Mastercheap Raw Day 3: Colleagues And Condiments

Day 3 of Mastercheap Raw saw me heading to the office and a media launch: how will I cope with co-workers stuffing their faces? Plus: I’ve spent the last 50 cents.

Today’s menu

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

Lunch: Diced potatoes with chilli and onion

Dinner: One serve home-made pasta, chilli and mixed vegetable topping

Snacks: 3 pieces shortbread

Hot drinks: 6 cups black tea

The colleague challenge

I hope it’s self-evident that I didn’t cook anything in the main picture. That was just some of the food on offer at Westpac’s media launch for its iPad app (there were also savoury canapes circulating in industrial quantities). My fellow tech writers helpfully filled me in on just how scrumptious the food was, but I didn’t fill myself. This kind of thing is par for the course in this business, which is partially why I’ve been so firm about not accepting free food during Mastercheap; I could easily have fed myself for the day at this one event. That proves nothing (other than that media launches get catered well).

Being ribbed about choosing not to eat the freebies I can take, but something which might prove tougher is dealing with everyone eating lunch at the Allure Media offices. I was working off-site during Mastercheap 2010 and we had half the number of staff, so that was much less of an issue. Now I can smell all the varied options people cook in the office kitchen.

When Gizmodo editor Luke Hopewell rocks into the office with a burger, the aroma is ludicrously tempting — and that’s without considering how much I want the bread. Nearly all my meals this week are being cooked, so I can’t head outside to eat, and even if I did, my colleagues eat at different times. I’m just going to have to wear it and enjoy my steamed dice potato (pre-cooked the night before) with chilli and onion (pre-cooked last Friday). Fortunately, it’s very tasty and filling — so much so that I don’t even feel the urge to eat my afternoon snack of carrots.

Chilli time!

You might recall that I had 55 cents left of my $25 budget after shopping. After musing on it, I’ve decided to spend that in a relatively obvious way: buying two more green chillis. If I have a complaint about the menu so far, it’s that (with the exception of the meals I’ve planned to include my existing onion-and-chilli mix) the only way I can add extra flavour is by using margarine. A condiment of some sort would be welcome (more so than a spare piece of fruit, which is the other thing I could buy at this point or later in the week).

A popular suggestion in the comments has been that I should buy some garlic. I’d love the taste, but 50 cents won’t buy you even a single garlic bulb. Nor will it buy you any packet spices, salt, pepper or mustard. So chilli it is. I’m happy to have it, and immediately incorporate some into dinner. [clear]


Dinner is pasta, which tonight proves rather stickier in the making than Saturday’s meal. Pasta can be like that. It still tastes great though, and the topping of steamed mixed veg is very much enhanced by the swirl of table spread and (more significantly) the chopped chilli strewn throughout. I happily plough through two bowls of it.

I’m feeling very confident with the pasta-making now, but there’s a part of me that regrets putting such carefully hand-made goods with such a basic sauce. Not to mention that tomato-based sauces are still my favourite; I’d happily have done that every time I had pasta if the budget could have incorporated it.

Tomorrow I’ll hit the halfway point, do some more elaborate cooking in the office and eat some tuna. I never thought I’d be so pleased to chow down on fish.

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

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