Sunday, February 28, 2010

Two weeks down, fifty to go

I think it's time to come up with something else to eat. I have other options, I just haven't made any of them yet. But I'm pretty sure if I keep eating beans and fake cheese my roommates are going to kill me and dump my body in a swamp somewhere.

If I were a little more motivated I might make gnocchi, or even pasta. As it is, I think I'm going to spend some of my surplus veggie money on a tomato, an avocado, and a lime. Maybe some nice boring white vinegar, as well.

Breakfast was left over half a tangelo, lunch/ dinner the other bean empanada-thingy.

Looks kinda sad, written like that, but I only really woke up at two in the afternoon, and was ready to go back to sleep about 6 hours later. After two weeks I've still not got any kind of schedule, rhythm, or real food habits going on. I didn't realize how much i was depending on prepared stuff, junk food, and the occasional trip to a restaurant before.

Luckily, if I can muster up the motivation, I have a bunch of recipes, ideas, and websites I can use. Just the motivation holding me back.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

It was a day of goofy experimentation. I mixed up a batch of dough, some fake cheese stuff, and fried onions. Ended up with odd empanada-like pockets of bean filled dough.

  • 2 1/3C flour
  • 1t yeast
  • 1t sugar
  • 1T salt
  • 1C water
  • 2T oil
  • garlic powder
  • italian seasoning
mix all the dry stuff together, add *hot* water and oil, mix until mixing doesn't do anything anymore. kneed until it's smooth and resistant, like skin over muscle. Books say it should feel like a baby's butt- I don't know what that feels like, but if it works for you, go for it.

Set it aside while you mix up the rest of the stuff and the oven heats to 450f

  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 ring red onion, chopped
  • oil for frying
  • salt
  • 2C cooked black beans
  • cheese sauce
Fry the onion in the oil and salt. mix up the cheese sauce- I used one from the Post Punk Kitchen forums made from nutritional yeast, but dairy-types could just mix in shredded cheese, or make a thick bechamel with cheese. mix the beans, cheese-stuff and fried onions together.

separate the dough into three or four equal balls/ chunks. Kneed them each a bit more to make them smooth balls of dough, then stretch/ roll/ beat them into flat rounds the size of a small pizza or a child's plate. put the first round on a lined cookie sheet, put a portion of the filling in the middle, and close the dough like a calzone or pirogi, or what have you- into a half moon with overlapping, tightly closed seems. then move onto the next, and keep going that way until it's all gone.

bake at 450 until the dough is cooked- about 25 or 30 minutes.

If you're a meat eating kinda person, chicken leg and thighs can usually be had somewhere (even if only at walmart) for 30 or 50 cents a pound. some of that in the mix would probably be yummy, as would a bit of salsa, or some adobo sauce, or something.

I made two the size of my hands, weighing about half a pound each, and one huuuuge one, about the size of a size 8 woman's shoe. Ate the two smaller ones, and I'm saving the big one for later.

Friday, February 26, 2010

A feast of breakfasts

Still no photos. I didn't put a card reader in my new computer, and I'm still haven't unpacked all my stuff, so i don't know where (or if) I put my camera cord. So for now, no photos.

I made up for not eating much the last couple days. For first breakfast I had a pair of cinnamon buns. Second breakfast was about 2.5C of homefries- potato, sweet potato, yellow and red onion, half a carrot all chopped up and fried with salt, oil, cajun seasoning and garlic powder. That was yummy, and I didn't set the pan on fire again.

For afternoon snack I had two more cinnamon buns. Dinner was the last bundle of noodles with oil and soy sauce, only this time I mixed in half a (very small) fried yellow onion too. Yum.

I'm trying to decide if I should spend my "extra" veggie money on tofu (yum) or save it for something really cool later. "really cool", by the way, means something like chocolate($2-4), or vegan whipped cream in a spray bottle ($6ea). Opinions welcome.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 11

Pretty boring food day yesterday. Was busy most of the morning/ afternoon putting together a computer (from parts, not plugging in the monitor and keyboard), so wasn't really thinking about food.

