Breakfast: 100g muesli, 100ml skim milk Lunch: 2 'poor man's pizza' toasted sandwiches (4 slices multi-grain toast with table spread and bottled pasta sauce) Dinner: 2 hard-boiled eggs served with 150g mixed vegetables (microwaved) accompanied with 4tsp mustard, 1 slice (freshly-cooked) chocolate cake Snack: 35g peanuts Totals Energy 6573kj: (target 9000kj), Protein 58.4g (target 55g), Sodium 1675mg (target 1500mg max), Fat 49.4g (target 90g max) Total cups of black tea: 6 In summary: In theory, this isn't enough food, but I'm surviving.
The core of all my Mastercheap planning is an elaborate spreadsheet, containing details of bargain-priced food products (both those on the final list and those I considered but ultimately rejected for one reason or another). As well as the price, I've also gathered the relevant nutritional information, and that data informs a worksheet featuring my daily menu and the associated kilojoule, protein, fat and sodium totals.
I did a lot of playing around with these figures when planning the Mastercheap menu, and in the end I was satisfied that I'd done a reasonable job of getting variety into the list, mostly cooking stuff I actually like eating and hitting the nutritional targets. However, it became clear to me quite early on that while I could largely get the right numbers, given my food choices there was going to be one day where the kilojoule total was well below the designated 9000kj, and a few others where it was somewhat higher. (That wouldn't happen if I'd planned to eat identical foods every day, but avoiding the tedium of that approach as much as possible was one of the key aims of the project.)
I decided Sunday would be the best point to put that 'light' day in the schedule. I'm not working, so a slight lack of energy wouldn't put me in such a bad mood. And it's early in the process, so I shouldn't yet have become entirely bitter and cynical.
Hence we have a none-too-stupendous daily kilojoule total — 6573 — that's nearly 2500 below the target 9000. If there was ever going to be a day to feel hungry, this would be it, but at the end of Sunday, I can't say that was a big issue. Having hit the protein target even on this more minimal allowance probably helped.
Breakfast — muesli and not quite enough milk — is the one meal that's remaining constant all week (along with my daily snack allowance of peanuts). Lunch was a pretty basic toasted pair of toasted sandwiches, spread with a little of the pasta sauce, that I've dubbed 'poor man's pizza'. Dinner was the already-familiar steamed mixed vegetables and mustard, accompanied by two hard-boiled eggs.
Eggs are a big source of protein in the Mastercheap universe. I've had scrambled eggs once already this week, and will do so again later in the week. Even if I'd wanted a third serving, though, I wouldn't have enough milk to do them.
Given that I'm also going to be eating boiled eggs on sandwiches a few times this week, having a third approach might have helped. However, I lack confidence when it comes to poaching, and if I'd wrecked an egg while attempting that, I'd have had no spares to fall back on. Fried eggs just didn't seem appealing in context, though they'd have upped the kilojoules (along with the fat).
The Home Brand packet cake came up nicely when cooked in the microwave (consuming yet another egg and some more milk — all the milk remaining is now for breakfasts). I had a hot slice of it for dessert, and it will serve as part of another five meals before I'm done.
The other emerging issue: I've developed a very slight headache which I'm figuring is likely due to caffeine withdrawal from not consuming any coffee. That'll be a nuisance if it gets worse, but for now it suggests to me that my tea consumption isn't too over-the-top.
Come Monday, caffeine consumption is the least of my worries. It's a regular working day, which for me means going to a lavish press launch which has promised a "sumptuous high tea of sandwiches, scones and desserts" which I'll have to resist. I've adjusted my food strategy as a result; tune in tomorrow to find out how.
Lifehacker's Mastercheap experiment sees editor Angus Kidman trying to survive with a weekly food budget of just $25.