When we say “Asian food” most people think of Chinese/Thai take-out or sushi, but this menu shows that Asian cuisine has a lot more to offer. The recipes this week are highly influenced by Burmese and Chinese cooking. The menu also shows that Asian cooking does not have to set you back a lot of money trying to find uncommon ingredients which you would never use again. The groceries were only €17.77 yet they included lime, ginger, mint and mushrooms. All were purchased at the supermarket. However, if you go to Asian or Turkish shops or certain market stalls, these items can be purchased much cheaper.
You can find the budget challenge recipes of all weeks under BC Recipes. They are linked below as well; click on the dish names at each day to get forwarded to the corresponding recipe.
From here on, the BC overviews will be a bit different. There will still be an overview of the shopping list and how much that cost me, and what you need in your pantry. But there will no longer be individual costs per recipe. There are two reasons, the main one being that it would cost me a lot of time to calculate the costs of each recipe. Secondly, the total weekly cost is much more important for your budget than the price per recipe. After all, if you make just one recipe but need to get 12 ingredients for that recipe, of which you use a small amount, the total cost per recipe would be very small but the grocery costs can be extensive. As I am against those type of “budget” recipes, from here on only the total grocery costs are provided. Although I of course forgot to do so this week (great example I set here), there will always be a carb in the groceries which can be used in subsequent weeks – such as pasta, risotto rice or potatoes – in order to give a realistic estimate of the costs. It would not be fair to do groceries and then use a large amount of storeboard items, because it costs money to stock your pantry. With the low cost of this week, a pack of rice would have easily fit inside of the €25,- grocery budget.
My shopping list of this week (if I bought more, the quantity bought is between brackets):
- 2 chicken legs – 0.88kg
- 375gr pangasius filet – freezer (bag of 600gr)
- 250gr Swiss brown mushrooms
- 150gr oyster mushrooms
- 1 Chinese (Napa) cabbage
- 1 cucumber
- Bok Choi
- Spring onions
- 2 limes (pack of 3)
- 2 red chili peppers
- 500gr shallot onions
I spent €17.77. This includes the following leftovers for the freezer/pantry: 225gr pangasius fillet, 2 garlic heads, 1/2 bag shallot onions.
I used the following items from my pantry this week: 3 Eggs, rice, noodles, soy sauce, oyster sauce, sambal, vinegar (Chinese if possible), stock cube, potato starch.
Plus these standard pantry items: Sunflower oil, salt/pepper, spices (turmeric, cumin, cayenne), sugar.
Day 1 – Saturday
Lunch: Bok choi and mushrooms on rice
A light dish with vegetables flavoured with ginger and garlic. Add some proteins such as a baked egg to make it more substantial if you must.
Pantry items: Sunflower oil, sugar, potato starch, salt, rice
Dinner: Chicken in garlic sauce
For this dish I cut a chicken thigh into 4 pieces, using poultry scissors. If you don’t have one, you can cut the meat off the bone and portion that, or bake 5-10 minutes longer as a single larger piece. The remainder of the dish is very straightforward; toss the chicken with a sauce made from garlic, ginger, chili and lime and place in a hot oven. 30 minutes later, time to eat.
Pantry items: Sunflower oil, salt, rice
Day 2 – Sunday
Lunch: Napa cabbage stir-fry
Many people living alone won’t ever buy Napa cabbage because it is such a big vegetable, and as it is a rather unfamiliar one, it is understandable if you don’t know what to do with it. Well, to help you out, besides being great in stir-fries, it can be used in soups, stews and even raw in salads (it is lovely with citrus fruits) or cole slaws.
Pantry items: Sunflower oil, spices (turmeric), oyster sauce, eggs, rice
Dinner: Steamed curried chicken with smacked cucumber salad
This curry chicken is steamed in a shallow bowl in a bamboo steamer and served with a cucumber salad. The cucumber is beaten vigorously with a wooden spoon (or anything else you have available) and tossed with Asian flavours. Serve with rice.
Pantry items: Sunflower oil, spices (turmeric, ground cumin), soy sauce, salt/pepper, sugar, vinegar, rice
Day 3 – Monday
Dinner: Burmese chicken salad
The easiest way to prepare this chicken is to make a couple of deep cuts in the drumstick and add it to the bamboo steamer on some baking paper together with Sunday’s dinner. That way, you already have some cooked chicken to start with.
Pantry items: Noodles, salt, spices (cayenne)
Day 4 – Tuesday
Dinner: Fish fried rice
Fried rice is a simple way to use up any leftover veggies, and you can add just about any type of leftover meat should you wish. Here, fish from the freezer is used, together with some Napa cabbage.
Pantry items: Sunflower oil, cooked rice, soy sauce, sambal, egg
Day 5 – Wednesday
Dinner: Stir-fried garlic mushrooms
Mushrooms are high in Umami flavour, making them perfect as a vegetarian substitute.
Pantry items: Sunflower oil, stock cube, rice
Day 6 – Thursday
Dinner: Spicy Burmese fish soup
Fish soup is a great way to provide a budget meal that is filling and tasty. Make sure your freezer always has some fish fillets (and possibly shrimp) and you can make a great soup any day.
Pantry items: Sunflower oil, spices (turmeric), stock cube, rice
Day 7 – Friday
Dinner: Napa cabbage in vinegar
Finish up the Napa cabbage with this stir-fry. Simply fry the vegetables and then add a sauce thickened with potato starch.
Pantry items: Sunflower oil, sugar, sambal, potato starch, vinegar, rice
Grocery costs: €17.77