Had a cinnamon bun for breakfast (about 5 b-fasts and two snacks worth left), and leftover rice with soy sauce for "dinner". Swearing at computer parts is distracting, tiring work.

All in all, a healthy eating Fail.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 10, The great Wok Massacre

Finally made the cinnamon rolls. They are yummy, but I think I still need to work on the recipe a bit. Like maybe figure out a way to make the dough less blah. Could be that I just need to get over it and use more "butter". Meh


This is a really basic yeast dough- it's actually my pizza dough recipe modified a little, which could be why it's blah.

  • 2 1/2 C flour
  • dash salt
  • 1 tsp yeast
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 C warm water
  • 1 T oil
  • added pinch cinnamon
yeast and sugar goes in the water, rest of the dry stuff gets whisked or forked together, then add the oil and yeast/water. Mix. When mixing isn't doing anything, kneed it- there are videos and tutorials online already that explain this far better than I'll ever be able to.

Once the dough is smooth- usually 10 or 15 minutes of kneeding- you can cover it and toss it in the fridge, or cover it and stick it in a warm corner of your kitchen if you intend to finish everything the same day. Make sure it's at least twice as big as when you started before moving on to the next step.

The next bit is a little gear intensive-
you need a rolling pin and some kinda large baking dish- I used a glass lasagna pan. You can sub a clean, even width bottle for the rolling pin, and make a baking dish from aluminum foil if you're too broke to get one cheap from the store or thrift shop.

Cut or chunk the dough into quarters or halves. Roll out rectangles- for quarters you want them about 4x9 or so.

ingredients are-
  • butter or sub
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • chopped fruit and nuts
  • honey or agave nectar, if you have it (I don't)
spread butter thinly (or chunk) over the surface of the dough. Mix sugar and cinnamon together in a baggy or jar, until it looks like the stuff you'd pay too much for at the store. Use a spoon to sprinkle it over the buttered dough. mix the fruit/nuts together- I used raisins, almonds, and about a quarter cup of crystallized ginger I found in my back pack. so around a cup of filling, total. Make sure you have more toward one end of the rectangle, and that everything is evenly spread to the short edges. drizzle the agave now, then roll up dough, from the long end with the least filling, so that you end up with (using quarters) a 4 inch wide roll with more fruit at the outside of the roll. Cut that, carefully, in quarters or thirds, and put in your greased pan. repeat it until all the dough is gone.

Once they're all in the pan, let them rise again until the rolls look fluffy, then sprinkle with whatever sugar mix and fruit you have left over. Bake at around 350F for 20 to 30 minutes.

For lunch I finished of the cheaters chili


Which was good, and I'm sad now that it's gone.

I started a new crock pot of beans in the morning, 2C dry, which became 5 cooked, 4 of which are baggied and in the fridge.

The fifth I used to make dinner- rice and black beans with fried onions and sweet potato.

It is here that I killed the wok. Well, not the wok itself, that's still alive.

Rather, I killed the nonstick lining. Seriously? it burned off, like cheap paint. While I'm sure that I should toss it now, and that the nonstick is probably toxic, I can't replace it right now, so I'll just keep using it. It's not like I intend to reproduce, so any odd mutations will die with me.

So yeah, 8 dollar non stick wok is a bad idea. But it sure was nice while it lasted.

1/4 C each chopped onion and peeled chopped sweet potato
drizzle oil
1 C beans
pinch chili powder
couple shakes garlic powder

oh, and I cooked 1/2C of rice according to directions, and it tripled in size. I used maybe half of it for this.

onion, oil, sweet pot go in the pan together. med high to high heat. don't burn pot. Add salt and toss/ mix around until the potato is cooked through and the onion is soft. smaller dice on the sweet potato cooks faster. Don't burn your pot.

Turn the temp waaaay down. add beans, spices, more salt. cook until the beans are warm/ hot.

serve over rice. eat.

it was good, I'll probably make more of this.

