The weekend wasn't as tough as I imagined. After the wonderful soup I made for lunch on Saturday, I had a great pasta dish in mind to make that evening. It ended up being a total bust – like INEDIBLE bust. I had a great idea that just didn't pan out the way I wanted. So…basically no dinner last night. This morning and evening's meals had eggs and the potato I had left with some diced tomato and rosemary, using again only the ingredients I had in the house and from my shopping trip.
The snowy weather, when it happens, always paralyzes Atlanta so much that it was a great day on Sunday to stay at home…which led to lots of reflection about the challenge this past week. Being snowed in meant that I actually ended the week with a little over $4 left in my budget.Curses – I could have bought that Diet Coke after all!!!
I can safely say that doing the $30 Project was extremely eye opening and there are habits and ways of doing things that won't ever be the same for me. Having to put so much conscious thought into how much things cost took a lot of spontaneity out of my schedule – lots of my activities I take part in have to do with food. However, having a core group of ingredients to work with and finding ways to stretch them out over several meals was actually extremely inspiring. I came up with great recipes this week and most of them were on the fly.
It's also changed how I treat the food that I purchase. When I was shopping before, I would buy stuff that liked or had a craving for. I would eat what I wanted of it and then a good bit of it would go to waste. If it went bad before I could get around to using it….oh well. I have the money to replace it or move on to something else. This week, everything was wrapped up and stored really well once it was opened. I used every bit of things and found new approaches to some kitchen things – I made breadcrumbs off the ends of my baguette early in the week to have to use where I would have just purchased some if I needed them. Common sense techniques and tips that I should have been implementing long ago.
The purpose of this challenge was not to see if we could live like someone on food stamps or government assistance. It would be unreasonable and unrealistic – as well as making light of a very serious issue in the US. A statistic I read stated that 36.2 MILLION Americans struggled with hunger and lack of food resources in 2007. Can I go back to being so flippant about food and careless consumption? Not hardly.
I don't pretend that doing this for a week came close to giving me – or the other participants – a very clear picture of what it's like to be hungry. Especially with my career field, the perks are there and I will never "starve". It's just not in the cards. However, I think that there is more to explore here from a "how do you creatively approach budget eating?" standpoint.
So, I will be picking up the $30 Project on Wednesday for another week. This time, I am going to allow myself the basics I have in the house that I didn't allot for last week such as flour, sugar, baking soda, etc…but on this round, I am going to shop at my grocery store only. No farmers market. I've been super inventive with my cooking and the inspiring veggies at the market. How will I do when I'm left to overpriced grocery store produce and more prepared foods? We'll see, I guess.
How did the others taking on the challenge do? Some were successful – others weren't. See for yourself at their blogs:
Speaking of inspired, my friend Jake suggested that when it snows…make snow cream! This simple recipes used cream or milk (in my case coconut milk), sugar and vanilla – all things many people have on hand. It felt childlike, whimsical and spontaneous – all feelings I was seriously lacking during my $30 week. Thanks, Jake!
– Collect fresh snow in a container. In a separate bowl, mix all the other ingredients. Fold – don't stir – the snow in gradually. The snow will start to melt pretty quickly and create a slushy texture. You can eat it as is or freeze it a bit for firmer texture.