Eating and playing a quick round of Candy Crush are what usually takes up the empty moments in my life. I can do either of them unconsciously – and both set off small burst of serotonin and adrenaline. Read: They make me physically happy and content. Well, happy until you find something like Level 65 on Candy Crush and are stuck there for days, weeks, it seems like forever.
In Candy Crush you have a limited number of moves and sometimes chocolate creeps in and takes over the game board – ruining your chance for success. In the Food Stamp Challenge we have a limited number of dollars and hunger is always creeping in and ruining everything.
Last week: I experienced what happens when a two-year old sees neatly packed single servings of food and fruits that she can access when hungry. Darla ate her way through 3 days of food in a day and a half. Her childish, growth spurt driven hunger is like the annoying chocolate in the game. Just when you forget it is there, or think you have a plan to address is soon – but not immediately – it takes over and ruins everything.
When I first starting playing Candy Crush – I just played it without learning too much about it. I did the 5 step tutorial at the beginning of the game and then decided I was smart enough to conquer based on my innate brilliance. Stop laughing at me. Somewhere around level thirty I became frustrated and turned to the internet for cheats and tips and tricks. –
Learning to budgeting on Food Stamps is like learning to play Candy Crush Saga. In the beginning you see lots of options. Instead of 40 moves, you have over $300 to buy food and it seems plentiful – overly generous in fact.
So – you take the money and start shopping.
The first things you purchase are luxury foods, prepackaged, ready to eat, processed foods that won’t take time to prepare. Perhaps you even through deserts into the cart. Seriously, how long until we lose Twinkies again?!? Next are all the juices (they are fruits, right?) Steak – because it isn’t really your money and so $16 for steak doesn’t hurt your feelings when it is basically free.
And once your cart is half full of every food that takes away your feelings of sequestration , you mentally block meals and days of eating – only to find that nothing in your cart can combine with anything else to constitute a healthy meal. So: back go the Twinkies, muffins, chocolate cake. Back go the sugar infused fruit juices and you can live without the T-bone steak as well … right?
Into your cart go the basics that are only found around the perimeter of the store:
|• Bags of fresh fruits and vegetables (oranges, grapes, corn, cauliflower, peppers etc.)||• A block of meat that you ask the in-store butcher to slice because it is more affordable per slice than the prepackaged and water logged meats.|
|• Bread and tortillas||• Blocks of cheese (cheaper than bags of pre-shredded)|
|• Peanut butter||• Bulk Chicken chests, packages of ground beef, etc|
|• Eggs||• Salt, pepper, seasoning salt|
|• Butter||• Oatmeal|
|• Flour||• Beans and rice|
|• Oil||• Sugar|
|• Cream of chicken, or cream of mushroom soups||• Pasta|
|• Tomato paste||• milk|
And you realize that with these basics you can make tacos, meatloaf, quesadillas, burritos, breakfast, squeeze your own juice. Combining these works in several ways to blast the nutritional roadblocks and flavor blocks you were so afraid would ruin this for you. Using these ingredients you can even make ice-cream.
It is like combining a striped candy with a wrapped candy or color bomb. Magically obstacles disappear when you plan your moves ahead of time.
Like Candy Crush Saga, you have to try some levels several times. Unlike the game, once you run out of moves, dollars, meals, or food – you can’t just wait and have more tries gifted to you.
You have to beg for extra lives – which is far more annoying than going to Face Book and hitting up your friends for extra lives or tickets to the next level. This means going to Food Banks for boxes of food pre-chosen by someone else – and sometimes the food is weird or all starches, MEND Poverty makes boxes that are 60% fresh produce, but not all food banks have such good connections to grocery stores or donors whose money can be used to purchase these fruits and vegetables. That means that if your food stamp budget gets blown, your family could be living on Cheerios for over a week.
♥ my insulated shopping bag that kept the frozen items frozen and cold stuff cold as I got lost in the store came from http://www.mythirtyone.com/crisi . Tell her Sonya says Hello!
To help fund MEND (meet each need with dignity)’s food bank… go to Fundrazr.com and look up ” stop summer hunger ” or click: https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/0ZG27