I don't think there are any specific groups (race) of people who the concept of "struggle meals" are exclusive to. If your wallet's contents are low and you're hungry — it's applicable, whether you can accept that or not.
Coming up, my family had a variety of struggle meals — although being young and unaware, I didn't know that a struggle is what it was. I've seen whole discussions take place on my social media timelines and newsfeeds about it, down to the different combinations of foods. I personally think it's beautiful that we can come together about our struggles, pride aside and have a laugh — that's rare.
But, hunger is a real thing, and so is poverty and hunger because of poverty. There have been a lot of food related movements taking place and I'm not sure if the emphasis on food and what it does to and for you is new or if my eyes are just being opened to it all but either way — it's a lot to take in.
I recently saw an article online about Ramen noodles and how it's bad for you and why — I didn't read it, I didn't need to. I already know that more than half of the foods, snacks and beverages that I grew up on is thoroughly unhealthy. I've already been made aware of the difference between the foods available in grocery stores topographically convenient to inner city families versus the organic shops, far out of the city's reach and in the backyards and pockets of suburbia.
Ironically enough, convenient foods like Ramen Noodles is common in the houses where "struggle meals" are a necessity.
I didn't like the thought of being slowly eradicated by the things that were supposed to give me life so I made it a point to wipe out the unhealthy things that I grew accustomed to, little by little. It isn't easy, it takes time, research, money, and strong will to go from struggle eating to clean eating. Granted — struggle eating isn't necessarily eating unhealthily, but when you're low on funds, what is more available to you, the healthy stuff or the fulfilling rubbish?
Outside of clean eating, I was able to upgrade my "struggle meals" by doing some of the following:
Allow food to take priority — obviously there are things you need to take care of with the money you earn from your jobs, whatever they may be. Budgeting is necessary. Knowing when your bills are due, scheduling payments so that your lights, gas and phone stays on — car insurance, car note (if applicable) are all things you should be aware of and stay on top of. Budgeting helps you so that you'll know what you're working with at all times — but if you're ever down to the wire, allow food to be a priority. If you need to dip into your cell phone funds to get something to eat, do it. Whats more important, being able to communicate with people you potentially don't like or sustaining your energy to be able to function?
Eat out less, grocery shop more — take a $20 bill. Even at a fast food spot, what could $20 get you? possibly 2.5 value meals at most. Now take that same $20 to a grocery store, it might not be able to buy you a weeks worth of organic groceries but I guarantee it can get you at least a parcel of chicken or ground turkey, a small bag of rice or pasta, some vegetables and something to drink. That isn't a lot as far as grocery shopping goes but think about how many plates of food you can get out of that small shopping trip at the market versus how many fast food meals it can buy.
Keep your cupboards stacked — there are some things that you can buy that are very cheap and that doesn't expire quickly. When the well isn't dry, consider filling your cupboards (within reason) with herbs and spices, sauces, pasta and things that last ( you can visit www.eatbydate.com for more on the different food groups and their expiration dates) so that when you are low on money, you can simply pick up a parcel of meat, chicken or fish at the grocery store.
Explore food — by trying new foods — both eating and making, you open yourself up to possibilities. You expand your palate and advance your culinary repertoire. When you're in the midst of a struggle period, what is the first thing you turn to? The things you already know, right? Your first instinct is to go back to the basics and by basics I mean things you've already experienced. When you broaden that experience, especially in terms of dishes you can prepare on your own — finding yourself financially stuck, your mind scans all your experiences and you come to a solution based on what is possible according to what you've already been thru.
Live within your means — this goes along with making food a priority, but it isn't just about making it first pick on your list of priorities. If you know that buying a new dress or new shoes or a new car isn't in your immediate budget, don't do it. Sacrifices will have to be made, just don't make it your health. Skipping meals so you can look good going out or so you can have the latest red bottoms, Jordans, MK purse or iphone isn't wise — the owners of these brands aren't struggling and you're helping them eat while you starve. Don't let your insides suffer so your outside can be appealing.
This doesn't only apply to food and eating — try it in other areas of your life. When you increase your standard of living, your highs replace your lows and make room for new heights. Nothing is impossible.
Kimolee Eryn is an artist and writer who believes in creating for a purpose beyond the purpose of creating. She believes that a life should be lived not just to sustain itself but to cultivate peace, love and growth in all adjacent beings and hopes to exemplify that in all she does.