Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Well the big finish is here at last. I just consumed my last meal on the challenge. I'm looking forward to getting back to some more abundant food selections, but I want to hold on to a lot of what I've learned on this journey. I'll reflect upon those lessons later in the post, but wanted to first document my last day with some photos. Breakfast was the usual oatmeal with raisins which was fine. For lunch I made some more refried beans and had those with brown rice, a fried egg and 3 corn tortillas. They made for some great tasting bargain tacos...
For dinner I used my last bonus egg for another rendition of egg fried rice. It's so simple to make and it's filling and pretty tasty. I still had quite a bit of cabbage and more than enough carrots remaining, so I made a little more than usual and sauteed those separately before scrambling the egg and mixing in the rice. But the crowning moment was something I've been saving up for. I love baked potatoes. So I managed my potato ration in such a way that I had a substantial portion of a whole potato remaining today. So I wrapped it in foil and threw it in the oven at 350 degrees for an hour and a half. Cracked it open and seasoned it with what else but Season-All. It was such a welcome variety change that I might as well have had a steak!
One surprising fact to note as I finish up the last day is what was left. Some of the leftovers came as a result of the off-and-on aversions and from watching my appetite shrink over the 30 days. Here's what I've got on hand at the end of day 30, click to enlarge if you're curious...
Reflections on lessons learned...
I can cook! The main lesson I've learned from all of this is just the simple fact that I hold in my power the ability to create food that is healthy, satisfying, creative and tasty. If I can do this on $1/day, how much more can I do this moving forward with a more liberal budget! Yesterday I mentioned receiving a used cookbook I ordered, and today I received two more used cookbooks (how timely!): Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India, and Authentic Recipes from India. I'm eager to start experimenting. Cooking may come as second nature to some of you, but for me, it's a whole new world. So many times my knee-jerk reaction to satisfying a craving for food is to run out and spend money for someone else to make the food for me. I never really thought of it that way before, but essentially that's what I've been doing. Not that there's anything wrong with that necessarily, but it's just the liberation of knowing that I can do it myself if I want to, and in the process save money to be more generous toward the causes God has called me to support.
Empathy for the poor. I've also arrived at a closer empathy of what the poor contend with on a daily basis. These thoughts are reality for millions every day: If only I could afford some cooking oil. If only I could afford some tomato sauce for my pasta tonight. If only I could afford a stick of real butter. If only I could afford some chicken. If only I could afford... fill in the blank with anything basic that you take for granted on a daily basis. For many, sadly, it's just... if only I could afford clean drinking water for my children.
New perspective on hunger. In 2006 I did a 1-year trial run on going vegetarian. But it was a completely different challenge than this one. Mainly because, as a vegetarian, you still have access to all the fatty and sweet foods, not to mention the fact that you can easily match the caloric intake of a non-vegetarian diet. One thing I've learned from this challenge is that the human body is highly adaptable, and quickly adaptable. If you've followed my blog you've read on a few occasions about me being surprised by my lack of hunger for the most part (it was definitely there, but just not as bad as you might suspect, on most days). I have a friend who fasts often as a spiritual discipline. He says one of the side benefits is that you're just not really bothered by missing a meal, or by eating a late lunch, while for most of us, we end up saying things like "man, I'm starving" or "I'm not going to be able to get anything done on an empty stomach" etc. I've done fasts like the Daniel Fast and other shorter fasts, but none that required this much discipline. I have gained a whole new perspective on hunger and what it is to go without for a long period of time. So much so that I imagine it would take a lot for me to be thrown off by missing a meal or two in the future, or doing without a staple ingredient for an extended period of time.
How to lose weight and feel better. Another lesson learned is on weight loss. I lost 20 pounds during this 30 days. However I was not even setting out to do that. I guess the lesson learned is, if you want to lose weight, you don't have to follow some complicated plan. Just eat less and eat simply, and you will lose weight. And you'll feel better. Shedding all of the sugar and fats gave me more energy and healed my heartburn problems completely. Oddly enough, these two benefits I think aided greatly in helping me overcome the hunger.