Without the burning wok/ tossing first attempt thing.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Yesterday and a schedule

First, the promised crumb cake, recipe from vegan yum yum-

I admit, I didn't follow her recipe exactly. Changes I made include-
  • half oil, half EB for crumb, instead of 8T of (v. spendy) Earth Balance
  • about half the flour in the crumb, probably just use 3/4 C next time
  • no molasses, so I didn't use any.
  • Also no lemon or regular vinegar, so I didn't sour the "milk"
  • no corn starch, so I just added an extra T of flour and 1/4C water to the recipe.
  • no powdered sugar, so I didn't dust the top
  • Oh, and I used regular veggie oil (soy) rather than canola, 'cause I don't have any.
I still haven't made the cinnamon rolls. I'm working on them now, actually. Yesterday all I ate was the other half of the crumb cake, so that's all gone now, along with half my 5lb bag of flour. Oops.

On to the schedule part of things. I'm going to try something new, because posting as I eat isn't working, and makes for lots of randomly timed posts. Instead, I'm going to do what I'm doing today- post what I ate yesterday, with any pictures or recipes.

I'm going to try to have them posted by 7am Eastern time, but they'll be up by 9am no matter what. If I need to change this around (say I get a job that goes 7pm-7am) I'll warn in advance, and slide the times back a bit, but still most likely before noon. Hopefully this will keep me more focused and reliable, and help anyone out there in reader land know when to drop by.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 8

One week, totally over. I just realized that now. 51 to go?

For (late) breakfast I had noodles again- only one bundle left and those will be gone. I added some of the ginger I got on Friday. Yummy.

Much later (like 9 or 10 pm) I made a crumb cake and started dough for cinnamon buns. I've got the dough rising in the fridge, with the finished crumb cake on top of it.

Okay, that's a lie. Only half the cake is in the fridge. I ate the other half. It was yummy, but I need to work on some things.

To sum up- I ate, but it wasn't healthy, contained no fruits or veggies, and was eaten in reverse order.

Photos and recipes/ links tomorrow. Time to sleep.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 7, part 2

Thought I'd finish up Saturday, even if it is a bit late.

For breakfast I made oatmeal, and the improvement was amazing. I almost half a tea spoon each of cinnamon and vanilla in before "cooking", and two heaping teaspoons of sugar afterward, with about a tablespoon of almonds, crushed in my hand. Yummy. Still paste-y, but yummy.

Half a tangelo for a snack (from florida, even). Then for lunch *and* dinner I had my cheater chili again.

Here's what I put in it-
  • 'bout a cup or so cooked black beans (half a cup dry, give or take)
  • 'bout a tablespoon of oil
  • quarter of a small yellow onion, roughly diced
  • the rest of the pasta sauce (about 3? oz- the first marking line on the glass jar)
  • 'bout 1 2/3's cups of water, enough to fill the pasta jar about halfway
  • too much salt
  • 1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon each- chili powder, garlic powder, paprika
Yeah, I think that's everything. Cook the onions in the oil with salt until they start to brown/ get soft. Dump in everything else (water in the sauce jar with the sauce, shake, dump in all at once). stir and watch until it's reduced down to a thicker/ less soupy consistency. Either eat alone out of bowl (won't last long) or over starchy/ filling/ bulky stuff (rice, potatoes, bread, pasta).

I used potatoes because, as already mentioned a couple times, I'm lazy and they cook faster (hello microwave). This ended up being a little more than a pint of 'chili', was sweeter than I'd normally make, and is hugely cheap.

And that was yesterday.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 7, part 1

Food has been... interesting... the last couple days. I had popcorn for dinner on day 5 (yes, homemade, yes, lazy, yes, tasty, and I know I need to eat more). Yesterday I did Mad Shopping Extravaganza with Mom, and she bought lunch. She also keeps trying to feed me, give me food, and may at some point get desperate, break into my house, and hide food in my fridge. I hope she doesn't, though, since it's kinda silly.

So for "lunch" (more like breakfast) I had falafel in a pita with veggies and tahini with a side of Bam!'d fries and a Coke. And ZOMG was it good. Well, except the tahini. Tahini, in case anyone out there doesn't know (which is probably just about everyone) is paste made from sesame seeds. It tastes like unsalted sesame seeds. And chalk. I can't stand it, but it's full of calcium and stuff, so I eat it anyway.

