Hello World!

Two weeks ago, I quit my job. I did so with $15 in my purse and no new job lined up. I made my decision at 4.50pm after a particularly nasty day – by 5.15 I had cleared my desk, taken down photos of my kids, packed up my coffee cup, box of earl grey tea and some two minute noodles out of a drawer and cleared the computer cache of all my private emails and a bunch of recipes I had drafted.

Yes, recipes.

I am a foodie from way back. I cook so well, people have moved to the other side of the world to live with me so they can eat my food ( this is true). I am the one my friends ask for a recipe when they don’t have one. I write about food elsewhere, I study new recipes, I share my meals with those I love.

But,  I had $15 in my purse and an empty pantry and fridge. My last payday was two weeks ago, and my immediate needs were to pay the rent. So, with a heavy heart, and still no job lined up, I went to Centrelink, as mendacious and Kafkaesque as any bureaucracy in the world, and signed up for social security, or as it is known in Australia, a Newstart Allowance.

It became quickly apparent that the allowance was barely enough to cover my rent and utilities. It left me with just $120 per fortnight with which to feed my family.

And with that, this project was borne. The Challenge is a straightforward one – I must feed a family for 14 days and nights for $120. I refuse to resort to frozen meals, highly processed foods or calorie-dense, nutritionally poor meals. I don’t do margarine.

My family includes two teenagers. One is a 17 year old boy who eats enough for two. He starts work at 5am and often leaves without having breakfast. He returns at 2pm and eats a large meal, then another evening meal. My 16 year old daughter is a high school student, who has to be reminded to eat breakfast and likes to take snack foods to eat at school. Her preferred method of eating is to graze all day. She often works in the evening and needs a meal that can be reheated so she can eat late in the afternoon before her shift.

It’s not just me that has this challenge. Around the world, millions of people are living with low disposable incomes – they are students, they are single income families, they are the working poor, they are they heavily indebted, trying-to-pay-it-all-off people, they are saving for a deposit for a house. They are amongst us all.

$120. Fourteen meals. Some snacks for lunchboxes. The occasional sweet treat. Breakfasts every day. No margerine and no bad food.

It can be done.

0 thoughts on “Hello World!”

  1. Brilliant La Petite Chou! I’m a hopeless cook but these recipes don’t look too daunting to me – and so affordable too. Thankyou!!!

    1. Thank you Dulcie, I’m looking forward to making changes to the layout so it’s easier to find things and add pics and so forth – my tachnical ability isn’t nearly as good as my cooking skills, so bear with me. Lovely to see you here.

  2. I can’t wait! Already I’m excited by what’s on here. Thanks for giving hope to a young and time-poor cook.

  3. This is so exciting! I don’t really cook, I know I know, shame on me but I was intrigued and you make ME want to cook. I think I just heard my boyfriend say whaaaat all the way from Bondi to the city. Good luck with your blog. I too have one and they are always fun xx

  4. Sandra this is possibly the best website on the whole Internet. I’m so thrilled that I found it. Good luck with keeping to the $120 limit, it is a very difficult thing to do. Would you please consider adding a ‘print recipe’ button so that when we print the recipe, we don’t print all the pages of comments as well.

    1. Hi Jo,

      I’ll happily add a print button, as you can tell, my computer literacy isn’t as good as my culinary skills!

      I’ll work on adding this feature – together with a kinder way of navigating through recipes rather than through one long page – over the upcoming weekend.

  5. You are one talented lady Sandra!! I love the prelude that accompanies the recipes. I can’t believe you didn’t get picked for Masterchef.

    As a new mum and no longer working we are really trying to eat as healthy and economically as possible. I look forward to sharing your creations/recipes with the family.

    Thank you and good luck.

  6. Dear Sandra,

    You are an inspiration. Having spent time cooking with my daughter yesterday I understand how much kids get out of being involved with their parents, and doing activities such as cooking together.

    You have done what you can to feed your loved ones – bravo.

    Wishing you all the very best.

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