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Monday, 4 August 2014

Food Bank Diet for Two, Part 2: Menus and Lessons

The food bank diet my husband and I followed  started with supper on a Tuesday and ended with lunch on a Saturday.  Unless otherwise indicated, the food listed was for EACH person. These were the meals we ate:

Day One
Supper: Potato and Sweet potato (canned) puree with a sausage patty per person.  Small amount of sauteed green onion & broccoli.  Plain lettuce leaves.  Drinkable yogurt.

Day Two
Breakfast: An orange cut in wedges and (shared) 1.5 cups oatmeal boiled in diluted canned coconut milk with brown sugar

Lunch:  Two hamburger buns with cheese, lettuce and sliced meat, an apple, 1/2 cup yogurt

Snack: 2-3 Lemon creme cookies; glass of orange juice

Supper: Mushroom soup deluxe, containing boiled broccoli and sliced lunch meat; 1/2 raw red pepper; leftover potato puree fried as a pancake.
Dessert: Vanilla yogurt smoothie with a whole orange (very pulpy!)

Day Three
Breakfast: Drinkable yogurt; Two sliced of toast with a fried egg

Lunch & Snack: repeat of Day Two except with an orange instead of an apple

Supper: Sausage Patty; Scalloped potatoes with green onion and cheese.  1/2 raw red pepper and plain lettuce leaves.
Dessert:  Strawberry yogurt

Day Four
Breakfast: Oven pancake (thinly sliced apple covered by batter of 3/4 cup milk, 2/3 cup flour, 2 eggs baked 20 minutes in a 400 F oven)

Lunch: Repeat of Day Two except no fruit; lettuce, meat and cheese on 2 slices of bread instead of buns.

Supper: 300 grams of pasta with simple cheese sauce and lunch meat (shared).
Dessert: Drinkable yogurt, last cookies

Day Five (at a campground)
Breakfast: 1.5 cups oatmeal boiled in water with brown sugar and the last of the milk (shared)

Snack: One apple (just Harriette)

Lunch: One can beans and sauce, heated with 5 slices bread and butter (shared); Fried potatoes.*
*We cheated a little in this meal.  Our children had some grated cheese from their wraps that they could not finish, so we put it on our fried potatoes.  My husband also ate one of their plain wraps.

Leftover Food:
200 grams of pasta and 3 potatoes

Lessons Learned

  • Not including our children in the diet ended up being quite difficult.  They sometimes eyed our food and wanted us to share.  It was more complicated to cook separate menus, but we did both eat scalloped potatoes, which were baked in two different pans to keep us honest with portion sizes.
  • For the latter half of the diet, my husband had a nagging low grade hunger.  Both of us missed not having a little something to eat before bedtime.
  • Never before had I cooked oatmeal in coconut milk.  I had never made an oven pancake before either. These two recipes turned out to be unexpectedly delicious, but I don't think I will start buying coconut milk regularly.
  • When you have a really limited amount of food, you tend to not want to share, even with your children.  I did not like this feeling.
  • After each meal, I wanted to lick my plate so that nothing would be wasted.
  • For me, it was a fun challenge.  For those who need to rely on a food hamper on a regular basis, the experience is much different.  I was mindful of that reality throughout our days on the food bank diet.

Would you ever consider doing something like this?  It is a good awareness exercise.


  1. I admire you for doing this. I would love for my family to try this, just so we could all experience what it would be like to be so limited in our food choices & to experience what so many people have no choice but to experience everyday. However, I know I could never go through with it. Our family eats 100% organic; nothing processed, nothing from a can, no bread and no sugar (well, the adults don't eat sugar - the kids find ways to get it ;). There would be nothing in the hamper that I would be willing to consume. I'm so very thankful that we don't need to rely on a hamper. Reading this blog post really has me thinking about the people who do need to rely on these hampers & the fresh, essential foods that they are going without on a daily basis. I wonder if there's a way to change this?

    1. Thanks for your comment. The hamper we modelled our shopping upon was the default hamper. At this food bank, a person with a "halal" or "celiac" or "lactose-free" or vegetarian diet would receive some substitutions. The variety of items also varies by season, although summer tends to have the best selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, since local farmers also make significant donations.