Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Eating For Less - The $21 Challenge and the worst meal ever

This is something I have been thinking about for a while and so after borrowing the book from the library the time had come.
Rather than re-invent the wheel I will just use the information on the website to tell you what the challenge is all about, in case you have not heard about it.

It is also worth checking out the rest of the website for all of the other great info they have on saving money.

What exactly IS the $21 Challenge?

In a nutshell, it is a one-week grocery slashing marathon where you can save a big pile of money, de-clutter your pantry and learn new skills all at the same time!

How does it work?

Simple! For one week you try as hard as you possibly can to stay out of the shops.  Instead of going out and doing your usual supermarket shop you have to stretch the food you already have in your cupboard, pantry, garden and freezer to stay within your $21 budget.

It is a fun way to save $300 in one week!

You see, the average household of four people spends $320 per week on food. By completing the $21 Challenge for just one week you will have an extra $300 in hand. This means if you do a $21 Challenge once a month in your household, you can save yourself $3600 in one year.
Inside the pantry, and yes that is a window on the back.  This used to be the stove alcove and the window now looks into the laundry as the back of the house was enclosed.
 Now I have to admit that I knew that we would not have to make much of an adjustment to complete this challenge as we have a well stocked pantry and freezer, a vegetable garden, and a flock of chickens.
I have always been a careful shopper and when I see a product that I know we will use, has a long shelf life and is on sale I will buy a bulk amount.  The most recent examples of this are:
$4.99kg for chicken breasts but you had to buy 5kg min - This was divided into 11 lots and each lot will feed the 2 of us for 2 meals.
$1.99kg for Pitted Australian Dates - I purchased 2kg
.39c 400gm Baked Beans - Hubby takes these to work a few days a week so we purchased 36 cans.

First thing you have to decide is if your $21 is for all meals or just one or two meals, we decided all meals.
Then you do a stock take of what is in your freezer, pantry, fridge and garden. 
This was easy as I had just cleaned out the fridge, my freezer has a list on the outside of what is in there (it is a chest freezer and things get lost if you don't know whats in there) and I knew what was in the pantry.
The freezer list (note all the Pea and Ham Soup)
Then you do a menu plan based on what you already have with the idea of just adding a few extra things to make up the meals. 

So what did I plan for the week and what did I buy?


Sat - Pea & Ham soup (Not really soup season but it needed using)
Sunday - Home made Pizza
Monday - Thai beef salad with vermicelli
Tuesday - Zucchini slice
Wednesday - Penne Putanesca
Thursday - Chicken Stir Fry
Friday - Bacon and Eggs


Rump steak
Spring Onions

Total Spent $19.45

So how did it go?

It was a great feeling to walk into the supermarket with only 1 bag know everything would fit.  It was a challenge though not to buy anything else when you weren't literally only able to afford $21.

Would I recommend it?  Very much so.  In fact I intend to do it at least once a month so that I can use us things that I have surplus of or are getting close to their expiry date.  I really liked the challenge and it really makes you think about waste.  Waste of time when you are not organised, waste of money buying things you don't need, waste of money if you have to throw things out because they were past their used by date.

And what of the worst meal ever????

That would be the pea and ham soup.  It was awful!!!
Even my hubby who will pretty much eat anything said it was bad, and that means it was really really bad. 
I have no idea what went wrong and I am actually a pretty good cook.  But I can tell you that even though I am against wasting food I will be throwing out the other 2 lots of frozen soup in the freezer.  Thankfully it was cheap to make with a left over ham bone and the peas.  We ended up having toast for dinner it was so bad.

Oh well you live and learn, and at least that will free up some more space in the freezer.


  1. I have seen this challenge before and must admit that I am intrigued...

    But... what did you have for breakfast and lunch?

  2. A recent pantry stocktake revealed an amazing array of things I'd bought "just in case" and never used, we are now trying to use them up! Having the garden and chickens does make food cheap aye, we only spend $50-80 per week on supermarket food and consumables.

    What was wrong with your soup? I have had some trouble with pea and ham soup myself, I think I overdo the peas and its just a gluggy mess, or too much ham and its too salty, can't seem to get it right..... looking forward to this year's ham bone and having another try.


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