But I won't be buying any, and my bones can break, I don't care. It feels like licking chalkboards.

Then last night I went crazy with my food cooking, since I have my crockpot now and added a wok and some other gadgets.
Most of this stuff went into a country fry/ hash sorta thing. It was yummy, chop (and/ or peel), and toss in a frying pan (wok) with some oil and salt- just add it in order of cooking speed. I put everything but the onions in at the same time and the beets weren't cooked all the way.

Later I made black bean cheater chili, and I'll put a recipe up when I make it again. It would have gone farther/ been better over rice, but I was lazy and haven't made any yet.

On to shopping!

First was a place I love, and a slight change to the "rules"-

The $3.49 "fruit" is actually 8oz blanched, slivered almonds, which I have plans for (staple). The two items for 1.99 are a five pound bag of potatoes (cheaper but lower quality/ fewer potatoes elsewhere) and a three pound bag of honey tangelos- I think. Oh, and since I'm pretty sure the only veggies anywhere for 50 cents or less a pound are sweet potatoes and cabbage right now, the rule change is that I can go up to $1 a pound. I'd rather not, but woman cannot live on sweet potatoes and cabbage alone.

Mom bought a bag with 4 red onions in it and gave me two. I should have her and DSD over for dinner to make up for it. Need furniture first, though.

Everything else is a "staple"
This is Earth Fare. I hoped they'd have baking yeast in the bulk bins, either they don't, or I just couldn't find it. Yeast nutrtnl flakes is weird vegan stuff- has vitamin b12, tastes kinda nutty/ cheesy. If you've never had it before and want to try it, get it at a whole foods-type store. The stuff at vitamin places is usually brewer's yeast, which tastes like gross and should not be used to make fake cheese.

Target of super early closing +2. McCormick is imitation vanilla extract, off brand. Fleishmans is a small tub of yeast. Raisins explain themselves.

and finally World Market
Only the first two here are food- $3.02 worth of curry powder. It's a 2x2 bag and a 4 or 5 inch square bag. Should be enough for the year.

I think this just about ends my major staple buying. I need to pick up a big bag of flour (found it for $12.50/50lbs), some more rice, and about twice as many beans. I'd also like to get some corn meal for polenta, but that's more difficult to find here. Zany southern-types.

Totals for yesterday-
  • $4.04 in monthly veggies, $0.76 overspend made up with "luxury" money
  • $1.62 in weekly veggies, should last through the coming week $2.34 for 2 weeks, $2.66 left for Feb. 21-27.
  • $18.01 for basic staples and "stuff"
Total spent- $23.67

Total spent so far-
  • $58.49
Total random money picked up off the ground- $0.25

Now I can make just about anything I want! Yay!

Oh yeah, and before I go- I tend to be wordy. Anyone out there in intarwebs land, do you prefer one huuuge long post, or more shorter ones?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 5

Wow... I'm lazy. Really really lazy. I didn't even get around to making dinner last night until after 1am, and you bet my pale scrawny behind I wasn't posting then... I ate, dumped the little I didn't eat, and went to bed. 'Cause I'm lazy.

So here I am now!

The base is a bundle of somen noodles, mixed with soy sauce and oil. The rest is
  • about a cup of chopped cabbage
  • half a (very) small onion
  • 1 carrot chopped/ sorta diced
  • 2 slices fake veggie ham
  • oil
  • salt
  • 1 green onion
  • soy sauce and
  • powdered garlic
Really not that exciting. Not that healthy, either, though it did have about... 4? yeah, I'd say 4 servings of veggies. Would have been waaay better with some sweet potatoes. I'll see what I can get tomorrow.

Today's breakfast took advantage of a whole bunch of stuff I got yesterday- Pancakes!

