Are you ready for another installment of the Zero Dollars Food Challenge?
Well here we are, Sunday afternoon. The sun is high in the autumn sky but shadows are being cast everywhere, particularly underneath the large mango tree in the backyard. I look out at it from the window in my living room and, determined to spend more time in nature, it’s decided. I’ll go outside and work. I collect some books– which becomes a pile of books, my computer, a couple of notebooks, my phone and a pen. Slanting backwards, I carry everything I’m hoping I’ll need outside and set them onto the swing. I sit down. The day is beautiful. I realize that I am exceedingly hungry.
Of, course, that’s just the sort of thing that happens to me whenever I set out to be productive. Nevertheless, I know that I’m a cranky, unfocused brat when I’m hungry, so I pack up everything and run back inside for a quick lunch. I realize what’s at stake. The longer I’m inside, the louder the couch will call out to me. There’s just so much surface area to spread out inside. And the being half-naked or still in pajamas, it’s up to me, has a strong pull. I’ve got to get in and out, you understand?
The Challenge of Getting In and Out
- Most of the food that I have on hand will require a fair bit of time. For some odd reason, it takes me what seems like an hour to assemble my salads. I promise that I don’t use a huge number of ingredients. I think it’s chopping. The minute I have to take out a knife to cut something, the weight of gravity collapses onto me. My blood slows. The world slows. My eyes glaze over. I’ve had multiple friends inform me of this phenomenon but I never saw it for myself, still don’t. I just know that the time I take to make a salad must prove something.
- I’ve made it a goal to eat a primarily vegan diet. This means a lot of vegetables, which means a lot of cutting. I ain’t got time for that. There’s a can of alfredo sauce that’s been putting on a strip tease every time I open the pantry door. This is what I’ve been dealing with. My point is, the days of a quick boiling of spaghetti and a few scoops of alfredo sauce will be few and far between. Still spaghetti would’ve taken too long anyway.
- I’m on a strict budget lately and don’t want to spend money on food when there are things in the house that I could use to create a meal.
And so, I set out to create a meal that didn’t require too much time, no chopping, consisting of vegan ingredients and didn’t require me to spend any money. Here’s what I can up with. Oatmeal: A Classic.
I can’t believe how much oatmeal is in my house. I feel like my name should be Samuel and I should be living in the American Midwest, circa 1802. Who has this much oats, and why? Oh yeah, everytime I go on a health kick I buy more oatmeal.
Here are some of the other ingredients that I had on hand.
These dried cranberries are my most recent purchase of less than a week ago.
Roasted and lightly salted pumpkin seeds.
I wasn’t sure if adding this salty element would compliment or worsen the flavor, but I figured what the heck. I only added a small amount just in case. Those tv chefs are always saying how a dash of salt brings out sweetness and stuff.
Next, for the sake of creaminess, I added a splash of vanilla flavored almond milk.
And stir it all up, and here you have it.
Yup, it was very good. Not too sweet. The sunflower seeds added texture and weren’t too salty. I had broken the walnuts with my fingers, so no knives were used in the making of this meal. I’d call it a success.
After this quick and easy meal, I was back to the outdoors to get some work done. Will it last me until dinner time? No. But it did allow me to get back out there.
Now I’d like to challenge you. What if you decided not to buy groceries for the next couple of days? What meals could you create with what you already have on hand? It’s not just a beneficial exercise for the sake of living more sustainably and consuming less, but it’ll help you to cut down food spending. I typically make this a week long challenge and allow myself $15 of spending money for ingredients I’d like to add in… or wine. Sometimes it’s for wine.