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$21 Challenge Wrap-up August 17, 2010

Posted by tuimeltje in food.
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So I had a go at not spending more than €16 on food for a week.
Turned out to be fairly easy and I don’t think I even spent all I could even though I subtracted some for using spices I already had. I’m not sure, but I probably could’ve gotten away with subtracting the oil allowance as well.
I’ll still have to adjust my shopping list, at the very least for that stupid nata de coco purchase, so I should maybe do that before making such claims.
Not only did I (probably) spend less than I could, I actually have a fair bit of the foodstuffs left. Two tomatoes, about half the carrots, a good bit of the rice, a decent amount of yellow split peas, one bell pepper, the tomato paste and passata…
Part of this is due to my shoddy and not-very-varied cooking, no doubt, but still. €16 actually buys me a fair bit. If I ever learn to apply budgeting, trying to get by on €10/week might be an interesting challenge.

I’m honestly not sure how much I learned about living within a very restricted (food)budget.
Sure, I examined my privileges for a bit, but for the most part I was already aware of them and I’ve known just how much of a lucky bastard I am for a good while now.
The mild annoyance of having to watch what I bought, not giving in to those “want” was interesting and makes me realise how tricky it can be to stick with a budget, especially long-term, especially if it’s by necessity rather than choice, but I still have no clue what it’d be like to have to live like that for a good while rather than choose to for a week or so. Especially not if that life also involved feeding other people besides myself, while also raising those people all the while having a good go at some job or other.
Still, I’m very glad I participated. It’s good to know how little you can get away with, and having a little taste of how some people live and think on your own luck is a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

This week I’m having a go at not buying groceries at all* and preparing meals only using foods I already have. This will hopefully balance out my tendency to buy foods that seem handy but end up not getting eaten for a good while.

*except perhaps a loaf of bread. I’ve not yet decided on that one. I might also buy some foods for the weekend as I’ll be spending it at some group acco with a bunch of people I don’t actually know and who may well be overwhelmingly omni and unsure on what to feed a vegan. Best to be prepared.


Privilege August 11, 2010

Posted by tuimeltje in food, life.
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So far, this $21 challenge is not actually too difficult.
Perhaps €16 buys a decent week’s food around here.
Perhaps I’ve not planned properly and and the whole thing will start to become really annoying once the weekend arrives and I’ve a few more days to go without enough money to get me proper meals. Seeing as I suck at planning and therefore didn’t actually plan anything, this is a very real possibility.
We’ll see.

Anyway, while my lack of planning abilities would make living like this long-term a bit more difficult, there are certain things that definitely made it easier for me to begin with. I probably don’t realise all of them, the way privilege works and all, but here are the ones I’m aware of. Please tell me if you think there’s some I missed.

Several ways in which I’m privileged food-wise:

  • My brain works in a way that allows me to do my daily things quite easily.
  • I have easy, at-home internet access for recipes and food information and my language skills are good enough to understand a lot of it.
  • I’ve had a basic education on what kinds of food are healthy and was raised in a way that featured those foods in abundance.
  • I have no one but myself to take care of.
  • I have time to prepare meals and check out several places for my groceries.
  • I live within walking distance of three supermarket chains, of which two are considered discount supermarkets. All sell a good variety of fresh foods.
  • I have several small ethnic shops nearby, which widens my food options and access to (relatively) cheap foods.
  • I have a very wide choice in supermarkets and ethnic food markets within bikeable distance.
  • I live within bikeable distance from at least two large second-hand shops where I can get cheap kitchen things.
  • I live in an urban area with good public transport which I’m able to use for free most weekdays because I’m a student.
  • I live in a country where I’m not that likely to have to choose between buying food or paying for medical care.
  • I have family and friends getting me in touch with free kitchen swag (immersion blender, fridge, microwave, food processor,
    plates, cutlery, mugs) or gifting me some. A good many things in my kitchen were given to me, especially the more expensive things.
  • Should I be in trouble, those people would be able to help me out.
  • I generally have enough money to buy bulk to same money in the long run and I have space to store things.
  • Soft June 25, 2008