This one was a bit of an invention. I lost my good vegan pancake recipe, so had to hunt on the intarwebs. Some had too much of one thing, some had too much of everything. One had no sugar- horrors! So I cobbled this together from the proportions I found in the others. Oh, I also used waaay too much leavening, so I'm halving that again. They were almost bitter with the amount I used. Or maybe that was because I just had them with EB, 'cause I'm too lazy to make simple syrup, and too cheap to buy HFCS filled fake stuff... Nah

Super cheap Pancakes
  • 1c flour (whatever you have)
  • 2T sugar (or more or less)
  • 1/2tsp baking soda
  • 1/2tsp baking powder
  • dash salt
  • dash cinnamon (optional)
  • 1T oil
  • 1C water, soymilk, or other liquid/ mix of liquids
The rest is really easy- dump the dry stuff (that bunch at the top) in a bowl. Mix it together with a spoon, or fork, or whisk. Dump in wet stuff, mix again, just until everything's wet and not toooo lumpy. Fry in non-stick frying pan that's not too hot, flipping them when they'll hold together- a minute or two, until they are cooked.

If you don't know what a cooked pancake should look like, there are pictures on the internet.

Problems you could have-
  1. too hot frying pan will burn the first side of your pancakes before they are solid enough to flip. Fix is to turn the temp down
  2. Too cool frying pan will never cook. So turn the temp up.
  3. Don't have one or all of the ingredients. This one would be tougher. These are about as simple as I know... You can swap honey or agave or maple syrup for the sugar, though, or the right amount of sugar sub if you use that...
Optional add ins (some are super yummy)

  1. Apple juice instead of "milk" or water
  2. Vanilla -I don't have any :(
  3. choco chips
  4. small chunks of fresh, dried, or candied fruit
  5. chopped nuts
  6. peanut or other nut butter
  7. bacos? or I guess real bacon if you eat it...
I'm sure there are more, but those are just the ones I came up with sitting here. Apple juice for liquid, apple sauce instead of oil, diced apple, vanilla, and cinnamon would probably be super yummy. Just remember, if you put in something wet, you either have to take out something wet, or add in something dry that'll keep the ratio at 1:1 liquid/flour.

now i just need to get motivated and make some dinner for tonight. To be honest, I don't know what it would be. I have plenty of ingredients, but no real idea how I want to throw them together. I also only have two slices of "ham" left, and after that I have to actually cook my beans. I better remember to grab the crock pot next time I see Mom...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 4

Finally made it to some stores for tasty food on my list. Some of the stuff was still more than I'm willing to pay, and some of the stuff I want to try and get somewhere else, but I've got quite the little haul now.

I walked, as is starting to seem usual now, and found a whole bunch of stuff in the area I'm willing to walk to that I wasn't expecting, including a small health food/ vitamin store, and a primarily mexican grocer.

I think it's important here to stop for a second and make what might be a silly point.

I am spending more than a dollar a day right now.

I know, silly thing to point out, right? I'm actually doing it on purpose, because with a (somewhat) stocked pantry I don't have to:
  • walk to the store as often,
  • buy smaller batches for more, or
  • figure out what to make with half an onion and some oatmeal.
I don't have everything I want yet, and some of the stuff I bought yesterday I found this afternoon for less- like close to 30% less, but that's learning, right? I know where to buy that item now.

So onto the shopping!
This is from the Mexican grocer. It's for some chili powder and cinnamon. I was also tempted by but didn't get a "box" of adobo sauce.

At the dollar store I used my card and got some other stuff as well, only $3.06 of this comes out of my money for the year. I have to replace $4 I used for something else yesterday when I needed cash. Cinnamon was cheaper here, and if I do lots of breakfasty baking, I'll pick up a 50 cent container here next time. I also got mustard, which I use in several recipes, but mostly in a "cheese" recipe I have.

Save a lot I did in two batches
Veggies- a month's worth of onions and (hopefully) carrots, and a good sized cabbage. That's $1.72 (with tax) for monthly veggies, and $0.72 for weekly ones, though I expect the cabbage to last more than a week.

And the main shopping. Wins (relatively) here include 10# of rice for 50 cents a pound, black beans right @ $1/lb, and pintos and lentils for 79 cents a pound. If only I loved pintos and lentils, I'd be rolling in beans. The flour was close to my goal of 25 cents a pound.

This place also had veggie oil for about $2, or almost 80 cents less than I paid last night. Oops.

But now I can cook!!!

