I wake up at 8:00 a.m. with a headache. Augh, I didn’t plan on this, but then again who ever schedules headaches? I’m not sure if it is a result of a lack of caffeine or, the more likely culprit, half a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon that I decided to polish off the night before. It’s not that I’m a big drinker at home, but the idea that I wouldn’t have a wine budget for the coming week sent me into a minor panic. I feared that I’d have the same sake like withdrawals Tom Cruise did in The Last Samurai Sake Detox scene(incidentally, probably the last movie I ever liked him in). I curse myself for my own stupidity! This means I am going to have to tap into my coffee supply. I start to freak out as I’m not yet sure how much this will add to my budget. Yes, I purposefully left myself a little wiggle room in the neighborhood of $9.75 for unanticipated expenses, but this wasn’t how I was planning on spending it! I was planning on getting my caffeine fix at the office where Lipton tea and swill that passes itself off as coffee flow free likely the River Jordan into the Promise Land. Even though my body is aching for it, I decide to run some numbers before breaking into my stash. Within the last few weeks I purchased a 12 ounce bag of Apple Cider flavored coffee for $4.99 from TJ Maxx. A few different google results indicated that an 11 ounce bag of coffee yields 90, 6 ounce servings, less than 6 cents a cup. Ok, I’m in the clear. After wiping the beads of stress induced sweat from my brow, it occurs to me what suckers the coffee conglomerates have made of us all! It’s as if the coffee demi-gods known as Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts have all been part of a price fixing coffee conspiracy. I have the sense that even the street cart coffee guys who serves coffee in “we are happy to serve you cups,” the icons of New York coffee carts, have been mocking us all along! The secret is out, coffee is cheap. Help me proselytize to the non-believers! Coffee can be yours for mere pennies a day! If only Marie Antoinette had decreed “let them drink coffee,” her fate may have been different.
The percolating begins and the heavenly scent of coffee fills the kitchen. I check on the red beans I’ve had simmering overnight in the slow cooker. Although I can make mean frijoles colorades, all of my recipes are pork based. Since I don’t have the budget for meat, I decided to see what else is out there. I used the Bible of all research resources, Google. However, if I didn’t have internet access at home then I would have walked to my local library 3 blocks away to use Google or to look at recipe books. I found this recipe for Cuban red beans and rice. After seeing mostly positive reviews, I got to work on it the night before. To save on costs, I omitted the pepper and garlic. I made up for the lack of ingredients by adding in more spices that I already had e.g., achiote powder, jalapeño powder, and garlic powder. They taste delicious, but they need a few hours more in the cooker. The olive oil called for in this recipe has compensated for the lack of a meat based product for flavor.
It’s time to turn my attention to making breakfast. Breakie consists of a broccoli egg white omelet (two eggs used) and two pieces of toast. With a little hot sauce, it’s pretty tasty. I wash it down with two cups of coffee. This is more or less my usual breakfast of champions, the only difference is I’m not using prepackaged egg whites and the whole wheat bread has less nutritional content than what I normally eat. I estimate that my breakfast has cost 82 cents.
I had planned on going to two exercises classes this morning, but my head hurts too much and the temperature has dropped significantly. It feels like winter and I feel like being a bit lazy. I’ll go to a 5:30 class. It isn’t Zumba, but it is a Caribbean dance class I’ve been wanting to try. I don’t know it at the time, but I’ll regret my decision as I later learn that the dance class is far too easy. It’s a mistake I won’t make again!
I settle in to read Malaria Dreams by Stuart Stevens. I love this book! It makes me feel like I’m in Africa. He’s mastered the writing art of “show, don’t tell.” All my favorite travel writers have. I want an adventure like this one day! I read for a few hours and then I turn my attention to my own writing.
I start to get hungry around 12:15, but I decide to hold out until 1:00 and continue to write. I break for lunch. The red beans are finally finished. I start on the black beans and boil the rice. I used mostly the same recipe for the black beans as I did for the red beans. I still didn’t use the green pepper or garlic, but this time I added the canned green chilis and another can of tomatoes that I already had in my cabinet. This pushes my budget to $23.00. Only $7 left for the week, but I’m not overly nervous about this.
Lunch is a toasted egg salad sandwich. I’ve used the yoke as well. Two yokes a day aren’t going to kill me, I hypothesize. I add some baby carrots to the mix. I debate on including my banana allowance now. Ultimately, I decided to save it for a pre-gym snack. I find that I’m taking more time to enjoy my sandwich and carrots and that I’m eating at the pace my mother raised me to eat rather than some uncouth speed demon. This is the best egg salad sandwich I’ve had in years! Lunch has cost 87 cents.
90 minutes later I end up eating the banana, simultaneously kissing another 19 cents goodbye. So much for the pre-gym snack. So far, I don’t feel as though I’m deprived of anything and the headache has gone away. I’m now at a whopping $1.88.
On my way to the gym, I realize I’ve left my water bottle at home. Grr. I’ll just have to make due with the water fountain because there is no way I’m buying a bottle of water. No way!
The dinner bell rings around 7 p.m. and I serve up 3/4 of a cup of rice and 1/2 a cup of beans. I’m not sure if I should have the proportions the other way around, but this looks better to me. I’m starting to feel like I’m on weight watchers with all of this food tracking! I do some quick math and estimate that my dinner has cost 50 cents! I stare dumbfoundedly at the calculator. Surely I’ve done something wrong! I triple check my math. No, it’s correct, assuming I can get the six servings out of each that I anticipate.
This means that I’ve eaten $2.38 cents in food today. It has required a lot of advanced planning and I haven’t had anything to drink other than coffee or ice water, but I’m well underneath my budget of $4.28 cents a day! Although I’m craving something a little sweet, I’m not hungry. All in all, a successful day!