|Snuggling in the sitting hammock.|
Albie is hiding his face in my elbow;
he likes it dark when he's snoozing!
I've been living without a fridge for almost 8 months now. Even before I got my driving licence and car, it was easy. Surprisingly easy. I just switched off the fridge and stopped thinking about it.
Lately I have been trying to figure out a meal plan and a food budget that I can stick to. I'm not great with routines, but as I will be living on the road soon, I think it is important to come up with a routine that will help me keep the finances under control. Being a minimalist, food is one of the few things I find myself spending money on, so having a budget makes sense.
Using the brilliant cookbook 5 ingredients 10 minutes by Jules Clancy of Stonesoup fame, I came up with eight delicious, easy, quick yet inexpensive dinners for my meal plan. Why eight?, you ask. Well, it just made sense that way. It means I will be going shopping every four days, which shouldn't give any of my fruit and veg time to go off before I've had a chance to eat it! ;o) So I was all set for dinners. I'm not much of a breakfast person, so I decided to have an apple and some brazil nuts in the morning, followed by a yummy chia seed porridge/pudding for lunch. The chia porridge contains lots of seeds, bee pollen and a banana, and it is a bit expensive but as it is packed with protein it is well worth the investment. I found that if I buy the chia seeds in bulk (3 kg bags), the price of my lunch drops to a fairly frugal £1.31 per day.
Knowing myself fairly well by now, I also budgeted for a little nakd bar treat and some yummy tea as a snack every evening. I hoped that would help me stick to my plan and stop me from looting the chocolate shelves by the tills when I go shopping... ;o)
With a bit of work, I managed to get my monthly food budget under £150, even though I buy organic whenever possible. I duly patted myself on the back and looked forward to testing it out in practice.
However, after a few weeks of following this meal plan (which worked a treat, by the way!), I realised that I would be better off coming up with a plan that doesn't rely on gas and electricity - that way, it will be easier for me to wild camp, which will keep campsite fees down, and I don't have to deal with having gas in the vehicle, figuring out which adapters work in which countries, etc. I've never been comfortable cooking with gas, I guess it's because I grew up in Norway where we always cook with electricity (we export our natural gas to Britain!). So I decided to see if I could revise my meal plan and food budget, simplify my life further and make my kitchen gas and leckie-trissie-free (apart from the kettle and lighting in the evening, that is. I've been dishwasher-free since the machine broke down about a year ago.). It didn't actually require too much tweaking, and I managed to come up with a budget that was just over £145 per month! And after looking into Thermos cooking, I found that I can still have cooked quinoa if I should fancy it (I have a small 12-volt camping kettle that can be run off the car battery, so I will have access to hot water). Cue more patting of self on back... that is, until I suddenly had the idea of checking how much calcium I get from my diet.
|The horizon just after sunset yesterday.|
I can't even remember where the thought came from, but I am very glad that it decided to pop into my head! As it turned out, I wasn't even meeting half my calcium requirement per day - in fact, I was just getting a little over a third, despite taking a calcium supplement! This would explain a LOT, so I got to work revising my meal plan and food budget for the third time, this time to make sure that I get at least 8,000 mg of calcium over the 8-day period. Turns out calcium is difficult to come by when you're a vegetarian (borderline vegan) who isn't too fond of your greens - and calcium sources that don't need refrigerating are very expensive!
I spent most of the bank holiday Monday indoors, despite the glorious weather, trying to find calcium sources I could incorporate into my diet without totally blowing my budget. As much as I wanted to enjoy the sunshine (vitamin D from the sun is important for calcium uptake in the body, among other things), I knew this issue needed to be dealt with and the sooner the better, as I realised I already have some minor symptoms of calcium deficiency (such as random cramps and tingling, something I have never experienced before). I took a break to take the dogs for a sunset walk up on the common, and continued my research when I got home.
|Albiepops snuffling away in the forest.|