Well, it’s day three of The $35 Challenge and I have to say I’m a little…fatigued. Last night’s dinner was an inspired but ultimately unimpressive pasta bake in four layers – a tomato-tuna-zuchini-garlic-penne layer, a spanikopita filling layer (half a portion), the pasta again and a layer of bechemal. It was fine, but it was 9:00pm by the time we ate it and I have to admit I was pretty over it by then. That’s a recipe which needs some work, maybe it’ll make an appearance here once it’s fixed. We’re eating a lot of veg, but we’re also eating a lot of carbs, more than usual. We started off with pizza, we’ve had three days of porridge breakfasts, and dinner leftovers for every lunch.

Shopping at the Markets
To be honest, after all the veg we bought, I’m doing a worse job of cooking balanced meals than I expected. The big shop at Paddy’s Markets was relatively stress free; the two of us had $70, we’d spent $10 on pizza ingredients and bought a steak at the butcher, so we went into the markets with about $55 in our pockets. Putting aside $20 for the non-fruit-and-veg items (and inspired idea on the part of my beau), we roved the markets that Sunday arvo and we were ruthless. Brocollini $3.50? Tell ‘em they’re dreaming. Hard tofu $2.30 for 500g? Well, silken firm is $3 for 900g, so that’s the one we’ll get. We came out with everything we were after (or substitutions) and money to spare.

Shopping at Aldi
Our next stop was Aldi, where we planned to buy tinned beans, tuna, flour and pasta. At this point it was about 2pm and we were pretty damn hungry, so we decided we needed to make a lunch decision stat. We went with pork sausages at $2.99 for a pack and a discount loaf of fluffy white bread, to be served with salad. The whole bill came to only $11.50 for 9 items. I spent another $2.95 today for tinned tomatoes and milk. At 59 cents a tin for tomatoes and $1.19 for a litre of full cream milk, I did pause briefly and consider whether or not someone producing these goods could ever make a decent wage. But to be honest, on this budget, that kind of concern is a luxury we can’t afford.

Total Spend
In total, we’ve spent $62.85. And when I look at the numbers on the receipts from Aldi, they are so so low. At an estimate those tomatoes and milk would’ve cost twice that price at my local IGA, and the quality would be no better. That raises another question – that of proximity to cheap food. It’s easy for me to walk the half hour to aldi and pick up a few things for my two person household. But what if you have kids? Or what if you live 50 ks from the nearest large market or supermarket? Or don’t have a car? Or there’s no public transport? It’s a lovely thought that we could all shop at local markets, but if I rock up to Eveleigh Farmer’s Market of a weekend, it’s unlikely I’ll be able feed my household for a week on less than $200.

The final numbers
In the week prior to the challenge this year, our household (2 people) spent a total of $519 on food and drink. $519. On food and drink. Yes there was booze in there, but only eighty bucks. It’s an average daily household spend of $74, $37 per person per day. So basically, this week, we are spending less money of food in a week than we would usually spend in one day.

It’s not too late to support The $35 Challenge. During Anti-Poverty Week, from October 14-20, you have $5 a day to spend on food. By experiencing poverty for just 7 days, we come to a better understanding of the realities and stresses of living in poverty. By blogging or tweeting this experience, we can raise awareness of an issue so often swept under the rug. And by donating the remainder of the money we would usually spend on food to Foodbank, we can make a real difference. For more info, click here.

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9 Responses to The big spend and the big shop

  1. Miss Piggy says:

    Your points about proximity to “cheap” food are all so valid. Not everyone is close to an Aldi (or the like); and whilst some people may be concerned with organics or free-range there’s little they can do about it on such a tight budget.
    Miss Piggy recently posted…Ibu Oka, Ubud (Bali)

    • Lau says:

      It’s made me realise how incredibly lucky I am, even something like….buying free range eggs. I completely take that for granted.

  2. I admire you, I really do. I buckle at the thought of doing anything like this.
    john@heneedsfood recently posted…Bai Tong Thai – Tempe

    • Lau says:

      You know, everyone keeps saying to me ‘Oh, I don’t think I could do it.’ But you could. And if you had to, you would.

  3. Well done for raising awareness. Unfortunatly the “Healthy options” (fresh fruit and veg) normally are more expensive compared to the staples (carbs)
    Flick Your Food recently posted…Truffle Hunting in Orange

  4. Gaby says:

    Congrats for doing it again! I haven’t done the calculations but my guess is that you do better than getting bloated on starches and still be on a budget. For example, getting the cheapest cuts of meat instead of steak. Also, rice is much better than wheat, and also cheap. Just throwing in some ideas in case you decide to repeat the challenge next year.
    Gaby recently posted…Review: Grappa (Leichhardt)

    • Lau says:

      You’d be proud of me, last night we had dahl, spinach with coconut and brown rice. Delicious and filling.

      I agree simple carbs are not the way to go. And this week was no time to experiment with my zany pasta bake.

  5. “on this budget, that kind of concern is a luxury we can’t afford.”

    This is one of my central concern with ethical consumption as some kind of cure-all for all our problems – it equates voting power in society with how much money you happen to have. Great points and I hope it’s still on next year, would like to do this myself!

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