Tag Archives: meal planning

Live Below the Line: Days 4 and 5

As Days 4 and 5 came and went, I think my body was starting to get used to the less calorie intake. I wasn’t back to my normal energy levels but I did feel less tired than I had in the previous days.

On Day 4,  my sister and I needed to go out of town so I had cooked the night before so that we could pack our lunch and not be hungry for a good chunk of the day. We made breakfast in the morning consisting of steel cut oats, banana, cinnamon and brown sugar. Throughout the day, I wasn’t feeling as hungry as the first couple of days – probably because I was doing something during the daytime and not having time to think about food. We ate stir-fry veggies with rice for lunch in a mall food court (only place we could find to sit) and it was so tempting to buy more food. The impact that food has on one’s mental capacity is quite incredible. We resisted and finished up the out of town business and headed home. After a long day, I was glad we didn’t have to cook (pea soup leftover from Day 3). 

On the final day of the challenge, we had to go get another cup of rice because there we didn’t have any carb/starch for dinner. We had the rest of the oats for breakfast and had to make omelettes for lunch. I didn’t feel as hungry or lose focus as much on Day 5, which I found frightening because I’m not sure if my body had already adjusted to the food level and I was functioning at a lower energy level than prior to the challenge. 

From participating in this challenge, I have definitely become more aware of how big a problem it is that we don’t talk about poverty and those living below the poverty enough. By this I mean, I am only living on $1.75 per day on food and drink but there people living on that amount for everything each day.

Along with this, I also learned that you can live on a limited budget by being more creative in the places you buy food as well meal planning. I can’t stress this enough! My sister and I sat and went through all the recipes in the resource manual to figure out which ones we wanted to make and how much of each ingredient we needed.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my journey through this challenge and will join me in donating to this cause by CLICKING HERE.

Thank you for your time.


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Live Below the Line: Day 3

Day three has been the worst day for hunger yet. I got up feeling really hungry that I drank a whole  glass water before getting out of bed. We got up and made eggs with onion and tomato.

I was very grateful that my sister and I were doing this challenge together because we also had to look after our mother, who was feeling really sick and needed to go back to the hospital. She had an appointment at the same time as my bf, so my sister went with with mom and I went with my bf. I cannot imagine how people would have to make the decision of taking time off work to care for a loved one or to go to work and make money and figure out other arrangements.

For lunch, we cooked the same noodle recipe from Day 1.  After that, we went to our appointments. Even though I was taking care of my bf, he could see that I was looking tired and not quite myself. I knew I had to keep on going so after taking him to his appointment, I did some errands and went home to cook dinner.

Dinner was a new meal – Yellow Split Pea & Vegetable soup (recipe below). It didn’t take that long to prep, just took time to cook. I was very grateful to have dinner and couldn’t wait for my sister to come home (my mom ended up having appendicitis and had her appendix removed that afternoon so my sister stayed with her).

Dinner recipe and pictures can be found below.

Half way there! Stay tuned for day 4 and 5 progress.

To learn more or donate, CLICK HERE

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Recipes (servings for 2 people)

Yellow Split Pea & Vegetable Soup

  • 1 potato (diced)
  • 1 carrot (diced)
  • 1/4 onion (chopped)
  • 1 cup yellow split peas
  • 3 leaves cabbage (sliced)
  • 2-3 cups water
  • 2 tsp soup mix
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, cabbage, and potato.
  2. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft.
  3. Stir in the water, split peas, and soup mix.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the peas are soft and the soup thickens, about 40 minutes. If the soup becomes too thick, add a little water.
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Live Below the Line: Day 2

Last night before going to bed, we found a recipe from Marin Mama Cooks blog that would allow us to “pre-cook” the steel cut oats. You put the oats in boiling for one minute and then you let it sit out overnight. Re-heat it in the morning and you’re good to go! The steel cut oats has a crunchy texture compared to regular milled oats but I like that extra crunch. We added sliced banana and half a teaspoon of brown sugar.

