Five days into my week-long IKEA eating experience, I have learned three things. Firstly, there's a fair degree of repetition, which I can live with. Secondly, I miss vegetables. Thirdly, drinking plunger coffee all day is not a valid strategy.
The repetition comes as no surprise, because I've encountered the same issue on previous culinary adventures with odd restrictions (such as Mastercheap). And it's not really because of a lack of variety on offer in the Swedish Food Market.
It's because my Lifehacker-honed combo of efficiency and frugality, combined with the fact I live alone, means that I invariably end up preparing bulk quantities of food and eating them over several days. If I have to purchase a package of 62 meatballs, it makes sense to spread them out over multiple meals. (I don't have the freezer space to purchase entirely independent meals and try everything on the menu either.) It's just as well I like meatballs.
I also like vegetables, and I've been aware right from the start that I wasn't going to get these in the same variety that I would normally require. For that reason, when I arranged with a friend to meet for dinner at IKEA, I headed straight for the salmon plate. The fish itself is a welcome variant, but the big incentive was the side serving of steamed vegetables. Rarely have I been so grateful to see a carrot. I also enjoyed a serve of the vegetable medallions, which I would have been eating regularly if they weren't out of stock when I went shopping.
The big challenge I've been facing all week is coffee. I'm a big consumer of hot drinks: it wouldn't be unusual for me to have five cups each of tea and instant coffee. It creates the rhythm of my working day.
However, IKEA doesn't sell tea; all it has on offer is plunger coffee. I like plunger coffee, but it's much stronger than instant coffee or tea. I know from past experience that if I drink too many cups of it each day, I'll end up with a racing heart and a messy sleep pattern and speech so rapid people will not understand a single word I say. This would not be a good outcome.
So I've been using an odd but slightly effective solution: alternating my cups of coffee with cups of hot water. Not exactly flavourful, but it makes me realise that it's the habit of sipping something that matters as much as the content of the cup. Given the potential impact of caffeine, I should remember that for the future.
Two days to go!