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Budget Buster! January 25th

Late last night, myself and my wife calculated my calorie intake for yesterday - it worked out at about 1200 calories - far fewer than I require - and today was to be a busy day. Fortunately however, I have built up a reserve of £1.30 - some of which I have decided to invest in an extra meal today, in an attempt to boost my calorie intake.

Today, I set out to have egg fried rice. I cooked egg fried rice, and I ate egg fried rice. I enjoyed the egg fried rice. I will cook and eat egg fried again, although, given my remaining budget, and lack of butter or oil, perhaps not this month.

How today's £1.28 was spent:

Porridge £0.17

Cheese toastie £0.35

Egg fried rice £0.41

Minestrone £0.31

The darkness that dwells beneath

if this diet seems attractive to you, consider seeking help. Extreme weight loss requires medical supervision. I detox on an annual basis, and am sufficently familiar with how my body looses and gains weight, not to be overly alarmed at the weight loss to date.

When I started this challenge, I performed a little risk assessment - reading up a little on eating disorders, and things like calorie intake - I've never trained in any nurtitional science, but am smart enough to know that what you eat is very important.

One of the key risks I identified involved what is known as "The Basal metabolic rate" my reading suggests that this is the energy required to power your organs - below which, I suspect, serious harm can be caused to ones self.

Given that I have already found that I am spending 60% of what a recent study suggested is required to live healthily, I decided quite early on that whilst performing this stunt, I would keep energy expenditure ( ie exercise ) to a reasonable minimum, limit the diet to one month, and cease it should I feel ill or unwell at any point.

I've also tried to have days where I eat what feels like three normal meals a week, and have carefully watched my weight to ensure that after the initial drop, a more balanced rate of weight loss occured.

None of these measures are sufficient if I constantly eat less than I need and cause myself physical harm.

At the start of this project, I set out to spend on food and drink, on average, £1 a day in January. I am now into the last week, and have both £1.55 in cash and what should be a food surplus, having spent £22.70 over a 24 day period. I have been pessimistic when working out my daily totals of food spend to date, so I am hoping that I can make this last week a lot easier on myself.

I'm therefore going to attempt to normalise my diet a little in these final seven days - using both reserves, and raising my daily average spend to £1.18 for the last week - thus still keeping me under the £31 aim for january spending, and hence the £1 per day average.

I kick started this "last lap" plan with 4 meals today - deciding to have a cheese toastie for elevenses.

Lunch

Never having cooked egg fired rice before, lunch was a little bit of a journey into the unknown for me. Choosing Egg fried rice was not without risk for me, as I used up the last of the butter - leaving the wrapper in the fridge more out of desperation than an realistic attempt to keep anything in reserve.

I decided that half an onion, fried until soft, would be a good starting point for this dish prior to adding the rice. Onion frying in butter is a delicous smell, that set the taste buds going. Regretably, after adding the rice, it soon became clear that ideally, I would need more butter or oil to fry this quantity of rice than a few grammes of butter. I did, however, manage to add the egg yolks and assemble a half decent attempt at egg fried rice, before I decided the plate was a more appropriate end point for my dish than wielding it to the frying pan.

Ingredients Egg fried Rice

ItemCost
2 Egg yolks£0.12
12g butter£0.05
25g chilli sauce£0.07
75g Rice£0.04
Half Onion£0.04
100g Mixed veg£0.09
Total£0.41

In hindsite, I could have used half the amount of egg ( or double the amount of rice ) and still had a good dish, but that's being unfairly critical on a great plate of food. I can well imagine using egg fried rice as a delicious base to serve left over chicken, in the future. Egg fried rice is another dish that will last a lot longer than this diet - so thanks Sue, for the suggestion - every mouthfull was wonderfull.

I'm writting this after my dinner of thawed minestrone - and for the first time in some time, I feel satisfied, full and content. I've eaten varied meals, have had a good day sorting things around the house, and will go to sleep tonight, with 6 days remaining of my challenge, a very happy man.

From the mailbag

I was most greatful to recieve a shopping tip from a fellow Aldi Shopper!

Hi, I think you are doing a great job with your challenge. I was thinking about you when I wandered round Aldi yesterday. I noticed they have those little packs of noodles for 18p and thought you could cook the noodles plain and use some of your frozen veg with the curry flavouring sachet and either oats or lentils to thicken it. Just an idea.

Good luck with your last week. Eileen.

Eileen, via contact form

Eileen - thanks for the idea. I have 50g of orphaned lentils left, and an 18p pack of noodles may add a bit of variety to my diet. At 28p for lentils and noodles, that could make an excellent choice for a fourth meal one day this week - it'll be something to consider, on my last shop, amongst other choices such as £1.25 bacon, 15p yoghurt and 15p rice pudding.

Conclusion

Having overspent by 10p above my last week £1.18 limit today, I need to make sure that I plan how best to use my existing food, and what I should spend my last £1.54 on to gain maximum benefit.

I have also solved my dillemma of what to do with myself after the challenge. In february, I aim to stabilise my weight, and begin to train for the Great North Swim - which I have entered this year. I hope this months crazy challenge marks the beginning of a year I can look back on in the future as "My Year".

Totals to date

Cash Spent£29.46
Value of Food Consumed:£23.98
Waste£0.09
Cash to spend:£1.54
Days Remaining:06