• Eating well…

    is expensive!

    autumn-produce-533154-sw

    One of my pet peeves is that we don’t eat enough greens. Hardly any veggies or fruit. (I’m picky, and BF thinks it’s fine to live off meat, sugar and cereal). This week we’re going to eat better, with fresher stuff – no more mashed potato with processed sausages, etc. We used to shop separately for meat and produce, but lately have just been doing it all at the supermarket (prices have been surprisingly good). Today we went to the butcher and vege shop and ended up $25 over budget. Why? Well, bananas are almost $3 a kilo. Kumara and potatoes, although not too expensive, are heavy. Tomatoes around $4 a kilo, and spring onions 99c a bunch (not vital, but we like them). Melons and the tropical fruits go from about $3 to 6 a kilo; mandarins were even more and looked nasty. Honestly, it would not be hard to spend $5 to $10 on fruit alone if you were so inclined! We bought onions, garlic, kumara and potatoes for a roast dinner. It was over $10. That’s for sides to one meal. ARGH.

  • cereal

    Honestly, BF drives me nuts sometimes.

    I may have an extremely sweet tooth, but he has me beat in every way.

    I like a bit of sugar over plain cornflakes, and I LOVE cereals like Crunchy Nut (kind of like Frosties, maybe? Sweet golden crispy flakes). Unfortunately the latter kind cost 2-3 times as much for far less weight, so they are a rare treat.

    BF absolutely piles on the sugar over any and ALL cereal (he could probably blow through at least half a kilo of sugar a week). Even if it’s pricey, sweetened stuff like the aforementioned Crunchy Nut. We’re paying out the nose for it, and he simply smothers it with sugar the exact same way he does normal cornflakes! What a freaking waste of money!

    I just don’t understand….

  • IBS

    I self diagnosed myself with mild IBS a while ago. I even kept a food diary for awhile. Of course, my symptoms seemed to clear up markedly during this month, but I worked out what triggered my digestive woes:

    Over eating
    Spicy foods
    Cheap, bad food
    Too many rich foods
    And of course, stress – totally unrelated. When I’m strung out, I don’t eat, my stomach does acrobatics, and tries to purge what little is in it. This can go on for days.

    Sadly, I love some foods too much to give up. The biggest problem for me is Indian. I love curries, with a vengeance. And a good Indian meal out at a restaurant poses absolutely NO problems. It’s the cheap takeaways or food courts that make my stomach rebel and send me to the toilet multiple times. It’s the readymade sauces we buy at the supermarket, butter chicken, or more recently, our beloved Nando’s coriander and lime stir fry sauce. It was hot. Even after being watered down with milk. Every mouthful burned, but burned nicely (think “Hurts so good”). I was too lazy to get anything to wash it down with. And it was delicious – I couldn’t get enough!

    Even the cramps a few hours later were worth it. I think.

    What’s the solution? I don’t know. I eat better now than I used to, or at least I try. I don’t stuff myself, even at all you can eat’s, and I’ve let go of my food-finishing guilt. I will now leave a few bites on my plate rather than force myself to choke them down. I’m also cutting down on the cheap nasties and the supermarket curry pastes/sauces.

    I guess it’s all about balance. And I’m willing to go through the pain once in a while to enjoy a spicy, tasty meal.

  • My new thing: brunch!

    breakfastI’m not a big breakfast kind of person. I eat cereal for breakfast. Sometimes toast. Occasionally pancakes on the weekend, if someone feels kindly inclined.

    But I think me and BF may make breakfast out more of a regular thing. I would call it brunch, but with my weird newfound ability to function on less sleep, I’m actually up at what I used to call an indecent hour on a weekend morning – so breakfast really does fall before 10, and can be classed as such.

    I don’t usually find breakfasts out anything spectacular – we haven’t been to many places yet, only a couple – and reckon we could do just as well at home. But I want to actually enjoy my life, and breakfast out is just a fun thing to do. Having someone else cook, and bring it to you – there’s nothing I hate more than standing over a hot stove cooking greasy food and having oil spit in your face – and just relaxing with a newspaper and conversation is really, really nice. Plus starting the day off with a real meal keeps me going for aaaages…past lunchtime for sure!

  • Back to work

    Monday marks BF’s return to work.

