While I have done a bit of traveling while doing this $1 a day challenge, today was the first day that I traveled by plane. There was a company that wanted to meet me to do some writing for them and paid for me to fly down to LA for the day. That meant that I needed to do a little planning for my meals during the day.
The plan was to get up a bit early, have a nice breakfast and make some food that I could take along with me on the plane. Unfortunately, that plan went completely down the drain when I hit the snooze on my alarm clock three times. When I finally came to my senses, the overriding question wasn't what I would be eating that day, it was whether or not I was going to make my flight.
Not being able to prepare food when traveling causes all kinds of havoc when you are on a tight food budget. Due to the overwhelming time constraints, making something for breakfast wasn't an option. There wasn't even time to pour myself a bowl of cereal to eat. Normally in a situation like this, I would just head to the airport and grab a bite to eat there, but with airport food prices, that was not a viable option. All I could do is grab a banana and fill a small container with Kashi cereal as I headed out the door to the airport:
I did manage to catch my flight (barely) and was rewarded with a glass of orange juice on the flight down:
The company did take me out to lunch so I had the chance to eat a nice restaurant meal for the first time in over a month (since I regularly ate out before this challenge began, I am surprised it had been so long). I also realized that my cooking really does suck. Granted, I have a limited amount of ingredients to work with, but even if I did have everything, I can pretty much guarantee whatever I made wouldn't turn out as appetising as the meal I had.
I believe what I ordered was called Chicken Picolla, but I could be totally off. It was grilled chicken with roasted vegetables and it was delicious. When I can even come close to making a dish like this, I will declare absolute victory in this challenge:
The biggest realization was that I desperately need to learn how to use spices better. The meal has so much more flavor than the typical meal that I have been eating. I also realized that I have a long way to go in this cooking adventure.
I assumed that I would be back home to fix myself a late dinner (my plane was supposed to arrive back home at 7:30). That was a bad assumption. Due to plane mechanical problems, my 6:30 flight was delayed to 8:30 meaning I had nothing to eat and 2 extra hours to kill.
Being stuck in an airport on a limited budget with no food while hungry just is not a lot of fun. I spent most of the time seriously debating whether getting a small frozen yogurt was worth sacrificing the cost of 5 days worth of food. I ran the numbers countless times knowing that I had built up a cushion and actually walked up t the counter a couple of times before regaining my senses and doing my best to suppress the hunger.
One of the things that I said I wanted to avoid during this challenge was the feeling of being hungry and I definitely failed that today, but I just couldn't bring myself to spend $5 knowing how much food that would mean if I properly used it with coupons and sales to buy food. I should have been better prepared with snacks on the chance that something like this would happen and I have learned my lesson that I need to prepare better when traveling.
I finally made it back home at 10:00 pm and I was so tired that I simply poured myself a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios and went straight to bed…
This is the current list of food I still have
This is the current list of what I have purchased:
Money Spent $38.66
Money left to spend: $22.34 ($5.04 must be spent at CVS)
Retail Value of everything bought: $1023.17
The Beginning ::: Day 55: Should I Be Able To Forage Food From Private Property?
Mistakes can cost money. I encourage you to keep at it, but next time, to avoid breaking the hunger rule, use your cushion – that’s what its there for!
If your sister does makes a deal of it, you could sacrifice the $5 you would have spent – to charity.
Restaurants use a ton of salt and msg to make their food taste better. It’s fine once in awhile but I wouldn’t want to be the arteries of someone who eats out all the time.
I know it doesn’t help you now, but for next time you have a flight, you might try to prepare all your snacks and meals the day before. That way, you can just grab them as you head out the door.
Here is a recipe for twice baked potatoes using the ingredients that you have on hand. This recipe is very adaptable, you may use any type of cheese or vegetables. You may add pre-cooked meats as well.
