On day one of the Hunger Challenge I set the alarm a little early because I had some thoughtful food prep to do to make sure I had enough fuel to keep me going through the work day. No stopping by the numerous delis and lunch spots near work today, I don’t have the funds.

I spent some time yesterday cooking off my garbanzo beans, pintos and about 2/3 of my brown rice then squirreled them away in Gladware in the crisper drawer. I cook often and bring my lunch and snacks pretty much every day, but today I am especially grateful for my fully functioning kitchen and endless supply of reusable containers, although I think of the low-income person who might not have the space to cook, or maybe they rent a room and don’t even have a kitchen.
Last year at the beginning of the Challenge we rationed our food on the first couple of days, but found that we had a lot more than we thought in eggs, lentils, etc, so this year I was a little more generous with my portions. Because of my meal planning before I shopped, I was able to make some fairly satisfying meals today.

Here’s what I made to last the work day (based on ingredients from my shopping list):
Breakfast: I scrambled up two eggs with a scoop of pinto beans and two cubes of my cheddar cheese (I don’t know why it came in cubes, but it was cheap and they’re handy for portion control).
Morning Snack: One small apple with peanut butter
Lunch: Curried chickpea and brown rice wrap with a little avocado and salad.
I tossed the chickpeas with a little curry powder, salt, lemon juice, oil, and garden basil.

Afternoon Snack: About ½ c baby carrots and 5 cubes of cheese (told you, convenient)

When I got home around 4:45 I was definitely ready to start cooking dinner. I peeled and cut off a few sweet potato rounds from the LARGE sweet potato I bought at Grocery Outlet and tossed it on my grill pan for 5+/- minutes on each side next to some slices of onion and a couple of my thin pork slices. I chopped up the grilled veggies and tossed them with some lemon juice, oil, salt, pepper, garden basil and brown rice.

So far the hardest thing about today was the caffeine withdrawals. The Challenge gets more difficult as the week goes on, the ingredients dwindle and my creativity wanes. At the end of the five days, I can buy more groceries, but for millions of people who need food assistance, it’s not that simple.

If you would like to learn more about the Hunger Challenge and the issue of Hunger in America, please visit the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano website or stop by the Food Bank Facebook page to tell us your thoughts on the Challenge.