Practical advice for those wanting to give this a try. If I had to do it again, I would shuffle the deck a little on my list. Biggest mistake was overestimating my oatmeal needs. I really could have done with just one 42 oz. box instead of two. With that money ($2.29) I could have added plenty of 20-cent 8-oz. cans of tomato sauce, which I was really craving after I ran out. I also would have purchased at least one more 20-cent lemon. I think I would have done a little more research on what could be done with bread making or cornmeal for cornbread, etc. and bought the according flour, etc. Five pounds of pinto beans would have been plenty, vs. my 6 pounds. I would have been able to reallocate 59 cents right there. I would have tried to find a way to fit in cooking oil, but that is a challenge because it is not typically sold in small quantities. Also would have considered trying to find a small portion of soy sauce, but again, a challenge, and not a priority. 10 packs of Ramen probably would have been plenty. I think I wasted 30 cents by buying 12. The basics: drink tons of water. Buy the spicy Ramen packs if you even remotely like spicy foods, or just want to add a little kick to your soups. Even a small amount of their spicy seasoning packs go a long way. Corn tortillas, if you can find them as cheap as I did (90 for $1.99) are indispensable in their versatility, but keep them refrigerated. If you're looking for an adaptation of this challenge, one thought is to consider your existing spices and cooking oils as available for "purchase" in increments. Like find out what your bottle of canola oil cost you, and "purchase" x number of ounces from your existing supply, and count that into your $30 budget. Same could go with salt and spices. That would have made things a lot easier, cooking-wise, while still having to take on the challenge of living off of $30 of food.
Thanks for the links, visits, and comments. I wanted to say thanks to all of you who have followed my blog and left comments of encouragement or advice. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it's received over 1300 visits from over 600 unique visitors in 21 countries! Thanks for helping me spread the word. I think it has made an impact of awareness, and for that, it's made all of this worth it. If you have websites or blogs, please continue to link here even though the challenge is over. I think there's a lot to learn here for people searching for ways to simplify or challenge themselves on what they're spending on food.
Final prayer focus: Pray for all of those who don't have a day 31. Their challenge keeps going on perpetually. This is a humbling thought and one that will motivate me to pray for quite some time.
Estimated Savings for Day 30 & Grand Total: We had a catered staff lunch today at our church, so I would not have spent any money on that. (I ate my little bean, rice and egg tacos as everyone else feasted, but it really didn't bother me). It was a really rainy day with a lot on my schedule, so I honestly don't think I would have spent anything else. For this final day, I'm just calculating for my minimum estimated savings of $6. This brings the grand total of my orphanage donation up to $440.60, which represents over 14 months' wages among the poor of South Asia. It's also about what it would cost us at Peace Gospel to sponsor an orphan's expenses at one of our orphanages for 17 months. It also represents what it would cost us to provide life-saving polio immunizations for about 1500 children. Puts a lot into perspective.
Monday, April 27, 2009
Just knowing that I have less than 48 hours before this is over helped immensely today. I also tried to think back on which dishes I've enjoyed the most and tried those again today. I have been surprised by how good the refried beans taste, so I had those again for lunch along with a small amount of brown rice. But as I was still coming off of yesterday's aversion experience, I did not eat lunch until 2pm. My appetite grew as the taste of the beans motivated me to eat more, so I went ahead and made another batch of what you see pictured here for seconds! With two corn tortillas available, I made some small tacos with the beans and rice...
For dinner I went back to good old egg fried rice. But this time I sauteed the cabbage and carrots in a bit of the vegetable oil spread first to give them a little different texture. With one scrambled egg and a cup of brown rice with some Season-All mixed in, it was a great meal. I realized during this whole time I'd never had Ramen soup all by itself. So I did a half-portion of a pack of Ramen just as soup, as the instructions called for, and that was indeed a nice little variety change up.
Everyone keeps asking what I'm going to eat on the day after. I'm really not sure yet. But I know from past experience in coming off of fasts that you can easily over do it and send your body into shock. So as best as I can control my urges, I'm going to try to take things slow. It might be really nice to just have a bowl of cereal that morning, as I have had no dairy for 30 days. But at some point soon I will definitely be eating at Sri Balaji Bhavan for some authentic South Indian vegetarian delights. Just being able to open up the fridge or pantry and eating whatever is available is what I'm looking forward to the most. Also looking forward to getting back into a normal routine of eating what my family is eating for mealtimes. It's been a challenge to share time with them as I am spending so much time in the kitchen preparing a separate meal for myself. You should see me trying to cook around my wife as she's preparing a meal for the 7 of them. Chaos!
