Challenge Accepted! Cooking on a Budget: Part 1

August 26, 2016

Less than a year ago, when the husband mentioned the amount of money we spent eating out, we decided to give home cooked meals a try once more. When it was just the two of us, eating out was a cheaper, less troublesome affair. But now, there are four of us.

What started out as a month-long trial to see if eating in was worth the while, and most importantly, wallet-friendly, soon became a daily affair. As the months went on, my confidence grew, and I tried to replicate some of the more delicious food I’d had before. I even asked my mom to dig out old recipes from my childhood days.

I am by no means an expert cook yet – but over the next five days, I’ll be sharing with you meals you can prepare for the family throughout the day within a budget of $150 for the week.

The best part? It’s all so easy that just about anyone will be able to prepare and cook a decent meal for their family!

Day 1 of 5
Breakfast: Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups with Hash Browns

Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups with Hash Browns is one of the simplest, crowd-pleasing breakfasts you can whip up for your family. This can be prepared in no time and left in the oven to bake while you enjoy a nice cup of hot coffee before anyone else wakes!

My children also love the fact that I allow them to eat this dish with their hands.

If you wish to prepare this for your family, watch the video below and follow the recipe as provided.

Bacon, Egg and Toast Cups with Hash Browns Recipe
Serves: 4

Ingredients for Toast Cups:
8 slices wholemeal bread
6 slices bacon, cooked
6 large eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Method:
1. Flatten bread slices, remove sides and press into muffin cups.
2. Place bacon into the cup.
3. Crack an egg into the middle, season with salt and pepper.
4. Bake at 190°C for 20-25 minutes.
5. All done and ready to be served!

Ingredients for the Sides:
4 large hash browns, thawed
2 tomatoes
Cheese topping
Pasta Sauce

Cooking Method:
1. Dice tomatoes.
2. Spread pasta sauce over hashbrown.
3. Sprinkle tomatoes on it and cover with cheese topping.
4. Bake together with the toast cups.
5. All done and ready to be served!

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s Bacon Egg Toast Cup.

Lunch: Mini Pork Burgers with Broccoli and Mixed Vegetables
+ Campbell Country Style Corn and Chicken with Garlic Bread

The pork patty from the burger came about as a fluke. I had originally marinated the meat to be used in the soup, but for some unknown reason, felt compelled to make them into patties and pan-fry them instead. That first time we had the patties with rice was surprisingly good.

Subsequently, I thought to mix things up a little and turned it into a burger with cheese slices for an easy lunch, and that worked too!

As the burgers I prepared were sliders, I threw in a can of cream soup and a slice of garlic bread each to complete this western lunch.

Mini Pork Burgers with Broccoli and Mixed Vegetables + Campbell Country Style Corn and Chicken with Garlic Bread
Serves: 4

Ingredients for Pork Burgers:
1 Porkee frozen minced pork
2 tbsp light sauce
1 tbsp Corn flour
A dash of salt and pepper
A dash of McCormick Garlic Herbs and Spices
4-5 Gardenia Litemeal Rolls
2 slices of cheese

Cooking Method:
1. Mix and marinate everything for 30 minutes. Mould them into patties.
2. Pan-fry with 1 teaspoon oil, flipping occasionally, till cooked through. Remove from pan.
3. Slice buns and cheese into half. Assemble burger with patty and cheese in the middle.

Ingredients for the Vege Sides:
4 Handful of Mixed Vegetables
6-8 florets of broccoli

Cooking Method:
Cook in the juice left behind by pork patties.

Ingredients for Garlic Bread and Soup:
1 can of Campbell’s Country Style Corn and Chicken
4 slices of Fairprice Wholemeal Bread
McCormick Garlic spread

Cooking Method:
1. Stir together one can of Campbell soup to one can of water, mixed well and bring to boil.
2. Spread McCormick Garlic Spread evenly on each slice of bread. Toast in oven toaster till golden brown.

*Alternative meat: Minced beef

Dinner: Chicken and Meatball Macaroni Soup with Hardboiled Egg

Concluding this first day of easy-cooking is my all-in-one Chicken and Meatball Macaroni Soup with Hardboiled Egg. This can be prepared from as early as 4 hours before meal time. I usually prepare the base in a huge slow cooker as I make lunch so I can just add anything we desire along the way.

Chicken and Meatball Macaroni Soup with Hardboiled Egg
Serves: 4

Main Ingredients:
1 Porkee frozen minced pork, rolled into balls
1 chicken thigh, chopped into bite size
2 carrots
2 Knorr chicken stock cubes (no MSG)
1 litre of water

Add-on Ingredients:
1 pack Pasar Macaroni (small)
4 eggs (hard boiled)
Parsley for Garnish

Cooking Method:
1. Put all the main ingredients into the slow cooker set on high for 3 hours.
2. After 3 hours, reduce to auto mode. Add macaroni about 10-15 minutes before eating time, switching to ‘high’, and boil till cooked.
3. Cover the eggs with water and slowly bring water to a boil over medium heat. When the water has reached a boil, cover and remove from heat.
4. Slice the hard boiled eggs and place them on top of your pasta. Add some parsley and serve.

See what the nutrionist has to say about the meals from today:
Day 1 of 5 review

Disclaimer: We received a 5-day challenge from Fairprice Singapore, where we have to cook healthy and nutritious meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) for the family within a given budget. This is part one of five posts brought to you by NTUC Social Enterprises and The Smart Local.

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