Mastercheap Raw Day 2: Stewed, Mashed, Grilled

Day 2 of the Mastercheap Raw challenge was Sunday: no need to go anywhere, and a host of vegetable-centric dishes to prepare. But first let's talk about breakfast.

Today's menu

Breakfast: 1/3 cup of quick oats, cooked with 1/2 cup milk and served with 2 spoonfuls stewed apple

Lunch: Sweet carrot mash

Dinner: Grilled potato fritters, steamed beans with margarine

Snacks: 3 pieces shortbread

Hot drinks: 8 cups black tea

My breakfast strategy

My usual breakfast is a serve of store brand muesli with skim milk, which is actually what I had during the last Mastercheap challenge (though I don't have to be as careful with the milk usually as I did then, when I would carefully measure 100mls each day). That's not purely a question of being stingy: research by CHOICE suggests that store brand muesli is just as good as the pricier alternatives. However, it's not an option for Mastercheap Raw, since the aim is to make everything myself. Making my own muesli would be fun, but the budget wouldn't stand for it.

The breakfast which comes closest and stays affordable is quick oats. I know from prior experience that eating it on its own would be dull. I could sweeten it with sugar (there's plenty left over from the shortbread I made on day 1), but that also seems an unhealthy strategy and more importantly, it's not something I usually do. Eating on this kind of budget involves compromises, but I don't see that it has to involve eating something you wouldn't ever contemplate normally.

Ultimately, I settle on buying a couple of apples, stewing them up (with water and a very little of the sugar) and using those as a garnish. Two days in, I've settled on cooking the oats for 60 seconds (rather than the suggested 90). The super-cheap option would be cooking them with water, but that tastes less good and milk is my only notable source of calcium this week.

It's a pleasant enough start to the day and very filling, but in all truth I can't imagine choosing to continue with it when the week is over.

So many vegetables

When I planned the menu, I knew Sunday would be the day I'd be at home, so I could set lunch options that wouldn't be feasible in the office, and a dinner that wasn't something I was super-confident in cooking. On workdays, I'll be tired enough to not want to try anything too elaborate, though "elaborate" is an extraordinarily relative term here. I also want to save my big protein hits — the tuna and more of the eggs — for the working week.

Carrots are one of the three staple vegetables I've purchased: largely as snacks, but also for occasional meals. Sunday is one of those days. After a few sessions of Googling, I settled on sweet carrot mash: four carrots, cooked together, then mashed with a little table spread, milk and sugar. I don't have a lot of flavouring options, so using the sugar is a good choice. It's a palatable dish which I could imagine serving as a side dish, though adding cinnamon (as most recipes suggest) would definitely improve it.

Dinner takes in two of the other staple vegetables: a bed of green beans with grilled potato fritters on top. That sounds much fancier than the reality: grated potato formed into clumps with a little butter and flour, then grilled. It looks astonishingly ragged, but it tastes really good — and it's as close as I'll get to a bread-like texture this week.

A note about the tea

Yeah, eight cups of tea sounds like a lot: even back when I did Mastercheap, seven was the highest I went. But one thing I should point out: for all these drinks, I used one teabag in a teapot, each of which produced two serves. So it's not quite the caffeine overdose you might think.

Some commenters have questioned whether the tea was a worthwhile investment. Hot drinks are very much part of my daily routine, and I genuinely don't think the disruption of trying to drop them would be worth it. The alternative would have been coffee, but cheap tea is, in my experience, much nicer than cheap coffee. It's also much lower in price! As it stands, I'll have more than half the teabags left for next week. In a month-long budget, I'd have gone the 200-pack, which would have been even less expensive.

Tomorrow's a different challenge: a full day in the office. How will that go?

Lifehacker’s Mastercheap Raw experiment sees editor Angus Kidman living for a week with a food budget of just $25 and only basic ingredients.


Comments

    My god. I'll show you what i can do with $30, cause apparently you write better articles then you can cook. Maybe you like cooking 1950's food who knows?

      Actually, it's $25. As I've noted before, I'm always open to alternative suggestions -- but a lot of people make general "I could do better" comments and then ignore the budget, or raid their pantry, or multiply out the recipes for several people, all of which I've clearly stated aren't happening here.

        Hi Angus - have you ever looked at a "grow/ scavenge your own" challenge? With enough notice, that'd give you enough time to plant out a heap of veges, organise a fishing/ hunting trip, or volunteer somewhere that will provide a free meal?

          That's a thought -- my fishing skills would need work!

            if u suck at fishing you could always start dumpster diving.

    I highly recommend using your milk and sweetener to cool and provide taste to the oats, while using water (in the microwave) to cook them. This is Mastercheap, and AFAIK the rules basically say "water is free" - and if there's any time to hack the rules, it's now! :--P

    I've taken some inspiration from your stewed apples. Happened to have some cloves and cinnamon in the pantry so I stewed a few up last night and they're a great alternative to my usual brown sugar with my morning oats. Thanks Angus!

