$2 challenge next week – will you join us?


Next week the Mustard Seed House community will participate in the $2 challenge for Haiti. We will restrict our food budget to $2 per person per day for the week.  I have been asked a lot of questions about how we accomplish this so thought that I would give some basic guidelines here and remember there is still time to join us if you would like.

What do we do?

  1. We eat simple mainly vegetarian meals throughout the week – lots of hearty soups with beans, lentils or brown rice and vegetables with home made bread on the side – the More With Less and Extending the Table cookbooks are great resources for this.
  2. Yes this does mean we do not eat out during the week as that would immediately absorb our entire budget.  We cook all our meals from scratch and usually do several community meals which means that there is less cooking for each person to do.  The alternative would be to make a big pot of soup that you dig into every night.
  3. We do not supplement our diet with food bank food or dumpster diving but we do supplement it with produce from the garden – mainly canned or frozen at this season though we did have our first garden salad of the year last night with leaves culled from the garden.
  4. No it does not mean that we are hungry all week.  It is possible to eat well and enjoy good, healthy and satisfying meals on $2/day.

Why do we do this?

  1. Half the world’s population lives on less than $2/person/day, not just for food but for all their expenses and not just for a week but for their entire lives. We do this as a means to identify, even though very inadequately, with their plight.
  2. We donate the money that we save to charity.  This year it will go to Del Camino Real an organization that is working with local pastors in Haiti to help alleviate the challenges of the earthquake.
  3. We do it as part of our Lenten discipline – willingly giving up our often lavish meals to focus on our walk with Jesus toward the Cross.

Here are a couple of my favourite recipes to use during this week.  You can find more in the MSA Lenten guide – A Journey Into Wholeness

Vegetarian Garden Soup (15 servings)

This soup is our favourite.  It can be adapted to take advantage of what is cheap and easily available.  The only true essentials are the beans, wheat berries, onions, tomatoes and cabbage.  All the herbs come from our garden so have not been calculated into the cost.  We also use canned tomatoes but I have calculated buying canned tomatoes into the cost.

1 cup dried beans (use Scarlet Runners from the garden or large lima beans)

1 cup wheat berries,

1 cup chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped

1 lb fresh tomatoes, chopped, or 14 oz canned tomatoes, diced

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped

1 cup carrot, peeled and cut in ½-inch chunks

1 lb cabbage, coarsely chopped

½ lb green beans, trimmed and cut into ½-inch lengths

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp salt

ground pepper to taste

6 cups vegetable broth

1 cup winter squash, chopped

½ cup mushrooms, chopped

Soak beans and wheat berries in separate bowls overnight. Drain and set aside. Cook dried beans until just tender (45 min – 1 hour). In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring until soft. Add garlic, sage, and rosemary and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add soaked wheat berries, tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook until wheat berries are al dente (1 – 1½ hours). Add cabbage, squash, mushrooms, carrots, green beans, and soaked beans with their liquid. Cover and simmer until all vegetables are tender (15 – 20 minutes). Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.

This soup can be adapted to take advantage of whatever vegetables are most plentiful.

Recipe Total Cost: $10.00

Per Serving Cost: $0.65

Phad Thai (5 Servings)

This is simple to make and is very filling.  You can easily grow your own bean sprouts in a jar (we use mung beans) All you need to do is poke some holes in the top of the jar cover the bottom of the jar with beans and run warm (not hot) water through them twice a day. They are ready to eat in about 4 – 5 days.

1 lb medium rice noodles

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 eggs, beaten

2 cups fresh bean sprouts

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

½ tsp fish sauce

¼ cup dry roasted peanuts, chopped

Parsley or cilantro

Bring water to a boil. Add noodles and remove from heat. Let sit for 3 minutes, drain, and set aside. Heat half the vegetable oil in a wok or frying pan. Pour in eggs and cook until firm. Don’t stir. Remove from pan and cut in thin strips. Set aside.

Sauté garlic, onions, and bean sprouts in the rest of the vegetable oil. Add fish and oyster sauces and mix well. Add drained noodles and mix again. Add strips of egg and mix. Put on a serving plate and garnish with chopped peanuts, parsley, or cilantro.

Recipe Total Cost: $3.50

Per Serving Cost: $0.70


6 Responses

  1. Thank you for those recipes, Christine. I hope that many folks will try eating for $2 a day.

    There are some additional resources that might be useful at http://2dollardifference.com.

    As the site says, “eating for $2 a day is simple but not easy.” Still, given the cycle of experience-reflect-act, those who try are almost assured of insights. And the chat post offers a way to share those with others.

    Thanks again!

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