I set out to finish groceries and ended up at a local bulk food store and No Frills. The rest of the groceries were:

  • Milk (473ml carton = $1.59)
  • Cinnamon (0.03lb = $0.15)
  • Soup Mix (0.10lb = $0.20)
  • Teabags (4 = $0.30)
  • Zucchini (2 small = $1.12)
  • Banana (1 = $0.21)
  • Seasoning (brown sugar, salt, pepper, soy sauce and hot sauce = $0.40)

Total this trip: $3.97

Total spent: $14.82

Left: $2.68

We’re not sure what we’re going to do with the left over money – maybe a treat of some sort…

For lunch, cooked up rice and a veggie stir-fry – recipe below. It wasn’t hard but I was glad we were eating again. Throughout the morning my stomach was occasionally rumbling and to fight it off, I just started drinking more water.

I got a call from the bf saying that he was at a walk-in clinic because he hurt his neck. So I went to keep him company and make sure that he got home okay.  I ended up cooking dinner for him – he’s not doing the challenge but was in serious pain and couldn’t cook for himself, so I did.  I ate the leftover Shepherd’s Pie from the first night (recipe found here). By dinner time, my energy levels were really low and I was feeling very tired. I’m not sure how people living below the poverty line have the energy to work and take care of others because it was my second day and it was hard.

Recipes and pictures can be found below.

Stay tuned for Day 3 reflections tomorrow!

To learn more or donate, CLICK HERE

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Recipes (servings for 2 people)

Steel Cut Oats (modified recipe from Marin Mama Cooks)

  • 1/3 cup of Steel Cut Oats
  • 1 1/3 cups of Water
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 Banana (thinly sliced)
  • 1 tbsp Brown Sugar
  1. Boil water and pour oats into pot.
  2. Let the water boil for one minute and take pot off heat.
  3. Let oats sit overnight at room temperature.
  4. In the morning, re-heat the oats on the stove and serve with banana and brown sugar.

– – – – –

Rice with veggie stir-fry

  • 1/2 cup Rice
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 2 Tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 Zucchini (diced)
  • 1/4 Onion (diced)
  • 3 leaves Cabbage (sliced)
  • 2 gloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1/2 tsp Soup Mix
  • 1 tsp Oil
  1. Rinse rice and put into rice cooker along with the water. Turn on and let it cook.
  2. Cut up tomatoes, zucchini, onion, cabbage, and mince garlic.
  3. Add oil to pan and add  onion, zucchini, cabbage, and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add tomatoes and soup mix to the veggies.
  5. Divide rice into two bowls and add the veggie mix on top of it.


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Live Below the Line: Day 1

I woke up this morning feeling hungry (not sure if it was because I ate an early dinner last night or the fact that I knew I would be challenging myself to live on $8.75 worth of groceries for the next five days). Either way, I set off on making breakfast for myself and sister. Omelettes were on the menu – more like two eggs each and water. I just fried it up with a teaspoon of oil and a sprinkle of pepper.

After breakfast, we set out to finish grocery shopping; to get some milk, soup mix, spices and zucchini.  As we were shopping, I was highly aware of the limitations in that we were on a strict budget and couldn’t just buy what we wanted. We only had $6.65 leftover from grocery shopping the day before. Also, it’s a lesson of only buying what you need and not wasting food.

For lunch, we made noodles with veggies – recipe below. It was great to be cooking and spending time with my sister, since she doesn’t live at home for most of the year. It was fun and we bonded 🙂

During the afternoon, I did start to notice that my energy levels were getting low and I was feeling tired to the point where I took a nap.

By dinner time, we were so excited to be cooking and eating again.  We modified the Lentils Shepherd’s Pie to include carrots (which gave it a little bit of sweetness).  Having never actually made Shepherd’s Pie before but it turned out great.

Recipes and pictures can be found below.

