Food for thought

On Tuesday I mentioned that we were running out to our class/meeting on food & sustainability, and I want to expand a little bit on our assignment.  Each person/couple in the group of 12 was given a budget for our potluck dinner.  We had to use our designated budget to purchase/prepare a dish for the entire group.

The first 6 people were assigned $1 each.  Yes, $1 worth of food to feed 12 people.  Another couple was given $3, Craig and I were given $5, and one lucky(?) lady was given an unlimited budget.

Craig and I spent quite a while roaming through Caputo’s Market — a grocery store known for great produce and cheap prices.

We had plans of making spaghetti pie of some sort.  We figured we would combine any cheap veggies we could find with pasta, canned tomatoes and cheese.  We had to scrap a couple of ingredients — eggs and cottage cheese, because there was no way that they would fit into our budget.

We had a few reactions to this shopping experience:

  • It is a luxury to go to the grocery store and buy whatever you want.  We don’t consider ourselves to have a large budget by any means, but most times if we see something that looks interesting or good, we throw it into our cart without much thought.  During this shopping trip we used the scales to weigh every produce item, we compared all different brands, frozen vs. fresh, and even considered scratching the idea of spaghetti pie and starting over.
  • Unexpectedly we found that with a lot of extra planning and thoughtful decision making, we could put together a decent meal for under $5.  However, most people do not spend over an hour planning and shopping for 1 simple meal!
  • While shopping we were thinking about the folks who had been giving $1 to spend, as well as the lucky lady who was given an unlimited budget.  We were conscious of our responsibility to provide more, since our budget was significantly larger than the others.  We also were hoping that the lady with unlimited funds would bring something huge and delicious for the whole group!

We ended up with:

And made:

Not bad for $5, right?  And, it actually tasted pretty good!

It was fun to see what everyone else brought — someone made soup for the whole group for less than $1 (impressive!), a couple of bananas, bags of carrots, homemade hummus, kale & olive oil, and then the lucky lady with the unlimited budget brought chicken tacos with all the toppings!

It was a surprisingly delicious meal, and I really enjoyed hearing everyone’s stories about planning, shopping, cooking, etc.  It also really got me thinking about how this plays out in real life.  In so many ways – financial situations, educational opportunities, racial privileges, etc., I have been given a ‘budget’ that is significantly more than so many others, and there doesn’t seem to be one thing that I did to earn it.

So, kind of like we did with this challenge, I’m hoping to think about ways that I can make the most of what I have (be thankful and generous with all of it), constantly think about how I’m able to help others who have a smaller budget, and open my eyes to these inequalities that exist all around us.  I’m so thankful for this experience!


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