Wednesday snuck up on me this week, & I was surprised to find myself beginning the Hunger Challenge: Round 2. I’d spent the prior few days playing around, so when I opened the fridge in search of breakfast I was unpleasantly surprised to find a whole bunch of condiments (which weren’t mine) & half a carton of soymilk (which, though mine, I am not all that fond of, but it’s 49 cents cheaper than cow’s milk). I shut the door & resolved to go grocery shopping after work.

Because my lunches are provided for at work (thanks, boss!), I have one less meal to worry about on the two days a week that I am at an on-site gig. Minus these two & Wednesday’s neglected breakfast, I left work faced with 18 meals (& whatever snacking possibilities I might come upon) left to provide for myself on $6.71 a day.

Grocery shopping happened on Thursday morning, cash in hand & responsible, pre-planned list in tow. The supermarket closest to my apartment (which is less a supermarket than an over priced, organic hyper-bodega) did not accept food stamps (which, actually, are being phased out due to negative stigma. An electronic debit card is now being implemented in their stead), so I walked a few blocks to the nearest C-Town Food Store. Fun fact: C-Town’s website features “Recipes for Every Occasion”, including dishes such as “Lobster Mashed Potatoes”, “Actually Delicious Turkey Burgers”, and my personal favorite, “Triple Bypasses”. I am not making this up.

I shopped carefully, selecting generic goods when possible/not repulsed. Some items, like the granola I normally put on my yogurt, were nixed, the cheapest bag coming in at $5.99/13oz. Other items which I don’t usually consider were appealingly affordable – like the 3lb bag of Empire apples for $2.99. I had been buying my apples two or three at a time at the Union Square farmer’s market, a four-day-a-week emporium of locally grown foods featuring all the free samples of organic goat cheese I can swallow. It’s easily my favorite thing in all of New York City. It also does not accept food stamps. So the sketchy-looking 3lb bag it was.

I approached the check out line & stood patiently, watching my items beep! past a red laser beam & wondering how much a bag of almond M&M’s would set me back when the heavily mascara’d checkout girl announced my total:

“Forty-two sixty-two,” she said.

Though I was not gasping directly at her per sey, this fine young employee of C-Town, like any sound-minded individual, reacted poorly to my very audible reaction. She informed me that if I was unable to afford my total, I was welcome to return some items to the shelves, an offer I accepted. I turned &, with a heavy heart (& empty stomach), returned to the shelves one carton of orange juice, a tub of margarine, a bag of bagels & a tub of whipped cream cheese. I returned &, satisfied with my new, reduced total, I bagged up & took off.

After triage, my total goods were as follows:

  • V8 (46oz) ————————–$2.99
  • Jif peanut butter ——————$2.69
  • Cannelloni beans(15oz) ———-$0.79
  • Thomas’ English muffins ———-$2.29
  • Chotani Greek yogurt (17.6oz)——$5.09
  • Tomatoes (2) ———————$1.31
  • Baking potato ———————$1.03
  • Bag of carrots ———————-$0.69
  • Bagged salad ———————–$2.99
  • Button mushrooms —————–$2.99
  • Bagged apples ———————-$2.99
  • Silk soymilk (qt) ——————–$2.79

Total (with tax):$32.06

Though I would rather not have spent over half of my weekly allotment ($47) in one fell swoop, I felt that these few staples, though not particularly exciting, would tide me over the better portion of my week. With a little less than fifteen dollars left to keep me going for the next five days, they better.