So totals for today-
  • $1.72 for monthly veggies, leaving $3.28 for later
  • $0.72 for veggies for *this* week, leaving $1.78
  • $20.96 for staples/ basic stuff
So far I've spent a total of $34.82. Do I think I have a month's worth of food? Except for veggies, I have easily 2 or three months of food, I hope...

Ohh, today so far I've eaten oatmeal-
I don't have fruit yet, so I don't think it's going to look any better anytime soon.
  • 1/2C quick oats
  • 1C water
  • salt
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1tsp of silk creamer
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar (needs more)
  • 1tsp EB
Microwaved to perfect paste consistency. Yum. And for dinner, stir fry!

I'm thinking about putting a countdown ticker thingy in the sidebar. Days and dollars, both going down, I think...


Day 3, part 2

Finally made it to the store tonight, but not the one i wanted.

Food first, though. I ate the rest of the rotini pasta, and almost all the sauce, same as day 2. It was at least 2 huuuge servings, and i'm still full now- almost 10 hours later.

back to shopping. Earth Fare was closed- 20 minutes early, which was annoying. So, by then, was everything else except for the most expensive store in town. There are still bargains there, don't get me wrong, but when it's your only option you'll leave without a lot of stuff.


And that's everything on my list that wasn't wildly inflated. They wanted $5 for 5 pounds of conventional white rice. So no rice. And $1.25 and up for dried beans! are they nuts?

Some of the things I got- oil, popcorn- were more than i had figured on, but not by much. I could have come in under my estimate on popcorn of $1, but for less than 50 cents more it was worth it to get the 2 pound bag. I will almost definitely need to buy more oil during this, but I shouldn't have to get salt again for more than a year.

Tomorrow I'll walk to the local store and pick up a 60 billion pound (20lb) bag of rice. Hopefully they'll have some beans below my target price of $0.70 a pound. If not, I'll check the other store when I walk to the dollar store for spices and "stuff" later on.

But hey, I can make oatmeal now.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 3, part 1

So I fell asleep yesterday before posting.

Yesterday I still didn't make it to the store, and am still stuck with only what I started with- cheater style. It's not the most exciting batch of choices, as I have it set up now. Actually, it's really dull. I have two real choices for meals- noodles with soy sauce/ oil/ whatever I scrounge from the fridge, and Pasta in Sauce. Which is what I had yesterday.


This is just rotini, jarred (barilla, I think) sauce, olive oil, salt, quarter of an onion, fresh garlic, two slices of veggie ham, and a couple splashes each water (to thin the sauce a bit) and balsamic vinegar (for flavour). Shown in a glass pie "tin". It's probably half my remaining pasta and sauce.

I also ate ice cream until it was half gone, and snacked on a couple jolly ranchers.

Which brings us to today. Roommate offered me a cinnamon bun, fresh from the oven, so I had that and the rest of my ice cream for "breakfast". Not healthy. I'll have to reciprocate at some point with the b-fast pastries, but I can totally do that.

I should (barring huge mistake) make it to the store today. I'm also reclaiming my crock pot, so I'll be able to cook tasty beans with little hands-on time required. Which is always win. I haven't been eating two real meals. I haven't really even been eating two fake meals. Part of it is that I'm lazy, part that right now my day doesn't have much to define it- no job, no car (working on both of those), means my day is pretty much mine. Once I have a job, it'll be easier to make sure I eat- something about the schedule makes putting food off less appealing. Plus, I know from experience that if I don't eat before work I buy junk food, and that's got less nutritional value than my diet soda habit (not included in this experiment, since I'm trying to cut down, but if I were forced to pick one or the other, right now soda wins every time).

So today I should be hitting some stores, getting some food, and stuff to cook it with/ change it around in interesting ways. And if my ride gets here early enough, I should even be able to get over to Earth Fare for some smaller stuff, small quantities of bulk stuff I don't/ won't use much, and some spices that are hard/ spendy to buy in normal stores. So stuff like Nutritional yeast, paprika, curry, corn meal for polenta, and good quality chili powder.

So that's my plan, we'll see if I stick with it. Off to make some more pasta, I think, for lunch....