    Not too sure on the details, to be honest. He knows he starts at 7, and it’s going to be a quiet day to ease in. Should be a three month job. He should be working as a contractor, so who knows what’s happening with taxes and forms and whatnot. Sis’s partner is the one working with him, so should be able to guide him – failing that well my mother is an accountant and so are some other friends’ mothers! Hopefully on $25, though if he has to pay his own ACC levies and whatnot, not sure what take-home will be.

    He’ll have to go into old job and officially resign (although the place is such a mess, doubt they’ll notice/care at the moment, and they’re so disorganised they probably wouldn’t care if he turned up in three months again! Apparently there are guys that only work periodically..so….

    New company seems just as bad. Not sure if they’ll pay cash or deposit on this project. But for some reason apparently their direct deposits take forver to clear – like, almost a week. How does that work? Fuck knows. They’re a business. Normal businesses pay staff and it clears overnight. So I don’t know what the hell they do or how they work it. But you know, whatever, as long as he gets paid someway somehow.

    He will be working super long hours, like 10 hour days, but at least it’s fairly close to home – less time driving, less gas, less wear and tear, better lunch options nearby!

    I hope he doesn’t burn out.

    I have to drag him to the doctor sometime soon; he gets some strange pains and cramps, and the last couple of months has pretty much had a constantly upset stomach. Nothing pleases it! Definitely nothing spicy. Anything too heavy/creamy/sweet (yet he loves his custard and slathers his cereal with about a pound of sugar). He never feels like eating anything we make, and has gone “off” some of our staple meals (like a freaking pregnant woman or something) like nachos, chili, pasta etc. I reckon he’s developed some strange allergies or intolerances. He doesn’t want a doctor poking around and prodding him; I told him we’d ask for a female doctor if that’s what it takes!

  • Eat of the week: Satya

    I’ve just returned from New Year’s dinner and it was amazing.

    Satya is at 515 Sandringham Road (and I love that it has the easiest phone number to remember, hands down. 8458451!). It’s a tiny little restaurant tucked away in the last block of Sandringham shops, specialising in South Indian food at really reasonable prices. The decor, as others have noted, is a tad weird – orange, pink and purple fabric draped around the place (from Geoff’s Emporium maybe?) and rough hewn wooden surfaces. Even the water glasses are battered metal cups – I commented that it was just like camping. The service is patchy; I love how their drinks menu offered lots of info about South Indian cuisine, and the paragraph that said “we’re not professional chefs, we focus on homestyle Indian cooking techniques”!

    The food is fabulous. We had the recommended Dahi Puri to start: “a well balanced mix of yoghurt ,boiled potato and chick peas with tamarind chutney and fresh ground roasted spices topping”. It’s unique. That’s all I can say, you really have to try it to experience it.

    I had chicken paralakan (?). It was rich and thick and not too spicy. The boy had butter chicken, which was great – I don’t like butter chicken, but this revived my hope in the dish. I didn’t like the fact that the menu descriptions were pretty patchy. Some were completely unhelpful (ie chicken with spinach, no mention of flavours or spices used).

    They don’t advertise so rely on word of mouth (hence my plug!) but have got a fair bit of publicity already. Satya consistently scores on best eatery lists. I think it’s got best Indian restaurant in Metro recently, as well as others. The thing I love most about ethnic restaurants is even the good ones serve top class food at fair prices. And frankly I feel at home in the surroundings. I don’t really in posh, European places (not that I’ve ever actually been to one…apart from high tea atthe Langham which was totally an experience to remember).

    We left Satya full and satisfied, rubbing our tummies. The servings were perfect, we finished everything (except the bread which was overly cheesy and garlicky) and walked out able to stand up straight without any trouble. Don’t you hate when you sutff yourself silly then have to hobble around bent over almost double? Our bill: Two mains, a garlic cheese paratha and and entree came to just over $45 – can’t ask for better than that!

  • Eating Healthy

    I’ve come to realise that it’s really hard to eat well on a budget. I mentioned this a while ago, that I’ve stopped going to Revive because as healthful and tasty as it is, it just doesn’t do the job in terms of filling me up. I’m small, I hover at around 50kgs. But I eat A LOT. I really need food to function; when I’m hungry I feel faint and sick and take it out on everyone around me. So it’s in my best interests to stay fed and full. I don’t know why I get so hungry…it’s not like I even work out or do much physical labour (apart from all that bloody house cleaning), nor is my job super stressful or mentally taxing. I guess I just have a high metabolism.

