Your Price Is Way Too High YOU NEED TO CUT IT
I think I’ve finally found the hip hop anthem for all you cheapskate frugalistas (and -os). You can thank me later.
I’ve been using this track (or at least the hook, the rest of the song is trash) to motivate me through my Uber Frugal Month Challenge (UFMC) and #FrugalFebruary (#FF) and let me tell you saving money has never felt so LIT!
But we’ve already been through that, so let’s get back to me eating ALL the things…
I was on call so I didn’t have time to do anything elaborate. I made a rice and raisin pudding for breakfast and then a simple rice with tomato gravy dinner.
Post-call delirium left me inspired. For breakfast I had oats with the works (peanut butter, raisins, cinammon, nutmeg, coconut milk) and buttered toast. For lunch I had the tomato/rice leftovers while my friends teleconferenced me to scold me again about my apparent food-hoarding problem (it’s called stocking up!). I did a final inventory on Google Keep so that I could tick off items on my phone as I used them up, and in the process found some leftover Moroccan stew that I’d forgotten I’d frozen. (Win!)
Oats with the works for breakfast, with hot chocolate (the way I like it) and buttered toast. I had my first fail on this day. A friend had encouraged me (months ago!) to buy this pack of gnocchi. Problem #1: I’d never actually eaten gnocchi before so I had no idea what it was supposed to taste like. Problem #2: The cooking instructions were in a foreign language. Probelm #3: Google and Youtube weren’t helpful (gasp!) on how to make gnocchi that was already prepackaged. So I tried to follow the instructions that I couldn’t read with the help of Google translate, but the result was so unpalatable that I couldn’t stomach it, and I wasn’t willing to bet that that was how gnocchi is supposed to taste. I dumped the pot-full in our garden ( 😦 I hate food waste!) and used up the last of my pasta, cooking up an accompanying stew with different beans and frozen vegetables. I made enough of the latter to freeze leftovers. (Win!)
This has nothing to do with food but since we’re discussing frugality, I bought my aeroplane tickets (via flysafair which had the best prices throughout my comparison period), drew my taxi fare (that would take me from my rural town to the nearest airport containing big city) and bought some fruit (apples, nectarines), yoghurt and bread. I ate the bread with some stew, had an apple and a yoghurt and then napped in preparation for yet another call.
I prepped for my travel. Remembering the budget-drain of convenience food that last time I traveled, I set myself up for success. I also bought a six pack of juice boxes because I was stupid enough to go to a shop under the influence of post-call delerium. As you can imagine, I didn’t actually eat. My body refused to stomach anything while I was so exhausted.
Travel day! After work, I packed my padkos and my luggage. Padkos consisted of three large zip-lock bags, each with a yogurt, a juice box, a nectarine and two apples. One had a leftover minipack of pseudo-oreos, one had an extra juice box and the third had a small packet of raisins. These were my “airport/plane” snacks. I also packed leftover bean stew and a lunchbox with peanut butter sandwiches, peanuts and raisins for the long-distance taxi ride. Once I got to the big city, I spent the night with family and had some slap chips courtesy of the relatives. I also gave one of my zip-lock bags (the oreo one) to someone who was fascinated by the idea of packing food for the aeroplane and said it they told me it seemed like something my grandmother would do (double win!!!). They really enjoyed it (triple win!) so we shared the one with the extra juice box). I then bought some groceries for the house, filled up the petrol and paid for parking. I got given some vegan mac&cheese for the flight (tasty, but far from cheesy). I ate my third ziplock padkos on the plane and then had the mac and cheese while waiting a couple of hours to be fetched from the airport by my friend (who was also post-call and really shouldn’t have been driving!) I’d left my spoon on the plane and so I briefly considered buying something to eat out of embarrassment, then I felt silly worrying about what people who didn’t even know me thought about me, so I ate the meal with my fingers. I’m convinced that made it even more delicious…
I tried to be responsible on leave, and I still tracked my spending on the app, but I can’t really tell you what I ate when and how much of the expense was just me, verses alternating costs with a friend, verses home-cooked meals. What I can say is I enjoyed my leave, had a great time and came in a little underbudget.
On my flight back, I ate a chickpea-rice dish that my grandmother made and it was better than anything I’d ever eaten on an aeroplane! I had a minor oopsie while waiting to be picked up again (I always get hungry waiting!) and bought some chips and sour woms. I didn’t buy water though, I just drank what I’d packed.
