24 Jul2008

Inflation, as measured by the government statisticians, is supposedly at 11+%. But if you see what goes into the inflation basket, it is heavily weighted by rice (hence the sudden rise, since prices were effectively controlled prior to that) and SO LITTLE ELSE of what a typical middle, upper middle or upper class consumer is buying. Best we can figure in our home, and we keep fairly good records, we are looking at a real inflation rate of some 20-25% over last year’s expenses. Our petroleum/LPG expenses are up roughly 12%, but ONLY after a concerted effort to travel less in cars and consume less electricity than before (-15% KWH). Our food expenses, however, have shot up a good 30%, despite entertaining less than we did last year! And considering that the peso is roughly 10-12% stronger than it was early last year, in dollar terms, our food expenses are effectively up some 35-40%! Whoa! And I’m sure we are not the only ones feeling the pinch, as so many readers have written me private emails asking for ideas for more reasonably priced dishes to help stretch their shrinking food budgets…

My first piece of advice, which many readers may be surprised at, is to look at your food expenditure at fast food restaurants and other prepared food outlets. Many folks think they are saving money by eating a branded chicken and rice for say PHP69, when in fact, with a little effort, you can do a similar dish at home for less than half the cost. So one of the MM solutions is to encourage you TO COOK MORE, COOK SMARTER, and COOK at home. Plan meals ahead so that you can be more efficient with your time in the kitchen. Cook up some meats as soon as you bring them home so that you don’t have to freeze the meat, defrost, cook small portions, etc. For example, with ground beef, form some hamburger patties and store that away, make meat filling for veggies, make spaghetti sauce, etc. And I don’t want to hear the “I don’t have the time” argument. If you have the time to go and sit in a fast food restaurant 4x a week, then you would have had the time to cook the dishes at home. We still eat out roughly 5-6 times a month (less than before), but we usually save that for special occasions and are much more likely to go to a GOOD restaurant rather than have many mediocre meals out…

The second bit of advice is to shop at large wet markets or weekend markets and EAT SEASONALLY. Fruits and vegetables that are at the peak of their season are often at their cheapest. Lately, santol and other late summer fruits were quite reasonably priced. Dalandan is abundant at the moment. Atis is just starting. Pineapples are always good value. Kalabasa blossoms and other leafy greens are better priced now than at the height of the summer heat. Also, pay attention to the cuts of meat or fish. Wagyu yakiniku sounds pricey but you only need a little bit as part of a larger meal, so you are splurging without imminent bankruptcy. Fish heads have lots of meat and flavor, sisig from a lechon head feeds 8-10 for a reasonable sum. And the tips could go on and on. But don’t limit your food forays to the groceries – hits the markets, roadside stands, etc. Load up on specialties from various provinces you manage to visit in the course of work or pleasure. And that doesn’t mean to buy dried danggit in the Cebu airport!

Finally, LOOK at what you eat and try to broaden or vary your menu a bit. Need proteins? How about more beans, legumes, tokwa or soybean curd, nuts, etc. Need for good carbohydrates? How about whole grain breads, red or brown rice, whole wheat pastas, more vegetables? A little bit of thought into your menu can really have a positive impact on your budget, your health and for some, your happiness. :)

As I think back to my archives, many of my lower cost or more economical dishes are heavily vegetable laden, vegetables having more bulk for less cost than meats. I also had lots of soups which were quite reasonable on a per portion basis. You may need to search back a year or two to find some of them. But I thought I should throw the question back out at the readers, so that we can all help each other out. What are your favorite delicious, nutritious and lower cost dishes prepared at home? Please leave a comment so that other readers can get some ideas and widen their arsenal of economical dishes. If there are some obvious dishes that I haven’t featured before, I will certainly try to cook them up myself. Your comments will be greatly appreciated.

