In Your Words: Lunches

This is my third year doing the SNAP Experience, and one thing I’ve noticed is that while my lunches are smaller than usual, they tend to be the best planned meal all day. In part it’s because I typically pack lunch 4-5 days a week for work anyhow, so I am well in the habit of thinking through what to pack for my meals when I go grocery shopping. With a spouse who also works full time and two small kids, dinnertime is a bit more hectic with a focus on getting food into bellies before moods go sour, but my lunchtime is a sacred space in the day to eat a meal I’ve planned out while talking to co-workers. It’s the one time of the day I’m guaranteed {mostly} to be able to sit down, eat at a leisurely pace, and really enjoy my food. As such, my grocery store trips do involve some consideration for what I’ll want to eat each week and packing lunches while the morning coffee brews is a comforting routine for me.

My typical lunch for a workday is nothing fancy. Sometimes it’s leftovers, other days it might be a salad or sandwich paired with fruit, carrot sticks, yogurt, and sometimes even a treat. It’s not the actual food in it that is the luxury for me, but the meal eaten without requests for “More milk” from my 3 year old or a small hand darting over onto my plate to steal something delicious from it. It’s the time spent laughing with co-workers, opening a huge container of watermelon, cubed into small pieces, and sharing them with everyone around the table.

Relative to the rest of the day, then, lunchtime is pretty easy for me on the SNAP Experience. I am referring, of course, to the ease of getting my head in the right place and making sure I shop for that meal and plan out what I’ll need to last me the week. The difficult part comes when I pack that lunch each morning and know that it’s the only thing I’ll be eating at work that day…and that’s not saying much.

My lunch today consisted of homemade pinto beans (1 lb @ $1.49/lb in the bulk bins), half a flat bread toasted (5 flat breads for $1.99), and grapes (6 lb @ $0.49/lb) with water to drink.

I’ve got some past Experiences working in my favor, so I knew this time around to choose a protein I could use the whole week in many ways and that would be nutritious, filling, and affordable. Pino beans from the bulk bin fit the bill. I bought 1 pound and prepped half of it for the start of the week. Lunch was pretty filling, but I know I am going to miss having snacks!

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Pinto Beans:

Cover dry beans with a few inches of water and soak for about 3-4 hours

Drain into colander and remove any ‘bad’ beans

Cover again with a few inches of water and soak overnight or about 8-12 hours

Drain and pour into crock pot. Cover with a few inches of water (they grow some while cooking). Add seasonings or other additions. Many people use bacon, ham, chiles, or fats to flavor their beans. I stuck with water, garlic salt from my cupboards, and 1/4 of a yellow onion chopped finely (full onion was 1.31 pounds at $0.99/lb). Cook in crockpot on low until beans are tender and break easily with a fork.

– Katie

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