Sarah Carten, Day 3

After eggs and rice for breakfast, I picked up three new ingredients to help balance out my meal plan for the remaining 5 days.  A box of Garam masala for flavour ($1.50), a bag of carrots as my versatile veggie ($1.89), and peanut butter ($3.89).  I chose the cheapest peanut butter I could find, which of course meant sugar and trans fats were added.  This was yet another reminder of how often someone living on low income would have to compromise the nutritional quality of the food they eat.

I’ve thought a lot about one of the men at the launch of the Challenge who lives on income assistance.  He mentioned that he did his shopping at the Dollar store.  I had never thought about shopping for food at the dollar store; I’m generally of the belief that anything that costs $1 will not be good quality.  The most disturbing part of learning that the Dollar store served as this man’s grocery store was when he told us that meant that when the Dollar store price increased from $1 to $1.25, his cost of eating increased by 25% (!).

I was then compelled to visit a dollar store to see if I could get my groceries for the week and how that would look.  I calculated that $26 would have given him 3.7 food products per day when they cost $1, but at $1.25 each, he would now only be able to eat 2.85 items per day.  The food options were depressing: packaged and heavily processed.  I had initially thought I would be able to buy some rice and lentils there, but neither was for sale.  Instead, there were processed small meal mixes.  The only foods that were gluten free that I could have purchased were cans of tuna, beans, corn, and tomatoes.  Those four items would already have cost 35% more than my daily allowance of $3.71 per day and would still certainly not cover my meals and snacks for the day.  Even without food restrictions, I can’t imagine trying to stretch dollar store foods over one day, let alone a week, month, or year.

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