Meanwhile, here are some links to dishes that we like but won’t necessarily break the bank…

Grilled Tanguigue Steaks at roughly PHP50-55 per serving
Banana Cake, always a crowd pleaser and quite easy and economical to make
Laing in two variations, estimated cost per serving, less than PHP25
Beefsteak Tagalog, beef is pricey at the moment, but smash the beef to stretch it out, and a hearty serving is probably still less than PHP50
Torta a la Boholana, the way my mom made it. So easy to make, store, transport and serve. Approximately PHP25 or so per serving.
Grilled Talong and Tomato Salad, one of my all-time favorites, so refreshing and perfect with fried or grilled foods. With eggplants in abundance, this is roughly PHP20 or less per hefty serving.
Malasugui or Swordfish a la Marketman, a bit hoity toity with butter lemon and capers, but deliciious at roughly PHP100 for a very large portion or good for two with small appetites.
Carrot and Singkamas Salad – just a salad or side dish really, but refreshing, easy and cheap.
Grilled Galunggong, less than PHP20 per serving.
Inihaw na Pusit – The price of squid is ridiculous these days at PHP130+ a kilo, but a little goes a long way, so per serving costs at less than PHP25.
Ham and Chicken Soup a la Marketman – a fantastic hearty soup that is a full meal. A bit pricier at PHP80 per large serving, but try this and you will probably pick it over a Jollibee chicken and rice at a similar cost.
Zucchini Stir Fry – vegetarian and super easy and probably less than PHP20 per serving
Spicy Eggplant a la Marketman – MY ALL TIME FAVORITE economical dish. I can eat this often, and at PHP15-18 per large serving plus rice, totally affordable.
Ampalaya a la Marketman, brilliant, bitter and even better at less than PHP15 a serving
Fried Tilapia and Ampalaya Salad – With fish prices up, this must be some PHP70 or so per serving, but all you need to add is rice…
Stir-fried Shanghai Bok Choy – another vegetarian dish, easy, healthy and filling at less than PHP20-25 per serving
Binakol na Manok, heartwarming comfort food. If you feed 5 from one recipe, costs will run you some PHP70 per person.
Stir-fried Bean Sprouts – not too nutritious, but terrific crunch and side dish to fish or meat, add some lemon for a fresh twist. Less than PHP10 per serving.
Ginisang Munggo, an all-time favorite, just jazz it up with veggie or some chicharon. PHP15 or less per hearty serving and a perfect meal with rice.
Stir-fried Cabbage & Ham, easy and at PHP20 or less per person, economical.
Beef Tapa – Why buy marked up prepared tapa when you can make it at home in minutes? Probably less than PHP40 per serving.
Pork Tocino – just as easy as tapa, and a little less on the wallet, say PHP25-30 per serving.
Pancit Lucban or Hab-hab a la Marketman – Noodles always satisfy, and with little meat, this dish is probably less than PHP20 per portion.
Pospas/Lugaw/Arroz Caldo – Classic and well-priced at perhaps as little as PHP20-25 per serving.
Turbo Chicken, so much healthier than fried, and at 4-5 people per medium sized chicken, just PHP50 per person or less.
Tinowa a la Cebu, Visayan comfort food, at less than PHP30 per serving.

PHEW! That is a huge number of links, and that is only for dishes featured in the FIRST YEAR of this blog. There are dozens more in subsequent years. So please check the archives for more. Meanwhile, I hope to hear from readers about their lower-priced but delicious dishes! Thanks!



  1. jenny says:

    Mapo Tofu is a nice dish to stretch out your dinner or lunch money. Easy to make too.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 9:53 am


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  3. the husband says:

    Excellent list! We’ve too have been trying to cut down on eating out. And let me tell you, a huge saving was left from our food allowance last month. Whenever we cook meals at night, we make sure that we have some left for baon the next day. If not, we prepare easy-to-cook meals in the morning. It sure beats the food served by our canteen! We also bring some bananas at the office, great for snacks, and cheaper too!