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Day 1, part 2

I've made it most of the way through my first day on a food budget. While it was great in some ways (no impromptu trips to the convenience store for chips) it didn't help at all when I took a trip to the gaming store. Oh well, I needed dice anyway.

I have the cash- 6 month's food money. $182.50 really doesn't look like a lot.
It sounded like a lot more before I took pictures... I don't know how it's going to last me until August 15th.

And the money for my big purchases- flour, oil, rice, beans and stuff.
This is only $72.50. I didn't get any fives- oops.

On to today. I spent nothing, eating only the stuff I already have in the house- to be honest I wasn't that hungry, and I didn't feel like walking to the store- about a mile and a half away- to start stocking up. I'll probably go tomorrow. My first $20 in fresh stuff, veggies, and fill in needs to last me until March 20th- 5 weeks.

For food today I ate-
  • the rest of the Oreo's
  • about 1/5th of the ice cream (and am I ever going to miss it when it's gone)
  • Noodles with soy sauce, garlic, and olive oil
Not the healthiest day, but not bad.

Oh, and I forgot some things before- I also have (I think) some spices (turkish seasoning, maybe?), most of a small bag of jolly ranchers, and the last half of the small tub of Earth Balance I mentioned before. I think that's it. Might have a Lara bar hanging around somewhere, but I've no idea where.

Day one, done.

Day 1, part 1

So here I am. First day of my $365 year. I haven't spent anything yet, but I feel it's important to warn people, I do already have some food in the house. This food doesn't come out of my total. I've never, ever been totally without food. I freak out when my stash gets under a couple weeks worth. Heck, I only have a couple days worth now, and not even that- I have no "protein" to add to my food. I'll use this stuff just like I would normally, though most of it I won't be replacing (pasta @ $1.15/lb!??!).

I'll list it so no one can say later that I cheated.
  • 1lb box rotini
  • 1 (+ a bit) jar Barilla pasta sauce
  • about a pint of (cheap, store brand) olive oil
  • most of a pint of (cheap) balsamic vinegar
  • half a white onion
  • small head of fresh garlic
  • small shaker of granulated garlic
  • 3/4th of a quart of silk creamer
  • about 50 chai teabags
  • 1/3 package of vanilla double stuffed oreos
  • 6 or 7 green onions
  • large package "shanghai tips" which look like really tiny baby bok choy, but taste different, I think. These are going off fast, so I need to use them or freeze them, or something.
  • 8? slices of "vegetarian ham slice" from the H&L Asian Market
  • 3/4 package noodles, from H&L
  • Bottle (almost full) soy sauce
  • Most of a ($4) pint of coconut milk vanilla bean ice cream. Yum.
Ok, I think that's it. There are still 3 cans of beans at my mom's place, but I have no way to get there, and I might as well just let her have them, no?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Less than a week until I start

With only four days, really, until I start this crazy thing, I'm beginning to have doubts that I can do it. I'm running into some things that have a potential to develop into total road blocks. One problem I'm encountering is that the price of rice has gone up- a lot- in the last couple years. Pricing it out at the Asian market has shown me that if I can't find a much cheaper source, my bulk starting point is going to be much lower than I had hoped.

Another problem is that sometimes a cheap place to live means carry over from the previous tenants. In my case that means I have several million six legged pets. Gross, food crawling on, infesting pets. So any bulk stuff I get I'm going to need to be able to secure from roaches. Wish there were a faster way to solve this problem.

So. Potential ways to solve my problems.
  • I can buy smaller portions more often, still using the 78.50 to pick up bulk stuff a month at a time.
  • I can change the balance of money. Instead of $3 a week (about) for grains and protein I can have $4 a week, leaving $3 for fresh veg and fill ins.
  • I can drop rice totally and just buy flour as needed. This would be much more affordable, as white flour is $12.50 for 50 pounds.
  • I can eat less- fewer calories, and more unhealthy ones
  • I can increase my budget. This is not happening yet.
I need to get excited about this. I need to do my shopping. I need to find cheap beans. I only have three days left between now and the start of my shiny new food budget, it's time to get serious. Or at least cheap and creative.

