My morning routine was broken beginning with my soy latte abstinence. Instead, I enjoyed a cup of black Earl Grey tea. It wasn’t the same, but it was a hot beverage and that’s what I wanted. Since I generally skip breakfast, it was one less meal to worry about.
City Hall was closed for Easter Monday, I used the time to finish my shopping and started cooking for the week. Like most folks, I had a busy weekend filled with family and work commitments, and was grateful for the extra day. Of course, if my workweek did start today, then I would be scrambling to find food-oriented order to ensure that I stayed within the budget. Without careful meal planning, I simply could not thrive on a modest food budget of $6.65 per day.
I dropped into the No Frills store on Sherbourne and ran into the Executive Director, Keith Hambly of Fife House. He was cautiously collecting his week’s ration with a calculator in hand. We were both taking this challenge very seriously and agreed that the week would not pass by easily.
No Frills was the third grocery store I visited in the past two days. Due to the fixed-budget, I was forced to go to multiple stores to comply with the $46.55 per week allotment. As the local councillor, I conclude that Ward 27 (Toronto Centre-Rosedale) is no “food desert” and although we have an abundance of grocery stores, the heavy commercial rents are readily passed onto the hefty consumer price tags.
Yesterday, I spent $20.56 at two independent grocery stores. One in Kensington Market and the other in Little India. I bought small amounts of millet, couscous, spinach, paneer, besan, broccoli, onions, frozen veggies, cilantro, assorted peas & beans. At No Frills, for $10.77, I secured an acorn squash, sweet potato, fusilli pasta, tomatoes, kale and white mushrooms.
For lunch, I ate a chilled bean medley salad with besan flour rotis. I was asked by a Twitter follower to post the bean salad recipe, so here it is. Sorry I can’t be more specific about the actual quantities – measuring cups are not my forte. Be forewarned, I’m an undisciplined cook and create dishes using my five senses and personal gastronomic satisfaction gauge.
Chilled Bean Medley Salad
2 cans of mixed beans, chopped white and green onions, cilantro, cracked peppers, sea salt, apple cider, thyme, creole mustard, lemon juice and white vinegar.
Besan gram floor, oil, salt and water.
For dinner, I made ratatouille. Not the classic French stewed vegetable dish with eggplant, bell pepper and zucchini but one improvised with the vegetables I bought from the discount grocers. Honestly, it was not my best dish. But it was okay considering I didn’t have many of the traditional ingredients, nor did I have time or patience to cook the vegetables separately to retain its natural flavours and juices.
Nevertheless, I’m feeling good about the day, as there were leftovers and that means lunch and dinner are taken care of for tomorrow.
Stay in touch and follow me at @kristynwongtam for more #Thrive665 updates.