Failing To Think Creatively: Day 11

View from current house sitting job

I made a big mistake yesterday by not challenging my automatic assumptions. I consider myself pretty decent at doing this, yet I’m finding through this minimum wage challenge that I don’t do it nearly as well as I thought, or as often as I should.

Yesterday when I took a look at the refrigerator, I quickly determined that I would need to buy some other food at the grocery store to supplement what is on hand. What I basically did was look at the amount of food compared to the last house sitting job, and I realized that there was a lot less. Without giving it much thought, I decided that it would be more difficult to create my meals without having to go to the store and supplement what they had on hand. It was a classic example of me making a decision without thinking it through, and it could have easily had me spending money that I didn’t have to.

The truth is, there is far more food available here than I had when I started my eating on less than a dollar a day challenge. More importantly, there is a huge resource of seasonings and spices that I never had with that challenge. If I’m willing to put in the little bit of work and be creative, I can probably go this week without having to purchase any additional food while not making it look like I wiped out their entire food supply.

That is the key to this situation. When it comes to food that has been offered while I’m house sitting, I try to use up the perishables since they will go bad anyway, and not use a whole lot of the non-perishables that can last. I don’t want the owners to come back and want to make a recipe thinking that they had some ingredients, start making the dish and then realize that I used it so that they can’t make the meal which they planned to make (again, I just consider this to be common courtesy). While there is plenty of food to last me the entire week, the challenge will be to create meals with basics that they have plenty of rather than food that is ready to eat.

For example, for breakfast they have a couple different boxes of cereal. I could have cereal each morning, but doing so would mean that they wouldn’t have any cereal (or very little) when they came back, and that is something that I try to avoid. The easy solution would be to buy my own box of cereal (what I have done in the past when house sitting), and that is exactly what I was thinking when I said I would need to supplement what they had on hand with purchases from the grocery store. Taking a closer look, however, I realized I was simply being lazy.

I looked through the shelves in the pantry and I found that they had an almost full container of steel-cut oatmeal. While not easy (at least in my mind because I can’t eat it instantly), it’s something that even I can make, and it can serve as a few meals. it’s also something that the owners will never even realize is gone. I ended up cooking a four person batch of this adding raisins and walnuts (and topping with half a banana) which made for a much healthier breakfast and something I can eat again while here.

steel cut oats


Don’t get me wrong. If I need to buy some extra food, I’m more than willing to do that. But at the same time, I want to try to maximize the offer without abusing it. I think that I can do this if I’m simply willing to put a little effort into the meals while sticking to basic ingredients. They have big packages of rice and beans that have already been opened, and I think I will use these as the basics for my meals. I’ll mean a bit more effort on my part since I don’t usually cook, but it can save me quite a bit of money if I do this. Any suggestions of easy meals to make with basic ingredients that will have leftovers would be greatly appreciated.

Today was another no spend day. I actually couldn’t go out as they owners had some repairs being done to their house with workman coming in and out all day, and they asked me to stay and keep an eye on things. While not the preferred way I like to spend my day, it did allow me to get quite a bit of writing done which is always good.

Today’s Spending

Food: $0.00
Car: $0.00
Housing: $0.00
Travel: $0.00
Misc: $0.00

Total: $0.00

Total Spending

Food: $7.39
Car: $0.00
Housing: $0.00
Travel: $0.00
Misc: $16.15

Total: $23.54

Next article: Day 12 & 13: Stupid Injuries

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3 Responses to Failing To Think Creatively: Day 11

  1. Amish Author Sicily Yoder says:

    You are doing a fine job! I had forgotten that I had a big box of oats. I will eat them in the morning.

  2. scfr says:

    They won’t realize it’s gone … unless they read your blog! 😀

    Check the expiration dates on the non-perishables. If they have expired foods in the pantry, they probably wouldn’t mind if you ate it.

  3. mimipaula1 says:

    Thank you for doing your best to be a great “guest” in the home of your hosts/employers!

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