Monday morning brought a whole new set of challenges to our Eat on $60 experience. First, we had to account for ALL of our meals (not just dinner like the previous day). Second, with my husband participating in fitness boot camp, I had to pack him a lunch (and snacks) that would satisfy his metabolism requirements while complying with the monetary limitations. Finally, it was Monday morning, and I was groggy and cranky. You know how it is.
Before I launch into how we did on Day 2, let me throw some info at you. After all, this challenge is about more than just scrimping and saving for a week – it’s about cultivating awareness of hunger issues, both locally and nationally. Did you know that according to the 2006 U.S. Census, more than one in five Georgia children live in poverty. That’s 491,794 children under the age of 18 who face hunger issues as a part of their daily lives. I know food was a HUGE part of my childhood, so that really is a devastating figure for me. If you want to read more and learn about ways you can help, a visit to the Atlanta Community Food Bank website is a great start. There are some really cool events coming up that will raise money to address the very issues we are trying to bring to light with this challenge.
Okay, back to Monday’s eating. Here’s how it broke down…
Betty – energy bar ($1.08), coffee (2 cups at $0.12 each = $0.24). Total – $1.32
Jason – yogurt ($0.60), Smart Start cereal ($0.30), coffee (1 cup = $0.12). Total – $1.02
When I got to work and started crunching numbers, I smacked myself on the forehead when I realized how CRAZY expensive those energy bars can be. We eat them out of convenience, sure, but also because we usually involved in some sort of athletic pursuit (boot camp for Jason, triathlon training for me) and those bars are a great way to get nutrients while running/biking. My disappointment was evened out somewhat by the cheapness of our store-brand, made-at-home coffee. And it got rid of my morning crankiness just like the expensive coffee shop stuff!
Betty – 2 leftover pork chops ($1.96), leftover applesauce ($0.61). Total – $2.57
Jason – chicken salad sandwich (bread $0.14, chicken $0.47, mayo $0.66 = $1.27), crackers ($0.20), Fig Newtons ($0.37). Total – $1.84
Again, lunch made me smack myself upside the head. I didn’t really NEED two pork chops, but lunch is usually a pretty large meal for me (a habit I picked up in Spain), and I just didn’t think I would be satisfied with one. The applesauce was delicious once again. As for hubby’s meal, the crackers and Fig Newtons were already in the pantry before the challenge, so I divided out their total cost to a per-serving number, which was not as bad as I anticipated given that they were the individually wrapped variety.
Betty – Nutella pound cake ($0.79 per slice, breakdown below). Total – $0.79
Jason – gala apple ($0.41, on sale), energy bar ($1.08). Total – $1.49
The Nutella pound cake had been calling my name since I saw it in the most recent Food and Wine magazine, so I baked it up to see if it would fit into the challenge. It worked out to a pretty reasonable per-serving number, and it was really delicious. Nutella itself is pretty expensive, but thankfully, Kroger makes a store-brand hazelnut spread that worked out beautifully and kept the recipe cost much lower. Here it is:
Total – $6.32. There were 8 slices, so that works out to $0.79 per slice.
Preheat the oven to 325°. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, tapping out any excess flour. In a glass measuring cup, lightly beat the eggs with the vanilla. In a medium bowl, whisk the 1 1/2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the butter with the sugar at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. With the mixer at medium-low speed, gradually beat in the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, beating at low speed between additions until just incorporated. Continue to beat for 30 seconds longer. Spread one-third of the batter in the prepared pan, then spread half of the Nutella on top. Repeat with another third of the batter and the remaining Nutella. Top with the remaining batter. Lightly swirl the Nutella into the batter with a butter knife. Do not overmix. Bake the cake for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the cake onto a wire rack, turn it right side up and let cool completely, about 2 hours. Cut the cake into slices and serve.
For dinner, I decided to make a pizza at home, based on this recipe from Cooking Light magazine. Unfortunately, the math somehow got messed up in my head, because once I added everything up and broke it down per serving, I realized that the dish didn’t quite fit within our budget. Grrrr. In any case, I got a store bought pizza crust ($2.59), put some pesto sauce down as the base ($4.49!!!!), and covered the pie with two servings of roasted chicken ($0.94), one cup of halved red grapes ($0.69), half a package of store-brand shredded mozzarella ($0.84), and a couple of cloves of garlic ($0.50). The total came out to $10.05, and we broke it down into three servings ($3.35 per serving). In hindsight, we probably could have broken it down to four servings. Lesson learned. The pizza was delicious, and I definitely want to make it again, but I will find a way to make it cheaper, perhaps by making my own crust and/or pesto.
At the end of the day, my food added up to $8.28, and Jason’s added up to $7.70. So, our total spent on Day 2 was $15.98 (making our total for the week-to-date $19.16). Certainly, that number is WAY less than what we normally spend, but it was significantly over the daily budget we were shooting for. We learned a lot, though, and pledged to alter our habits a bit on Day 3 in order to get ourselves more in line with the proper numbers. Did we succeed? You’ll have to tune in tomorrow to find out…