Tag Archives: what to do with leftovers

Day 3 of the SNAP Challenge

20 Jun

Egg. Banana. Tomato base. Beans. Sound familiar? If you’ve been keeping up with this blog it should. I mixed things up today with a heaping spoonful of peanut butter and an apple for an afternoon snack, but otherwise my office days are becoming deja vu in the food department.

Don’t get me wrong: there ain’t nothing wrong with leftovers. Cold pasta was my breakfast of choice for years. It’s that I don’t have a choice with my budget restrictions. I can’t make a last minute decision to run out for lunch without suffering the consequences later. Food is perishable. If I don’t eat what I have and it goes bad, I don’t get my money back. It makes me wonder how many programs or workshops there are to help people using SNAP to map out their meals intelligently to maximize their dollars without sacrificing nutrition or sanity.

Speaking of sanity, I had my first CSA pick-up today and came home with an insane amount of produce. For those who don’t know, here’s a brief description about how CSA’s work, from Wikipedia:

Community-supported agriculture (CSA; sometimes known as community-shared agriculture) refers to a particular network or association of individuals who have pledged to support one or more local farms, with growers and consumers sharing the risks and benefits of food production. CSA members or subscribers pay at the onset of the growing season for a share of the anticipated harvest; once harvesting begins, they receive weekly shares of vegetables and fruit.

This is what our weekly share looks like.

This is what our weekly share looks like.

This is yet another road-block I expected to hit during my #SNAPChallenge. Since we had pre-paid for the CSA in April, the shares are ours every week whether we want them or not. In addition, there are CSA’s that work with SNAP participants so that they can participate in the program, so I decided to calculate my weekly cost and factor it into my SNAP budget. This means $7.95 gone to vegetables. Had I picked up my share earlier I may have gotten the allotted amount, which was much less than I anticipated, but I lucked out and got a larger share since I arrived 15 minutes before closing.

I used some kale, swiss chard, garlic scapes, and spring onion to make a chick pea soup. The chicken stock from earlier this week came in handy, as did the tomato sauce. I instinctively topped it off with a fried egg without thinking. I’m hoping I don’t regret that later in the week, as it was really just a frivolous thing to do, even though adding an egg to anything automatically makes it more awesome.

Rachel’s Budget: $28.93 spent, $2.57 left







Click headings below to learn more:

About the Farm Bill and proposed cuts

About the Food Bank for NYC & SNAP Challenge

Learn about SNAP eligibility standards and allowances in NYC

See the USDA requirements for eligibility and do the math

Learn the difference between SNAP, WIC, and EBT



Giving to Go

10 Jul

So sometimes at my office we order lunch as a group and everyone eats together, and as a thank you for working hard and making money, the company foots the bill. It becomes very apparent when the food arrives that no one held back when ordering, and the amount of food is significantly more abundant than it would have been had everyone been asked to pay for themselves. “Get an extra pizza, just in case” “Let’s get a couple orders of fries, you know, just for the table” “Eggrolls for everyone! We’re rich!” The result is a ridiculous amount of leftovers that eventually get thrown out.

The problem is that I hate seeing perfectly good food go to waste. On previous occasions, I would combat this problem by eating myself into a food coma; unfortunately, putting your head down on your desk and napping for an hour isn’t as acceptable as it used to be in say, 2nd grade.

My next attempt to save waste was taking leftovers home and eating them for dinner with my boyfriend. There were many problems with this, however. First and most important, is that I ride a bike to and from work. Dangerous as it is riding in NYC, the danger increased ten-fold when I hung bags of pad thai and spring rolls from my handlebars and attempted to navigate through midtown. Also, everyone thought I was crazy. I became the office garbage disposal; I once came back from the restroom to find a half-eaten sandwich on my desk with a note: ‘I thought you might want this -xo’. No, I don’t want your soggy chips and pickles. Mission aborted.

Then I realized one day this past winter, while walking to the subway (I’m not THAT committed of a biker to ride in the cold) that each day, I pass at least one person begging for food and money. It’s a sad reality of living in NYC.  So the next time everyone ordered lunch, I brought one meal with me for my walk home and not surprisingly, there was someone in the subway entrance asking for money. I asked him if he was hungry, and when he said yes I asked if he liked chinese food. He laughed and said yes, so I gave him my General Tso’s Chicken with an egg roll on the side. After that day, I began packing bags of food each time we had leftovers, and handed them out on my way home. Between where I work and home, Herald Square and the 1/2/3 Stop at 72nd Street, I can usually unload 2 or 3 meals. If I can’t find anyone I wind up bringing it home, but I usually have no trouble finding someone hungry.

I’m not sure if this is okay-I know that it would be better to point these people in the direction of a shelter or somewhere to get a hot, free meal. And I have. Is it rude to give someone your leftovers? I don’t think so. They’re hungry. I have food. Seems okay to me. It’s not like I’m having dinner parties with friends and feeding them my co-worker’s scraps.

So maybe you want to try this yourself; here are some tips I can offer based solely on my own experiences:

-Put everything in a bag. I once gave a man an apple and bottle of water while he was begging for change; he thanked me and asked if I had a bag he could put it in-he couldn’t hold his change cup and the apple/water at the same time. It’s not like they can put it in the fridge for later, you know? Bag it.

Don’t go on a 2am crusade through the park by yourself; be safe and smart about who you’re approaching and where. It may be a good idea to avoid the guy wearing wireless headphones who swears to himself and warns anyone within earshot about the impending doom of the Apocalypse.

-If you can, include a fork, knife, and some napkins. Just because they’re hungry doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to eat like a civilized human being.

– Giving them the original containers is best, as I’ve seen homeless people use tupperware and other recycled containers to gather water or other things that they can then save for later.

-Don’t just throw food at someone-ask first. Also, I tend to only approach people with signs or other things that clearly indicate they are in need; it’s probably pretty embarrassing to approach someone who turns out to just be tying their shoe on the ground.

-There are organizations who travel the city handing out food every day, like the Coalition for the Homeless, or the Bowery Mission. If you’re not comfortable doing this solo, get hooked up with one of these agencies and join their fleet.

Have you done this before? If so, what happened? Please feel free to post any questions or comments.