Sunday, May 29, 2011

Eating for $2 a Day

Hey guys, sorry for not updating in so long, I've been so very busy lately with uni work and taking photographs of attractive people. However since I've finished Live Below the Line and resigned last week from my cafe job, I'll have a bit more time to blog regularly again, though probably not as much money to spend on food. Also, a big hello and welcome to all you new visitors from Semisweetie (thank you to the lovely Ms Lara for linking me on her blog)!

Anyway, back on topic, many of you may know I did Live Below the Line in order to raise money and awareness for extreme poverty for the Oaktree Foundation and help those in need in Papua New Guinea - you can read more about the cause here, and please donate here. The idea of the campaign is for participants to only spend a maximum of $2(AUD) per day on food for five days, in order to experience what it is like to live below the poverty line. Admittedly, I broke the rules for one day for Chocolatesuze's 28th birthday party (I just couldn't turn down the bar tab, sorry guys) so in compensation I extended my challenge by an extra day to make up for that hiccup. Onto shopping!

$1.09 Bread - 1 loaf
$2.19 Eggs - 1 dozen
$1.15 Pasta - 1kg
$1.99 Kiwi Fruit - 9 pack
$1.59 Vegetables - 1kg
$1.69 Sauce - 700ml

$9.70 Total

I got all my food from Aldi's, because as far as I know, they are the cheapest place to get groceries if you're not concerned about buying brand names. One hilarious things I bought was the 1kg bag of frozen 'Mixed Vegetables' which came in a solid green opaque sack with no indication of its contents, and when you flipped it over the ingredients read "varies due to seasonal availability", essentially rendering it a big frozen bag of mystery. However the mystery contents did prove to be pleasantly edible, with a mix of corn, peas, beans, carrots, some broad beans and a tiny amount of broccoli. Good value for money, methinks. The sauce I got was 'Passata tomato cooking sauce' which I assumed was pureed tomato with flecks of herbs. It didn't really taste too good but it cooked up alright with a bit of garlic.

I didn't actually finish any of the stuff I bought aside from the kiwi fruit, and I did include some other items of food in my meals which I already had at home but it's okay, I did the maths and everything ended up under the $2 limit. I guess there were some choices I made that weren't too wise, I had half a six pack of pikelets from Woolies for breakfast on the first day before I had gone shopping, they added up to over 60c - three tiny pancakes for nearly a third of my daily budget wasn't probably a good idea, but I couldn't just leave them to go off. The kiwi fruits probably weren't the thriftiest decision either, but I felt as if I needed some fruit and even though they weren't the cheapest option, I was craving them and they were on sale, so whatever. Here is a comprehensive breakdown of my meals, for your scrutiny and judgement. Yes, my eating habits are terrible, and yes on some days I only have time to eat one meal a day and often I found I'd left myself more or less stranded if I leave home without packed food because there is nothing you can get on the go that could go into the budget so I don't end up eating until I get home for dinner.

Some more clarifications to be made - the avocado I ate was homegrown but I priced them according to how much they were are Aldi - $0.99. Mi Goreng I already had at home but can be bought for $0.30 a packet at any Asian grocer, the garlic was a jar of minced garlic from Aldi for $1.29 which contains about 50 teaspoon servings. The oats are from a box of 8 Uncle Toby's quick oats (creamy honey flavour, if you were wondering), the milk was $1/L at Woolworths, the potatoes I had at home I counted as 10c per 100g, as they were $0.99/kg at Aldi's and the rice we had at home was actually bought for $25/30kg but I calculated it as $0.15/100g according to Aldi's prices. Pasta, fried rice, pie and eggs price breakdowns and recipes are below, accompanied by terrible photos (missing my prime lens so bad right now).

Egg Fried Rice

Egg Fried Rice
Makes 2 servings

100g frozen mixed vegetables - 15.9c
300g cooked rice - 45c
1 egg - 21.25c
1T soy sauce - 3.55c

85.7c total
42.85c per serve

  1. Scramble egg, set aside
  2. Fry rice in pan, break any clumps
  3. Meanwhile, boil frozen vegetables for 3 - 4 minutes, drain and add to rice
  4. Add soy sauce, mix and heat through
  5. Remove from heat, add scrambled egg and season to taste

Shepherd's Pie

Vegetable Shepherd's Pie
Makes 3 servings

250g frozen mixed vegetables - 39.75c
3 potatoes - 30c
350g Passata tomato cooking sauce - 84.5c
3t minced garlic - 7.74c

161.99c total
54c per serve

Directions (adapted from here):
  1. Pre-heat oven to 175°C
  2. Peel potatoes, dice and boil until soft. Drain and mash in 1 teaspoon garlic
  3. Boil water, add frozen vegetables and cook for 3 - 4 minutes, drain 
  4. Meanwhile, cook 2 teaspoons garlic and tomato sauce in a sauce pan, stirring occasionally
  5. Add cooked vegetables and heat through, season to taste
  6. Transfer to oven-proof dish and top with mashed potato
  7. Bake for 30 minutes, or until impatient

Spaghetti Bolognaise

Spaghetti Neapolitan
Makes 2 servings

250g pasta - 28.75c
200g Passata tomato cooking sauce - 48.29
2t minced garlic - 5.16

82.2c total
41.1c per serve

  1. Fry garlic in saucepan until golden
  2. Add tomato sauce and simmer, stirring occasionally
  3. Meanwhile, do you really need me to tell you how to boil pasta?
  4. Add sauce to pasta.

Sunny Side Up Egg on Toast
This is what happens when you fry an egg without oil

Fried egg on toast
1 egg - 21.25c
1 slice bread - 5.45 c

26.7c total

Potato Omlette

Potato Omlette
2 eggs - 42.5c
1 potato - 10c

52.5c total

  1. Peel and slice potato into thin pieces
  2. Add to heated pan and pan-fry until cooked through
  3. Beat eggs in a bowl and pour over potato
  4. Cook on low heat until eggs are solidified

Specifications out of the way, the biggest difficulties I found with the week included lack of choice - it was immensely hard not being able to purchase something on the go and having to wait it out and starve if I was at uni or work without having brought food from home; not being able to consume drinks, only water, I missed Chatime like cray-zay; having to actually calculate how much I've eaten and calculating prices when buying groceries plus weighing food before cooking was a total bitch (purely for the purposes for this blog though, not that those living below the poverty line actually do this); not being able to eat what I'm craving; food being less satisfying when you have to manage portion control and finally, actually having to prepare my own food. The more positive aspects of the challenge I suppose was that I probably ate more vegetables than I do on a regular basis, drinking more water to feel fuller, though the hunger wasn't so bad because I'm kinda use to feeling hungry all the time, unfortunately. Anyway, thanks for reading and please donate! Posts on Sushi Train, Mamak and San Churro coming soon! All with terrible quality photos! Until then, I'll be binge-eating my way to recovery.


  1. I'm impressed! That's some stylish eating for $2 a day.

  2. What a hard challenge, I don't know if I could do it as I'm not very inventive with my cooking. I like the look of your omlette though.

  3. I love that you did this, I am so going to join you next year! how funny the Aldi frozen veges.

  4. I commend you for doing this. It is a fantastic exercise as it makes you think about how much we do spend every day on food and the waste as well.

    I really should do this challenge next year and make the boys do it with me, I think they would realise how good they have it.

  5. That's a nice way to spend 5 times as much money on wine as on food

  6. Hey man I've got my priorities sorted out!

  7. man oh man i am thoroughly impressed!! u did gr8 :D