Living off $4.90/day – Post-Challenge Redux

I’ll start with a photo of our breakfast, it’s about the same as our breakfast burritos from Day 1, only without the avocado

Wrapping up the CalFresh Challenge with…a breakfast burrito and coffee for about $3.20 (no avocado this time)

Is it even possible to derive meaning off something that only lasted six days? There are many, significant life events that happen in far less, so I’m going to give it a shot. First thing I noticed is I probably eat too damn much. Not a particular revelation to anyone I interact with on twitter or four square, but there you have it.  I blame all the restaurants within walking distance (especially the bovine beauty up the block). But I did get a few other gems.  Here’s my Top 10 list.

1. Split pea soup is cheap, tasty and VERY good for you (recipe – add your own ham, though).
2. We could save $2,500/year, easy…but probably would rarely taste the sweet joy of goat cheese and fresh farmers market beets (available here  or here)
3. I can watch football without craft beer and they don’t actually stop the games.
4. Its possible to watch people eat and drink and not join them without being a social outcast (note: just tell them you are on a challenge to see what it’s like to struggle and everyone will just move on–or, better, they’ll ask why and you can give them a little nugget)
5. Oatmeal sucks…but is nutritious
6. Buying in bulk helps, but it is NOT the only way to eat healthy & cheap
7. Calculating the per serving cost of consecutive, home made dinners is a phenomenal way to control spending (and probably a good, creative homework trick for the kiddies)
8. Any prolonged effort is easier with help. My wife is, of course, awesome. But really tackling anything important is possible with a good friend or family member to lean on.
9. I almost forget what Hanis, Michael, Jay, June (that awesome bartender at Tiger!Tiger!), Matt and Nick  look like (and yes, I realize it’s a little odd that I spend enough time in the local eateries to know so many of them). The reality is they are–all of them–easy and approachable and want you to have a good experience. A lot of passionate people brewing, serving and creating in these parts.
10. Even many of the people who were never on welfare (as was Mitt’s father George Romney) are hard-working, independent people who’d prefer a job to a social program. Next time you are behind someone in the grocery store who pulls out their CalFresh card or WIC, please don’t judge them. Or, at least after you judge them try to remember that we are all only one really bad break from being on the other side of that veil (this was also interesting).

Next week I’ll get back to eating, drinking, giving and going–hopefully with a bit more empathy and viewing things a little differently. I believe I spoke to at least 40 people directly about the reason for this effort and more than that read at least one post. With the magic of Twitter and many retweets from people like San Diego Bargain Mama (who I met at San Diego Startup Circle), the message reached many more. I’d like to think at least a couple of those people will view things a little bit differently, too. Have a good one, thanks for dropping by.

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