    Jul 24, 2008 | 10:20 am

  4. portugalbear says:

    our favorites

    gising gising – baguio beans, ground pork and gata
    deep fried thinly sliced tofu coated with only cornstarch
    steam broccoli with oyster sauce
    japanese miso soup (the miso can last till next year)
    tortang talong

    Jul 24, 2008 | 10:52 am

  5. suzette says:

    patola w/miswa, kalabasa w/miki, tortang talong, adobo/ guinataan/ crispy kangkong, tokwa’t baboy, lumpia shanghai, dulong fishcakes, omelettes, tilapia fillets, for dessert: minatamis na saging/ kamote w/sago, sticky rice w/ mango, gulaman etc…

    Jul 24, 2008 | 10:56 am

  6. Glecy says:

    If you have leftover rice, freeze it in small one serving container which is equivalent to 1 cup rice instead of leaving it inside your rice cooker.It freezes well.Just microwave it for 2 mins.
    Buy just enough fruits so they don’t go to waste.Once you get them from the market, cut into bite size then store them in small containers. I buy rubbermaid plastic containers (6pcs.)
    around $2 here in US.
    Forget soda, just drink water- it’s Zero calories.
    Make ice cubes with slices of lemon to flavor your water.
    You can save $ 1800 dollars if you stop visiting Starbucks for a year.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 11:23 am

  7. maddie says:

    For folks in the phils, another cost-saving measure I use (outside) of what is listed here is to have my housekeeper/cook do the grocery instead of me.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 11:39 am

  8. anonymous paul says:

    as an alternative protein source, try using tempeh as well.


    its this dense soy bean cake and is so versatile you can replace it for meat in most recipes. but fried up and served with kecap manis with chilis is great as well.

    very inexpensive and packed with protein and fiber.

    i get some from edith singian 09178213484, pickup is in valle verde

    Jul 24, 2008 | 11:58 am

  9. natie says:

    ….also, even when trying to cut back, cook what your family members will eat–the favorites.. it would be a waste throwing away food no one wants. one could get pretty inventive with good ground beef. one could mix it not only with bread crumbs, but with grated vegetables such as carrots or zucchini. pasta, cooked well, is also inexpensive. a big YES to MM’s pospas, lugaw, arroz caldo—it brings to mind the saying “tubong lugaw”..

    Jul 24, 2008 | 12:12 pm

  10. Susan says:

    I find that anything cooked with ground beef (turkey, pork,) with your choice of vegetables goes a long way. Seasonings can change the dish from Chinese, Filipino, Thai, and other Asian cuisines.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 12:38 pm

  11. betty q. says:

    Every year, as soon as January rolls around the corner, I plan ahead …how to maximize my garden space and plant the vegetables I would like to try growing that year…there are beans in every color…eggplants ,GARLIC and ONIONS, corn, wnter squashes, snow peas and snap peas, zucchinis, sweet potatoes (for the talbos and the tubers), cauliflower, and of course tomatoes just to name a few. Then they are cut into sections and frozen for winter use. Where do I plant them…you will be surprised…at home, besides my little vegetable plot in the backyrd, I have some of them growing in plastic buckets as well…that’s right in a BALDE!!!…Garlic for instance doesn’t require much space. I have some growing along the border of my flower bed esp. near the rose bushes (they repel APHIDS!!). Most of all, whatever my children and husband likes to eat, I make an effort to make it at home…like PEROGIES….nothing beats homemade perogies !!!!!…you have control of what goes into the filling and customize your own. Once in a while, one of my best friends, Nadine, comes over our house and we have a PEROGIE making day. and then we split whatever we’ve made…some days, it’s making my own ALL -PRAWN wontons, we make hundreds and hundreds of these delectable morsels and freeze them….You don’t need to go to a wonton joint to have these because they taste EXACTLY like the way they make it in the restaurant!!!!…Here, a bowl of about 7 PRAWN WONTONS can cost a bundle! MY son can just inhale 2 bowls of these Prawn Wontons in a Noodle House.!!!!!

    As MM pointed out, make use of whatever fresh fruit is in season…I pick my own strawberries here ( I have a favorite farm) and make my own jams to last us all winter…strawberry, blueberry, peach, chutneys and marmalades. Dalandan is in season?…make DALANDAN JAM so come rainy season, open a jar and slather it on scones….make your own as well. mKe use of the fruits nad make your own FRUIT VINEGARS. I learned how to make wine from my neighbour. He makes the BEST PINOT NOIR and I can make my own now….nothing to it!!!

