Day 1: $2 a day challenge

Chicken roast for dinner

Day one dawned and we were on our way. Could we eat on $2/day?  Can we do it? Yes we CAN.

I woke up with a migraine, having been unwell most of Sunday.  I blame some dodgy champagne on Saturday night, but really I have been feeling stressed for a while – mainly about managing work/writing balance.  This morning I woke up and knew it would be a day of staying in bed.  So other than a trip to get some acupuncture, that’s what I did.

The hardest thing was that usually when I have a headache I reach for a nice hot cup of milk tea and some vegemite toast.  Neither of those things were available to me today.  Neil did, however, make me some ‘faux tea’, i.e. a cup of boiling water, made in our new $10 spiffy glass jug we picked up from the Kippax Monster Garage Sale on the weekend.  (To sidetrack, it was so nice to meet two Ms Frugal Ears readers at the event – weren’t there some amazing bargains?)

Neil made me porridge for breakfast using one cup of oats (if you are wondering, there are seven cups in a packet).  We even had sugar and milk – oh the luxury! “I can do this,” I thought to myself.  “I really can.”

In another miracle, I was happy to discover that the sourdough bread dough had risen to the occasion. I was really worried that we would be eating rock hard bread like I did a few years ago on this challenge.  THAT taught me something about humility.

I had visions of doing something fancy with the bread, i.e. making lunch a Jewish fried onion type of thing.  But with my headache, I felt a bit nauseous as I was frying up the onions.  So instead I baked it as is, and served the bread for Neil with margarine and onions on the side.

The bread rose to the occasion, and while it was made with normal plain flour rather than bread flour and would be unlikely to win any awards, it was lovely and comforting.  A five day diet of white bread is hardly healthy, but there is something inherently comforting in knowing that you at least have bread to eat. I am ashamed to say that two thirds of it is gone already.

Dinner is five of our seven chicken drumsticks (of which we ate only two).  Neil lathered them in margarine, topped them with remaining fried onions and put them in the slow cooker, where they baked on high for four hours.  They were soooo good – the meat just fell off the bone.  We served them with microwaved frozen vegetables (which were much nicer than we expected), some kale, and some homemade gravy.  The gravy was especially good.

Homemade gravy – no gravox in sight (which I never use in any case)

As we sat down to dinner, it occurred to me that once upon a time a chicken roast like this would have been a bit of luxury in the days when my Dad grew up on a farm.  Now we were eating it as ‘cheap’ food because that was all we could afford.  Chicken drumsticks are so cheap now  – we bought ours for $3/kilogram from the deli at Woolworths.  But in parts of Asia the meat near the bone is prized highly.  I guess it is all about perceptions.

Another cup of faux tea and we had made it through the day!  Here’s to day 2.

Homemade frugal sourdough bread

Tip: the best thing to do, which I didn’t do, is to find a friend who has a fabulous starter and get some of that.  Failing which, try this one and make sure you start at least two to three days in advance.


2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1-2 cups luke warm water

2 1/2 cups plain flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon margarine
Nearly all of the sour dough gloop
Up to 1/2 cup water


  1. In a medium sized container (I used an old ice-cream container), combine the 2 cups plain flour, 1 tablespoon sugar and enough water to make it look like a milkshake.  Cover with fabric or a paper towel and leave somewhere warm for a few days.  Stir from time to time if you can – yeast likes movement. It is working if it all bubbles up.

    Sour dough mixture after two days
  2. The night before you plan to bake the bread, combine the sour dough gloop with the remaining dry ingredients.  Mix in a bread maker if you have one (using the dough cycle), and add in up to 1/2 cup of water.  Allow to sit overnight.

    Bread mix after rising overnight
  3. The next day, remove the sticky dough from the breadmaker and put onto large floured tray.  Allow to rise a bit more, then bake in a hot oven of around 180C for 20 minutes.  Remove when the bottom is cooked and sounds hollow when tapped.

Neil and I are doing this as part of the Live Below the Line challenge.  We appreciate your moral and financial support.

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