As promised, here’s the next instalment of what I’ve learned living on less.
If you haven’t yet read the prequels this may make very little sense to you. Go read them first. I’ll wait.
Today I’m covering off what I’ve learned about food during my first 22 days of living on less to help raising money for highly effective poverty-alleviation charities.
A budget of $2.50 is very restrictive, but it’s certainly not impossible.
Here’s what I’ve learned (plus my menu and costs)…
Snacks, drinks and nutrition
So far I have lost at least 3 kilos. For a lean guy that’s a lot – about 5% of my bodyweight.
Looking through the data I can see three main causes:
- Drinks & snacks normally give me 15-20% more energy
- It’s hard to eat when you’re bored of your food
- Protein, vegetables, and variety are expensive
I normally eat very healthy but snacks are expensive or if they’re cheap then they are super unhealthy. Snacks are also my rewards that I use for doing good things like exercising.
By the third day I was already in calorie deficit. Although I’d planned to eat close to ten thousand kilojoules it was hard to stay interested in the same food.
To keep up my interest and introduce snacking I re-introduced simple carbs like rice, pasta and white bread (for peanut butter sandwiches). This helped but it also meant that my protein consumption is down to the bare minimum.
Food is social
One of the hardest parts is removing the social aspect from food. I’m a really social person, I use food as a way of spending time with people. I see my morning coffee as payment for a seat and a chat with a friend.
This month the choice has often been to either (a) excuse myself attending events at pubs, restaurants, cafes, or anything that’s catered or (b) pre-eat or bring something along (if appropriate).
To avoid the awkwardness I’ve tried inviting people to ours more, or inviting people into my office for a cup of tea. However, only having people over really limits your options.
The saying goes that you’re the average of your 5 closest friends. I guess that probably applies to the cost and nutrition of your food also.
Food is also much easier to prepare more cheaply and with more variety if you eat in a group.
Brands and convenience are costly
Some things can be up to 10 times the cost for brands and convenience. You may not notice much on smaller items (“What’s the huge difference between 85 cent and 4 dollar pasta?”) but they certainly add up.
Buying brand name black beans by the tin can cost over $3 whereas buying them dried by the kilo worked out to cost about 50 cents for the same amount.
Solving the brand problem was easy but solving for convenience was harder.
After almost bonking on the bike for lack of anything convenient to eat while riding I had to find a solution.
That’s when I introduced peanut butter on white bread. It’s about the only conveniently palatable thing I could afford.
At the time of writing this my menu has included:
|Servings||Recipe||Cost / Serving|
|6||Bean lentil curry||$0.66|
this morning I treated myself
|6||Chickpea bean dip||$0.15|
|8||Chilli and rice||$0.50|
|4||Creamy bean soup||$0.30|
|11||Curry pasty #2||$0.24|
this was my half way reward!
For the first 21 days here’s my daily spend totals:
|1-Feb||$1.87||9,043||20% (P), 28% (F), 49% (C)|
|2-Feb||$1.94||9,027||20% (P), 29% (F), 48% (C)|
|3-Feb||$1.24||5,626||21% (P), 28% (F), 47% (C)|
|4-Feb||$2.27||12,331||18% (P), 29% (F), 50% (C)|
|5-Feb||$1.04||6,005||19% (P), 31% (F), 47% (C)|
|6-Feb||$1.31||6,092||20% (P), 33% (F), 44% (C)|
|7-Feb||$1.86||9,323||19% (P), 31% (F), 49% (C)|
|8-Feb||$1.47||6,923||16% (P), 31% (F), 50% (C)|
|9-Feb||$2.01||10,173||17% (P), 29% (F), 52% (C)|
|10-Feb||$1.83||9,120||16% (P), 27% (F), 55% (C)|
|11-Feb||$1.90||9,835||17% (P), 31% (F), 50% (C)|
|12-Feb||$2.14||9,842||16% (P), 29% (F), 53% (C)|
|13-Feb||$1.58||6,414||15% (P), 26% (F), 57% (C)|
|14-Feb||$2.13||8,619||16% (P), 34% (F), 47% (C)|
|15-Feb||$1.91||8,979||17% (P), 28% (F), 51% (C)|
|16-Feb||$2.02||8,042||15% (P), 29% (F), 48% (C)|
|17-Feb||$1.92||9,201||19% (P), 35% (F), 43% (C)|
|18-Feb||$1.47||6,740||16% (P), 27% (F), 56% (C)|
|19-Feb||$2.05||9,759||18% (P), 31% (F), 48% (C)|
|20-Feb||$2.37||9,293||19% (P), 28% (F), 50% (C)|
|21-Feb||$2.30||10,805||19% (P), 32% (F), 47% (C)|
If you’re interested in more details (such as the ingredients to all the recipes) you can find it all in my food log.