Living Below the Line: Menu!

Thank you to everyone who has sponsored me so far.  Together, we have raised over $1,000 to help alleviate poverty in East Timor!  I’m thrilled with this result – and I’m hoping to do even better by the end of the week…

And now, for the post you’ve all been waiting for!

(OK, probably not, but I’m trying to infuse a sense of excitement into this situation…)

So, $19 dollars, and 29 meals.  What are they going to be?

Well, as you probably guessed from my shopping list, mostly pasta…


Jaffles (10 servings)

Breakfast was actually the hardest meal to figure out.  I was all ready to go with oat porridge and maybe some apples stewed with dates for sweetening, but Andrew abhors porridge and all its works, so that was out.  Eggs were another suggestion, but again, not too useful for Andrew.  And the trouble with toast is that you need to put something on it – and all the things one can put on it are *expensive*.

But then I had a brainwave!  When we were little, Mum had one of those old-fashioned jaffle irons – I think it was even the type that is hand-held and goes over a flame?  Surely not?  But I do have a memory of such a jaffle iron in use.  Anyway, we would have cheese and tomato and tuna jaffles for lunch fairly regularly, but once, Mum decided to do dessert jaffles, filled with apples and a little sugar.  They were like little pocket pies.  I thought they were the most amazing thing since… sliced bread.  Oh dear.  Sorry.

Anyway, I can’t afford sugar, and didn’t manage to budget for dates or sultanas as an alternative sweetener, but jaffles with fruit in them definitely sounds like a breakfast option.  So we’re apple jaffles for two mornings and tinned peach jaffles for the other three.  Very basic jaffles, with no butter for the bread or sugar for the fruit, but they should provide a bit of nutrition at the start of the day, which is what this is all about.

Cost: 69c for the apples, 69c for the peaches, $1.00 for the bread = $2.38 for ten breakfasts, or 23.8 cents per serve.


Ribollita Soup (6 servings)

This is the sort of soup that was originally designed to use up leftovers and odds and ends of vegetables.  It’s basically a minestrone thickened with stale bread instead of pasta – so I’ll be using the two bread crusts in this, along with my chicken wing for stock and my rosemary sprig for added flavour.  And lots of garlic!  Normally, one would add a bunch of kale or silverbeet, but they were too expensive, so I’m using beetroot greens instead.  I suspect this will have a very unfortunate effect on the colour of the soup…

Cost: 30c for half a tin of tomatoes, 60c for the beans, 40c for the chicken wing, 5c for the rosemary, 26c for the celery stick, 2c for half the chilli, 40c for lots of garlic, 27c for one onion, 19c for the carrot, 50c for the potato, 50c for frozen mixed veg = $3.49, or 58c per serving.

Vegetable Frittata (4 servings)

Otherwise known as, can we disguise the eggs so that Andrew will like them?

(Answer, probably not, but the ribollita is something he will like and I probably won’t, so fair is fair…)

I may go all fancy-pants and roast the capsicum over a NAKED FLAME to give it a bit more oomph, flavour-wise (and also increase the chances of setting my own hair on fire, though I probably shouldn’t present that as a positive) – because this is actually one of those things one can do to make things taste good that doesn’t require oil or herbs or spices or any of those posh things…

Cost: $1.75 for the eggs, 19c for the capsicum, $1.19 for half a pumpkin, 30c for a few more mixed veg = $3.43, or 86c per serving


Penne with spicy tomato, cauliflower and chickpea sauce (4 servings)

I’m actually fairly enthusiastic about this dinner.  It’s the sort of thing I might make anyway, if I had olive oil to caramelise the onions and cauliflower properly.  I’m going to make tomato sauce infused with garlic and chilli, and add some onions, cauliflower, and chickpeas, and then stir it through pasta.  I have high hopes…

Cost: 48c for the pasta, $1.80 for the tomatoes, 80c for the chickpeas, 75c for the cauliflower, 27c for one onion, 2c for half the chilli, and 20 cents for garlic = $4.32, or $1.08 per serve

Tuna Pasta Bake (5 servings)

This is another fairly extravagant meal, but it’s also reasonably high in protein, so hopefully worth it.  I’m going to make a creamy sauce out of soaked cashews – something I wouldn’t be able to do if I were actually living on $2 per day, since I would still be using my really bad old blender – cauliflower and the remaining garlic, and then mix this through the pasta along with cooked pumpkin and beetroot, tuna, and any remaining frozen vegetables that seem appropriate.

Cost: 52c for the pasta, 1.15 for the tuna, 1.05 for the cashews, 25c for the cauliflower, 1.19 for the pumpkin, 99c for the beetroot, 20c for the garlic = $5.35, or 1.07 per serve.

If one ignores the fact that this menu is absolutely crying out for olive oil, parmesan, butter, and maybe a little sugar – and spices, of course – it actually doesn’t look so terrible. Except that I think we’re going to be really hungry by dinner time each night, as the lunches are not all that filling, and breakfast is not as low-GI as I might wish – white bread just isn’t designed to keep you feeling full.  And I’m not sure that those dinners will be enough to make up for the privations of breakfast and  lunch…

Also, there is something undeniably depressing about living on pasta and white bread and beans and tomatoes for five days straight.

But – there are vegetables, and protein, and carbohydrates, and we’ll even get a bit of iron from the cashews and the beetroot greens and such, so while we will be hungry, we’re going to be fairly nutritionally balanced, at least.

It could be much, much worse.

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