The Food Life: Out Of Pocket, Out Of Mind

written by Charity Keita 16th January 2015

My Life As A Foodie

Step one: I emptied all food from the refrigerator and cupboards (including the custard eggs and marshmallows hidden at the back).

Step Two: I wrote two lists. On one I compiled the “good” foods; on the other I compiled the “bad” foods. Alcohol is obviously bad, although whether it is a food or not is up for debate.

Step Three: Based on the “good” foods list, I wrote a menu that would see me through to the month of March. No sugar, refined carbs, alcohol, fat, gluten and red meat ever appeared on said menu.

Step Four: I looked at the menu, felt a wave of revulsion and proceeded to rip it all up and head to the closest Chapo Mayai (eggs rolled in Chapati) stall for a mid-morning snack.

Step Five: I put the food back in the cupboards minus the stuff, which was over six months, out of date. I have always prided myself in steering clear of both New Year’s resolutions and post-Christmas extreme diets. Which isn’t to say I haven’t been tempted, it’s just that I’ve always suspected that they were destined to fail, so why start in the first place? That said, the Christmas food orgy that I was treated to courtesy of Mama Luan (my fiancé’s mother back in Portugal) last month, really left me wondering if 2015 might be the year to at least consider modifying my food intake for a month or so.


One fly in the ointment that was already buzzing at the back of my head, was the inevitability with which NRW (that’s the 22nd of January in case you still haven’t caught on) would scupper my plans for food virtuosity (or deprivation, whatever way you choose to look at it). This gave me exactly twenty days to come up with an eating plan that I would actually stick to.

Luckily for me, it being January, both Luan and I were utterly broke. So guzzling French wine while Charity Keita uses her empty wallet to her advantage during the post-holiday foodie blues. devouring an aged T-bone steak from Prime Cuts, was out of the question.

Being broke can be a friend or an enemy to reducing the amounts of “bad” foods you ingest. If you are well prepared, cook in advance and stick to pulses, veggies and minimal amounts of ugali/rice/pasta (these last three are “bad” foods mind you, so if you can afford the wholemeal version by all means go for it), you can eat cheap every day. However the problem arises when you are hungry but have failed to cook and there is only the aforementioned Chapo Mayai stall nearby. Bad food is often super cheap; they hook you into it and you keep on going back for more because, at 60 bob a portion of chips, who can resist?

How has this food virtuosity been going for us so far, you might well ask. Well, night one was a bit difficult. We’d just gotten home from the holidays and despite our best intentions, our empty wallets and cupboards didn’t offer much in the way of “good” food options. In the end we managed to cook up some tortellini to which we added some shiro (a spicy Ethiopian chickpea paste). It was surprisingly nice. Since then we’ve mostly managed to stick to the plan. Luan keeps complaining that all the pulses are giving him gas but I patiently remind him to stick with it, so he can eat to his heart’s content throughout NRW.

Will I have lost the Portuguese pounds I piled on over the Christmas season by NRW? Probably not. Can I convince Luan that we should now have three soup nights a week? Maybe. Will I eat less next Christmas? Definitely!

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