Open Arms of Minnesota

SNAP Challenge: Time, Money and Convenience

By Elizabeth Polter

The SNAP challenge has made me think a lot about the tradeoff between time and money.

This semester is my first as a full-time student and full-time employee at Open Arms. While I’m definitely not the busiest person I know, my days are full. Until this week, I didn’t realize how much I’ve come to prioritize convenience in my food choices. Most of my meals lately have been individual servings of yogurt, string cheese, fruit, and food from restaurants around campus.

It wasn’t too difficult for me to plan a fairly complete and nutritious menu for the week, but I’ve been amazed at how much time it’s taken, from remembering to soak beans the night before, to waking up early to prepare breakfast and pack a lunch, to not having the neighborhood Chipotle to fall back on when I haven’t planned well enough for the day (yesterday I spent most of my 1:00 class staring wistfully at a cold, spoonless Tupperware of chili). There certainly are cheap, convenient foods available, but not many cheap, convenient, healthy foods.

I know there are plenty of people on SNAP who are busier than me working to make ends meet or caring for children. I’m not sure I’d choose to put in the extra time to find healthy food if I had to do this for more than a week.

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