Twice Baked Potatoes
• 1 baking potatoe, scrubbed clean
• ½ teaspoon olive oil (you may sub. Same amount of mayo)
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ cup cream cheese
• ½ cup frozen spinach
• 2 tablespoon sour cream
• Garlic powder, to taste
• Dried onions, to taste
• salt, to taste
• pepper, to taste
• 1/4 cup grated cheese
• paprika (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 F.
Rub potatoes with olive oil or mayo and sprinkle with salt. Prick in several spots with a fork. Place on a shallow baking pan 6 inches apart and bake until center is soft, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
When potatoes are cool enough to handle, slice each one in half lengthwise. Carefully scoop out the soft flesh, leaving 1/4-inch rim around the potato skin, and place flesh in a mixing bowl. Set skins aside to stuff later.
Mash the potatoes with a fork or masher (do not use a mixer). A few small lumps are good for flavor and texture, so do not try to get them perfectly smooth. Stir in cream cheese, sour cream, spinach, salt, pepper and other seasonings to taste.
Spoon mashed potato mixture into the potato skins and return to the baking tray. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese, and optional paprika. (May be made in advance to this point. Cover and refrigerate or freeze.)
Return to the 400-degree F. oven and bake about 30 minutes until potatoes are lightly browned and heated through.
your willpower is better than mine! Way to resist the temptation.
Using spices effectively probably isn’t going to happen on your budget, unless you bend the rules and stock up on spices a little. Meals like those at gourmet restaurants involve cardamon and turmeric, not pepper and garlic salt.
However you should consider growing herbs now that you can garden. Fresh herbs taste so good in food, it’s almost hard to go wrong. Throw them in everything.
You might be able to buy spices if you can find somewhere that has bulk bins. I’ve bought a larger amount of spice than I’d get in a container at a supermarket for only 60 cents from the Whole Foods bin. You could probably buy spices a teaspoon or so at a time for a few cents.
simple potato recipe
Spices do make a big difference, but make sure they are quality spices, or you could end up with tasteless ones. #LFMF
Someone suggested Whole Foods bins, which is good bcz you can test before buying.
And the person who suggested growing fresh herbs…that’s the way to go if you can swing it. There’s nothing like fresh basil; dried just doesn’t come close, IMO.
I know it doesn’t help you now, but I believe all the coupons for spices usually start showing up in the fall, AFTER all the back to school coupons. I think you’re doing a great job, and you’ve inspired me to start couponing again. I learned at Hotcouponworld. 🙂
I few spice mixes might be a better choice if you don’t have bulk spice bins in your area. Also, although some cheap spices like those found at Big Lots, Aldi, and Save-a-lot for $.50 – $1.00 have little/no taste the stronger tasting ones are still flavor full. Things like garlic powder, onion powder, cinamon, rosemary, chili powder, and Itailian herb mix. Just be careful not to buy any spice salts (i.e. garlic salt, onion salt etc.) you are paying for mostly salt and by the time you add enought to taste the spice it is too salty.
I usually get my spices and herbs at CVS or Walgreens when they run a sale on them and you have some ECBs and a $5 off of $20 coupon. Italian Seasoning can do wonders to many meals. We also use a lot of basil, parsley, garlic powder, thyme, cumin, paprika, etc. Even if you only get one every couple of weeks at 99 cents, it will last a long time.
If you know you have to be somewhere early, set up your breakfast the night before. Package it to go.
Did the people you visited in LA to have lunch with think it was odd when you whipped out the camera to photograph the food? I imagine that was a funny moment 🙂
Yes — and I actually debated about whether or not I should do it. All turned out OK and I just said that it was part of a project i was working on.
Do you have a Penzy’s Spices near you? If you sign up for their catalogue, you get a coupon for a different free spice each month (6 weeks? I’ve never kept track). in the past 6 or 8 months, I’ve racked up free 1/4 jars of cinnamon, dill, grilling spices and some sort of a chili powder. And I’ve passed up a few that I’m allergic to – although will donate to charity next time thanks to inspiration from your blog!