    So if any of you live closeby here in Poco and want to save a bundle and cut some of your food costs by making some stuff, let’s have a RAINY DAY MAKING SOMETHING DAY!!!
    One of the best times we had was when we lived up North for 2 years in a really small community. We’ve made friends with a lot of people….we have this sort of dinner club. It started with 4 couples and grew and grew. We each takes turns making dinner. So everyday, it’s like eating out! Let’s say, it’s our turn, I cookand have about 10 couples before we left that town, …very simple dinner like what I would cook for my husband ..only make it for 10 couples….we have a blast every night….and doesn’t the food always taste good at he KAPIT BAHAYS?

    Jul 24, 2008 | 12:44 pm

  12. sylvia says:

    I always love your tips, betty q! MM, thank you for this article. So timely. I really need to make a better effort at planning our meals in advance.

    Cost-cutting suggestions:
    – take lunch to work instead of eating out. A homemade sandwich costs much less than one bought at the deli.
    – eat breakfast at home instead of on the way to or at work. Most especially, make coffee at home instead of buying from Starbucks every day. I have saved so much money by drinking coffee at home with the cappuccino maker I got for $5 at a garage sale (it works great!). Of course, a regular coffeemaker works just as well.
    – bake your own cookies, muffins, etc.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 1:14 pm

  13. AleXena says:

    Hi Market Man=)Such a very useful entry amidst the rising prices of food.

    I noticed that half of the dishes you suggested are our usual fare in our house. Maybe that explains why for a family of 5 plus two house helps, our weekly budget of P 2,000 (veggies, meat, rice and water included) before the rise of inflation did not change. Although we noticed that the bulk of food we could buy was lesser than before. It’s true that if you eat more veggies, the cost of your food expenses is not much. And it’s healthy too.

    Ms. Betty Q is right that planting vegetable in even a small space will help decrease food expenses. We have a calamansi bush and we’re beginng to grow eggplant and sili to cut costs. It also helps to re-cooked leftovers for the next meal. It has been a common practice in our house to eat for dinner any meal leftover from lunch.

    Good food should not be wasted.=)

    Jul 24, 2008 | 1:34 pm

  14. foodie says:

    -use firm tofu (place a plate or some sort of weight above it to release more of the water), slice into bite-sized pieces, pan fry until golden brown; use as a “meat-like” extender for guisadong gulay, Thai curry, stir-fry vegetables (eggplant, sitaw, spinach or any seasonal veggie) with black bean sauce (throw in some cashews if you want)
    -leftover rice – I freeze whatever’s left from the rice cooker, and build up my stash until I have enough to make fried rice (also to use up the veggies in the fridge, leftover breakfast meats etc)or arroz caldo or lugaw.
    – nilagang baka; a piece of beef shank can go a long way. stretch the dish with lots of pechay – more nutritious, too!

    Jul 24, 2008 | 1:38 pm

  15. B says:

    Grow your own! Pay attention to your weeds. Don’t just eat 4 kinds of meat and 5 kinds of vegetables. Things grow quite fast and without care if you let them.


    Jul 24, 2008 | 4:06 pm

  16. Lissa says:

    I agree with the entries on eating for lunch what you had for dinner the night before, and saving the leftover rice and microwaving it for the next use. Just sprinkle a little water prior to microwaving to steam it up. It’ll be as good as new.

    What I do is try to cook two dishes at the same time, where applicable. For example, if I will cook sinigang na baboy for tonight, and I plan to cook lechon kawali sometime during the week, I boil the lechon kawali together with the sinigang cuts and fish out the lechon kawali when the meat is done, just before I add the other sinigang ingredients. Apart from the gas it saves, it saves you time, which for some may be the more “expensive” factor.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 5:46 pm

  17. bernadette says:

    Thank you all especially MM for giving these helpful tips in budgeting our food expenses. It might just be the start of realizing that cooking one’s food (sometimes from scratch) is healthier! We do know what we put in it.

