Breakfast: 100g muesli, 100ml skim milk Lunch: 2 fried eggs, 2 slices multi-grain toast with table spread Dinner: 1 meat pie served with 150g mixed vegetables (microwaved) accompanied with 4tsp mustard, 1 slice chocolate cake Snack: 35g peanuts Totals Energy 7383kj: (target 9000kj), Protein 64.8g (target 55g), Sodium 1842mg (target 1500mg max), Fat 70g (target 90g max) Total cups of black tea: 6 In summary: "Unhealthy" food fails to deliver kilojoule hit.
Today's lunch was always scheduled to be eggs on toast. Following a suggestion from reader Heather, I decided to try frying the eggs rather than just boiling them as I'd originally planned. Fried eggs are often perceived as unhealthy, but in fact some studies suggest they can be helpful for reducing blood pressure. I was a little sceptical about whether the table spread would serve for frying, but it proved eminently up to the task.
Yes, the end result is some incredibly mangled eggs, but that's the fault of the chef, not the ingredients. I've never mastered the art of frying eggs sunny side up. Odd appearance aside, they tasted really good. Unlike Heather, I'm not really sure they were more filling than boiled scrambled eggs as such, but the variety was certainly welcome.
The really unusual dish for the day was the Home Brand Meat Pie (served with the ever-reliable mixed vegetables). This is the only excursion into red meat I've made all week. Meat pies do need to have at least 25% meat content, so it does qualify as "red meat", though it's obviously not equivalent to a steak. It's also the only truly "packaged" food I've eaten during this experiment.
Ever since I decided to add it to the menu, I've been torn between cooking it in the oven (which would use a massive amount of power for a single pie) and doing it in the microwave (faster and more energy efficient, and in line with my general take-it-easy approach, but resulting in a soggy pie).
I was eventually persuaded by Gizmodo editor Nick Broughall to cook the pie in the oven in order to maximise its flavour appeal. Nick also suggested I could use a smattering of spare pasta sauce to replicate tomato sauce, but I decided against that for two reasons: it would make it hard to judge the flavour of the pie itself and it would blow the already high sodium levels for the day well and truly out of the water.
That was a wise decision in pastry terms: it was crisp and tasty, if not flaky in the way a top-shelf pie would be. The filling wasn't filled with grit, but nor was it filled with grainy meat textures or a really flavourful gravy. It certainly wasn't inedible and getting away from pasta for a main meal was quite welcome, but of all the Home Brand products I've sampled during Mastercheap, this was the one example where it was unquestionably inferior to more expensive alternatives. If I was doing this budget again, I'd replace it with something else.
As ever, though, that raises an interesting question: what else could I get for the money? The pie cost 72 cents, and standalone meal replacements at that price are hard to come by. The most obvious candidate is probably a can of baked beans for 69 cents. Filling, but hard to enhance (I've got no spare bread left to eat with it).
The combination of a meat pie and fried eggs makes this easily sound like the biggest excursion into junk food of the entire Mastercheap menu. So it's worth noting that the total number of kilojoules for the day (7383) is actually well below the 9000kj target I'm aiming for. I haven't ended the day feeling hungry, and the total for the week will hew pretty close to that figure as a daily average. But it demonstrates yet again an oft-stated principle for good diet and weight loss: you can indulge yourself with "junk food" occasionally, provided you don't overdo it.
One day to go! Day 7 results will go up on Saturday morning, and I'll round out the project on Monday with a summary of what I've learned.
Lifehacker's Mastercheap experiment sees editor Angus Kidman trying to survive with a weekly food budget of just $25.