But my biggest desire is to learn more cooking skills. I've ordered several used cookbooks online. My first one arrived today: 400 Best-Ever Budget Recipes. The weirdest thing happened. My oldest son Noah said, "oh, cool, I wonder if they have a recipe for lemon pie" as he loves lemon pies. I said, "well, let's see." I opened up the book, and I kid you not, it opened straight to a recipe for a lemon pie. It's a sign, I tell you! Two other Indian cookbooks are on their way. I want to be able to cook the food I love so I don't have to pay a fortune to satisfy my cravings.
Prayer focus: Pray for India's 70 million disabled. They represent about 6% of the population. Of these, only 2% are educated and 1% employed. We at Peace Gospel have made it part of our mission to distribute wheelchairs to disabled dalits ("untouchables" shunned by society) in India free of charge. It costs us only $50 to purchase a wheelchair. This is making a huge impact in areas where wheelchairs were before only an elusive luxury. People previously confined to literally crawling along on the ground are gaining mobility for the first time in their lives. It is our hope that by giving the disabled the gift of mobility, the statistics will not be so horribly stacked against them. If you'd like to sponsor a wheelchair or a portion thereof, you can click here for more details.
Estimated Savings for Day 29: I might have taken my pre-schooler to Chick-fil-a for lunch today. I would have picked up my usual combo meal for about $5.99 or so. As I was really exhausted today, I would have likely stopped off for a hot black tea at Starbucks or Fioza for about $1.60. Add this to my normal estimated daily grocery cost of $7, subtract $1 for today's actual cost, and I'm at $13.59 saved for my orphanage donation today. This brings my running total up to $434.60.
Sunday, April 26, 2009
Today was a breaking point of sorts. That stew from yesterday sat with me through the night. I was fitful up past 2 am thinking about how I could possibly eat one more grain of brown rice, one more pinto bean, one more slice of carrot, or one more noodle. I started to question the health benefits of losing 20 pounds in 27 days, I started to get nervous about being able to make it through the last 3 days. And I was, for the first time in awhile, really hungry. Nonetheless, I awoke refreshed and whipped up another bowl of oatmeal and raisins. For some reason, that is the one thing I have not had an aversion toward, and bonus, it really sustains me for a good 4 hours or so. All of this being said, lunch was pretty good. I've enjoyed the refried beans, so I did a full cup of those. And it hit me, I had never enjoyed mashed potatoes without adding them to something else, so I thought that might help on the variety front, to just eat them straight, with a little Season-All, and that was nice. I threw in another rendition of my egg drop soup, this time with brown rice added, and it was enjoyable but still did not feel up to eating the whole thing. I'm also getting a bit of blog fatigue. Tonight, I just honestly don't feel like doing the math to tell you how much this meal cost me. But I know this one was probably around 40 cents or so...
For dinner, I just literally could not dream up anything. A friend had recommended adding a little more water to my rice on the next batch, to yield some rice milk, so I did that yesterday. She had said I might try adding some raisins to this to come up with a sweet tea of sorts. I tried this by blending some water-soaked raisins, and I felt it was a valiant try, but it was just not my cup of tea! Might have come in handy on the vegan shepherd's pie, but not straight up. For your amusement, here's the shot...
But, back to dinner, I did end up having a small rice burrito and a bit of pasta with some Season-All, but I just could not bring myself to eat anything else. Cabbage: no! Carrots: no more! I feel like my 2 year old! But I will say, isn't it amazing that my 3-lb. $0.75 head of cabbage is still going strong?!
Prayer focus: I'm heading up to Taylor University on Wednesday to present some thoughts at an evening event as part of their annual Social Justice Week. Pray for me, as really I have no idea what I'm going to say at this point. But I am looking forward to it. I'll be spending the night in their cardboard village; seems an appropriate book-end to my 30 days! This year they are focusing on India and the caste system. I feel honored and humbled that they would invite me to be a part of this. Thanks for praying!
Estimated Savings for Day 28: No clue. Maybe a real cup of tea at Starbucks? Buck-sixty? Add this to my normal estimated daily grocery cost of $7, subtract $1 for today's actual cost, and I'm at $7.60 for my orphanage donation today. This puts my running total up to $421.01. This is ridiculous and humbling to admit. Lord, may I be more mindful of my spending after this 30 days!