    I need a teapot ... hmmm...

    I just read your Day 1 Mastercheap Raw Article, and you wrote about having to go the entire day with just water at WordCamp... Have you considered a trusty Thermos?

    I remember my parents being fond of them when I was a kid, but those older Thermos' had glass inner chambers that would smash, they would leak and be a general pain.
    HOWEVER: Thermos' seem to have come a long way, as I recently bought one on a whim (saw one for 60% off) and discovered they are now made from stainless steel and are bullet proof: cost 15 dollars or so. Thermos name brand: long warranty, doesn't leak and looks good.

    I use it at work, instead of buying tea or coffee in the morning or at lunch, I can whack a stringless-teabag and some water in it on my way out. It paid for itself after 3 days, easy to clean (I think there would be issues if I put milk in it) and stays too-hot-to-drink for about 8 hours. I finally understand why these things are popular.

    Investing in some garlic would do wonders for favour.

      The guy had 55 cents left over when he bought everything, and this was a buffer for fluctuating prices. What garlic can you buy for 50 cents? What if the apples and carrots went up in price by 20 cents that week?
      If you want to make a suggestion, fair enough, but make sure you look at the budget and also suggest what gets substituted.

    what are you doing for protein?

      From the above article, under subtitle "So Many Vegetables" End of Paragraph 1:
      " I also want to save my big protein hits — the tuna and more of the eggs — for the working week."
      So to answer your question: Tuna and eggs. There is also some protein in the UHT milk, and even in the flour and oats. These ingredients are all repeatedly mentioned throughout the Mastercheap articles. READ THEM before asking about them.

        yes i did read that but the way i see it, day 2 really doesn't contain any significant amount of it. assuming he weighs 70kg he should be consuming at least 63g of protein/day.

        i would hazard a guess that with the amounts in the flour (and even the milk) that the daily total isn't close to that

          Day 2 is definitely the day where my protein totals are most likely to be low. On the other hand (as you'll learn in due course), day 3 and 4 have it rather better covered!

    I'm not any kind of expert on the matter, but I'm just curious about the classification of this diet as 'raw', which seems to have been interpreted as requiring all foods to be prepared from scratch. As far as I was aware, raw food diets involve eating uncooked, literally raw food. There are exceptions to the rule in that you can heat some food to a certain limit, and of course many raw foodies dehydrate their food, but as you're boiling and baking you obviously aren't conforming to these rules. Perhaps there are just different types of raw food diets? Definitely not trying to discount this diet/series because I find it really interesting .

      the author's definition, as far as i understand, is that ll INGREDIENTS were purchased raw.

      this is not a raw food diet

        Julian's got it -- it's not a "raw food" diet in the strict sense, but a "raw" version of the previous Mastercheap, in which I didn't set rules on what kind of food I could buy, based on the not-infrequent suggestion that I could have done better with this kind of DIY approach.

          Cool! Thanks for clarifying.

    Angus,

    Sunday must have been hell on that menu!

    I agree that your protien intake is down (planned so, obviously), which means this approach wouldn't suit for longer than the week you're aiming at, in my view (commented on that--late--on your shopping list entry).

    Re: abandoning oats for breakfast. Before you do, and after this 'challenge' is over, try adding some cinnamon to the oats and stirring in about 1/2 cup of frozen berries once cooked with the stewed apple (or not). You could fall back to cooking the oats with water and add the milk after too, as suggested above. In short, don't give up on this nutritious, filling breakfast option just because you're doing it spartan style this week!

    :o)

    Low on protein eh? Do you have any pets?

    Hey Angus, you certainly got peoples tongues wagging and haters are gonna hate! I for one, appreciate what you are attempting and it makes for a interesting and thought provoking read. We could all learn a little trick or two and apply them to our lives and who knows, saving for the next Surface or iPad might be that much easier!

    ANGUS YOU'RE DOING IT ALL WRONG HERE LET ME SHOW YOU HOW TO COOK EVERY MEAL EVER ON EIGHT CENTS A DAY WITH ORGANIC EGGS AND FREE-RANGE VEGETABLES BECAUSE I AM A BETTER HUMAN BEING THAN YOU WILL EVER BE.

    Seriously though, nice going, Angus. You're doing better than I would on a restricted diet like this - I'd have eaten the entire bag of carrots in one day, then sort of...panicked.

    I'm going to try because I need to save for a big move. I see you wrote I know I like the foods I bought so do that .
    These are great as I like them .
    What about a Live Out Of Your Pantry Challenge.
    We all have had foo fads then dropped them because it's a fad.
    I've got soup from soup fad some Asian. .
    I actually turned a soup into one if your suggestions as it was a minestrone.

    I took the soup out abd added beans and garlic and herbs. .that's dinner
    Frozen Vegas I separated into two.
    Carrots and cauliflower in one to mash the rest to boil.
    Oatcakes for breakfast instead of porridge.

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