25/02/2012 by Farmer K's Kitchen
I always like a good challenge. Especially one that can teach you some kind of useful skill, like saving money!
I stumbled across this website, Simple Savings, which walks you through how to shave off thousands of dollars from your food bill each year. I definitely liked the sound of that, so I bought the book for $10 online: ‘The $21 Challenge’ by Fiona Lippey and Jackie Gower.
The book teaches you how to go a week (or more if you can) by using the ingredients you already have in your home and only spending a maximum of $21 on feeding your family (for replacing bread or milk, take away coffee, etc) for one week. I am right into the culling and simplifying at the moment, so I thought I would give it a whirl, I mean it is only for one week! Surely I won’t fail…
The first thing you have to do is take a stocktake of all the food items in your home – pantry, fridge, freezer. I did this in one afternoon and I was very surprised to see how much food we actually had (and quite a few double-ups or triple-ups too…how many bottles of soy sauce does one person need??). This also gives you a chance to clean out those areas of your kitchen and organise it all nicely. Once you have done this, you then go about writing a meal plan for your week using items from your stocktake.
Let us begin with the pantry. I pulled EVERYTHING out. You need to make two lists and record the lot. List 1 is the ‘Regular List’ which means these are the items that you use often and have to keep replacing – flours, rice, coconut milk, pasta, tuna, salt, canned tomatoes, etc. List 2 is called the ‘Bonus List’ where you write down all the food items that you don’t use very often, or not sure how to use – special sauces and spices, red lentils, saffron threads, agar agar, etc. All the items in the Bonus List need to go in a box. As you plan your weekly meals, try and use some of these items (Google is a wonderful tool how to use them!) and cross them off your list as you go.
Then we move onto the freezer. I pulled out only half of what was in there onto the bench. I was horrified that so much food could fit into such a tiny space and I also never need to buy peas (3 bags: 2 already opened) or meat again! I made the same two lists as the pantry, and I also threw out any food onto our compost that was ready to leave our household.
Lastly, the fridge. What a scary place that can be! Mine wasn’t too bad as I had cleaned it out just recently, but once again, waaaay too much stuff in there and lots of ingredients that I have only used for one recipe and it is still waiting for another turn. I wrote it all down into three lists this time: ‘Regular List’, ‘Bonus List’ and ‘Urgent List’. As you can probably guess, the Urgent List is where you write down the foods that need to be used very soon – veggies, leftovers, milk, etc.
The idea is to learn how to cook with what you have instead of buying food at the shops out of habit. It also teaches you to be resourceful if times get tough. I am looking forward to getting further into the book where they give you recipes and tips for how to stretch your food or easily replace ingredients if you run out without needing to head to the shops.
Our first week was easy-peasy and we only spent $5.90 on 2L of raw milk and $4.50 for a cup of tea at a cafe (I know, so expensive for hot water and a tea bag! The tea bag was a little bit fancy though). Our spendings for the first week of the $21 challenge totalled up to $10.40. Wait! You mean, I could have used $10.60 on chocolate and wine!?!
Meals from this week while on the $21 Challenge:
- Almond Macaroons
- Bacon and Eggs
- Kale Chips (homemade)
- Venison with veggies and herbs
- Very Veggie Lasagne
- Fruit Salad and Yogurt (using the last bit up)
- Tuna and Salad
- Coffees and Teas from home (mine with coconut milk/dairy free)
- Chai Cupcakes
- Ham & Bacon Pops (added in other veggies that needed to be used like Mr Red Capsicum and Mrs Kool Kale) – lame Prep teacher talk….soz.