Welcome to Equality Kitchen folks! September is Hunger Awareness Month, and I have a 3-week meal plan, complete with shopping lists for ya, and everything is free to share and download. You can find it all at the bottom of this post!
$342 is the max P-EBT benefit per child. With these meal plans and shopping lists, you could make that last 6 weeks per child (or more, depending on the age and appetite of the child, lol).
But since the max Illinois SNAP benefit of $355 per month for a family of two is almost identical to the P-EBT benefit for one kid, I wanted to see how close I could get to making the P-EBT benefit last a month for two people, and I got close! I was able to incorporate a vast majority of whole food ingredients, and buy a blender, popsicle molds, and a popcorn popper with the P-EBT benefit, and feed two people for 3 weeks.
This round, I sought the experience and knowledge of Kheko Lewis, who is a registered dietician at Illinois Hunger Coalition. She reviewed my meal plans, gave incredible feedback to make sure I was reaching EVERYONE (like our brothers and sisters living in food deserts, for example). You can use these plans with the confidence that an expert has given the thumbs-up on the nutritional integrity. If fresh fruits and veggies are not available in your area, canned is the next best thing! All you need to do is wash off anything packed with salt or syrup.
This is how I feed my family, so everything is working-mom and picky-eater tested… even the cauliflower puree in the eggs, and hemp seed on the salad. My kids (astonishingly) eat both. That being said, I have never strictly followed a meal plan this in-depth for this amount of time. I might make roasted chicken, potatoes, and salad for dinner, but one kid might only eat the chicken and salad, and one kid might opt for a carrot and graham crackers. It is what it is. But at least you have this resource. You don’t have to think or plan or make lists, which is the lion’s share of the work, if you ask me.
Although I feature some hacks in the meal plans, there are some meal prep hacks that I will provide right here:
Take some of your frozen fruit, and put it in a small saucepan. Add a bit of agave and water, and boil down into a syrup. Put it in the fridge, and mix it into yogurt and cereal.
Wash all of your fruit and veggies at once, so you (or your kiddos) can eat them whenever you want, without that extra step each time.
Cook a whole box of pasta at a time, and before you add it to the sauce, take what you won’t eat that night and put it in the fridge. When you go to reheat, just add a bit of water to the pan, and it will be like freshly boiled pasta.
Bake enough chicken for the week when you do it the first time. Put the rest in the fridge.
Puree enough cauliflower and spinach for the week on Monday, and put the rest in the fridge! Then it’s ready whenever you need it.
Bake all of your potatoes for the week at once, and stick the rest in the fridge. You can cut them up for frying, or simply warm them up when you want them next time.
As time rolls on, I will continue to collaborate with chefs, registered dieticians, parents, and others to bring new ideas to Equality Kitchen! Some things I want to focus on are allergy-friendly recipes, plant-based diets, nutrition during pregnancy and nursing, as well as supporting the needs of our silver sneaker-wearing families.
Equality begins within the self, and extends outward infinitely like sun rays over the earth! There is no greater need for the self than healthy nourishment, and that may seem next to impossible when you are living in an urban or rural food desert, and struggling to make ends meet... let alone in a global pandemic where millions of hard working folks are now out of jobs indefinitely.
I welcome any feedback, ideas, and contributions! Tag me, comment, email me, post with #EqualityKitchen, and above all else… please share this free resource with families.
Food insecurity is a truth that our society must acknowledge and end. I want to play a part in eliminating hunger for every brother and sister, and I am starting right here, with you.