Monday, September 23, 2013

Living Below the Line - Day One and a half

It has begun. $11.25 to create all of my meals for the next 5 days (including today).

I spent most of the weekend food planning, writing everything down, evaluating the cost and quantity against a meal plan for the week.  I went to the market on Sunday and a few different shops throughout the week ensuring I could get the most bang from my buck and I think I have managed to allow myself a mid-week luxury.

Newtown market (photo taken a few months ago)
Moshims, 2-6 Wilson Street, Newtown - amazing for seasonings, spices, dhal, flours, rice, beans, etc, all sold by weight

My ingredients:
1 can of tomatoes ($0.88)
1 crown pumpkin ($2)
1 bunch of spinach ($1.25)
2 onions ($0.40)
2 carrots
2 potatoes ($0.65 for both)
1 bunch of green onions ($1)
1 sprig of rosemary (free, growing behind the local supermarket)
312g of Masoor dhal lentils ($0.93)
246g of chickpeas ($0.74)
350g of brown rice ($0.81)
500g flour ($0.65)
1 tsp yeast ($0.10)
45g chickpea flour ($0.15)
1 bag corn chips ($0.98) (the luxury - hurray for Pak n Save specials!)
Leaving $0.71 for oil and seasonings ($0.05 per 1 tsp oil, $0.01 per 1/2 tsp salt, $0.02 per 1/4 tsp pepper and for my herbs and spices I'm counting $0.05 per 1 tsp as I buy only at Indian/Asian shops where they sell by weight, as opposed to buying packets from the supermarket.)

The loot from the market
Supermarket goods
Starting at 5pm last night, I began with pumpkin soup.  Very, very diluted pumpkin soup. 1/2 crown pumpkin ($1), roasted, 1/2 small onion ($0.10), diced and sautéed in 1 tsp oil ($0.05) and a frozen raw chicken neck from past roast chicken preparation (usually discarded, free) - this all came together in 3L water, simmering for about 45 min and then puréed.  Seasoned ($0.02 salt, $0.02 pepper) and served with a pinch of chilli flakes $0.02 and some sliced green onion ($0.15) my go-to this week for a savoury hit).  (Total = $1.36)

This morning's breakfast: flatbread.  100g flour ($0.13), 1/5 tsp yeast ($0.02), 1/2 tsp salt ($0.01), 1/2 tsp oil ($0.025) and 80mL lukewarm water.   Kneaded together and then rolled out into four pieces - one for breakfast, one for morning tea, one for lunch (with soup) and one for afternoon tea (with soup).  All with a sprinkling of sliced green onion (green part only).  (Total = $0.185)

Pumpkin soup and flatbreads

Dinner utilised last night's pumpkin soup/water.  Faux pumpkin risotto with spinach and green onion. 200g brown rice ($0.46) cooked in a deep cast-iron pan in the remainder of the pumpkin soup, added in a few batches as it's absorbed, with chopped fresh spinach ($0.30) added towards the end.  Seasoned (salt $0.01, pepper $0.02) and served with sliced green onion.  (Total excl. pumpkin soup = $0.80)

Faux pumpkin risotto with spinach and green onions

Quite lovely actually and wonderfully creamy from the pumpkin.  Would have been spectacular with some chicken or bacon, and/or a sprinkle of cheese...

So day one over and it's amazing to really notice how quickly you can find yourself hungry.  No matter how many fries I had yesterday during a late lunch, there is no sense of that food being stored and released later unlike the heat energy from a well-positioned concrete slab floor.

It's something that is obvious but the fact that hunger can be so immediate and affecting is a lesson worth savouring.  I am still quite hungry now, despite a fair serving of my risotto, but I know I must make that last until tomorrow.

To support me (and Oxfam) on the Live Below the Line challenge, please donate by clicking here.