About this Blog

Welcome! Thanks for checking out On Food Stamps.

I created this blog in 2009 when I began working at the Los Angeles Regional Foodbank. My work at this organization opened my eyes to food justice issues in America, and I had a strong desire to better understand the difficulties many people face when trying to access healthy food on a limited budget. So, I embarked on my own Food Stamp Challenge, living on $31/week as a vegan. I used this blog to chronicle my experience.

While my Food Stamp Challenge project has come to an end, you can see what I learned from it by reading the Greatest Hits posts linked to the right side of the page. Please excuse any out-of-date links, as I am no longer updating this blog on a regular basis.

Stay Hungry,


Saturday, May 23, 2009

It is time to give my huge red tube of Rollin' Oats a little credit.

I bought this bad boy on Friday May 15th. Over 1 week later I am barely 1/3 of the way through the container. If I run out of Rollin' Oats before the month is over, I will be shocked. Since the 15th I have eaten Rollin' Oats oatmeal pretty much every morning. Sometimes I add fruit if I have it. When I don't, a dash of cinnamon is also great.

As a sweetener, I would ideally be using Agave Nectar because it is a low calorie sweetener with a low glycemic index (meaning it will not spike your blood sugar). Most nutritionists I have spoken to seem to say that if you are going to use a sweetener, Agave is the best one out there. Unfortunately, that little bottle of Agave pictured above goes for around $7, and there is no way I can afford that now. I might also recommend honey as a cheaper and (big suprise) less healthy subsitute. Since I'm doing this as a Vegan, I resign myself to cinnamon only for now.

The morning oatmeal, even sans sweeter, is really quite good. Oatmeal is also very good for you. Studies claim that it can reduce cholesterol, and it certainly keeps me full throughout the morning.

What makes it better though, is the price. Let us just compare for a moment. I bought that oatmeal for $1.89 on 5/15. I got 42 ounces - essentially 3 weeks worth - of a very healthy breakfast food for $1.89. I will estimate that I am getting 30 breakfasts here for $1.89. Increidble. On the same shopping trip, I also bought 1 box of Total cereal. Now, as far as cereals go, Total is not too bad. The sugar is relatively low, and I actually understand what most of the 7 ingredients on the label mean. However, the box of Total contained 10.6 ounces of cereal and cost me $3.29.

Rollin Oats Quick Cooking Oats: $0.045 per ounce
Total cereal: $0.310 per ounce
Total cereal is 6.8 times more expensive per ounce.

The value of oatmeal is undeniable. I am really glad that I bought it.

Still, I cannot complete this Ode to Oatmeal without acknowledging that making oatmeal is a huge pain in the ass. I'm sorry. Its true. I would say that total prep, eating, and cleanup of my oatmeal takes 15 of the 45 minutes I have to get ready for work in the morning.

With cereal, I have the option of taking my breakfast to work with me, or even eating it in the car if I am cutting it close on time in the morning. (That's horrible, I know.) Oatmeal demands both time and fully focused, seated eating. Once it is in a bowl it is still very hot, and it takes several minutes to cool down. While it cooks quickly, oatmeal does require that I check on it several times and return to the pot to stir it. No matter what I do, a layer of oatmeal gets stuck to the bottom of the pot each morning, and I always have to leave the pot to soak while I am at work. This attracts cockroaches, even if I fill the pot with hot soapy water. I found one dead in my sink the other day, presumably after he tried to feast on my soaking pot.

While oatmeal is a fantastically healthy and cheap breakfast food, it is also annoying to prepare and clean up after. There have been many days in the last week when I really just wished I could grab something to eat quickly and get out of the door.

Oatmeal doesn't cost too much money, but it certainly costs me time.

Regardless, I love this billboard:


  1. Have you ever thought of microwaving your oats? A mixture of half water, half milk? It cuts down on the cook time and the result is the same. I put mine in a pyrex container and take it to work.. reheat at work.. voila!

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  3. I actually do not have a microwave. Haven't been able to afford one yet. Thanks for the suggestion... but, for now I'm stuck with the stove-top method!

  4. I like to eat steel-cut oats for breakfast, but they take way longer to cook than regular rolled oats. I read somehwere about cooking up a large batch and then freezing individual servings for the week.

    I tried it and it works great! I have used reusable containers and baggies (not the best option, but in a pinch, they work) to store the cooked oats.

    Here is the best part, if you don't put the milk in to thin them out until after the reheat, it cools them down quicker.

    I know this is an old post, but I'm reading this site and thought this might be a good option for others.


  5. Why do you choose Steel-Cut over rolled? Are they better for you?

    I'm interested to hear how freezing them would work. Wow!

  6. Steel cut oats taste a lot better. I don't know if they're more nutritious, though the switch is very much like switching from instant white rice to a chewy, delicious, rosy brown rice. The texture and taste are so much better. Even if you freeze and reheat later it'll be better than rolled oats.

  7. Just ran across your blog and am playing catch up! Wanted to chime in about oatmeal...love it for my breakfast when its cold/cool outside! I make a big pot Sunday night and bought 1 c containers @ the dollar store. I make enough for 5 meals. I store in the fridge so I can grab and go. Note, I do use more water than called for so they won't be goopy when I reheat. If I have any left at the end of the week, I throw them in the freezer.