Eat from the backyard challenge...

03 June, 2015

I confess, winter is when I eat from the garden least. That is not because there is less to eat, but more because when I leave for work it is dark, and when I come home it is dark and it is so much easier to just buy a cauliflower or some celery (not yet ready for picking in my garden, so I let myself get away with it - if I was buying kale or lettuce I couldn't justify buying it when it was pickable in my garden) and make something like cauliflower cheese or celery risotto - some of my favourite winter recipes. So warming and comforting.

But then Jo had to up and go with a $21 challenge. Spend no more than $21 on groceries for the week, so you have to use up that packet of split yellow peas you bought for soup a month or so back, rather than buying something else that takes your fancy at the supermarket, or ingredients for a recipe you read in a magazine but don't have in the cupboard.

I love the idea of these sorts of challenges. It really tests the ingenuity of the gardener/cook to adapt recipes, making do with what is available. It can also cause the creation of some really delicious dishes. Necessity is the mother of invention after all.

Now I feel a little bit of a weakling doing a $21 challenge when I live on my own, and other people are doing it with families of kids who have growing bodies to feed. So I'm adapting it a little. I'm going to do a $21 for the month of June. Why not end the financial year with a little frugality.

This challenge will apply for all home cooked meals, including work lunches (I rarely buy my lunch), snacks, desserts etc. Pretty much anything I cook, eat or serve at my home.

Exceptions will be any foods eaten outside the home, e.g. meals out won't count. I'll try to minimise these so I'm not taking the easy way out.

I am now going to put $21 in a separate part of my wallet, for food only purchases in the coming weeks. I will report back weekly on what I have bought, what I have cooked and how much I have left in the kitty.

$21 on groceries until the end of June. As the internet is my witness.

18 comments:

  1. Crickey! That's a challenge. Especially when the winter garden doesn't produce that much. I don't think I could do it. Maybe in summer perhaps. I budget $50 per week for groceries, fruit & veg. Of course, not all of it gets eaten each week. Lots goes into storage. If I tried your $21 plan at the moment most of it would go into fruit & veg and I'd be eating out of the freezer and pantry for the rest.

    I'll be very interested to see how you go with it. I love challenges! Good luck!

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    1. I generally budget $50 per week, but that includes all my groceries, household type items and other bits and bobs, not just food.
      I'm thinking it will be a challenge, but mostly I'll just be eating down all the things I have preserved or are sitting in my freezer. But who knows, I might fail terribly. Either way it will be interesting.

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  2. Oh, my goodness Bek, you have totally upped that challenge!! I am very keen to see what you come up with. We are getting along nicely here, hardly feeling the pinch at all, except we have run out of organic goji berries. Darn.. four days to go until we can go get some more. The 14yo is getting twitchy - they are her favourites! But I found a packet of prunes at the back of the cupboard that she can top her porridge with instead. I can't wait to tell her:)

    So tell me, will $21 even buy you enough milk to get to the end of June?

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    1. I don't think I've upped it that much though, Jo. After all, I'm only feeding myself and maybe the odd person who pops over, and I don't have to contend with any complainers, except myself of course.
      I absolutely LOVE prunes on porridge, so I think she is getting a better deal myself. I do eat it with brown sugar and a blob of cream so maybe that's partly why I love it so much.
      Yes, it should keep me in milk and yoghurt, which are my main regular purchases I can't really imagine delaying. I have a bit of cheese in the fridge, which may be a limiting factor. But I have plenty of frozen and dried fruit, veg in the yard and freezer, enough meat/chicken/fish in the freezer to ensure protein, lots of rice/pasta/legumes/grains to ensure I have fibre. My darling mother occasionally drops her homemade sourdough at my place, so I'm hoping I can get a regular supply of that, and I think I'll be good. It will just take a bit of planning and ingenuity. It will be tight, but doable.

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  3. Wow $21 that's a good challenge.
    You really do produce a lot there - something I aspire to.
    I really enjoy the challenge of frugality.
    My average weekly food bill is $40, assuming no home harvest.
    I even itemised it all on a spreadsheet, with nutrition data.
    https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1tLGE4R_3Juah-XAQeKChomkV7s5908Aq-HWVeh7-29k/edit#gid=0
    It would be less now since I am eating homegrown bananas, mandarins, corn, beans and lettuce.
    Really hoping to harvest more and spend less, and your inspirational lead really helps me.

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    1. Thanks George. At this time of year it doesn't feel like I'm producing that much, but I'm really glad to have all my dried and preserved fruits, passata etc that will get me through. I will have to check out your spreadsheet.

