Category Archives: Food

Oh, SNAP, Part II: 12 items or less

Groceries for under $20
Depending on how creative I get, these groceries could last a week. Photo by Peg McNichol

Let’s start with the idea that most people have some food in their cupboards. My pantry has five pounds of flour, basic baking ingredients, coffee, two half-empty boxes of raisins (regular and golden); an unopened box of Cheerios, a bar of semi-sweet baking chocolate (purchased on sale a few weeks back). Other items: three cans of fruit; three tins of fish; two cans of pureed pumpkin; two boxes of dried pasta, a large container of plain oatmeal; a nearly empty container of honey (need to look for some on sale); corn meal, olive oil and assorted spices.

Some of those items can be used for meals over the next week.

My latest purchase includes one gallon of milk; one pound of unsweetened butter; two dozen eggs; 32 ounces of plain yogurt; five oranges; two pints of blackberries; six mini-bananas; four cucumbers; a handful of yellow squash; and a bag of limes. Total cost $18.80 — aided by most of the fruit being marked down for quick sale.

Focusing mainly on the latest purchase, here are my plans:

1: Fruit salad with some of the mini bananas, two oranges, some blackberries & 1/2 to 3/4 cup yogurt for protein, a dash of powdered ginger.

2: Scrambled eggs, using a tablespoon of milk and some diced zucchini, seasoned to taste.

3: Salad: hardboiled and diced eggs with lettuce, cucumber, zucchini (Enough for 4 servings without using up every ingredient).

5: Lime curd (can be used to flavor & sweeten the plain yogurt or in the fruit salad or on toast. It’s yummy!)

6: Low-sugar Limeade OR will use a plain slice or two to perk up my daily 32 ounces of tap water. Maybe both options, having quite a few limes.

7: Blackberry jam. A very small batch, since I’m using just two of the four half pints purchased.

8. Egg salad — I don’t have any mayo (so expensive!), but I do have the eggs and in the cupboard, oil, vinegar and dry mustard. Homemade tastes better and takes 10 minutes.

9. Sourdough French toast. I have some leftover slices of bread from last week’s groceries, enough to make several meals’ worth of French toast. Whatever I don’t use in the next day or so will go into the freezer for some lazy Sunday morning.

Remaining fruit will be used for snacking, as breakfast garnishes or mixed with 1/2 to 3/4 cup plain yogurt & whatever spices I want (ginger or cinnamon or nutmeg, etc.).

Why a whole gallon of milk? I like to put some milk in my morning coffee and usually drink a glass of milk at lunch and bedtime — partly for the Vitamin D & calcium, but mostly because milk tastes good.

Oh, SNAP: A $20 grocery challenge

Meijer grocery receipt
This is the actual Meijer receipt from my personal challenge to get as many healthful grocery items as possible — for $20 or less. Photo by Peg McNichol

Ever since Gwyneth Paltrow got into hot water earlier this year for attempting the SNAP challenge, I’ve tried some extreme-grocery budgeting. (While I don’t think she did such a terrible job — too many cities are effective food deserts for low-income families, who have little to no access to fresh fruits / vegetables.)

Today a childhood friend shared some of her fiscal challenges, which included trying to get decent groceries. I told her I could spend $20 and get enough fresh fruits and vegetables for a few meals, along with some other groceries.

“How do you eat? WHAT do you eat?” she said.

Tonight, I showed her, hauling in 12 items: a mini-banana bunch; a gallon of milk; a handful of summer squash, four cucumbers; five oranges; two pints of blackberries; two dozen eggs; 32 ounces of plain yogurt; one pound of unsalted butter and, in honor of Ms. Paltrow, a bag of limes.

A photo of what the groceries looked like and how they’ll be used in the next blog post.

Winter won’t break me

Photo by Peg McNichol
This squash soup, made creamy with milk and parmesan cheese, brightened with a few drops of Tabasco sauce. Photo by Peg McNichol

I admit West Michigan’s consistent below-zero temperatures and/or wind chills, the relentless snow, exponential heat bills and, of course, this week’s inception of a late-season sneeze-y cold have nearly gotten to me.

But not quite.

One doesn’t grow up in a Continue reading Winter won’t break me