Below The Line – Day 1 A little groceries, a little thinking.

So here we are, the campaign has finally started. Our dear friend Robert has decided to move in for the week, so we now have a budget of $37.50 for 5 people, for 5 days.

The day started off with one cup of thin coffee with no sugar. We decided to invest in milk and renounce the extra 2-3 morning cups of espresso. Just a half mug to get your day going. Kids had a slice of bread with jam (no butter) and a glass of 2/3 milk and 1/3 water.

For lunch we forced our kids to eat their public school hot lunch or ask for help from friends. If we were in fact living Below the Line our daughters would qualify for free lunch at school, so for this week I cut a check. Debi, Robert and I had one thin slice of bread with one slice of mortadella and drank water. It is about 4 in the afternoon and our stomachs are finally starting to growl.

It is almost dinner time. I will still be baking about 1.5 lbs of unsalted bread, but instead of 1 big loaf I will bake two smaller ones: they will last longer and slice smaller. I will cook a lentil soup, revised for the occasion. I will use less than half of the regular amount of soffritto, I will fry it in vegetable oil (no olive oil this week) I will dilute 1 lb of lentils in 10 cups of water, and only use a crust of cheese to flavor the soup. No shaved parmesan or fancy drizzles once the soup is ready and served. I will shrink the size of the plates, and serve dinner into cereal bowls instead of regular soup bowls… so it will feel great to get seconds.  Last but not least I hope (expect) to have leftovers for lunch tomorrow!

These are the groceries I have done so far today. I already have spent over $10 but many of the ingredients will last me for five days (coffee, sugar, oil, flour), some of them will end up in lunch boxes or in other meals (carrots, celery, mortadella)… the chicken bones are for a broth with noodles. If I manage to save for some eggs, or find them cheap I will make them myself, at least I have flour!!! Today I shopped in three different places, I had to walk a bit but I managed to find cheap items within a 20 block radius from my home. It took time but my improvised pantry for this week feels manageable for the moment.

Herbs: 1 celery, 1 red onion, 2 carrots, 1 bunch of parsley (wilted, I negotiated on this one) $3.79

Meat: 10 thin slices of mortadella, 1lb chicken bones $2.66

Various: 1 package coffee , 1 lb Lentils, 1 jar strawberry jam, 5 lb flour, 250 ml vegetable oil, 1/4 whole milk (probably hormone saturated)  $10.01