The first day of the $25 challenge!

28 Sep

My perfect breakfast peach, ready for its closeup! Look--it's blushing!

Yesterday marked the commencement of the $25/wk menu challenge (I was to have posted this last night, but crashed after a marathon work session). @cbnickras was the challenger, and our rules said no coupons allowed, but pro-rating was okay (that is, I could figure out the percentage cost of any item not eaten in total–the price of a bowl rather than the box), and I concluded (without permission!) that spices and seasonings didn’t count if they were already at home. Her part of the challenge? The “no coupons.” My part? Tastiness.

When cooking for one, a certain amount of repetition is necessary–after all, you have to use up things before they spoil. But that doesn’t bother me, as long as I like the item. Plus, I must confess, I am a Weird Eater and have been from birth–I love most raw vegetables (though not fresh tomatoes), and won’t eat cooked ones (except tomatoes and onions), an egg doesn’t cross my lips unless hidden in baked goods, and many other normal foods are deemed yuckable. So my menu and yours may not coincide…but let’s see! Also, I’m not the sharpest arithmetician, so you may catch an error in addition.

Yesterday’s Breakfast $1.63

Delicious peach (I’m always wary this time of year, as the peach season slows. But Dave’s Market on W25th and Bridge came through! These were wonderful. 81 cents.

Bowl of Rice Chex. I don’t put milk on my cereal–it dilutes the crunch. The box was $3.98 on sale at Dave’s, portion was 40 cents.

English muffin with fabulous dill onion spread. I got a great bargain on Thomas’s English muffins at Sam’s Club, when my sister and cardholder was in town. I live on Thomas’s–they can be frozen or in the fridge forever. A bread that doesn’t go bad, and when toasted is fine on its own or serves as a hamburger bun or sandwich roll. At Sam’s Club, they were packaged nine to the packet, instead of the usual six, and two packets were on for $5. So my muffin worked out to about 28 cents. The delicious spread? The tail end of a Dairy Fresh Dill and Onion Dip sold in Dave’s refrigerated section. I used very little; estimate 12 cents.

Iced tea was my beverage of choice. Now, I go in for the flavorful teas when hot, but for iced tea I head to the dollar store. It was a big glass–I estimate 2 cents.

Yesterday’s Lunch $1.19

I brown-bagged it to work and drank water.

Jerk Chicken Sandwich composed of 1/2 a chicken breast with jerk chicken seasoning I made from spices at home (heavy on the allspice and habanero pepper), all laid out on a fresh Dave’s hamburger bun. The chicken worked out to 33 cents, the bun to 32 cents.

Fresh plum from Dave’s, also still tasty late in the season 54 cents.

I so wanted chips, but stayed away from the vending machine in protest at the rising prices.

Yesterday’s Dinner $1.50

This was a staple–Spaghetti and Nigerian stew. I make this fresh frequently. Nigerian stew is made from liquidized fresh plum tomatoes and habanero pepper (onion can also be thrown in, but I didn’t). For me, a batch usually consists of four or five tomatoes and one or two habaneros, which are blended and poured into an ultra hot pot with about 1 T oil (so it sizzles when entering). You “fry” the mixture, adding (again, my choices), a hefty amount of basil, about a half teaspoon powdered ginger, and sometimes a little Old Bay Seasoning (it could be thyme or oregeno–your choice). Let it boil for a while, then simmer down. You want a mixture that’s somewhat thick in the end. For me, a batch means enough for three meals. Because of the pepper and the oil, you don’t even need to refrigerate for a day or two. In Nigeria, it’s served over rice, but I’m no rice fan, so it’s pasta for me. They would never serve it without several pieces of meat, but I did without and was satisfied. The tomatoes were $4.62 for nine, so the stew (throwing some pennies in for the oil) was about 74 cents, and Dave’s had a sale on the spaghetti at 2 pounds for $2.50–it can be found with better deals. My portion was about 50 cents.

A fresh salad–I usually get the ingredients whole, but Dave’s had two of those salad bags for $5, so my salad came from there. With raspberry walnut dressing, it was about $1.

So, $4.32 for a well-fed, tasty, nutritious day. Not bad, but… $4.32 x 7 would be more than $25 for the week! Can I do it? I’ve never tried to calculate like this, so it is a true experiment. Next time I’ll take pictures! I didn’t think.

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