Jun 132016
 

The Challenge is Over

Last week I embarked on a culinary adventure where I would limit myself to eating just $29 worth of food for an entire week. It was not to determine if such a thing is “possible” or not. Humans are very resilient eukaryotes. The average healthy person with a body fat percentage of 20% could survive multiple weeks consuming nothing but water — although it wouldn’t be very fun. 😕 But much like the “no spend days” challenge, I wanted to experience what it’s like to live on a tighter budget like so many poor people do.

Now that it’s all over, I’m going to make like a mirror and reflect on my experiences. Thankfully I managed to keep to my rules as mentioned in the original post, and didn’t eat anything outside of my basket of groceries. I even had some food remaining as of Sunday night. Woohoo! I passed the challenge. 😀

Here are some simple homemade dishes I put together last week, using the ingredients from my list.

16-06-food-stamp-challenge-recipes1 16-06-food-stamp-challenge-recipes2

Breaking Down the Week

Days 1, 2, and 3

The first three days of the challenge were spent eating a little bit of everything from my food basket — although there was a heavy emphasis on fresh vegetables as the tomatoes, cucumbers, and squash had to be taken care of before they start to spoil. I put the bread in the fridge so it would stay fresh longer. During this time I ate mostly sandwiches, salads, and roasted vegetables.

Days 4 and 5

These days were more focused on a protein and carbs rich diet — literally the meat and potatoes of my basket. 🙂 I also boiled and seasoned the large white radish. Around day 4 I began to feel weary about eating the same food over and over again. By the end of day 5 I had finished consuming all the fish, crackers, and most of the produce.

Days 6 and 7

These last two days were mainly for eating leftovers from my basket. I tried out different ways to cook the remaining turkey and potatoes. At this point I felt peckish for other types of food, mainly something sweet. I realized I should have added some apples or oranges to my food basket. I tend to season lightly when I cook at home. After nearly a week of not eating salty food from restaurants my tastebuds have gotten use to consuming a lower sodium diet. On day 7 I made turkey soup, using leftover meat and produce remains. At the end of the challenge I had some bread and 2 turkey drumsticks remaining out of 14 total. A turkey drumstick is about 13 ounces, compared to a chicken drumstick which is about 4 ounces.? 

Continue reading »

Jun 092016
 

Living on $29/week

I thought about becoming a food taster once, but decided not to because I didn’t want to have too much on my plate. ? Most wage earners get paid either once or twice a month, but we generally have to eat food everyday. This means learning how to budget our grocery bill is an important skill to have. For some people maybe $200 a month for food is enough, but for others it might be $400 or more. Having a personalized budget that is reasonable will teach us about self control, rationing, meal planning, and will probably even save us money. 🙂 If we fail to watch our spending and plan ahead then we may run out of money before our next paycheque and find ourselves in times of scarcity. ?

16-06-food-stamp-challenge-basket-budgeting-fail

Earlier this week I started a food stamp challenge inspired by a famous celebrity. The idea is to spend no more than $29 on a whole week’s worth of food. I’m about half way through the challenge so I thought I’d give a quick update on how things are going. You can see the previous post for the full list of ingredients and detailed breakdown.

So far I’ve gone through most of the vegetables, but I’ve only eaten 5 of the 14 turkey drumsticks. I’ve been making a lot of salads, sandwiches, and roasts. Overall I’m roughly half way through my food basket. Tomorrow I’ll make a quick stew out of some potatoes, radish, and fish. I have 2 squashes remaining which I’ll probably stuff and bake. I have some left-over tomatoes and green peppers which I’m going to use up tonight lest they spoil. Below are some examples of simple dishes I’ve made so far.

16-06-food-stamp-challenge-basket-update

As mentioned in the previous post I’m only using salt and pepper for seasoning. I first thought this may become boring and repetitive after awhile, but so far the whole foods like tomatoes and bell peppers have quite a lot of natural flavor themselves, especially when cooked, and the salt actually helps to bring out their taste. Since I only eat two meals a day, plus snacks, I don’t have to cook very often. I think eating fewer meals is helping me with this challenge by eating less than other people would.