Looking forward to Day 2!

To learn more or donate, CLICK HERE

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Recipes (servings for 2 people)


  • 4 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Water
  • Dash of Ground Black Pepper
  1. Mix eggs and water together.
  2. Add oil to pan and fry the eggs.

– – – – –

Noodles with veggies

  • 1/2 pkg Egg Noodles
  • 1/4 Carrot (grated)
  • 4 leaves Cabbage (sliced)
  • 2 gloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1 tsp Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Hot Sauce (optional)
  • 1 tsp Oil
  1. Boil hot water and rinse the egg noodles with it – drain and set aside.
  2. Cut up cabbage, grate carrot and mince garlic.
  3. Add oil to pan and add cabbage, carrot and garlic. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  4. Add noodles to veggies. Mix soy sauce with a little bit of water and add it to the noodles/veggies.
  5. Take mixture off heat and divide into two portions. Add hot sauce if desire. We did since the noodles were bland.

– – – – –

Lentils Shepherd’s Pie

This recipe makes 4 servings so we’re planning to have this for two dinners.

  • 2 cloves Garlic (minced)
  • 1/4 Onion (diced)
  • 1/2 Carrot (diced)
  • 1 cup Green Lentils
  • 2 Tomatoes (diced)
  • 4 Potatoes (diced)
  • 1/3 cup hot Milk
  • A dash of Chili Powder, Basil and Garlic Powder
  1. Rinse, cook and drain lentils (instructions on how to cook lentils).
  2. Peel, cut and cook potatoes and carrot.
  3. Preheat the oven to 400ºF. Add oil to frying pan.
  4. Add onion and cook for 7–8 minutes, until soft and golden. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
  5. Stir in tomatoes, carrots, lentils and seasoning. Spoon mixture into an ovenproof dish.
  6. In a bowl, mash the potatoes and add the hot milk and garlic powder. Mash until soft and fluffy.
  7. Spread the mashed potatoes on top of the lentil mixture and bake for 25–30 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned.
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Live Below the Line: Meal Planning

If you missed my first post, I am participating in the Live Below the Line (LBL) campaign. It is an innovative campaign which challenges thousands of individuals across the world to live on $1.75 a day for 5 days, to deepen their understanding of the challenges faced by individuals living in extreme poverty, and to raise vital funds the Israel Tennis Centers Foundation.

My sister has also joined me in the campaign and because neither of us will actually be under the same roof during the dates the rest of the country will be doing the challenge, we decided on do it over the next five days.

To learn more and to donate,  CLICK HERE.

Meal Planning

We went through the meal planning guide from the LBL resources page and chose a couple of different recipes that had somewhat repeating ingredients. We decided that we would take the challenge head on and be creative with our meals rather than just buying lots of carbs (rice, pasta, etc.).

Meals for the week will include: oatmeal, omlettes, lentil shepherd’s pie, noodles, yellow split pea soup and rice with veggies. Since it was Easter Sunday, we thought of going to Chinatown and to our dismay, most of the stores were closed. We ended up in Kensington Market where we sourced out bulk food and veggie and fruit stores. Our shopping list included:

  • Steel cut oats (2 cups = $0.45)
  • Green lentils (1 cup = $0.85)
  • Yellow split peas (1 cup = $0.40)
  • Parboiled rice (1.25 cup = $0.45)
  • Egg noodles (1 bag = $1.50)
  • Onions (2 medium = $0.50)
  • Carrots (2 large = $0.60)
  • Cabbage (1 head = $1.80)
  • Banana (1 = $0.30)
  • Potatoes (7 small = $1.00)
  • Tomatoes (8 small = $1.00)
  • Eggs (1 dozen = $1.75)
  • Garlic (12 cloves = $0.25)

TOTAL: $10.85*

Stay tuned for our cooking adventures and reflections throughout this challenge.

