On the 21st of August this year I left home for a place of my own. Of course technically I’m still living with someone else (my roommate), but now I really have to look after my own well-being. If I’m too lazy to feed myself there’s going to be a corpse stinking up the room. And I won’t have anyone to blame but myself.
22 years old, and only now am I taking on that big bad world. Some might say I waited too long, some might ask why the rush? But I felt it was time. I enjoyed my time with my family and I still aim keep in touch as much as I am able. Heck, I love those guys.
Coinciding with Live Below The Line I managed to live on under $2.25 for the week I moved in. Not a bad way of saving money mind you. But there’s no way I could keep it up. Why? Personal health and my own insanity. Shows just how acclimatised we are to this way of living.
With the help of my parents I moved in one day. Of course with all the junk I’ve collected over the years — I’m a hoarder at heart — there just wasn’t enough space to fit it all into a single square of a room. The rest of the stuff got left behind. I’m trying to be better, I really am. I threw out a whole bunch of stuff, and right now I’ve got a bag of old clothes I’ve deemed donate-able sitting in the back of my closet. Living a life of minimalism has always intrigued me, and although it is a journey, not a destination, I really wish my journey would hurry up and take off from the curb.
While I had to go supermarket shopping for that week, seeing as I was starving myself I really only needed a handful of items until Saturday. Since then I’ve become a shopping master. And all through trial and error.
For the next week I had my big shopping expedition, tagging along with my Dad and his partner. When I stood in line at the supermarket for a good 10 minutes I knew I had to do something. So I signed up for Shop ‘n Go which means I get a little barcode scanner, and I can scan and pack my items as I go. At the end I hand in the scanner and pay. There’s a random chance I could get my trolley rechecked – y’know to weed out the dishonest thieves. But that’s better than a guaranteed chance of waiting at the checkout every time I shop. It’s also easy to check how much you’re spending. Much better than busting out a pocket calculator.
I couldn’t care less about competing supermarket prices or deals. I don’t have the time –- well that’s a lie, I have a lot of time, but I just don’t have the energy. I shop at Pak ‘n Save, it’s closer and usually has the best prices. Where possible I choose the cheapest brand unless its one I particularly enjoy. Sanitarium Weet-Bix for example, not those god awful Wheat Biscuits. In saying that they probably taste exactly the same. I’ve just been suckered into all that marketing and kiwi social conditioning.
Of course living without proper transport presents its own difficulties. I’m only a 5-10 minute walk from Pak ‘n Save, and at first I had some trouble. On one short shop I tried to fill up my backpack and bike off with a load of bread dangling from my fingers. I got home in the end, but my back was incredibly sore from carting cans, milk, and various other things. Next time I took two reusable shopping bags, and decided I would walk back. Of course stuffing those two full wasn’t the best of ideas, and my arms pulled from their sockets as I walked home like a stiff corpse. My shoulders hurt for days after that! I’ve now found the happy medium thanks to my mum; Walk, fill up the backpack with the heavy items (but not completely), and put the rest into the reusable bag. Works a treat.
So I have the supermarket mastered. Now choosing meals on the other hand… I’m used to only cooking two meals a week (usually pasta). For a week in my flat I tried 2 minute rice meals. They weren’t particularly filling and they didn’t taste amazing, but it was food and I ingested it. Now I’m trying to be a little more creative in the kitchen, even if that only extends to turning on the rice cooker and opening up a can of Wattie’s Devilled Sausages Simmer Sauce.
On my first shopping day I bought a whole bag of unwashed potatoes. As of today they are still sitting untouched in the bottom cupboard. Instead I opted for PAMS frozen wedges. Already peeled, sliced, and flavoured. The hard work already done for me. I can’t help but feel guilty for the potatoes I’ve left behind.
I also cook my famous tomato and bacon pasta. Of course I haven’t been using the exact same ingredients. I’ve had to fudge most of my recipes without all the correct condiments and the like. But not all recipes made the transition to my new kitchen. Without an oven, and only a microwave and single gas stove top, I have even greater cooking challenges. I’d like to see Top Chef cope with those restraints.
On my first shopping run my Dad’s partner convinced me to get a big lot of mince saying that I could cut it up and freeze it when I got home. Of course when I got home I froze it immediately, completely forgetting her advice. So after work I grabbed it out of the freezer and tried to cut it into four portions. No dice. Barely a dent. So I left the brick of meat to defrost and it lay forgotten overnight in the microwave. Next morning I fried it up and put it into two containers (from my 2 minute rice meals). I put one in the fridge and froze the other. Voilà! Mince meals for the foreseeable future.
Who would’ve thought I’d find myself writing about domestic living? It’s certainly not my area of expertise that’s for sure. But right now it’s new and exciting, and I’d like to preserve that feeling before it disappears completely. Before I pull another can from the kitchen cupboard, pale and sobbing.