Breakfast: 100g muesli, 100ml skim milk Lunch: 2 sandwiches (one with boiled egg, one with cucumber),1 slice chocolate cake Dinner: 200g pasta spirals served with 300ml pasta sauce and 150g mixed vegetables, 1 portion lime jelly Snack: 35g peanuts Totals Energy 10045kj: (target 9000kj), Protein 77.9g (target 55g), Sodium 1893mg (target 1288mg max), Fat 57.2g (target 90g max) Total cups of black tea: 5 In summary: History sometimes repeats.
If you examine this menu, you'll notice something: it's actually exactly the same selection of food that I had on Tuesday. I could have avoided this scenario relatively easily, by just swapping one lunch or one dinner. However, my selection of which meals went where this week was quite heavily influenced by work — I moved the tuna pasta dish to Monday to counter a ridiculously sumptuous free lunch I had to refuse, for example — and I couldn't work out a model that eliminated this one repetition but was otherwise as effective. (I didn't want to finish on the meat pie, for instance, in case it proved a little disappointing, a suspicion that was somewhat justified.)
One useful end-of-week bonus with the morning muesli was that I got slightly more milk than on the other days — having made sure I never got more than 100ml every other day, this morning I got a little bit more as I finished off the milk. I haven't found eating the muesli at all challenging, but it's nicer when there's just that bit more liquid present.
Arguably the biggest challenge that Friday posed was that it's traditionally the day when people go out for post-work drinks and celebrations. That's not an option given my nothing-outside-the-$25 rules, but it's also a fair reflection of the reality for someone forced to live on this kind of money. If you've got no spare cash, you'll feel lousy about getting shouted drinks by others and knowing you can't kick in for a round when your turn comes.
In my own way, though, I'm still finishing on a high. In completing the Mastercheap challenge, I've demonstrated that you can eat reasonably well on $25 a week, even if you start from an empty pantry, don't fancy a lot of cooking and can't choose to shop in a wide range of locations. Thanks to everyone for reading along, and for the stimulating and informative comments that have flowed. I'll sum up the project fully and draw out its key lessons on Monday.
Lifehacker's Mastercheap experiment sees editor Angus Kidman trying to survive with a weekly food budget of just $25.