My $21 Challenge

Although this blog details my travels, and focuses mainly on hotels that I have had the opportunity to stay, and restaurants that I have eaten, I recently came across the $21 Challenge.

The $21 Challenge has been around for a while, and the goal is to buy up to $21 in food to last you a week without buying “junk food”, or eating at fast food restaurants. Sure, you could probably eat 10+ packs of Top Ramen a day for a week, or as one of my friends wanted to do and eat off the McDonald’s value menu for a week, the goal is to try and eat healthy options.

Why $21? Well, this is the allowance that a person who is getting food stamps from the government.

One of the biggest challenges in doing this is planning. Trying to budget your money and go grocery shopping is a huge endeavor. Trying to figure out things that you can buy that will not only last long, but can be eaten over several meals, or made into more than one dish was a key for me.

Luckily, there is an egg farm near my house that sells chipped or cracked eggs at the very bargain price of $3 for 30 eggs.

Condiments such as salt, pepper, sugar, hot sauce does not count against your budget as you can “pick these up” at any fast food restaurant or coffee place for “free”.

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Receipts
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Bought Food

In the end, my total spend for two people was $40.87, or $20.23 per person. Although I figured a small bag of flour into my budget, I did not actually buy it since I had some at home.

DAY 1

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Chickens ready to roast
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Roasted Veggies

This was primarily my planning day. I bought two whole chickens, so roasted them and then made chicken soup after taking all of the meat off the bones and carcass. I also cooked the bag of pinto beans that I bought.

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Breakfast – Day 1

Breakfast – Scrambled eggs, jalapenos, green onion and bean tacos.

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Lunch – Day 1

Lunch – Cabbage, celery and carrot salad

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Dinner – Day 1

Dinner – Roasted chicken with roasted asparagus and carrots

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Dessert – Day 1

Desserts – Lime meringue “kisses”

With the egg yolks left over from the lime meringue kisses, I planned on making egg pasta.

DAY 2

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Breakfast – Day 2
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Breakfast – Day 2

Breakfast – Oatmeal for me; Bubur Ayam (Chicken porridge) with fried eggs for my wife

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Lunch – Day 2

Lunch – Roasted asparagus and carrots, jalapeno and green onion scramble

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Dinner – Day 2

Dinner – Crunchy potato, chicken “chicharron” and chicken tacos

DAY 3

Breakfast – None, was still full from the night before

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Lunch – Day 3

Lunch – Chicken soup

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Snack – Day 3

Snack – Chicken “slaw”

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Dinner – Day 3

Dinner – Egg yolk ravioli with chicken “gravy”

DAY 4

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Breakfast – Day 4

Breakfast – Oatmeal with caramelized apples

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Lunch – Day 4

Lunch – Chicken soup with jalapenos

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Dinner – Day 4

Dinner – Bean, potato and egg tacos

DAY 5

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Breakfast – Day 5

Breakfast – Eggs & potatoes

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Lunch – Day 5

Lunch – Cabbage salad

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Dinner – Day 5

Dinner – Chicken soup with pasta “rags”

DAY 6

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Breakfast – Day 6

Breakfast – Oatmeal with caramelized apples

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Lunch – Day 6

Lunch – Chicken salad

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Dinner – Day 6

Dinner – Chicken, bean and rice tacos

DAY 7

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Breakfast – Day 7

Breakfast – Oatmeal with caramelized apples

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Lunch – Day 6

Lunch – Eggs and beans

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Dinner – Day 7

Dinner – Chicken with fried rice

CONCLUSION

We were able to complete the challenge and actually had some food left over. Meals got somewhat redundant due to the small budget and inability to purchase a variety of different foods. In retrospect, I would not have bought the ginger since I did not utilize it other than using some of it when roasting the chicken. Perhaps, some grated ginger would have made salads more interesting. I also would have bought the pinto beans in bulk rather than a two-pound bag. It would have been cheaper, and two pounds of beans in a week was a bit much. I also would have shopped around for potatoes a little more since I did find them cheaper at a different store and would have saved $2.10.

I felt like I ate relative healthy with the only processed food being the tortillas.

If you have done the $21 Challenge before, how did it go for you?  Any tips or recipes are welcome.

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