When I’m not on the Food Stamp Challenge, and I want to get a lot of food mileage out of one meat purchase, I’ll often buy a ham. I can slice it for sandwiches or to eat on its own, or chop it up and put it in soups, omelets, salads, etc. It spreads out over several meals. I’ve always thought of ham as an economical purchase. So, when I looked at hams yesterday, I was shocked to discover that they were a minimum of $9. That, I must say, is not really going to work for the Food Stamp Challenge.
This begged the question for me, has the price of ham risen since I last bought it, or have I just never noticed the cost? This challenge has made me hyper-aware of the price of everything, and how it breaks down into how much each meal will cost. I walk around the store with a calculator, making decisions based on how many meals I can get out of each purchase.
I’ve had times when money has been tight before, when I’ve bought cheaper food, but I’ve never been great with following a budget or tracking how much I spend. I’m realizing now what a luxury that is, because on this budget, I count every penny. I confess that ham is not the only thing I didn’t know the price of until this challenge; I was also blissfully unaware of the cost of eggs, milk, bread, cereal, cottage cheese, lettuce, and a whole host of other things that I usually just buy without looking at the price, because I “need” them and it doesn’t really matter how much they cost. The fact is, that’s just not even close to reality for a whole lot of people.
This Lent, I’m not getting to enjoy a lot of the foods I normally eat: good cheese, hummus, seafood (although I cheated on sushi for my housemate’s birthday, and while I was traveling last week…another post to come about that whole situation). On the other hand, I am getting awfully excited these days about finding a package of pork chops for $2.