    We don’t tend to eat much in the way of fruit / veg. I don’t actually like many fruits, something I need to work on. I like berries and melons, bananas, mandarins and sometimes apples. I don’t like tropical fruits, which I’m hoping to change! I’ll eat fruit salad occasionally. And we don’t eat many vegetables, because like I said, they are expensive and don’t fill you up. Sure a cucumber can be a dollar in summer, and goes nicely in salads but how far does it go? Capsicums are one of our favourites but they can hit $3 a piece. I used to buy bagged salad greens for sandwiches but found they got soggy within a couple of days. (With our new fridge, maybe it’s safe to start getting them again.)

    We need to learn how to cook vegetables again. Now it’s summer we can probably let that slide and just collect a ton of salad recipes, but with vegetables it’s really important to plan meals. I know jack about cooking vegetables, apart from dumping them in a stirfry, or roasting them or making potato salad. Oh and my fave, fried cabbage and onions. But that’s pretty limited, and often we just don’t know what to do with greens so we leave them be. And all too often we buy them meaning well, but find them wilted and rotten in the fridge at the end of the week.

    This week we did a pretty comprehensive plan which, amazingly, contained some vegetable components! Last night we had a yoghurt, tomato, cucumber and red onion salad. We’ve been getting sick of eating the same old food every week, so we tried to mix it up this week. Our plan looked pretty gourmet compared to what we’ve been eating. Unfortunately, although our taste buds benefited, our wallets didn’t. Each meal contained more than two or three ingredients, so it cost a lot more when we went to the supermarket. Our first meal included meat and a salad – so once we included all the different veges, there were six or seven separate things to buy! All those little things added up (even natural yoghurt!). But I’m happy with that, in moderation…dinners are much more fun, and if we can add a few greens in there a few times a week, all the better.

    If no one still believes that it’s PRICEY to eat healthy, check out http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/04/health/nutrition/04well.html and http://onedollardietproject.wordpress.com; I followed it for awhile and it’s really eyeopening.

  • Veggos

    I haven’t been to Revive in about a month. Last time I went I used my two for one vouchers and bought a couple of hotpot meals. They went straight into the fridge at work and became my lunch for the next two days. While they were pretty yummy, and filled me right up, within a couple of hours I was hungry again! Now, I go to Revive when I have vouchers because they taste good (usually and are full of veggies making them downright darn healthy – and I must confess this is often the only hit of greens I get, really, in a busy week.

    I am trying…going to sit down with the boy and plan out some meals including fresh summer salads this week. But with everything so haywire and stressful, food shopping falls far down the list of priorities.

    Anyway, I haven’t been back to Revive since. I’m willing to pay more for good and healthful food, but not if it doesn’t keep me going. If my tummy starts to rumble before 3pm, it’s not worth it. I’ll go and buy greasy $6 fried rice from the food court. I’m young, and hungry, and on a budget, so quantity wins over quality for now.

  • I wanna save the world

    WHY must there be hunger in the world? Why must there be people who don’t have enough to eat and kids who die every day from starvation?

    I may not have a lot but at least I (almost) always have food in the cupboards. It saddens me that we have all manner of greasy crap freely available to us on one hand and on the other, fattened birds and battery farmed hens and baby calves sacrificed so people can have their delicacies.

    With so much wealth concentrated in the first world it seems so wrong to me that millions don’t even have the basics. A little redistribution?

    They’ve only recently managed to eradicate some disease in Africa stemming from dirty drinking water (?) where worms grow in your stomach and then burst out through any part of your body (wherever they may happen to be, eyes, chest, legs, worse…), a painful, painful thing that a little sanitation wiped out.

    In the midst of my interminable reading for my lit review I came across this quote from “a little boy in Gabon”. Something along the lines of, I don’t have breakfast in the morning; I go to school, and I don’t have lunch. When I get home I have a little supper, maybe potatoes, and sometimes I see other children eating and school, and I watch them eat, and think I’m going to die of hunger. Oh, how I wanted to cry after reading that.

    Oftentimes the weekend comes around and I moan about the fact that we have no food, and annoy everyone around me by complaining that I’ll pass out if I don’t get something to eat. But no matter how bare our pantry gets, in reality it’s never really, truly empty. So here’s my resolution – no more ‘there’s nothing for me to eat’ Saturday morning bitching. There’s always something of some sort around. And if I don’t like it, at least it’s still edible.