Saturday, April 25, 2009
Started the day out with my usual oatmeal. It was still very enjoyable, however I am sad to say that I hit the end of my sunflower seeds a little earlier than projected. Just glad I still have plenty of raisins. Speaking of, I decided to try a new twist on Migas for lunch. Migas, for those of you who don't know, is a kind of breakfast dish consisting of torn corn tortilla pieces cooked together with scrambled eggs. It hit me that I obviously had the ingredients for this, but I wanted to make it a little more interesting. So I decided to see what raisins would taste like if I scrambled them into the mix. I first microwaved them in some water to loosen them up, and then threw them into the skillet with the beaten egg and torn corn tortilla pieces. I really did not know what to expect. But it was definitely a nice touch, sweetening it up and adding a variety of flavor I have not yet experienced during the challenge. I also whipped up a quick batch of refried beans again, and together it made for one of my better meals. Cost: 25 cents.
Then tonight, running out of ideas, I made a stew that was not one of my greatest inventions, but filling nonetheless. I combined water with a touch of bean broth, 1/2 serving of Ramen noodles and seasoning, 3/4 cup pinto beans, 1 cup brown rice, 2/3 cup shell pasta, 2.5 oz. cubed potato, 1 oz. carrot, and 1 oz. cabbage. It was definitely a little carb-heavy with the noodles and pasta, making for a heavy feeling, maybe even "hard to digest" kind of meal. But it did the job on the survival front. Cost: because of the number of ingredients, 46 cents.
Just three more days to go! Not sure what it was about today, maybe the poor execution on the stew concept, but I'm definitely feeling ready for this to be over. But I've learned so much I'm going to take with me beyond the 30 days. The fact that I can cook amazing-tasting meals for under a dollar will definitely be a practice I will take with me past the finish line. For that matter, the fact that I can cook any amazing-tasting meals is the shocker, not being much of a cook at all to begin with!
Prayer focus: Pray for one of the villages in South India where we do a lot of ministry. I received an email from our pastor there today requesting prayer for a difficult situation. He writes: There is a school in the village among high caste people, some of our children (Dalits) are studying in that school 8th to 10th class [grade]. But recently there are some problems that took place in the school due to the caste system, between Dalit children and high caste children. This school is in a high caste section of the village. The high caste children are not happy to give these dalit children a place to sit along with them. They are saying bad words and insulting them by using horrible words toward them. Much worse, they have beaten these dalit children 5 times. These children complained to the teachers and to the administration, but there is no use. These high caste children warned the teachers. These dalit students' situation is not good in in [this village]. Please pray for peace in [this village] my brother, we are also praying for this. They need your prayers. So many upsetting things are going on there with this issue, please pray.
Estimated Savings for Day 27: It's interesting, I'm so far removed from what my usual routine would have been like before the challenge started, I really don't know how to estimate any longer. I will just say at this point, I would not be surprised if I had eaten out today, and might have spent about $7 on such an outing. Add this to my normal estimated daily grocery cost of $7, subtract $1 for today's actual cost, and I've saved $13 toward my orphanage donation today. My running total is now up to $413.41.
Friday, April 24, 2009
It was a long day so I don't have much energy left to blog. But I will talk about a couple of good meals I had today. I created a new soup for lunch which I thought was tasty and filling. For lack of a better title, I'll call it Spicy Corn Chowder Egg Drop Potato & Noodle Soup. I don't have any true corn, but I used a corn tortilla chopped into little squares to mimmic the flavor. I used 2.5 oz. mashed potatoes to give it the chowdery texture. And of course the spicy seasoning from half of a pack of the Hot Chili Ramen flavoring. Man that stuff goes a long way. I would recommend buying that pack of Ramen at $0.15 just for the little flavoring packet. I used my rules from previous Egg Drop recipe to add the eggs, and wha-la, it was pretty simple. My wife has some friends in town so she had the camera on an outing, so I had to use my camera phone to capture the moment. Not that great, but at least for documentary purposes... Cost: 27 cents.
