Packing meals for a ski trip and sharing ski gears

Pack your own healthy meal
Today, a bus full of post-graduate students doing their masters’ levels and PhDs  had a big trip to Thredbo Snow Mountain in New South Wales. The trip was organised by the Postgraduate and Research Students’
Association (PARSA) aimed at giving students, particularly new ones who just joined the Australia National University to see snow, some for the first time from countries like Indonesia, Cambodia, parts of India, and Uruguay.
First, joining PARSA or any group activities is a good way to meet fellow students. For those who are toiling on their doctoral thesis like me, it was a good time to unwind at the same time be productive. Last night, I was already thinking of not going since I haven’t finished my target in writing my case study.   But two of my housemates, Dhruv and Allison at University House, a dormitory for PhD students on campus, prevailed me to go. I said, I didn’t want to ski anymore since I have to finish work. Well, I also thought that  I have to use my time well.  I offered Dhruv to ask his girlfriend if she’d like to go to the ski resort and she can use my bus ticket.But  Dhruv said “just get your laptop and come. It will be awesome”.
Cheap Bus Ride
Well, the bus ticket was quite cheap at $15 Australian ($1AUD=US$1.05). I think part of it was subsidized by PARSA. If I take the Murrays Bus on normal circumstances, the trip would cost $50 round trip from Canberra to Thredbo. In fact, my friend Kiko, Vice President of PARSA, also organised a tour for Filipino students  to Thredbo for $50 each for the return trip. By the time, I got the Facebook message of Kiko,  I already bought my ticket from PARSA care of Allison and Tamara.  I was on a 3-week face book diet  to conserve my time and concentrate on my thesis writing. That itself would be a subject of another blog post on saving time.
At 6:30 AM, we were all aboard the bus. I didn’t have much sleep the night before but I knew that I could make use of the 3- hour trip to sleep. I was in the bus seat next to AJ, a Sri Lankan graduate student who just started his Masters degree in Economics in preparation for his plan to go to Harvard to do his PhD. He came with a scholarship from the Sri Lankan Central Bank. In the bus, I was also with University House mates Tamara, Alison, Dhruv and TK. Four new Indonesian PhD exchange students living at University House also came. One was Lia who lives opposite my room. I met  new friends Christian, Mike,  Marja, Parul, David, Ian and May.
Now, what kind of saving time, money, and the planet did I do for this trip? Well, I packed my breakfast, lunch, and snacks.   Since the bus was to leave at 6:30 AM and the meeting place was just 3 minutes away from the dorm, I dashed to the kitchen and made 3 big wraps. I used Lebanese bread given by Saree in Sydney last weekend and with the ceasar salad with big slivers of chicken breast I got from the left-over catered food, I was ready to go. I also brought a can of Pepsi Max and a bottle of iced coffee with milk.
So while in the Ski resort, I didn’t spend except for a shared potato wedges with TK and David. I  took out my food and joined new friends for lunch and snacks.  I wanted to buy a hot chocolate decided not to afer TK didn’t want any drink.  A bit dodgy but totally alright in some cases is to ask  for a glass with ice in the bar and pour your own drink which could be soda, juice or water you brought with you.
I didn’t go skiing. I wanted to save time and work on my writing project and so I went to a nice restaurant to do it. About four ANU students were there doing just the same. I guess, they also wanted to take advantage of the trip but still do their assignments.
At 3 PM, we returned to the bus. I learned that not everyone went for skiing. For those who did, they spent $100 for the lifts and$50 for the gears.Tamara paid $190 for snowboarding gears, lifts, and a 2 hour lesson.  It was a bit cheaper in Pyongchang in Korea and even cheaper in Whistler, Switzerland, I reckon.  Parul and Ian did not ski but went to take the lift for $30 for sightseeing and to have hot drinks on top of the mountain.
Share and Save
In the bus, I learned that my new friend AJ was able to do some skiing too. He and two male Cambodian students rented only one set of ski gears and they took turns to use them. Fortunately, they had the same shoe size. They spent  only $50  for the ski set and didn’t have to take  the lifts.  They were smart. By sharing they didn’t miss on the fun without going broke.  They also made use of the less than six hours of our stay in Thredbo wisely.
The bus left at 3:20 PM and we arrived at the University House at 6PM. We all brought our rubbish with us for proper disposal as emphasized by our bus driver Luigi, who had an Italian accent.  I hurriedly drove to nearby St. Joseph’s in O’ Connor to catch even part of the mass. Afterwards, I enjoyed grocery shopping at Supa Barn, my favorite supermarket in Canberra.   (I will write a blog on how to get the best deals in supermarkets in Canberra next time.)
Overall, I was able to save time and money by packing lunch and bringing my lap top to work on my thesis. I was also happy to know that all of us enjoyed the trip ably organised by PARSA despite the rains. I was still able to go to mass, do grocery shopping, and write this blog.
Save Time, Money, and the Planet.

What to do with catered left-over food?

Recycle for Greater has been collecting left-over recipes and is hungry for more!!

How to recycle food?

We’ve got some left over catered food for the participants of the Diplomatic Course for Caribbean diplomats at the Asia-Pacific College of Diplomacy of the Australia National University. Since the Caribbean diplomats can’t really eat all of the amazing food provided by our favorite caterer, there are some left over food and drinks from lunch.

Just like two days ago, there were left-over food stuffs. The food was ceasar salad, beef steak with mushroom, potato salad, and bunch of rice.  I already had my lunch so I just decided to take some for later use. It was a bit embarrassing to do this at first. But then, you realize that it’s a waste to just throw all this food to the bin.  As we have an open planned kitchen, people were passing by. Each one, I would ask to partake of the left-over dishes. Even if they were full from their lunch, they would take some fruits.  Since, I already have some plastic containers with me, I packed some food and asked the server if she could help me pack some rice I could reheat together with other dishes to be shared with friends later.  She obliged since she also thinks that it is a waste to throw food. There are suffering hungry children in the developing world and also homeless people even in  developed countries like Australia, right?  Even if you don’t think along those lines, it’s just practical not to throw food.

At home, I’ve been trained to eat what’s on the table as well as not to waste food (lest I’ll stay longer in purgatory). Now, it has become a habit.  By the way, I also recycled the left-over brewed coffee from the pot by filling up a plastic milk container with it together with some milk and sugar. I’m drinking coffee now as I write this blog in between editing my thesis chapter.   I’ll probably have ice coffee later from what I could not consume.

So what to do with left over food?

1. Pack food stuff and put them on the fridge. Make sure you pack them individually.

2. Reheat them or come up with a new dish. For example make fried rice from left-over steamed rice.

3. Share them with friends. Organise a get-together.

4.  A tip is to have plastic containers handy which you will reuse till they break.

5. Even if you’re not religious,  hell thank God for the food ! It was for free and you could look at it as divine providence.

My friend Alfa,a trained chef, calls recycled food as “chef’s specials”. You too can have your own chef’s specials by making new types of dishes from clean and edible recycled food. Just make sure you don’t overstock and that you eat them within a reasonable period.

If you really want to help the homeless and the hungry, why not organise a soup kitchen where you give to the poor left over unused food from restaurants and dry goods before they expire.  There’s a celebrity chef in Australia doing just that. He rescues and salvage food to distribute to the homeless. Alleluia!