Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Beat the recession - How to survive on £1 per day in Central London


With Lehman's collapse and inflation of food and utilites prices going on double digits, Londoners are expected to tighten our belts as dinners in fancy restaurants becomes luxuries.

Have you ever wondered how much does it actually cost to prepare a hot meal for one in Central London? I'm not referring to merely tossing instant noodles, which cost just 8p/packet by the way, into a pot of boiling water and pretend that's even a meal.

I'm talking about a piping hot plate of fried rice, which can easily cost you £5 in your local Chinese takeaway or up to £12 at a Chinese restaurant. So how much are we looking at? Well, you'll be surprised.

Price breakdown:

2 eggs @ £1.50 per 15 eggs - £0.20

Long grain rice @ £0.79 per kg - £0.20

Pork luncheon meat @ £1.25 per can - £0.25

Closed cap mushrooms @ £0.74 per pack - £0.20

Extra ingredients: chopped garlic, cooking oil, soy sauce, black ground pepper and toasted sesame oil - £0.50 (items can be use for several portions)

Total cost = £1.35

The best thing is that the above is enough for three person. Well, two if both of you are big eaters. Can't finish it alone? Microwave it for the next meal!

Now, try beating that.

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lina said...

you are making me hungry!

Avatar said...

LOL! Now that's what I call being frugal :)

Meaghan Fitzgerald said...

Mm, looks like a good meal. I've got one to add as well (keep in mind that these are my frugal Tesco prices, nothing fancy):

- Whole wheat corkscrew pasta (£1.50 per bag, £.37 per serving)
- Head of fresh broccoli (£1 per head, £.50 per serving)
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast (£3.50 for pack of four; £.75 per serving)
- Mozzarella cheese (£1 for a bag, £.50 for a serving)

Rub the chicken with salt, pepper and olive oil then cook on the stovetop. Boil the pasta and broccoli. Chop up the cheese and put it in the bottom of the strainer so it gets all melty when you strain the pasta and veggies. Cut up the chicken and toss into the rest of the meal; eat hot.

EastCoastLife said...

£5 for a plate of fried rice! zi char stall in Singapore now selling S$4 a packet, still reasonable.

Nomadic Matt said...

sounds great! but how long can you live on rice for before you crave some fish and chips!!

SheR. said...

Ha. That's a good one.
I'll buy some frozen meals. Everything frozen is cheaper.. chicken, peas, sliced mushrooms.. you can get a whole pack of Chips for dirt cheap prices.
I recall those days when a pack of 10 fish fingers cost 17p in Tesco's. Hee.. I'm used to being real cheap.. dirt cheap in London!

Dutchie said...

Sher - 17p for 10 fish fingers ! what a bargain. I just paid 66 euro cent - house brand some more ! Bird's Eye cost twice that.

ck - I used to serve soup, veg n meat for dinner until it became obvious that it's straining my budget. Besides, I hv noticed that most household just served up a pan of mashed with veg n smoked sausage. Since then I try to combine veg n meat in one dish to go with rice, except for dry wanton noodles, then there's soup on the side. I cant beat ur GBP 1,35. Seems the prices of food is lower than what I pay here :-(

Once a week I stock up on red chillies (2 voor 99ct), 100 grams ginger (1,25), 2 bulbs of garlic (49 ct). Soya (2,50/500ml), oyster sauce (1,29/120ml) n seasme oil (1,72/100ml) - to give u an idea.

For curries I need 5-7 spices. Each conimex bottle cost 99 ct which I could spread out for 3 meals at the most.

Tonight we r having spaghetti bolognese - onions/garlic/sambal/minced meat/herbs/tomato paste .. hey maybe I do hv a recipe that is economical to make :-)))

Emm said...

Excellent! We need more cheap recipes like this!!

C K said...

It's payback time. What were you trying to do with all those posts on your escapades in Japanese restaurants?!

Er... actually, that's desperate. lol

@meaghan fitzgerald,
You know what? I actually wanted to write about the entire recipe when I realised that it will be way too long ~ I thrived on details. :)

Yours look great. I hate veg though, maybe I'll substitute it with... more meat! Mmmm, maybe I'll prepare it for lunch tomorrow and microwave it before consuming... "eat hot".

It has risen to $4?? It was just $3 when I left Singapore. A 33% inflation in price of (zi char) fried rice!

@nomadic matt,
Hey Matt, I had my fill of fish and chips the moment I landed in London last year. I need to detox myself now... but I don't mind the occasional chips.

10 fish fingers for 17p? It must be way back then... I just got the same for just over a quid. Wait a minute, is yours Tesco in-house brand?

I tried getting a huge pack of frozen peas for my fried rice (my specialty) the other time. The entire pack went bad and has to be discarded because I left them out of the freezer compartment. The smell... still haunts me till this day.

Come to think of it, I think I got Bird's Eye as well.

Since we came to London, we've become accustomed to having just one dish (a mix-mesh really) per meal. It seems the most obvious thing to do... :P

Anyway, the soya over at your side seems a bit expensive. London's Chinatown stocks soya sauce imported from an unheard place in China for half that price. But then again... consume at your own risk.

Tonight, we're having bak kut teh, which spices we've imported from Singapore!

Any of your own? Come on, I'm sure you have got a couple.

SheR. said...

Hey Dutchie and CK.
Those 17p Tesco's fish fingers are usually sold out. Last time we checked the price gone up to 50p?! Yeah... inflation hur..

Ew... rotten peas! Ew... :P

Is it just me or does anyone notice the meat in London go off really quickly?

C K said...

I think the timing matters as well. I realised that people normally shop between 5-7pm during weekdays. If you turn up in the supermart after 7pm, chances are most of the shelves will be empty, not only the meat section.

Emm said...

I just try feed the family for under £5. There are three adulkts and my brother is diabetic so we are limited as to how we can eat. Eat meal should be properly balanced.

Dutchie said...

ck, I really missed the meaty bah-kut. It's unheard of here, folks dont want to pay for bones, see ?

I was first doubtful abt the packs of herbs but it turned out pretty good. I simmer them with chicken drum sticks n it's just as good. Pity no yu-tiao to go with it, just white rice.

C K said...

Unsurprisingly, if a family member is a diabetic, the rest of the family eat well too.

Hope that your bro is coping well.

Eh? Since when do you tiao go with bak kut teh? Isn't it always with white rice?

Anyway, there were extra ribs leftover and I'm cooking porridge with them tonight. :p

waitingkitty said...

I feel lucky that although I am away from home but I am still in Asia and the food is good, accessible and cheap here. In HK, we have delivery service for any kind of food. Even claypot rice and they give you the claypot as well! :D

kang L said...

wow that's impressive! I need to try it too... bruneian living in london here :D check me out at londoneater.com

Dutchie said...

ck, each of my brothers or brothers-in-law hv their favorite bah-kut-teh store n they all serve yu-tiao as a side dish :-P

The herbs/aroma r quite powerful n personally I need the white rice to balance the taste !