    Posted by tuimeltje in dinner, non-food veganness, rant.
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    Today kind of sucks on the vegan product front. First I read some disconcerting stuff about palm oil and Earth Balance (see also this post), and while we don’t actually get Earth Balance here, palm oil seems to become more common and is probably found in vegetable margarines here, as well. The one I have refuses to specify which plant fats it uses, but Alpro minarine lists something palm on the package.
    Of course, the other options might not be neutral, either.
    Then I re-read about Ecover losing it’s vegan logo (Dutch forum, but the first message with most of the relevant info is largely in English) and learn that the owner of Ecover is also rather high up at the company in charge of guarding the Guantanamo Bay prisoners. Which, apart from making me want to look into making my own laundry soap and washing-up liquid a bit more seriously (this looks interesting, if I can find properly vegan soap flakes), also has me wondering if Alpro‘s beliefs are little more than a clever marketing ploy making us feel good and slightly smug about using their products. It’s quite possibly better than some alternatives, but that doesn’t automatically make it good, now does it?
    I hate this world sometimes.

    Anyway, on to the food.

    While I had intended to make two different things with the two leftover aubergines, I found them with icky bits today. And after cutting off the icky bits, I didn’t think I’d be able to properly hold them for roasting. So, Bonnie’s baba ganoush suggestion will have to wait until I get me some more auberines. I definitely want to see if I can properly roast them on a candle flame.

    Instead, I used what was left to make this PPK recipe I found while looking for peanut soup. I didn’t have a good few of the ingredients and have no clue how much aubergine I used and how to adjust the other ingredients appropriately, so the amounts are probably a bit off.

    The missing ingredients were the shallots, the hot chili, the ginger, the ground cayenne pepper, the roasted diced tomatoes (I have a can of diced tomatoes, but didn’t feel like adding the whole thing), the green beans, the lemon juice (I have other plans for that lemon. You just wait), the coriander leaves (I have some frozen, but I thing this requires fresh), and the garnish.
    To make up for this, I added part of a pointy red pepper (sweet, not hot), some not-tabasco (which is not particulatly hot, really. Will find new brand should I ever buy more), some kale, a bit of sereh, a tiny bit of kentjur (a ginger-like spice. Never used it before, but found it at the floating Chinese supermarket recently and decided to buy the jar), and your basic black pepper.
    I forgot to take an ingredients picture, so you’ll have to just visualise them this time.

    While I’m not sure I stuck to the recommended cooking/frying times, I did attempt patience with regards to the simmering and the salting. For some reason that bit of the directions seemed important enough to follow.


    It’s nice and comfortably peppery, but somehow I expected something more exciting. It’s kind of like a spicy satay sauce but with bits in. Not too unexpected. Still, again not too strong a peanutty flavour. I should really make me a proper peanutty soup without adding veg. Though I must say, these finely-chopped-kale cubes make for easier eating than the not-so-finely-chopped gai choy. And the aubergine bits are very nice and soft this time. I’ve certainly had different.

    The soup is a fair bit runnier than I’d expected. I thought it’d be more a kind of stew rather than a soup. It looks thicker on the picture and it’s the sort of thing that I feel should be thicker. Maybe I’ll let it simmer some more so some of the water will evaporate.

    Since the recipe mentions it tastes better the next day, I will refrain from eating the whole thing this evening and leave some to try tomorrow. Of course, after having written this, I want to eat more. Figures.

    ETA 26-06-2008: I heated some up this evening and while I’m not sure I can properly compare and tell you whether it’s improved the way I was told it would, I can tell you it was most tasty. It made me feel pleasantly warm, the kind of warm you get after eating slightly spicy or gingery food. That kind of glow radiating out from your stomach. Comfortable.
    The peanutty flavour was present, but wasn’t that prominent. Like part of the soup rather than the soup. And while I didn’t quite manage to boil it down the way I’d hoped, it did seem to be a little less fluid.
    All in all, it’s a soup I will remember and probably make again some day.

    Should I? November 27, 2007

    Posted by tuimeltje in administrative.

    I’m considering moving my Blogspot vegan food blog here. Once I have a little more time and can transfer everything. Just my luck that my only post so far is rather photo-heavy.

    ETA: seems to have worked just fine, with all the pictures. Nice!