Continue reading »

Jun 062016
 

$29 Per Week for Food

In the United States most people who meet certain low income guidelines are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or the food stamp program). Last year glamorous Hollywood actress Gwyneth Paltrow challenged herself to live on just $29 worth of food for one week. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, $127 is how much the average food stamp benefit receives each month, which works out to roughly $29 per week. Paltrow wrote on her blog, goop.com, that she was doing this challenge to raise awareness for the New York City food bank. She uploaded a photo of everything she purchased for the challenge and set out to not eat anything else for a whole week. This is what her basket looked like from one of her Tweets.

16-06-from-goop-gwyneth-basket-tweet

But unfortunately she only made it through 4 days before she gave in and ate some black licorice. I know, it’s shocking right? How could anyone like the taste of black licorice. ? After her challenge ended prematurely, Paltrow said that her “perspective has been forever altered by how difficult it was to eat wholesome, nutritious food on that budget, even for just a few days—a challenge that 47 million Americans face every day.”

The Internet Backlash 

Although she did not complete her challenge I have to give her props for trying. 🙂 But of course this is the internet. So when she wrote about her food stamp challenge there was no shortage of criticism and adverse response.

As one person aptly observed, “Gwyneth Paltrow bought scallions, onions, a clove of garlic, and fresh parsley. She is doing her poor people shopping wrong.” ?

Below are some other intriguing reactions from random denizens of the Twitterverse. 😀

16-06-replies-to-gwyneth-tweet

Yikes! Bring out the carving knife because Gwyneth Paltrow got thoroughly roasted, lol. But internet drama aside, this whole situation has inspired me to do the $29/week food stamp challenge as well. 😀 As a personal finance blogger, I want to find out if I have what it takes to live on $29 a week for food.

Continue reading »

Apr 212016
 
cooking steak with Liquid

If you have a beef with inflation, you’re not alone. It’s becoming frustratingly hard these days to shop for food on a budget. But there is no reason to get ourselves in a stew about it. Oh wait. Maybe there is. 😉 Welcome to another fun edition of cooking with Liquid! ?

One of the most delicious yet affordable meats to buy is beef made for stewing. It could come from the shank, blade roast, or a number of other cheap cuts for $14/kg or less at your local supermarket. Today we’ll be making a simple beef stew that will make 2 servings from roughly $3 worth of ingredients. Let’s get started. 🙂

 

Beef Stew Recipe for $3

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (150 grams) each of cubed beef, potatoes, and carrots
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp ketchup

16-04-beef-stew-recipe-ingredients-list

Cooking Instructions:

  1. Put all the ingredients together in a pot and mix well.
  2. Simmer on medium-low heat for 1 hour with the lid on, stirring once halfway through.

Continue reading »

May 192015
 

Life is like a box of chocolates – full of nuts! 😛 They’re also similar in that we never know what we’re going to get. Life gave me a tax refund this year so I decided to put the money to good use and invest it in chocolate. I believe the cocoa industry will continue to grow and I don’t want to miss out on all the potential gains. 🙂

15-05-chocolate-lava-cake

Produced from the tropical cacao tree people have been cultivating cocoa for at least 3,000 years. It’s one of the oldest, sustainable food we know of. Dating back to circa 1,100 BC the Aztecs were the first to use it by making cocoa into a beverage. Over time cocoa products have become an important part of the world’s social fabric. 😉

The Global Cocoa Market 🍫

Generations of confectionery marketing experts worked hard to integrate chocolate into as many parts of our lives as possible. We eat chocolate at weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and many other events. It’s also customary to buy chocolate on Valentines, Christmas, Easter, Halloween, and other holidays. It can be a part of breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, appetizers, and desserts. Globally about $100 billion worth of chocolate is eaten every year. It has even made it into the hospitality industry, especially in fancy hotels and restaurants where guests are offered complimentary chocolate.

15-05-fab-cherry-complimentary-chocolate

Continue reading »