Square Watermelons – Day 50: Eating Well On $1 A Day


One of the biggest problems I have in this challenge is a limited amount of refrigerator and freezer space. Since I am purposefully homeless, I have been staying at family, friends and house sitting these past 50 days and have to co-opt whatever refrigerator and freezer space is available at the place I happen to be. This can make things quite difficult because this doesn't allow me to stock up on any perishable foods. What I need to do is come up with a square watermelon solution.

Japanese houses and apartments tend to be quite a bit smaller than those in the US. This includes the Japanese refrigerators. Since watermelons are big and round, they tend to waste a lot of valuable space when placed in the refrigerator. Most farmers would simply tell consumers that watermelons grow round and there is nothing that can be done about it, but some Japanese farmers took a different approach and asked themselves, “How can we help people with a limited amount of refrigerator space?” It wasn't long before they invented the square watermelon.

square watermelons

The solution to the problem of round, bulky watermelons wasn't nearly as difficult to solve for those who didn't assume the problem was impossible to begin with. They simply asked how it could it be done. It turns out that all you need to do to get a square watermelon is place a watermelon into a square box when it's growing and the watermelon will take on the shape of the box:

square watermelon box

I need to come up with a square watermelon solution to my current refrigerator / freezer space problem so that I can stock more perishable food in the coming days. Anyone out there have an elegant suggestion?

Fruit Smoothie

I had a bit of leftover fruit which I had gathered at the farmer's market which allowed me to deviate a bit from the usual blackberry banana morning smoothie I had been drinking. It was mostly strawberries and peaches and it added a fruity flavor which was a nice change of pace:

fruit smoothie

fruity smoothie

Peanut Butter Pancakes with Blackberry Banana Topping

For some unfathomable reason, the thought of peanut butter pancakes sounded really delicious to me. I followed the regular Bisquick recipe (cut in half) and added 1/4 cup of peanut butter as well. I then mashed up some blackberries and banana for the topping. Unfortunately, the actual taste wasn't nearly as inspiring as the thought of how I imagined they would taste. They were good and I would have no problem making them again, but they weren't an “I want to eat this everyday” combination.

peanut butter pancakes

Chicken Sandwich & Veggie Pasta Soup

For lunch, I needed to use up the last of the chicken deli style meat if I didn't want to have to throw it out. I made a chicken sandwich on whole wheat toast with Miracle Whip, lettuce, tomatoes and pepper. I also had the rest of the veggie noodle soup which seemed to have a bit more of a pepper kick to it (not sure how that happened since I didn't add anything new to it) than the first time I ate it:

chicken sandwich and pasta soup lunch

I really had to struggle on whether to make the sandwich or simply throw out the meat. I know that a lot of the readers view it as processed food and unhealthy. I could have easily thrown it out and never missed it with the current food I have, but ultimately decided that it was better to finish it rather than waste it.

Egg Fried Rice

Since I had a lot of the veggie rice left over, I decided to take it and turn it into fried rice. I simply added oil to a pan, added the veggie rice along with half a chopped onion and an egg:

fried rice

It was a bit bland for my image of fried rice that I often ate in Japan which uses ham and soy sauce to make it much more flavorful. Again, something I would definitely make again, but I would try to make some adjustments to bring a bit more flavor to it.

This is the current list of food I still have
This is the current list of what I have purchased:

Money Spent $37.50
Money left to spend: $23.50 ($1.33 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of everything bought: $995.24

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The Beginning ::: Day 51: Should I Be Allowed To Buy Things For Others To Get Free Food?

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12 Responses to Square Watermelons – Day 50: Eating Well On $1 A Day

  1. Andrea says:

    I use a melon baller on my melon and store it in tupperware in the fridge. Only messy once when you are cutting it, then it makes it an easy snack.

  2. Carla says:

    I grew up in the south and ate orange meated watermelons. How unique a square watermelon. Makes sense to me. I have been reading about your betsince my sister turned me to your blog. I am truly amazed and proud of you for doing what you are doing.
    Here is my money saving meal:
    Saute onion, garlic til soft in pan, add tomatoes (either fresh or canned) to the sauted veggies add some chicken broth or water then add some elbow macaroni (or any other shaped macaroni) put lid on pot or pan and cook until pasta is cooked. I usually add some carrots and zucchini to my mixture and it is really yummy and doesnt cost that much. If you don’t have the tomatoes use what pasta sauce you have on hand. Also if you think your bread is going stale or about to ruin, make homemade bread crumbs by putting it into a blender or food processor and grating, store in ziploc bags in freezer. Good for breading meat, using as filler in meatloaf, meatballs, or sprinkling on top of cassoroles to make crunchy. I can’t wait to see what else you come up with.