For dinner, I lacked the creativity of the last few days, but I was hungry and tired-- I just needed to make some survival food. So I threw together about 3/4 cup refried beans. I chopped some carrots and cabbage and "fried" that with about 1.5 cups of brown rice. I made my bean broth reduction sauce again and added that for additional flavor/texture. Seasoned both with Season-All and added a corn tortilla. Made a little refried bean taco from that. For as fast as it was, and as inexpensive as it cost, this was a very satisfying meal. Cost: 30 cents.
Prayer focus: Pray for Peace Gospel's work in the slums. Especially for further development of our clean water delivery projects. Over 22% of India's urban population consists of slum dwellers— those who live in make-shift homes and get by on less than $1 per day. This makes India home to the largest slum population on the planet, with over 60 million slum residents. According to the World Health Organization, nearly 1,600 children die every day in India due to diseases caused by contaminated water. Peace Gospel is laboring to deliver clean water to those living in the slums, where water contamination problems are rampant. Providing clean water for the poor creates economic opportunity because they can focus on getting back to work rather than spending so much time looking for water.
Estimated Savings for Day 26: I would not be surprised if today I would have been found at Sri Balaji Bhavan were I not on the challenge. I've already blogged about it a few times, but if you're newer to the blog, I'll bring you up to speed: if you live in Houston, you should hereby be informed that there is no better Indian restaurant in town in terms of authenticity to true South Indian vegetarian cuisine. Not to mention value. I usually spend about $8 there and have enough leftovers for dinner. Add this to my normal estimated daily grocery cost of $7, subtract $1 for today's actual cost, and I've saved $14 for my orphanage donation today. My running total has now broken the $400 mark at $400.41.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Started today off with another shocker at the scale... I've lost 18 pounds, from 226 to 208. And I'm not even feeling that hungry, it's really strange. I have to admit it's a nice bonus I was not expecting at all. Oddly, I'm not getting tired of my oatmeal with raisins and sunflower seeds for breakfast. I've had that the past several days now, usually in a rush and eating it on the way out so it comes in handy. When you have no other source of sugar, raisins become amazing little explosions of flavor. For lunch, I went back to egg fried rice and also made a few seasoned corn ships in the toaster oven. But for dinner, I needed something new to provide the variety I'm craving. I think I was reading on a blog somewhere on cheap meal ideas or something, and Shepherd's Pie came up. I looked up this recipe, and realized I was pretty close to an improvised, very basic rendition of the dish. Also, my friend Beth had mentioned simmering my pinto bean broth down to a sauce, and I thought I might be able to use that in my improv as well. And it did come in handy, thanks Beth! I used sauteed cabbage, shell pasta, mashed pinto beans, and brown rice for the undergirding of the pie (with "juiciness" aided by the bean sauce), and mashed potatoes (5 oz. worth) to spread on the top of the pie. Topped with my last two teaspoons of tomato sauce and seasoned with Season-All, it was delicious and very filling! But if it were not for the cabbage and sauce, it would have been a bit too starchy. For the curious, here's the recipe...
- 5 oz. potatoes
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 3/4 cup cooked pinto beans
- 2/3 cup (before cooking) shell pasta
- 1.5 oz. cabbage
- 1 cup pinto bean broth
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil spread
- 2 teaspoons tomato sauce
- 1 teaspoon water
- A few dashes of Season-All
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Cube potatoes and boil them until cooked (about 8 minutes?)
- Bring water to boil for pasta shells, cook accordingly.
- Bring bean broth to a boil then reduce to medium heat until reduced to near-sauce-like status, but still a bit watery.
- Chop the cabbage and saute in skillet with vegetable oil spread until browning occurs.
- Mash the pinto beans with a fork.
- In a small casserole dish, add the mashed beans, pasta, cabbage, rice and bean sauce together so that all ingredients are evenly distributed. Press the mix down with a fork or spoon so that it's even on the surface.
- Once the potatoes are cooked, mash them with a fork until even consistency is achieved.
- Carefully spoon out the mashed potatoes onto the top of the mix, kind of painting the potatoes onto the surface with the spoon.
- Place dish in preheated oven for 15 minutes.
- Add 1 teaspoon water to the 2 teaspoons tomato sauce to increase its volume. Spread the sauce on top of the dish after baking is completed. Season with Season-All as desired and enjoy!
Cost: About 43 cents.
Maxing out the stovetop!
The finished product...
