Sunday, April 27, 2014

Prepping for Live Below the Line, 2014

Image of lentils, peas, tofu, cabbage, onion, and carrot to be eaten over 5 days.
5 days of food, 2013
I decided to take on the Live Below the Line challenge again this year. Since going through the challenge last year, I've been paying much closer attention to what I eat and how much it costs. In fact, I've dedicated one credit card to only food purchases, so I can more easily track how much I spend on dining in and dining out. Dining out has become far less frequent for me. My food bill averages $6.00 or $7.00 per day.

I'm feeling optimistic about this year's challenge. I've discovered that I can get good deals on food from the dollar store, and I've been watching food prices and availability there closely over the last few months. The available produce can be hit or miss, and the quantity you get for $1.00 fluctuates greatly from week to week. Even on off days, the dollar store prices beat any traditional grocery store in my area. When I headed to the dollar store to shop for my meals for the next five days, I was hoping to get lucky. Thankfully, they had a 5lb bag of potatoes for only $1.00. That isn't always the case, and I could have found myself with less than 2lbs for that price. The extra potatoes will help significantly with my challenge. Perhaps I won't be hungry. I was hoping to get 2lbs of tomatoes for $1.00, like I saw a few weeks ago. They only had 1lb packages, but I decided to get them anyway. They did have 2lb bags of onions for $1.00, which is was very pleased about. This exercise in watching food prices fluctuate has made me think about how a small change in the price of rice or wheat or corn can have a huge impact on the food security of those living in extreme poverty.
Image of potatoes, cabbage, beans, tomatoes, and onions that will be eaten over 5 days.
5 days of food, 2014

My grocery list this year consists of all dollar store buys totaling $6.00:

5lbs small russet baker potatoes (B size)
2lbs small white onions
1lb tomatoes
1 head of cabbage
1lb dried chickpeas
3/4lb navy beans

I was sad to realize when I got home that the package of navy beans I'd grabbed wasn't a full pound, like the chickpeas. I'll be alright with all those potatoes though! I was also sad to find that one of the eight tomatoes in my packages was smashed and moldy. I sliced off the bad part and threw it away.

So with $6.00 spent, I have $1.50 left for seasoning: canola oil ($0.05 per tablespoon) and salt ($0.03 per tablespoon). Maybe I can even manage a little vinegar to make a salad with my tomatoes and cabbage.

I baked some of my potatoes today so I can easily fry them up as hash browns. I soaked the navy beans and cooked them up. Half of them went into a soup I prepared with 1/4 of the cabbage, two onions, and five potatoes. The navy bean and cabbage soup will give me five 2-cup portions during the challenge. The ingredients for the soup came to $1.28, or $0.26 per portion. I will have some of the soup for lunch at work tomorrow... probably two portions.

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