Sunday, April 19, 2015

LBTL 2015: Day 1

Since I'm starting LBTL on a Sunday, I'm using today to get some cooking out of the way and have quick meals ready during the week.

Potatoes are my main food, so I want to make sure they are easily accessible when hunger strikes. I peeled and boiled 18 potatoes with 2 tsp salt to make mashed potatoes. Many of the potatoes were green under the skin, so I was glad to have enough food to get away with peeling them (peels are food too)! I drained the water (which I saved for later), added 4 T oil, and mashed. I'll use there as a base for other things. The total came to $0.62 as follows:

4lbs of mashed potatoes
18 potatoes: $0.36
2 tsp salt: $0.02
4 T oil: $0.24

I'll expect 10 portions from this, or about $0.06 each.

Then I prepped what I'm called "shepherd's pie." I used the salted potato water to boil up 3 helpings of lentils. In another pan, I sautéed onions, carrots, and tomatoes with salt and oil, and added the cooked lentils. I'll top this with potatoes for an easy lunch dish during the week. I made four servings of shepherd's pie filling:

3/4 C lentils: $0.33
3 servings onion: $0.30
Prepping shepherd's pie portions for the week - $0.37 each
3 carrots: $0.21
3 tomatoes: $0.21
3 T oil: $0.18
1 tsp salt: $0.01

Which comes to $0.31 per serving + $0.06 of mashed potato on top.

I also prepped some carrot sticks for snacks at work.

So what did I actually eat today?

Shortly after finishing two boiled potatoes, I ate a quick salad of 1 carrot, 1 tomato, a sliver of onion, salt and vinegar. These tomatoes are super sweet. It was crisp and bright. Very delicious! Used up a total of $0.20 this morning.

2 potatoes: $0.04
1 carrot: $0.07
1 tomato: $0.07
Vinegar: $0.02

I used so little onion, I'm not even counting it in the calculation.

Shepherd's pie for lunch - $0.37
One portion of the "shepherd's pie" for $0.37. This was quite tasty and satisfying (my partner wanted to eat some but resisted)! I'm up to $0.57 for the day, leaving a huge $0.93 for dinner!

I decided on stuffed cabbage rolls. It's something I've never made, but figured it wouldn't be too tough. I peeled off 5 large leaves from the head of cabbage and boiled for a few minutes in salt water. I cooked one onion in a tablespoon of oil with a dash of salt until crispy. Then added one portion of mashed potatoes and another tablespoon of oil. I cooked 1/2 cup dry lentils. When the lentils were soft, I added those too. This became my stuffing for the cabbage leaves. I was worried that some of the cabbage leaves were pretty torn up when I took them off the head. But this didn't seem to matter when it came to stuffing. Everything wrapped up nice and tidy.
Stuffing the cabbage leaves. The torn leaves worked just fine!

Traditionally, stuffed cabbage is cooked with tomato sauce. I quartered 4 tomatoes and cooked them in a pan with oil, salt, and vinegar (these are sweet tomatoes, so I wanted to add some acid). I layered the stuffed cabbages on top and covered. Many of the recipes I found online say to cook for another 40-90 minutes. I think those recipes have raw meat in them. I certainly don't want to cook my cabbage that long! I gave it about 15.

I had so much money left for dinner that I didn't pay close attention to how much I was spending. Let's see how I came out:

Pretty! Cooking stuffed cabbage with tomatoes - $0.18 each
1/8 cabbage: $0.13
1/2 cup lentils: $0.22
1 portion mashed potatoes: $0.06
1 onion: $0.10
4 tomatoes: $0.28
3 T oil: $0.18
1 T vinegar: $0.02
2 tsp salt: $0.02

Whoa, I cut that close. $0.91 or about $0.18 per roll. Bringing the day's total to $1.48, or so I thought. Those cabbage rolls were big! And even though I was really hungry, I only ate two (including the biggest one). I'm saving the other three for a future meal or snacks. So really, dinner was $0.37. That makes my total food for the day $0.94.

You know what that means!? Room for tea!! At $0.16/tea bag, I've never had room for tea in the past. And I'll even have a spoonful of sugar, which the internet tells me is $0.02. Ending the day at $1.12. I'm not hungry - thanks to that lucky 10lb bag of potatoes. I am already getting tired of potato though, and we're on day one! But so far, I'm in good spirits and feeling like I can take out the next four days without a problem.

Don't forget that this is a fundraiser to fight against extreme poverty and hunger, and I'd love to have your support. Consider making a donation to The Hunger Project.


  1. You're already starting this year off better than last! :-)
    I love your creativity in cooking these basic foods - keep up the momentum!


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