Prayer focus: Pray for Sonam and Karma, two of the children at our Nepal orphanage. They are suffering from unexplained nose bleeding. Pray for their healing and peace in their hearts. Praise update: Krupamma is much better today, checked out fine, and back to work serving the children. Thanks for praying!
Estimated savings for Day 25: I was craving BBQ today, so I would not be surprised if I had joined a friend for a chopped beef sandwich and cole slaw at one of the many incredible local BBQ shacks around here. That along with a drink would have likely been around, what, maybe $8.50? I might have had an appointment at Starbucks, where I would have had a hot tea for about $1.60. Add this to my normal estimated daily grocery cost of $7, subtract $1 for today's actual cost, and I've saved $16.10 toward my orphanage donation today. My running total is now up to $386.41.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
You're thinking that I translated my lunch dish into French to make it sound fancy, but honestly, that's the name of the recipe my friend Omar from Cameroon gave me. That's right, a genuine French-African dish right here on the 30 day challenge, baby! However I did add my own twist to it: oven-roasted carrots. This is seriously easy to make and tastes great. (Note: I saved up my rations of potatoes and carrots from yesterday to use for this dish, and also borrowed my bonus egg from tomorrow to use here) ... Recipe:
- 5 oz. potatoes
- 2 oz. carrots
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons veg. oil spread (or butter)
- 1/2 teaspoon Season-All
- Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
- Cut potatoes into strips like french fries. Chop carrots into sliced quarters or halves.
- In a medium sized bowl or large coffee mug, place 2 tablespoons vegetable oil spread (or butter), microwave for 20 seconds or until melted. Dip chopped potatoes and carrots into the vegetable oil or butter, making sure each piece is well coated. Place the potatoes and carrots in a single layer on a roasting pan or baking sheet.
- Roast for 20 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven, turning every 5 or 6 minutes to brown on all sides.
- Beat the two eggs in a bowl. When potatoes and carrots are ready, place them in the bowl with the eggs. Let the potatoes soak up some of the eggs for about 3 or 4 minutes as you stir occasionally.
- Pour all of the ingredients into a skillet on medium high heat. Scramble as desired with spatula. Scramble an additional 3-4 minutes after eggs are solid to ensure all ingredients are well heated.
- Serve and season to taste with Season-All.
Alternate, more authentic method is to dump the eggs, carrots and potatoes into the skillet and NOT scramble them. Just let the eggs harden like an omelet. When the eggs harden, place a plate over the skillet and flip it to serve the omelet upside down! I meant to do this but misread my friend's instructions. Still turned out great using my improvised method.
Cost: About 37 cents. (One of my more expensive dishes!)
Soaking the ingredients in the eggs:
The finished product:
Tonight for dinner I made refried beans again since they were so tasty last night. I used two of my tortillas to make corn chips, and one to make a taco of my beans and rice. Also had a spicy chicken-chili flavored ramen noodle soup (half-serving) with cabbage. Delicious! My kids love the homemade chips and beans. Cost of the meal pictured here, including the soup was about 30 cents.
Health Ponderings: Today I did start to feel a little lethargic from the lack of fruits and fresh veggies. Had a few headaches, but kept downing the water and that helped. The remainder of my lemon essentially rotted a few days ago, so I'm missing the vitamin C there. The meals today were a bit heavy with the vegetable oil spread, which could be contributing to my "thick" lethargic feeling. So I think I'll cut back on that tomorrow and try to go a little lighter on everything while keeping the water flowing. My appetite has decreased and hunger pangs are less frequent. I have not weighed in lately but I think I continue to lose weight. Glad to be rounding the home stretch. Six days to go!
Prayer focus: Pray for one of our staff "mothers" at the orphanage in India. Her name is Krupamma, and she had to go to the hospital today complaining of chest pains.
Estimated Savings for Day 24: I was thinking about Indian food a lot today, so I think I would have likely made my usual run to Sri Balaji Bhavan. I might have had some iddly with lemon rice, or maybe a Madras Thali, not sure, but definitely would have had a cup of their chai. Probably would have spent about $8 there. Add this to my normal estimated daily grocery cost of $7, subtract $1 for today's actual cost, and I'm looking at $14 saved for my orphanage donation today. My running total is now up to $369.31, equal to over one year's wages among the poor of South Asia.