Carol Lewis, Day 2

As Canada inaugurates her new Prime Minister, I work methodically through Day Two of the challenge. Yesterday and today I had Hot Chocolate (with a Tablespoon of cream) and hot cooked rolled oats (with a Teaspoon of butter melted in). For lunch I had a tortilla wrapped sandwich of chicken, onion, bell pepper, a skinny sliver of avocado and finely minced cabbage. For supper yesterday and today, I had rice and beans.

The Canada Food Guide ( recommends 7 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, 6 servings of grains, 3 servings of Dairy , and 2 servings of meat or meat alternatives for a woman age 51+ years. Using their examples and their estimate of what a ‘serving size’ equals, as well as their recommendation for number of servings recommended daily, I should eat the following, or a combination of the suggestions in each category:

  • Grains – 6 slices of whole grain bread or 3 bagels or 3 tortillas or 3 cups rice or 4 1/2 cups cereal grains
  • Fruits & Vegetables – 7 pieces of fruit daily or 7 cups of leafy veggies(salad) or 3 1/2 cups of juice
  • Dairy – 3 cups milk or 2 1/4 cups yogurt or 4 1/2 ounces of cheese
  • Protein – 4 Tablespoons Peanut Butter or 4 eggs or 1 1/2 cups of beans or 1 cup of fish, meat or poultry

Using this as my guideline for a healthy diet, I began my shopping with the dairy. Buying most of my groceries for the entire month is sound purchasing power. Suggested serving is three cups of milk for one week – I purchased a litre of cream instead. I take cream in my morning hot chocolate, and it will be useful in the meals all week. I also bought a block of cheddar cheese and a pound of butter (yes margarine is less expensive, but everything tastes better with butter!)

Next the grains. I met this dietary requirement with rice, whole grain breads and breakfast oats. The cheapest in the bulk section happens to be old fashioned rolled oats, which are my favourite! I also purchased whole wheat flatbread, instead of regular bread, for my sandwiches and also as an accompaniment with meals, and the cheapest rice in the bulk section.

Just an aside here … In my area, the Goodwill stores all offer free bread, every week. The product they offer ranges from empty calorie refined white flour bakery bread, to dense heavy rye breads and from croissants to cinnamon buns to multi-grain harvest breads. I usually snag a couple of loaves a week. For this challenge, I have not made use of my usual free bread source.

Meat and beans were my next purchases. In every grocery store in my area, one can purchase a whole cooked chicken for between $7.99 and $8.99, truly a cheap meat option. For this reason it is also one of my go-to meat choices. Beans were on special this week, 4 tins for $5 dollars, not bad! Tuna was also on sale, 2 tins for $2.50, so 4 of those, thank you very much!

Fruits and Vegetables present the biggest challenge and are usually the most expensive items in my grocery cart, as they rarely go on special. I spend the summer collecting free fruit from the trees in the parks and along roadsides and then either dry it (puréed in the blender and spread REALLY thin on a strip of cooking parchment on a cookie sheet in the oven, on the lowest setting, all day, until dry to the consistency I like) or cut it up, bag it and freeze it. For the challenge though, I bought a 5lb bag of apples for my fruit. I also bought a 5lb bag of potatoes. I keep a watch for the occasional of the produce department of my local grocery stores. They often have packages of mixed veggies, bundled together and heavily marked down. This week I snagged one with a tomato, three bell peppers, some wilty looking celery sticks, and an avocado for $2! When I can’t get a bargain on fresh, I buy more frozen vegetable mix. Not as tasty, but just as nutritious. I picked up a bag of frozen mixed peas, carrots and corn for $1.99 as well.
My grocery bill for the month has totalled $78.54 and divided by four (because it’s a four week month) my weeks groceries totals $19.64.

According to Stats Canada the average household ( spends $21 per DAY on food.

By completing the $21 Challenge for just one week you could have an extra $99 in hand. This means if you do a $21 Challenge once a month in your household, you will save $1188 dollars in a year, which you could then donate to your local food bank, and get a tax deduction for!

If you’ve eaten out recently, and it cost $20 or more, stop for a moment and think how 170,000 people could have eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner every day for a week on what you spent.

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