Taking a break from blogging about my travel, I would like to do a post on homemade office bento. And this post was triggered by a bowl of fish soup noodle I had last week in a Singapore Food Court below my office that cost me SGD4.50, and came with noodles, some fish, and a few slices of bitter gourd. I was also recently shocked that I spend SGD5 for a plate of economy rice that came with some eggs, vegetables, and 2 small pieces of chicken. I love economy rice cause I love whole natural food, but at SGD5, that was my "tahan" limit! So when able, I decided I would go back to packing lunch to work with me. I used to pack lunch in my previous company because I was too lazy to walk out 15mins each way to get lunch, leaving me only 30mins to eat. Now, I am going back to packing lunch cause the cost of lunch has gone to a ridiculous range that although I can afford it, I just refuses to pay for it. Don't get me wrong. I am the type of person that don't blink twice about eating a SGD10 chocolate dessert, or a SGD100 steak, but SGD5 for economy rice and SGD4.50 for fish soup with nothing inside has pushed me off my limit!
So take for example today, while still fuming over the fish soup, I decided to cook my own bowl of noodles for lunch instead. The above photo of the noodle probably cost me only SGD1.50! Yes SGD1.50! And it was delicious. Cooked with: left over chicken bone from the whole chicken I bought for other purpose, left over cabbage, tomatoes, and noodles, and delicious hand made fish ball from my market which cost SGD2, but each bowl I only used half of it. I cooked two bowls, one for me and one for my husband. And it took me 20minutes to cook it.
Recently, due to my system go-live and production support, I was assigned to work night shift, which translate to working from 1pm to midnight. I was thrilled! Every morning I would go to the market, get my ingredient and cook my lunch and dinner. My budget was SGD10, and I cook 4 portion of meal (one for lunch, one for dinner, one for my husband, and even one for my colleague cause there is no eating place near my office, and it was expensive even if you walk out and buy). So this post is to show you how cheap your meals can be if you make it yourself. Of course it helps if you love to cook like I do! So above photo shows my lunch which I had in my kitchen. Yes I do have a lot of stuff in my kitchen. No I don't waste them. I use up everything in my kitchen. And yes, I love bananas. I always buy the ugliest bananas from Giant cause they are a lot cheaper and still just as good. My cost per banana has gone down to SGD0.20 each after switching to ugly bananas! That was life changing!
So on the menu on my first day of night shift was: Stir fried bak choy with garlic; friend omelette with onions, and sesame chicken. All served over mixed grain rice. I am a natural healthy eater. Basically I like real food, and can't really eat junk food or sweets. Plus, I hardly use seasoning in my cooking like salt or sugar. So in the above bento, the only sauce I used was actually sesame oil and a little soya to make the chicken appear brown. Why does it cost less than SGD10? Well I used 3 drumstick for SGD6, eggs and onions are like SGD1, vegetable at most SGD2 for a whole bag, so factor in SGD1 for rice. So average per meal was SGD2.50. Incidentally, this is the cost I planned to stick to when I retire :P SGD10 per day for 2 meal for 2 person to live on.
Day 2 saw me cooking Japanese curry rice. Meal consist of chicken breast for SGD2! Onion, carrots and cabbage at maybe SGD3? Served over mixed grain rice. It was even cheaper than the first meal. But the Japanese curry mixed cost around SGD4. And it was so filling that I switch to noodles the rest of the week!
Day 3 was again my fave handmade fish ball from the market. I got the big pack which cost SGD3. I cooked Indonesian instant noodles, steamed bak choy, cherry tomatoes, and steamed corns with condense milk. Look how lovely the colours are. I love colourful food! Instant noodle SGD1? Vegetables SGD4 in total? Everything still cheaper than eating out! You may say that instant noodles are unhealthy, but I think it is ok if you don't eat them so often, and you add tonnes of vegetables and proteins to it to make a balance meal. My colleague commented that she love this meal cause the fish ball was delicious, and the vegetable was so sweet. I grew up with a mum that cooked all vegetable semi raw, and that habit has grown on me. Vegetable cook that way is not only does it taste sweeter, but it is also more nutritious and crunchier. My ex-colleagues has commented that my vegetables are too raw to eat, or sometimes what I cook taste and smell like medicine, lol. That was the comment for my cinnamon chicken stew which I love, but which most people say smell like medicine. Hey! Its good for you!
Day 4 saw me cooking chicken mushroom herbal soup with bak choy and mee sua. I love mee sua, and the brand shown here was bought when I was back in Penang. Herbal chicken soup is easy to make cause there are always herbs in my home. I used to buy pre-packed herbs, but I realise I didn't like some herbs inside and couldn't control the ones I do love. So after some researching online, I now have my own individual bottles of herbs in my fridge and only uses what I love. My colleagues all think this was cooked from pre-packed herbs I got from the supermarket, but they are actually all made from stretch. I also add glutinous rice wine in the dish because life is always better with wine! No other seasoning added what so ever! This dish was freaking healthy, and smell so herbish! Love it so much.
Day 5 was western food. I baked herb chicken with carrots and bell papers, cherry tomatoes, and mashed potatoes. This combination turned out better than I expected. It was so delicious I think I should make it more often! When you warm up the food in the microwave, everything just kinda blend together, and it was so juicy and flavourful. Seasoning was just Maggi seasoning sauce to marinate the chicken with mixed herbs, and some mayonnaise for the mashed potatoes.
So as you can see, meals can be cheap. Do I slave away cooking them? Well, no. Usually I will walk to the market at around 730am, and be back by 800am. (yes, I'm also an early bird. Up by 630am most morning). Preparation may take 30mins, and cooking may take another 30mins. But for baking, or soup, you just leave it there to cook by itself. It was almost effortless. Maybe the washing up will take another 10minutes. But you get such lovey delicious healthy meal! I lost 1kg just eating this for one week without even exercising! And it is always fun to try making new dishes! So give it a try yourself! While I am blogging this, I just finished my cheap fish ball noodle soup, and am slow cooking a whole chicken (SGD8) just because I feel like it.