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The $0.41 Lunch

June 22nd, 2007

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The day is flying by and thankfully our shoe string budget for breakfast carried us through the morning with out feeling hungry. Hopefully, I can say the same for lunch…

In researching, planning, and shopping for a menu and grocery list that could accommodate a poverty level grocery budget, it was lunch that seemed to be the most difficult to afford. Taking into consideration that many of the working poor and struggling families may not have access to refrigeration throughout the day and would not necessarily be able to store leftovers at work, half of a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich with half of a banana was the healthiest meal I could come up with. Yes, I really did mean half of a banana! In order to stretch our money in between meals to be able to afford trail mix as an afternoon snack to keep our blood sugar and energy levels from dropping, I had to cut corners somewhere. My husband and I had to split the banana… We chose bananas as they were the cheapest produce item at the market and even at that, we could still not find a way to squeeze another $.76 for bananas into the budget. In retrospect, I suppose we could have given up the $.64 Hot Sauce and buy 1 or two fewer bananas. But if we did so, what would we have been able to afford to flavor our food? Oh, and did I mention that $42 a week for 2 people definitely does not afford variety, so we will be eating the same lunch for the next 7 days?

I think if this budget were a necessity for a longer period of time, my husband and I would seriously have to consider holding a cheap week and live on the $.55 cent hot dogs, $.08 Ramen Noodles, and $.98 pizzas in order to save enough money to buy some healthy items to stock and bulk up our pantry. Hopefully, if we made wise enough choices, we would not have to do that again or very often.

Recipe for Lunch
How to make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich

1. Cut 1 slice of a Hearty Whole Grain or Whole Wheat Bread in half

2. Using a knife spread one half of the bread with 2 Tablespoons of Peanut Butter

3. On the remaining half slice of bread, spread 1-2 Tablespoons of Grape Jelly

4. Combine the two halves, so the Peanut Butter is facing the Jelly

5. Serve with 1/2 of a banana and a glass of water

Total cost for this meal = $5.69 (Roughly $.41 for lunch per person each day)

*Try to minimize a chaotic morning rush to get out the door by making this the night before. I am not sure how healthy this is, but in a pinch I imagine that you could cut up a clean plastic grocery bag to wrap up your sandwich if you did not have or could not afford to buy a reusable/washable sandwich container. Just be sure that the bag being used did not contain any potentially hazardous foods. Also keep in mind that this is in no way, shape, or form meant to be a long term solution. A clean cloth that could be washed and recycled is definitely a better option. In expensive food storage containers are readily available at most dollar stores and if you truly find yourself in need of items to equip your kitchen, you can always try joining a site such as Freecycle.

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