  3. Rebecca says:

    A bit tip to get things tight into small spaces is to use square/ rectangular storage containers, not round. they stack tight and its amazing what can be fit into fridges. cutting up fruit and veggies into more storable sizes works good too, although it can cut down on the length of time an item can be stored before it spoils.

    same thing applies to pantry storage.

  4. Malik says:

    There’s also the option of dehydrating the fruits or vegetables. Dried foods take up about 1/10th the room as fresh.
    Granted, they can be a bit tricky to do if you don’t know how, which is why I didn’t mention dried meats also.
    Basically, to dry fruits or vegetables, slice the food thinly (uniform slices will let the food dry more evenly), then distribute it on whatever surface will A: get sufficient air to carry away the moisture, and B: allow you to get the food back off of it fairly easily. Aluminum foil + banana = eating metal; I’ve used quickpoint needlepoint canvas (moderately close plastic mesh) as a drying surface, or, with care, a jelly roll pan/cookie sheet.
    You actually don’t need heat to dehydrate, though it’s handy.

  5. Megan says:

    For your refrigerator woes, have you thought about a large cooler? You can probably get ice from those same freezers you’re trying to squeeze into, and if you add some salt to your ice, it should stay nice and cold. That has the added advantage of having everything in one easy-to-move container – not to mention keeping your stuff cold while in transit.

    Make sure you get a cooler that’s insulated in the lid, though. Many aren’t, and they don’t work as well.

  6. Eris says:

    A little diced fresh ginger and garlic will help your fried rice if you can swing it.

  7. Gayle says:

    Since you are largely nomadic, frozen food will be a challenge. I assume you use some type of cooler to transport your perishable items. We often use a small soft-sided cooler on wheels that we got from Sam’s Club – it has a plastic insert that zips out to put cold packs. If we keep it closed, it’ll hold frozen items pretty frozen for 8-12 hours (depending on how full it is, ambient temps, etc). The more you put in, the longer it will stay cold. If you wind up w/ Capri Suns again or other juice/non-carbonated beverages, freeze those also, as space allows. You could even buy Fuji waters (which are square) purely for use as cold packs (if that’s allowed).

    I agree that square/rectangular storage containers are the most space-saving.

    My husband, who is Thai & loves to cook, had a few ideas. Since you seem to be in a fairly urban area, try to find an Asian market/grocery store. They have great prices on fruit & produce without coupons. Buy a small bottle of soy sauce. Soy sauce is the ideal ingredient to add umami, or ‘savoriness’, to food. You could add it to your fried rice, stir frys, & soups to make the flavor more satisfying. Short of that, try adding a bit of boullion cube to your fried rice – it won’t be quite the same, but it should make it much more flavorful.

  8. Nicole says:

    Refrigeration and freezer space seems to be your biggest issue here. I agree about using the square containers, but when you only have so much room, there is only so much room. Another option for your frozen veggies is to can them. It is much easier than you would believe. While you cook them them, run your jars and everything through the dishwasher on the pots and pan setting to serilize them. Pour your HOT veggies and cooking water (for packing) in the jars, wipe of top and place lids and screw lids on. There are some great videos on youtube that explain how to can. It really is the simplest thing. :) Then you just refrigerate what you have opened and not finished, and your jars are a one time purchase, since you use them over and over again as you use up and purchase new food. They also come in different sizes, and althought the jars tend to be round in nature they do make them with flat sides so fitting in tighter spaces (square watermelon) is easier and more compact.

    Hope this might help solve your problem. :)

  9. Beth says:

    Thank you for taking my request to heart! It really doesn’t matter has ‘sensitive’ your palate is or not — the ones that rnk better to you are likely to taste better to others.

    Even if your “best” gets calibrated down to ‘somewhat better than average’ to another person. 😉

  10. Laura says:

    I think Peanut Butter is really good On Top of pancakes.

  11. pepsibookcat says:

    I just had a talk with my 11 year old son. We are going to do a $60 challenge in August. At first, we talked about starting on Thurs. and doing July, but I have no coupons or anything. I need to spend July gathering and learning. Also, I’ll have a chance in July to go to the nearest city, and I’ll scope out the grocery shopping there with an eye towards how to use strategically timed trips to the city in coming months.

    However, what my son doesn’t know is that I’m trying for $80 in July. 😉

    August will have a helpful component for me in that he goes back to school the last 3rd of the month and will eat his breakfast and lunch at school on weekdays. The free breakfast/lunch program is a HUGE help. I’ve been struggling this summer to buy enough groceries to feed my little bottomless pit growing boy 10 more meals a week. *sigh*

  12. SarahMich says:

    I always find that if you let soups or stews sit for a while, their flavor intensifies, so I’m not surprised it tasted different the second time.

    Also, re: bland fried rice. Garlic, ginger or soy sauce – or some combination of two or three of those- would kick up the flavor a notch.