October 27, 2012

Summing up the $35 Challenge

Salad cheap

It’s been almost a week since the $35 Challenge finished.

I never thought seven days would feel so long, but they did. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I didn’t cope too well. I was hungry a lot. And not because I actually was hungry. More a phantom feeling of can’t have what I want when I want it. It was embarrassing really. Imagine instead what it must be like having so little all the time. Day in, day out, always skimping, making the dollars go further. I can understand how desperate some people must feel. Sure, you would get used to having less. But there must be times when you just long for more.

Some thoughts about living on less:

1. Planning.
There is no “oops I forgot my lunch at home today, I’ll just get a takeaway sandwich”. You can never go anywhere without first planning your meals. Either you bring your lunch or snack with you or you go without.  There’s also the planning and cooking of every single food you ever eat. No shortcuts.

2. Cooking skills.
Eating healthy food on a budget is probably easier if you know how to cook, and particularly if you’re creative.  If you can whip up an omelette from leftovers or make a soup out of vegetable skerricks - all the better towards eeking out the food supply.

3. Eating the same thing.
If you cook in bulk or buy something on special you also eat it for a long time, which saves you money. Get used to eating a lot of leftovers and never throwing anything away…

4. Planning and shopping wisely
Where you shop and what you eat will depend on three things. What’s in season (thus making it cheap), what’s on special, and where is it for sale at the lowest price?

5. Eating out.
Forget it.

At the end of the week I had exhausted my carrot supply but still had some eggs and half a loaf of bread (which I have continued eating this week - it was frozen). I only had a wrap on one day as the corn wraps I had bought on special were incredibly dry and chewy. My boyfriend actually ate most of them. I still had leftover red cabbage. And I ate a lot of salad. A lot. Here's another glamour shot of a carrot, cabbage, celery variety.

salad cheap 1

Part of the Challenge stated that you could use food that was already in your pantry and fridge. I tried not to use this too much but the ingredients I used were these: margarine and oil, handful of cheese for pizza topping from a piece of old cheese that I had grated and frozen ages ago (a thrifty trick my mum taught me), capsicum half that had seen better days, half a bag of dried dates that I found hiding at the back of my pantry, few tablespoons of tomato sauce for pizza, SF flour for pizza and to make pancakes, 1 cup of lentils that I used in the Storecupboard soup. On Sunday night I had a frozen leftover meal (just to be clear, I didn’t eat it frozen) that had been in the freezer for a while.

There. I feel guilty just writing it.

Here's what I ate:

Porridge with dates, 4 days
Scrambled eggs on toast 2 days
Pancakes with apples 1 day (using Jamie Oliver’s 1 egg recipe, oil for pan and last apple, peeled, cubed and cooked in a bit of water until mushy and jamlike)

Chicken wings with salad 2 days
Store cupboard soup 3 days
Wrap with veg 1 day
No lunch on Sunday as I had a late breakfast

Store cupboard soup 2 days
Omelette with salad 1 day
Pizza with picked meat from 3 chicken wings, bacon (from Bi-Lo Deli) and salad  1 day
Leftovers and salad  1 day
Chicken wings with salad 1 day
Baked potato with chicken wings and salad  1 day


Food for thought:
I’ve started to think twice before indulging and splashing out on food.
If I have food in the fridge I will eat it before I look for other options.
Inspired by the Challenge I did a shop and cooked ahead for the week on the day the Challenge finished so that I wouldn’t feel the need to eat out.

Thank you very much to Lauren from Corridor Kitchen for an inspiring Challenge!

Homemade pizza

October 18, 2012

Day 4: When I cave in and buy a banana


The psychology of not being able to buy whatever you want is interesting. I am not starving or hungry. I have eaten rather well for the past few days on the $35 Challenge for Anti-Poverty Week. Last night for instance I feasted on a very nice baked potato with chicken meat (from two chicken wings from the freezer), salad and cheese. The other day I had scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast. I've been munching on crisp chilled apples as a snack.

But today I really wanted chocolate. Sugar. Anything bad for me. And that's when it happened. I used $1 of my precious funds to buy a banana.

Yes I know, that's ridiculous. I did say I wanted chocolate.

Now I have $2.30 going into the weekend.

October 15, 2012

Day 1 - Eating well

vietnamese salad

After a horrendously late night followed by an early morning exercise session I was pretty much ready to eat a horse. I had anticipated this would happen and had prepared myself the previous night. I cooked soup, made salad, baked chicken wings and prepped my brekkie. I felt pretty pleased with myself afterwards if I do say so myself.

Here's what I ate today:

Porridge with chopped dates and milk
(before that banana)

Spicy Garlicky Chicken Wings
Vietnamese Salad

Jamie Oliver's Storecupboard Soup

I made an enormous batch of my favourite salad at the moment. It's from the Zest cookbook. I've omitted a few ingredients like the chili and chopped peanuts as it's lovely and fresh as it is. I never really make the dressing that goes with it either as it doesn't need it.

Vietnamese Salad

Serves 6-8

2 cups finely shredded Chinese Cabbage
2  lebanese cucumbers (I used 1 telegraph cucumber instead with the seeds scooped out as it only cost $1)
1 small turnip
1 carrot
1 bunch mint, leaves picked
1 bunch chives, cut into 2 cm slices (I used parsley as they didn't have hcives at the markets)

Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Distribute serves among plastic containers and pop in the fridge to use for the next 2-4 days.

vietnamese salad2

Taking the $35 Challenge for poverty

use for online

“It looks like you’re going on a diet.”

“Hmm… this looks really, uhm, healthy…”

The comments about my food plan for the week have all been along the same lines. But no, I’m not going on a diet. I’m taking a challenge. The $35 Challenge. It’s a great initiative run during Anti-Poverty Week, 14-20 October, by food blogger Lauren Quinn from Corridor Kitchen to bring awareness to poverty. Basically for week I will be living on $5 a day.

Today I did the big shop, trying to stretch my dollars as far as they would go. Luckily I had to meet some friends near Paddy’s market so I stopped by for some fruit and veg and saved myself about $4 in total.

So what did I buy?

Veg:  $15.15
Pantry: $11.05
Meat: $5.45
Total: $31.70

2012-08-24 15.45.27

food challenge shop 2


More on what I'll be eating soon!