Food Diary: What a 23-Year-Old Wildlife Rehab Intern Eats Making $300/Week in Southwest Florida

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Food Diary: What a 23-Year-Old Wildlife Rehab Intern Eats Making $300/Week in Southwest Florida

8:00 a.m. I’m walking into work and as I put my things away, I see a sight that brings tears to my eyes: a container of oatmeal raisin cookies on an office counter. I love mornings like these when a hospital volunteer brings in baked goods. I take two cookies.

8:35 a.m. I have another cookie.

12:20 p.m. For lunch, I pick up a Pub Sub, or made-to-order sub, from the nearest Publix, since I have no food in the fridge besides a bag of questionably edible olives and instant cheese grits. I’m fairly new to the Pub Sub, having never eaten one before I moved to Florida. This was very scandalous amongst my colleagues, and it felt like a rite of passage ordering one for the first time—there was chanting and everything. Anyway, today I get the Boar’s Head Turkey Whole Hot Sub ($10.14) with turkey breast, white bread, swiss cheese, onions, cucumbers, spinach, banana peppers, black olives, salt, pepper, lettuce, tomato, and extra sub sauce. Toasted, which is new for me. Usually I prefer it unheated, but I’m in my twenties and feeling adventurous.

5:35 p.m. I got paid on Friday and finally have the energy to get some grocery shopping done after work. I pop over to Trader Joe’s. I think TJ’s is so appealing because it’s simple to choose what you want and there aren’t forty million different options for angel hair pasta. I stock up on many items, including a bag of frozen falafel ($3.99), sliced roasted turkey breast ($5.99), mini orange cranberry scones ($4.49), chili onion crunch hummus ($3.99), Japanese fried rice ($3.79), homestyle flour tortillas ($2.99), lean ground beef ($7.99), and really big blueberries ($4.99), with the item code being “BLUEBERRIES REALLY BIG,” which made me laugh. I get many more fruits, veggies, and condiments, all for a total of $100.05. If all goes to plan, this will last me until my next paycheck.

6:30 p.m. With the ingredients I just bought, I make a chickpea salad and prepare taco bowls. For the salad: I mix two cans of garbanzo beans, about half a jar green olives (measuring with the heart here), a spoonful of Dijon, some chopped-up turkey breast slices, three shallots (I love the onion family), chopped cilantro, and chopped mozzarella in a bowl. I add some red wine vinegar and olive oil to dress.

Don’t make the same mistake I did when buying the green olives, though. I couldn’t find any pitted ones and didn’t feel like venturing to another store just for one item, and thinking that it wouldn’t be that difficult to just pop out the pit (naive young woman I was), I got the jar of regular whole olives. I spend much time meticulously carving off the olive flesh from the pit one piece at a time. It was worth it though—the salad was bomb.

Monday total: $110.19


Tuesday

12:30 p.m. I’m off Wednesdays and Thursdays, so I’m in a chipper mood because today feels like a Friday. For lunch, I serve myself one hefty portion of the now chilled chickpea salad, some carrots, and Trader Joe’s chili onion crunch hummus. I now realize how chickpea-heavy this meal is, and honestly, how chickpea-heavy all my meals are. I can’t complain—what a wonderful legume. Now that I’m on this train, I just Googled why garbanzo beans are also called chickpeas and stumbled across many blogs about this, and I’m glad that it’s plaguing everyone else’s existence like it so recently has my own.

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