    My contribution to this post is that I find out that the gabi root is quite versatile! We have cut our rice quota by more than half of our usual consumption by cooking these tubers. We have two dogs whom we would also feed meals with a ration of half and half(rice and dogfood). But eversince we discovered that gabi roots have the same bulk, we have since given it to them. I cook gabi like I would the usual potato dishes and use them as gravy source also. Yun lang!

    Jul 24, 2008 | 6:20 pm

  18. honey says:

    Take a lunchbox to the office or school. Adobong kangkong or sitaw is very cheap,utterly delicious and healthy too. Recycle leftovers. try cooking one-dish meals more often. you get fish/meat/seafood and veggies in just one cooking

    Jul 24, 2008 | 6:45 pm

  19. duday says:

    a kilo of ground pork or beek would go along way for your entire week food menu, such as meat balls with sweet n sour sauce, shanghai, beef or pork patties for bread, torta with potatoes, sauted with vegetables such as upo, sitaw, and among others, giniling with miswa, or sauted with tofu.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 8:50 pm

  20. duday says:

    another would be siomai, embotido, or meatloaf.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 8:52 pm

  21. duday says:

    for salad, you can not go wrong with camote tops or kang kong (talbos ng camote that is boiled) combined with sliced tomatoes and onions seasoned with vinegar salt sugar pepper and crushed garlic

    Jul 24, 2008 | 8:57 pm

  22. Cathee says:

    My family’s all time tipid meals would be the following: arroz caldo, ampalaya con carne and egg, adobong kangkong, mixed vegetables of carrots, potatoes, sayote with bits of chicken meat, tortang talong, ma po tofu, pritong galunggong, adobong pusit, paksiw na bariles (inununan in Bisaya), ginataang kalabasa and monggo guisado.

    We’ve been eating more vegetables, fish and chicken and only use red meat as extender or “sahog”. Even my children are learning to appreciate vegetables and fish nowadays making it easier for me to budget our daily meals. I notice my son and daughter eating more when our viand is fried fish with “sawsawan” of soy sauce and tomatoes. It surely makes my role as a Mom so much lighter.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 9:07 pm

  23. Myra P. says:

    Currently writing about this very topic, so it’s interesting to see other people’s tips… Of all your suggestions, the best is to eat seasonal (or whatever is abundant at the moment).

    The healthiest suggestion is to replace meat with beans and tofu.

    The tipid award goes to AleXena — I feed seven with 4-5k, I don’t know how she does it with 2k.

    Btw MM, you missed out on Doddie’s kimchi. We exchanged goods today and that kilo of kimchi is so worth the 5 packs of dried mango… I think I got the better deal :)

    Jul 24, 2008 | 10:18 pm

  24. AnnaT says:

    I plant my own Asian veggies here in Minnesota. Summers here are very short so I really have to plan way ahead what to plant. I plan my meals on what I can pick from my plot and freeze the rest. I’m also an avid fan of farmers markets. The last few years asian veggies are growing in popularity here. I can buy ampalaya leaves, kangkong, talbos ng kamote, sitaw etc. I blanch and then freeze them for winter. Besides being cheap, I also help support our local farmers. As for meats, I try to buy in bulk as much as possible and then portion it before freezing. I love my chest freezer!

    My mom who is still in Manila freezes in season produce too. Like calamansi which can be expensive if not in season. She squeezes the juice and freeze them in ice cube trays then transfer them to a zipper bag. Another expensive but easy to freeze veggie are bell peppers. Just cut them into quarters and freeze.

    One good advice I can give to those with kids is expose them to a variety of food esp vegetables as early as possible. Even if you plan and cook healthy and inexpensive dishes if they won’t eat them and you still have to resort to “fast food” or unheatlhy dishes then all your work are all for naught.

