar dressing! It's delicious and always a hit. When I was growing up I was always responsible for making the dressing-it always made me feel special and proud to be trusted to make it. I spent a lot of time refining what my mom taught me and now it's my go to dressing. It's super simple to make-you simply mix olive oil, white vinegar and balsamic vinegar. I pour in the olive oil (however much I need for that particular application), white vinegar (half of the amount of olive oil) and balsamic vinegar (half of the amount of white vinegar) and whisk it together.
Lunch was accompanied by one of the yummy yogurt cookies and a cup of milk. I was really hungry at lunch after such a small breakfast and lunch was really filling! I wasn't even really hungry at dinner time. The glaze on the chicken mixed really well with the dressing and the veggies! It really made the salad super flavorful.
I'm not usually a big salad fan since they are usually pretty bland and overly lettucy. On this salad I could barely taste the lettuce! It kept very well until lunch time and wasn't soggy! The yogurt cookies were still the best thing I've ever tasted!
Total meal cost: 2.25 per serving (5.00 for both of us)
Dinner was spaghetti with broccoli and a roll. I was excited about trying the "one pan" spaghetti-it sounded like an interesting concept to make everything in one pan.
Next step is to brown the meat and onions together. Quick and easy. You were supposed to drain the fat but since we were using 96/4 ground beef there wasn't really any fat to drain-I left it in to add some flavor.
After the meat is browned you add the tomato sauce, water and spices. You stir and wait for it to boil. At this point I was getting worried-it looked disgusting and watery. It wasn't looking like spaghetti. When I make spaghetti I always add a splash of red wine to the sauce (it's my secret ingredient and really gives it flavor)-I was worried this was going to be bland. There was so much water and barely any tomato sauce......
After the sauce is boiling you add the spaghetti noodles. Lower the heat and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes covered. You have to make sure you stir it a lot to ensure that it doesn't stick (especially if you're using stainless steel pans).
Once the noodles are soft dinner is ready! I was surprised that all the water cooked off or absorbed. It smelled delicious.
While I was making the spaghetti DH started making dessert-Pudding shake ups. Luckily this was a much quicker dessert than the night before.
You were supposed to use a quart size jar to shake together the milk and pudding mix until smooth. We couldn't find a jar so we used a Ziplock bag. It was a pretty easy substitute. The shaking was definitely tiring! It took about 10 minutes of constant shaking to get the pudding smooth-using the KitchenAid mixer would have been faster and easier.
Sliced bananas are placed at the bottom of the cups. We used plastic cups since all our regular cups were in the dishwasher from our endless milk drinking this week! The pudding is poured over the bananas and then chilled for 15 minutes in the fridge.
The completed desserts! I'm not a huge fan of bananas (I like the taste but not the texture) but this was delicious! It was the perfect end to our dinner!
Completed dinners. The broccoli was simply frozen broccoli with butter and the rolls were store bought with butter. The completed spaghetti was covered with Parmesean cheese right before serving! It was delicious and very filling. We have enough left over for lunch the next day (in accordance with the meal plan). The broccoli was pretty meh....once again there was no seasoning so there really wasn't any flavor. The roll was fine-there really isn't anything you can say about a roll. The spaghetti was awesome-it was full of flavor and the sauce had really soaked into the noodles so they were full of garlicky goodness.
We chowed down on that spaghetti! We are so much that we were almost too full for dessert but somehow we managed! Every component of the meal was amazing-we will totally be making this again! It took about 45 minutes to make the entire meal from start to finish which is totally doable even after a long day it work. We really didn't dirty up too many dishes either.
Total cost: .74 per serving (1.48 for both)
This was much easier and much more practical that Day 1. I feel that most families, even with minimal kitchen equipment or training. Many families who are living in poverty don't have access to large amounts of kitchen equipment or dishes or have a dishwasher to wash dishes. Last night's dinner would have been difficult to handle if we had to then do all the dishes by hand after spending so much time cooking dinner. This dinner was much more practical for families who are struggling. However, it doesn't address the many families that don't have access to a stove. Currently I have three students who are living in motel rooms with just a microwave as their cooking implement. Four of my students live in homes that do not have electricity. In a situation like that cooking is practically impossible-I keep hoping for some meal ideas that would work for those students but I haven't found them yet.
The issues that go into the link between poverty and unhealthy eating are bigger than most people imagine. It's not as simple as telling people they have to eat healthy-most of them know that-they need the tools and the skills to achieve that.
Today was an awesome and easy day! I'm feeling a little more positively about the challenge. I'll admit after yesterday I was feeling discouraged, I wasn't sure if eating healthy was possible if you consider all the factors that go into poverty-not just SNAP benefits-but today I'm feeling much better!