I'm also thinking about changing the allocation of weekly cash around a bit. I'd like to have some money to get spices and seasonings at the beginning- I was thinking of pulling $0.50 a week from the veggie money, for $13 at the start for seasonings. That should give me enough of my most used spices to get through the entire year, or at least spread the replacement cost over the end of the year. Also, I'm lucky in my timing of all this- I should be getting some kind of tax refund in the next week, so that gives me a good amount of starting cash. If I didn't have that, I'd have to buy smaller amounts more often, and that'd lead to waaaay fewer calories- one thing I really don't need.

Anyone out there have ideas about how to work around or solve my price and bug problems?

Friday, February 5, 2010

Welcome and an Introduction

Last year, wandering the interwebs, I came across a bunch of people (like 3) who had done a really cool challenge. They were eating on a dollar a day. They set up different rules- only spend that day's dollar, buy stuff out of their garden, and so on- but they were all trying to do the same thing- eat on a dollar a day for a month.

I remember thinking as I read through their stories that I could do that better, or easier, or longer.

Well, here I am. Broke, newly moved, and almost totally without food. Like those who came before me I've got some rules, but unlike those before me I'm not doing this to help anyone else. This is all about my grocery bill. If other people can afford to/ have budgeted/ want to donate because of this, great, but I'm just trying to eat. So onto the Rules.

Basic Rules
  • I get 365 dollars for the whole year (that's 1 a day)
  • I start Valentine's Day 2010, and end (hopefully) 13 Feb. 2011
  • Free food is free- This includes occasional lunch from dad and overwhelming zucchini bounty in August.
  • Vitamins don't come out of this money.
  • If I lose more than 15lbs I have to either increase the money per day or stop altogether. (I am @ 130 now, 115 gives me a BMI of 17)
  • If I hit the Powerball jackpot, this ends. Right away. Same with any other large chunk of money.
  • Just because some people don't have access to someplace is no good reason not to shop there. Costco is in, as are World Market, Whole Foods, the local veggie shop, Asian market, and Dollar store.
  • I do not, will not, and never will again shop at Walmart.

Money Rules

  • The money will be split into 6 month chunks- $182.50 every 26 weeks.
  • $104 will be held back from the first 6 month's money to provide veggies, fruit, and random wants.
  • weekly money will be portioned out one $20 bill, or 5 weeks, at a time.
  • $1 each week will be used for larger monthly purchases- stuff like juice, onions, bagged fruit, spices, or carrots
  • $0.50 a week will go into a fund for splurge items
  • $2.50 is left each week for picking up fresh fruit and veggies. Any money left over at the end of the week carries forward, as does food.
  • $78.50 will be available at the beginning for picking up staples- rice, flour, beans, that kinda stuff.
  • Water is covered by my rent, as is electricity, so those costs don't come out of this.

Food Rules

  • The food will be 100% plants, because that's what I eat.
  • Veggies and fruits must be less than $0.50 a pound.
  • Anything more than $0.50 a pound must come wholly from the splurge fund- ex. If lemons are 3lbs for $2, if I only have $1 in the fund, I can't get them.
  • Monthly bulk stuff is exempt from this rule. If onions are $1.59 for 3lbs, I'm not going without for a month.
  • I will eat at least 2 meals a day, everyday.
  • I have to at least attempt to have 1 serving of fruit and 3 of veggies every day. (I hate fruit)
  • Anything eatable I already have is fair game.- Right now this is 3/4th's of a tub of earth balance, two cans of chickpeas, and a can of pinto beans.

I'm sure I'll miss piles of nutrients, and that there are ways to do this even cheaper (grinding my own grain comes to mind) but I have to work with what I've got. And what I've got is not a lot of money, a crock pot, and a landlord that I doubt is going to let me put a garden in his nice muddy back yard. If he does, veggie swaps with people who can grow stuff I can't for stuff they can't will be sure to show up.

Again, I'm doing this for my budget, not to save the world. If I open my door and the money fairy hands me a huge pile of (legal, not stolen) money, this ends and I eat chocolate and take away forever. Until then, I might as well have fun being broke, right?