    Jul 24, 2008 | 10:40 pm

  25. emz says:

    adobong sitaw
    ginisang sayote
    steamed kangkong with bagoong
    misua soup
    potato omellete
    spaghetti with canned tuna

    Jul 24, 2008 | 11:45 pm

  26. alilay says:

    i always buy only when its on sale . every week we have these flyers from the supermarkets and if say Von’s have a special on ground beef for $.99/lb i’ll buy like 7 lbs and portion it up and make hamburger patties or the steak rather that go outback or black angus steakhouse i’ll just buy the $3.99/lb prime rib from albertsons. it saves a lot. sometimes my husband will ask what’s for dinner and i ‘ll say steak ,& he’ll say is it on sale?

    Jul 25, 2008 | 3:22 am

  27. natie says:

    :-) when i read betty q’s posts, i have the image of martha stewart at the back of my mind…yeah, aleXena gets the tipid award, it seems! that’s great! i enjoy this topic

    Jul 25, 2008 | 4:53 am

  28. kurzhaar says:

    I often look to Indian food for dishes made with vegetables and dals. There is a veritable rainbow of different dals (pulses) and they all taste different. Many are simply cooked until tender and then dressed with a “tarka” (spices heated in a little oil) and served with rice. Pilafs or pilaus started on the stovetop and finished in the oven are inexpensive and delicious, and with the right ingredients (think of adding dals and nuts) can be a one-dish meal.

    Chickpeas (chana dal) might be my favorite and it’s always proven popular at parties. Canned chickpeas work pretty well as a short cut. Here’s a general recipe:
    Saute minced ginger and garlic until aromatic (do not brown), add a generous amount of turmeric (I use probably 3 tablespoons), then add whole coriander seed, whole cumin seed, a pod or two of black coriander (for a lovely smokey flavor), a couple of dried hot red chiles. Cook the spice mixture briefly until you can smell the cumin/coriander seed turn very aromatic. Add the chickpeas and stir to coat in the spice mixture, then add a little water to prevent burning and bring to a boil. Add a good handful of chopped tomatoes, some minced raw onion, and lots of chopped coriander leaf (cilantro). Mix well and cook very briefly (just to wilt the coriander leaf). Take off the heat and squeeze a lemon over. Serve with Basmati rice or any good Indian bread.

    Chickpea flour (“besan”) makes the tastiest fritters when mixed with a little water and some other ingredients (thinly sliced onion, julienned green beans, grated carrots are some ideas). Fry the fritters in a little oil and serve with yoghurt thinned slightly with a bit of water and spiced with pepper and cumin.

    Another tip–use a pressure cooker or a microwave for appropriate foods. I cook beans in a pressure cooker and often steam vegetables in a glass dish in the microwave. Both techniques save energy and (when compared to stovetop cooking) can also keep the nutrients from being lost to overly long cooking.

    Jul 25, 2008 | 6:54 am

  29. kurzhaar says:

    Forgot to mention that the besan fritters are called pakoras.

    Jul 25, 2008 | 7:12 am

  30. AleXena says:

    Thank you Ms. Myra P.=) hihihihi!!! actually groceries are not yet included in the 2K its only the food we serve on the table which I counted. I don’t know how my father does it either. Maybe it’s because we are a family of proud “kuripots” that is why we can survive with 2K for palengke money with rice and water.

    If we include gas and groceries we will also fall within the 4-5 K range/week =) Nevertheless, it still has not change since the rise of inflation and we’re trying not to.

    Another tip I would like to share is that our househelps never use our gas range in heating leftover food. Since we are using a rice cooker, what they do is she place any leftover food in a very clean glass bowl and place it on top of the almost cook rice. The steam will automatically heat the food. We also cook food for dinner during lunch to re-heat in the evening using this process. So far our gas stretches up until 2-2 1/2 mos. I hope this one helps.;D

    Jul 25, 2008 | 9:32 am

  31. Lee says:

    wow lotsa tips….

