How to spend only $25 on a week of meals for two

April 6, 2020
Sustainable Development Goal
Sustainable Development Goal
Sustainable Development Goal

Today we’ve got Chelsea from Eco Conscious Consumer blogging about one of the food waste challenges we recently set. It was one of the hardest challenges; to spend only $25 between two people for the week. It’s possible though and we are incredibly impressed – particularly as Chelsea ate out! Check out this awesome food diary below for your own guide and inspiration.

Hi! My name is Chelsea and I’ve been blogging about sustainability for a little over two years now. When I saw Nowhere & Everywhere’s post on gamifying food waste with a series of Food Waste Challenges I knew I had to try it. The challenge that fascinated me the most was the $25 Food Waste Challenge, where you only spend $25 for a whole week of lunches and dinners for two people.

This was especially appealing to me as my partner Hamza and I have a bad habit of ordering delivery which is both detrimental to our sustainability and financial goals. Below you will see what we ate for a week and how well we stayed within the $25 budget (spoiler: we went over, but not by much!).

I hope this is helpful to anyone looking to attempt this challenge in the future. If you’d like to chat with me I’m always a message away on Instagram @ecoconsciousconsumer.

Monday

Lunch: Halal turkey sandwiches with lettuce, tomato, and mayo with a side of baby carrots, grape tomatoes, green peas, and strawberries. These were all ingredients we had on hand.

Spend: $0.00

Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget

Dinner: My friend Erica and I had planned to hang out and a friend of hers was having a restaurant opening in downtown Atlanta (El Burro Pollo) so we came out to support. We split a bowl of ceviche and a plate of vegetarian squash quesadillas. The tortillas were warm, had the right texture, and were absolutely authentic. The ceviche was good but the tortilla chips were so thin they kept breaking. There was leftover ceviche after.

Spend: $25.05, whoops!

Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget
Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget

Tuesday

Lunch: Having spent my entire budget for the week in one night, I decided I’d keep going anyway. Like Barack Obama once said, if you’re easily meeting every goal you set then you’re not setting the bar high enough. For lunch I made a South Asian traditional bhindi paratha (cooked okra with parathas). We’ve had the same pack of frozen parathas in our freezer for over a year. For bhindi I just fried sliced okra with EVOO, onion, garlic, canned roma tomatoes, and spices, all of which we had on hand.

Spend: $0.00 – back on track!

Dinner: Tuesday night we made black-eyed pea and sweet potato tacos. They were delicious and filling! The cilantro was from our “window garden” on our outside windowsill. The black-eyed peas were locally grown in Georgia and we’d recently cooked them in our slow cooker on “Slow Cooker Sunday,” so they were leftovers that needed to be used. I used fresh limes to make us limeades to drink on the side.

Spend: $1.50 on 1 avocado

Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget
Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget

Wednesday (Vegan Vednesday)

Lunch: Leftover black-eyed peas and sweet potatoes with fruit. Gotta eat your leftovers! Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of this one, just imagine the tacos above in a bowl without tortillas 😂 

Spend: $0.00

Dinner: Korean yam and purple kale soup. I am proud of this one! This is loosely based on the Japanese Yam and Kale Soup recipe from Purple Carrot, which we used to be subscribed to. The soup was composed of veggie broth, cannelini beans, onion and garlic, 1 Korean yam diced, a head of purple kale chopped, a can of corn, and some crispy tortilla strips I made in the oven with the tortillas we had on hand.

Fun fact: the can of corn was from my Buy Nothing group!

Spend: $0.00

Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget

Thursday

Lunch: Leftovers, of course! Korean yam and purple kale soup sans the crispy tortilla strips.

Spend: $0.00

Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget

Dinner: Even after eating that Korean yam and purple kale soup for dinner and lunch we still had leftovers. To use up the rest I made pasta and added them in for a Tuscan-inspired white bean and kale rotini, adding shredded mozzarella (we’re halal flexitarians) and Mediterranean herbs (oregano, rosemary, probably others).

Spend: $0.00

Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget

Friday

Lunch: Leftover Tuscan white bean pasta with kale.

Spend: $0.00

Dinner: Homemade egg drop soup with scallions and Szechuan eggplant with baby bok choy over white rice. Hamza prefers white rice, though it’s not my favorite I try to make things he likes too. The meal was delicious, spicy, and filling!

Spend: $0.00

Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget
Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget

Saturday

Lunch: Leftover Szechuan eggplant and baby bok choy over rice. Extra chili garlic sauce because it’s our favorite.

Spend: $0.00

Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget

Dinner: Neither of us felt like making dinner, so we snacked on candy and drank soda that night and didn’t really do “dinner” since we had a late lunch and stayed full on junk food snacks. This is a terrible example! Please don’t be lazy like us. 

Spend: $0.00

Sunday

Lunch: Halal turkey bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato (BLAT) sandwich and a banana. My cat Sherlock always wants to try some!

Spend: $0.00

Food waste challenges blog $25 budget - Nowhere & Everywhere - Climate change reduce food waste budget

Dinner: Ras el Hanout halal chicken drumsticks with eggplant zaalouk and oven baked potato slices. My partner and I teamed up on this one. He made the drumsticks and potatoes and I made the zaalouk. Ras el Hanout is an Arabic spice blend we got from a local maker Marray Foods months ago. Zaalouk is a North African eggplant dish. My partner Hamza is from Casablanca, Morocco so we try to incorporate Arab, North African, and Mediterranean flavors and culinary traditions into our cooking. This gave us leftovers to eat the next day as well.

Spend: $0.00

Weekly Total: $26.55

This was truly incredible for us. We thank Nowhere & Everywhere for putting us up to the task! After trying this for one week we decided we’d do it again once a month to cut our spending on food delivery and reduce packaging waste in the process! Thanks for checking out our week, if you decide to do the challenge I’d love to follow along with you. 

We’re still so impressed! You can find Chelsea on:

Instagram: www.instagram.com/ecoconsciousconsumer

Facebook: www.facebook.com/ecoconsciousconsumer

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ecoconsciousconsumer

Twitter: www.twitter.com/ecochelsea_

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Written by Chelsea Johnson

Chelsea is a sustainability advocate living in Atlanta, Georgia. Chelsea runs one of Atlanta’s Buy Nothing groups, and is passionate about sharing economies, food sovereignty, and car-free living. You can find out more about her on her website Eco Conscious Consumer.

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  1. Dan

    While I salute the message involved in this article, perhaps you could add at the top that you acknowledge there is a degree of priviledge involved in being able to attempt this kind of thing? NOT that it’s not good or educational etc, but I dont like people feeling shame for not being able to achieve something like this. For such a range of reasons. And particularly within the time of the pandemic. While it’s clearly not what you’re doing, perhaps you could state that you dont want to food shame anyone! I’ve seen a slew of posts going viral that do just this, or spread fear such as the so-called Dirty Dozen crap.