I fished out a whole frozen mango (I know!) from the freezer, let it thaw a little and then added some yoghurt, ice, honey and some frozen canned fruit (please don’t ask) with a tablespoon of moringa powder. Blended it all together to make a BOMB Mango smoothie. Then I torpedoed that entire health trip and had slap chips (home-made), buttered toast and some watermelon mint iced tea.
A friend brought a can of dry lemon to work to welcome me back, which I had after my oats with the works. Then I made a veggie soy mince which I had with bread for supper.
I made another smoothie with the leftover frozen canned fruit (and apples, moringa powder, yoghurt, ice) and also had oats with the works. For supper I was so exhausted I could only manage slap chips.
I made a couple of mango smoothies for a friend and I. Then I had leftover veggie soy mince with bread AND an Indian rice and potato dish that a friend’s mom made. I was on call this evening, so I didn’t eat after midday.
I needed something to energise me post-call, so I made a choco peanut smoothie (OMW) and then had leftover soy mince with bread for supper.
I had a choco peanut slushie (extra smoothie that I’d frozen, so the flavour was even more amazing) for breakfast and then I made some pasta to go with the veggie soy mince (the bread was getting old real quick). Unfortunately I had to throw out some Fry’s that was way past its expiry date after hanging out in the back of the freezer for almost a year (!) and then I went and bought some essentials: bread (I know), yogurt and apples. I made another leftover fruit smoothie, had three slices of buttered toast and leftover veggie soy mince pasta.
I made another batch of leftover fruit smoothie (and froze half the batch) then had some slap chips while I made my first ever batch of chakalaka mince (in bulk).
I had the leftover fruit slushie that I’d frozen and then discovered my slap chips had been devoured by ants, which completely killed my appetite. At least that’s what I thought killed my appetite until…
I woke up with tonsillitis! I’d never had it before so I was especially miserable. I tried to have oats with the works for breakfast but when that failed I started loading up with my grandmother’s remedy for everything: Tonsillitis Tea. Basically it’s cayenne pepper, ginger and honey in boiling water left to stand. I added some moringa because if the WHO trusts it, why shouldn’t I? (Yes, my logic left with my appetite). After litres of the tea I actually felt well enough to have some oats with yoghurt and coconut milk.
I bit the bullet and got some antibiotics from work. (Shout out to having doctor friends!) I managed to have a choco peanut milkshake (like the smoothie, but with lots of coconut milk), some applesauce and I slurped down some of my chakalaka tea with spaghetti. After another few litres of Tonsillitis Tea** I was able to eat a real apple!
Tonsillitis tea and antibiotics. Defrosted choco peanut smoothie. More chakalaka soy mince and spaghetti because it was really easy to swallow. Another apple.
A miraculous recovery which I tentatively celebrated by having oats with the works. For lunch I had some Tonsillitis tea and started making some phuthu for umphokoqo, which I had for supper after fishing out and defrosting some frozen maas from the depths of the freezer.
Post call so I skipped breakfast. Quinoa and grilled vegetables for lunch. Umphokoqo for supper (if it were nutritionally sustainable, I’d have just eaten umphokoqo for the rest of the month. But alas, the need for micronutrients…)
Babysitting gig which required me to move into another house and grocery shop like a normal person.
I actually had more fun than I thought I would throughout this challenge. I didn’t keep track of everything I cleared my pantry of, but I did a relatively good job getting my stores whittled down to things that should last ages like spices and condiments and dry ingredients. I managed to get rid of a lot of random freezer stock and it’s made me reconsider my shopping habits going forward. Overall, I spent a total of R2500 less on groceries over that almost-two-month period, which is insane considering that I never felt deprived and was actually forcing myself to add variety (I love food, but I’m a lazy chef) in order to use up ingredients.
Overall, the challenge was a success and I look forward to carrying its principles forward throughout the rest of this year, especially as I try to rebuild my emergency fund and start saving more purposefully towards my Achilles heel. Even if it doesn’t, I’m so amped to have a new song I can associate with my odd frugal ways!
Cut it! Cut it! Cut it! Cut it!
*if you’re observant, you’ll note I sometimes only eat two meals a day. That isn’t 100% a choice, sometimes work doesn’t allow for lunch breaks without prolonging the agony.When I’m in Casualty or Theatre or even Clinics, I eat about four meals a day.
**This isn’t a real thing by the way. My grandmother totally made it up and it’s possible the association with her is what made me feel better, rather than the tea itself. (Although the individual componants have proven antiinflammatory properties, this ain’t a natural remedies blog!)