    Jul 25, 2008 | 9:56 am

  32. The Steak Lady says:

    Thanks for this post MM! with prices of food and living expenses soaring, tips on saving in the household budget is much appreciated :)

    Jul 25, 2008 | 12:32 pm

  33. connie says:

    We’ve cut down significantly in our eating out, we used to eat out at least three times a weak, at one point we ate out almost everyday. It is very easy to say, I’m tired, get the baby ready and let’s go. Until we sat down and figured out how much we are spending on food. A typical dinner out would cost us anywhere from $25 to $60 plus tip, that’s just the two of us, good thing the baby just lives with the bottle for now. But still that’s almost $150-$300 a week on food. Our spending was ridiculous! With the price of gas at $4 a gallon, definitely some major cutting had to be done. Now we only go out once a week, pack lunches for work and limited our daily stops for frappucinos, lattes and cappuccinos. Aha, no wonder Starbucks closed 600 of their stores.

    I plan and prepare my meals ahead. For dishes that need a lot of cutting and dicing, I just prepare them the night before so I could just toss them all in the pan or wok when I get home from work. If we fire up the grill, we just grill almost anything we could grill and freeze the rest for later consumption.

    Buy in bulk. I find it cheaper in the long run to buy tissue paper, toiletries and household cleaning stuff in bulk. Sam’s club have good cut ribs and really cheap meats, but you must have a good size freezer or a full freezer. Sometimes I feel I’m buying half a cow when I go home and try to figure out how to fit the meat in. Even in the groceries, buy the big family packs, just make smaller portions and pack them in ziplocks so it’ll be easier to thaw them later.

    Buy veggies and fruits that are in season. I want to buy organic but they are a bit pricey and I don’t find the sense in buying organic bananas from Chile when it cost more fuel to transport them than growing them. Now buying roadside from farmers, I don’t mind.

    Compare prices between grocers, those flyers that I use to call junk mail are now a good source for checking out which groceries have sale on what. When in the groceries check out the manager’s special. I’ve got good quality king crabs, salmons and steaks for half the price.

    Make your freezer your best friend, it’s there for a reason, so you could freeze left-overs and those sale items.

    As for cheap meals, anything adobo, spaghetti with a pre-made or prepared sauce, husband likes it with plain butter and parmigiana. Any meal that got re-incarnated, like when we buy rotisserie chicken, any left overs I make a chicken noodle soup or chicken ceasar salad the next day. Left over grilled pork chop gets mixed in pinakbet, left over potatoes and burger becomes a casserole for another day. I stopped wasting food, before I used to throw away left overs that have remain untouched for days. Now, I just freeze and label them for later, that is if they don’t end in lunch boxes.

    Now if I could have the patience and the green thumb to start my own vegetable garden, I might even save a bit more. *laughs*

    Jul 25, 2008 | 12:57 pm

  34. Marichu says:

    How about extenders? Like in adobong whatever, add potatoes or eggs. You can even cut the meat portion in half and replace with potatoes/eggs and save the meat for another dish/day.

    With nilaga or sinigang, in our house the first thing to go are the veggies. After the meal, there’s lots of leftover sabaw with a few bits of meat. So to extend, the next time I reheat the leftover, I add more veggies.

    Ground pork and Baguio beans go a long way in this household.
    1) Saute garlic, tomato, ground pork, and beans. Yum!
    2) Use ground pork, Baguio beans, and cabbage for lumpia. Delicious!
    3) The same trio (ground pork, Baguio beans, and cabbage) can also be used for pansit bihon.

    As for our (nonexistent) garden, I use those big tomato/peach cans for tomatoes, herbs, cucumber, marigold, and siling labuyo. For one can, I punched a hole (2inch diameter) on the bottom and did one of those upside down tomato planter things. In that same planter, I planted rosemary, basil, parsley, and chives on top. The other planter is the same thing with tomato on the bottom; marigold and cucumber on top. I put some wires to hang.

    Jul 25, 2008 | 1:25 pm

  35. linda says:

    betty q,I’d love to be your kapit-bahay,it’ll be like a fiesta everytime!

    MM,thanks for this post! Have a great weekend everyone!

    Jul 25, 2008 | 3:07 pm

  36. betty q. says:

    Oh, my goodness Natie…Holy! I re-read my post and didn’t realize what I was saying…I do sound like Martha Stewart…it wasn`t my intention to do so!!! But hey, I don`t know if she really does tend to her garden …from what I have heard, she has a whole team looking after her plants …But on second thought, She does NEED a whole team esp. she has acres and acres of flowers and vegetable gardens. I GET MY TOES, Knees and HANDS DIRty!!!!!!