Blog - LBL Groceries

*We are still missing some ingredients (milk, cinnamon, soup mix, zucchini, and spices). Trying to find grocery stores open on Easter Sunday was a challenge in itself. We will finish groceries at the Bulk Barn and No Frills tomorrow.


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Time to Relax

This was the first weekend in a long time where I could just relax.  It’s very hard to just slow down and take some time for myself, especially when there are so many things to see and do in the summer time – plus the summer season is so short that I want to maximize outdoor time. However, I do realize that there needs to be a time to just not have anything planned and just to enjoy the day. That is exactly what I did this weekend.

Saturday was spent wandering around downtown with the BF where we purchased two carboys for homebrewing and then splitting up for the rest of the weekend. We both went to the same birthday party at different times, since he was with his best friend and I had another event to go to. It was interesting when I showed up solo because everyone just asked where my other half was.  I just told them I had no clue since last I heard they were a bar somewhere. It’s usually the answer I give to everyone since I don’t need to keep tabs on where he is, he will get a hold of me one way or another when he needs to 🙂

The second half of the evening was spent at SpiritHouse. It’s tucked away at Adelaide and Portland so it wasn’t as busy or pretentious as I thought it would be. It was my first time there and I was delightfully surprised by the attention to detail and care the bartenders took to make our drinks and took the time to educate us on where the alcohols were from. We ended up sitting at the bar and my friend had been there a handful of times, so he knew the bartenders and they knew him. It was great because they were showcasing gin this month and it’s one of my favourites. I didn’t know what to order so I just told the bartender, Terry to make something with gin and he concocted something called Therapy. Not sure if it’s an industry name or something he came up with, but it was delicious! The cocktail list as well as whiskey lists were very extensive – full list can be found here. It was a great relaxing evening spent with friends.

SpiritHouse Menu

I spent most of Sunday by myself, which is something I seldom do anymore. I went for a swim in the morning and then did groceries. It’s been so long since I’ve gone out to get groceries and actually plan meals that it was very relaxing and exciting to be making my own food. This week’s menu includes:


  • Bacon
  • Egg whites
  • Mixed veggies (green peppers, onion, mushrooms and zucchini)


  • Salad (green leaf lettuce, red onion, mushrooms with homemade dressing – garlic, olive oil, honey mustard, lemon juice and pepper)
  • Broccoli slaw (shredded broccoli/carrot/cabbage with dressing – mayo, honey mustard, lemon juice and pepper)
  • Zucchini patties (zucchini, Parmesan cheese, chili flakes, bread crumbs, egg and salt/pepper)
  • Spaghetti squash with a ground beef tomato sauce (I added zucchini, mushroom, onion, garlic, green pepper to a can of tomato sauce)
  • Possibly tuna cakes – but haven’t made them yet.


  • Burger patties (extra lean ground beef, bread crumbs, egg, onion, mushroom, green onions, pepper and soy sauce)
  • Broccoli slaw
  • Salad
  • Zucchini patties
  • Baked salmon


  • Nuts (almonds and cashews)
  • Fruit (pears, apples and mangos)
  • Raw veggies – forgot to pick up some celery and carrots, will do that tomorrow
  • Greek yogurt with flax seeds

I realized today that it’s pretty easy to make variations of foods with a few core ingredients. Cooking and prep work took about two hours but it was very rewarding at the end because now I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat for this week. This is something I like to have control over during the weekdays. It’s often too easy to go out and buy lunch. Not only is it unhealthy for the body but also the wallet.

Other than cooking today, I tackled some receipts sitting in my room. This was a daunting task because I try to keep track of my expenses so I hold onto receipts but I end up just tossing them onto my nightstand. As they accumulate, it looks more and more overwhelming so I end up letting it pile up to the point where they fly off the pile and I get fed-up with it that I spend an hour going through all of them and recording them.

All and all, it was nice to have time to myself this weekend. I feel more relaxed and ready to tackle this work week.

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