Breakfast: 100g muesli, 100ml skim milk Lunch: 2 scrambled eggs, 2 slices multi-grain toast with table spread, served with 150g mixed vegetables (microwaved) accompanied with 4tsp mustard Dinner: 200g pasta spirals served with tomato and kidney bean sauce, 1 portion lime jelly Snack: 35g peanuts Totals Energy 9441kj: (target 9000kj), Protein 92.3g (target 55g), Sodium 1400mg (target 1500mg max), Fat 59.7g (target 90g max) Total cups of black tea: 6 In summary: The first day is inevitably the easiest. But mustard matters.
The most notable event on today's agenda was dividing and weighing a fair proportion of the goods which will sustain me for the week ahead. Preparing food in advance on the weekend is often recommended as a time-saving measure, but my motivation is a bit more basic.
Like many people, I'm used to roughly doling out whatever looks reasonable when it comes to preparing meals. That's fine when you can always hit the cupboard (or the supermarket) for backup supplies, but it's less sensible when you've got very restricted options. If I use too much pasta in today's dinner, I'll be running short come Friday. Pre-measuring eliminates that risk.
So I divide my supplies: the kilo of pasta spirals into five parcels of 200g; the muesli into six rounds of 100g (not seven as I'd already had breakfast when I did this task); the packet of peanuts into seven packets of 35g (my daily snack, which I consumed during the afternoon); and the frozen vegetables into half-a dozen 150g packages.
In the same spirit, I make up the lime jelly into four individual serving cups (dessert for four nights) before setting it. Doing all this in one hit reduces messing around with scales for the rest of the week, and makes it less likely that I'll gorge myself on more than my daily entitlement at some point.
There's relatively little danger of that happening on Day 1, because the menu truly isn't that different to what I might eat on a normal Saturday anyway. The only difference is in the details. There's a little less milk on the muesli than I'd normally have, though that has the arguable advantage of making me eat more slowly. The tea is black, but quite drinkable.
The scrambled eggs don't have any added pepper, though the "table spread" doesn't taste anywhere near as awful as I'd feared and the multi-grain bread is excellent. I miss having cheese on the pasta dish — a recipe promoted earlier this year by the Salvation Army as a cheap meal for families in crisis — but the beans make it so filling that I don't feel the slightest bit deprived overall after eating two bowlfuls of it. (Half the sauce has been conserved for use later in the week, which is a meal I can already say I'm looking forward to.)
I'm very glad that I included the mustard to make the frozen vegetables more palatable, but that's not to say that they taste awful simply because they're cheap. They taste bland without seasoning because that's what a mixture of potato, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, corn and peas will invariably taste like. But between them, the tomatoes and the beans, I've probably had more vegetables than I would on a regular Saturday.
Nutritionally, too, I'm pretty much on target, especially in terms of protein (punching above my weight) and fat (well under the maximum). Sodium is about 100mg under the limit. I'm slightly over the 9000 kilojoule target, but not by much. However, my calculations for Day 2 suggest a rather different story, as you'll see in the next instalment.
Lifehacker's Mastercheap experiment sees editor Angus Kidman trying to survive with a weekly food budget of just $25.