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    3. Your preserving skills are fantastic.
      Um, don't worry about looking at the spreadsheet.
      I will take it down because it shows my ignorance about good food.
      I am now trying to start buying more locally grown organic food, and not just go for the cheapest option.

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    4. It's been a few years of experimenting to get to these meagre preserving skills, but they do come in handy. It's so sad that out society undervalues food so much. It's all about $1 milk and 85c bread.

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  4. I'd never survive that challenge the way my husband and I eat. I spend a lot of money on food. My husband's chocolate bars (high quality organic and fair trade) would put us close to the limit right away. He eats about 2.5 and they cost US$3-4. So maybe US$10 which is about hmm maybe $12 AU. Then I'd have three dollars left. And gluten free flours cost so much. Though I supposed since you can eat what you have in the pantry I'd be fine there. I'd be eating a of teff and masa though as I bought them in quantity. I drink goat milk which is about twice as expensive here than cow's milk. Maybe $6 per week (8AU). Would I have enough protein to get me through the month? It would be close. It seems like a fun thing to try, but with my health issues and related food restrictions I would never restrict what I could spend on food. And I like to buy all those pastured/grass fed/organic options. And I rarely ever go out to eat.

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    1. I would not survive if I was to do that long term either. A lot of my treat foods, like the odd chocolate or icecream will now need to be forfeited or replaced by something home produced. But I have a pretty well stocked pantry so I don't think I'll be doing it too tough. Luckily I have a freezer full of organic meat stuffs from last months farmers market visit, otherwise I'd be eating a lot of vegetarian meals, as there is no way I could afford meat I choose to buy on that budget.
      It's a different story when you have food intolerances and such like. It is much more expensive unfortunately.
      But I also think that there are a lot of people in this world who eat their whole lives in this sort of budget. So for me to choose to do it for a month is really nowhere near as hard as many people out there have it.

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  5. Love it! Interested to see what you come up with.

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    1. I will try and post some meal pics and meal info so you can see what I end up eating. That might motivate me to do more than basic meals :)

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  6. I am eager to see the results of this experiment. I am currently making strange and unusual unctions out of my pantry cupboard with the plethora of strange legumes and brightly coloured pretty "health foods" that I bought because they look good on the shelves and they are "good for me". Time to put my money where my mouth is and start using them. I did learn that you can add finely ground lentils to just about any savoury dish to thicken it and make it creamy. I also learned that if you turn them into flour (high speed blender) they add an enormous amount of protein to pancakes etc. I am vegan so have some tricks up my sleeve when it comes to reproducing interesting things with even more interesting ingredients but the other day I made a breakfast cake that defied logic and reason. It really should have ended up being a puddle of purest "brown" but it actually turned into a really delicious chocolate date cake. I used only ingredients from my pantry and was rather chuffed with my experiment, also provoked by Jo's excellent post :). Can't wait to see what you come up with. If I was forced to eat from Sanctuary (fully enclosed veggie garden) I would lose a LOT of weight over the coming month. Maybe there is a book in that...

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    1. Nothing wrong with sterange and unusual unctions, particularly if they end up as tasty as that breakfast cake sounds. Is there any more delightful term than 'breakfast cake'? I think not.
      I think there are a lot of interesting things you can do with food that we can learn from out vegan friends. I read a blog called oh she glows and always love the vegan recipe ideas she posts.
      I totally think you have the latest craze diet book. The $21 diet. It will be a bestseller!!!!

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  7. Lentil flour for thickening, Fran, brilliant! I am about to embark on a six-week gluten free challenge recommended by GP, and I don't want to just substitute expensive gluten-free products, I am actually planning to eat better!! But I do love that slight thickening that flour gives to stews and gravies, so will try the lentil thing.

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  8. wow, bek .... i'm a single chickie too but $21 for foodstuffs for the month! the again... i'm lucky that I'm getting a lot of fruit and veg from mum and dad right now, which supplements the fact I don't have anything harvestable right now in my garden. but wow... that's a serious challenge. though perhaps I could do it... the only fresh stuff I am buying right now is bananas and oranges and I wouldn't buy $21 worth of them a week! a great reminder to get in and eat what's already in our larders and freezers instead of bying new all the time. thanks for the shakeup (and jo too - I saw jo's posts!)

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    1. Yes, if I didn't have a lot to supplement the store cupboard and freezer (veg, a little fruit, eggs, bread) I don't think I could do it either. A shake up is never a bad thing. Even if I do overspend, I think it will be a valuable experience.

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