    Here is a really MATIPID pasta recipe:….don`t need a lot of ingredients…saute garlic in olive oil or vegetable oil. When garlic is nice and golden (LOTS OF IT), add anchovy paste or BAGOONG and chopped parsley (plant only once …it`s a perennial). Add your cooked pasta (spahettini). Season with a bit of salt and ground pepper. LASTLY’ add BREAD CRUMBS….it`s plain and simple but tasty and really good!…with fried or grilled fish.

    Jul 25, 2008 | 3:12 pm

  37. linda says:

    Has anyone heard of “Square Foot Gardening”? This is the best and easiest way to grow your own fruit and vegetables! We have recently started this method and it’s such a delight watching our vegies grow each day and we can’t wait to harvest our first crops very soon!

    For those interested,just google “squarefootgardening”. I fully recommend it!

    Jul 25, 2008 | 3:20 pm

  38. cee says:

    great, helpful tips indeed! here’s our way of coping with the high prices lately:

    we buy GROUND CHICKEN instead of Ground beef or pork (it yoyo’s from Php135-150 per kilo whereas the cheapest ground pork is @Php 170! ground beef, mas mahal pa). Magnolia has ground chicken all the time in the wet market section of your grocery.

    it’s so versatile you can use it to replace any ground pork/beef dish you usually cook. like ampalaya guisado with egg, ground chicken with some pork cube (or broth, if you want to mimic the pork taste)is good and it’s leaner and healthier! we use it also for tortang talong, adobong kangkong etc.

    Jul 25, 2008 | 5:09 pm

  39. sonianer says:

    a food related tip: if space in your residence will allow it, replace your small LPG tank with a big tank . you will save at least 40% of LPG costs . it does for me

    i read sometime ago that is because with the smaller tanks you leave behind some residual gas when the tank is supposed to be empty. the more frequently you change tanks, the more residual gas you waste your money on

    Jul 25, 2008 | 8:59 pm

  40. corrine says:

    So many tips! I am looking for more recipes using tofu, ground pork or beef or chicken. When you buy spring onions, save the white part with the roots. Plant it and see it grow in no time. I use it for garnishing and for Chinese omelette. My family has always been a baon gang because I cook good food for them. Anyhoo, we’ve also cut down on eating out. Now, I’m trying to see how to save on grocery purchases. My pantry definitely has to be disciplined.

    Jul 25, 2008 | 10:23 pm

  41. presentacion says:

    to cut down on expenses i bake my own breads like ensaymada, siopao, cupcakes, cream puffs & pizza. i make my own boneless daing na bangus, tocino, laing, bicol express, siomai, fish balls, etc. as much as possible i don’t buy but make them myself like dishwashing liquid, fabric conditioner, toilet deodorant & sometimes i make my own laundry soap powder. in my small backyard garden i have kamias, pandan, alugbati, malunggay, sili, small pots of herbs like sweet basil, rosemary, oregano, etc. if i run out of lpg, i have a magic stove which is fueled by crumpled newspaper. only a few of my tipid tips.

    Jul 25, 2008 | 11:41 pm

  42. risa says:

    Hi MM, Too bad I did not get to see this post until today. I noticed that a lot of your readers freeze their leftover rice. Placing one teaspoon white vinegar in the cooking water for rice inhibits spoilage for more than 24 hours. There will be no trace of vinegar taste, and there won’t be any need to use the microwave as long as the ulam or sabaw is hot. This is the best advice I received and have been doing it for 4 years now. I have a small household, and it’s tiresome and wasteful to cook just one cup of rice.

    My favorite nutritious inexpensive dish is lumpiang hubad – saute garlic, onions, ground pork, dried shrimp (hibe), with sliced baguio beans, julienned carrots, diced kamote, diced tofu and togue. Serve with fresh wansoy, garlic and ground peanuts with sweet brown sauce.

    Jul 28, 2008 | 2:27 pm


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