Singaporeans may love their food, but stepping into the kitchen to whip up a home-cooked meal conjures up visions of an auntie slouched over steaming pots as they watch the fire, or face down oil-sputtering stir-fries. Cooking at home is often perceived as a time-consuming activity that requires busy professionals to continue slaving away at the stove, even after a hectic day at work.
But on the flip side, a home-cooked meal offers healthier dining options that beat eating out at hawker centres, cafés or restaurants. Researchers from University of Washington School of Public Health found that those who cook at home more often tend to have healthier overall diets.
And cooking at home does not have to be a chore, if done right. It is also friendlier on the pocket, if you know how and where to shop for your ingredients. We provide you with eight cooking and shopping tips to let you channel your inner Rachael Ray and whip up some delish dishes that won’t bust your monthly budget.
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1. Buy your ingredients in bulk
That way, you save time spent on multiple trips to the supermarket. When you get back home, ration them out by making use of zippered sandwich bags to store daily serving amounts that you can whip out easily to thaw and cook. Keep the rest of the week’s portions in the freezer so they last longer. This lets you reduce wasted amounts of food and you cook only what you need for the day.
2. Check out those supermarket ads
Don’t be squeamish about checking out newspaper ads. There are some pretty good deals to be picked up if you know where to look.
Supermarkets such as Giant, are always reviewing prices on essential items, so if you keep an eye out for those, you might score some pretty good savings.
Giant’s Dare to Compare promotion runs every Thursday in The Straits Times, and should be on your radar if you are looking for the best value on your grocery purchases. It is something even their competitors check out to see how low they can go on prices of daily necessities.
Its list of weekly-rotating fresh products is guaranteed to be the lowest prices in the market.
Confident in their promise, Giant will even reimburse double the price difference if you spot a similar item in an advertisement selling at an even lower price. Just show the advertisement page published during its weekly promotional run to the friendly Giant staff.
That said, the supermarket also lists their promotions on groceries on their website.
3. Wrap your herbs in paper towels and store in the fridge
Firstly, using fresh herbs to flavour your food is an all-round good idea, because they are fresh and contain less sodium.
Secondly, using herbs will make you look like a pro when you have friends coming over to a dinner party.
Keeping them wrapped in paper towels will seal in freshness for up to a week.
4. Keep your kitchen scissors handy
Whoever said you need a knife to carve the chicken?
A pair of kitchen scissors will do the job too. Plus, they’re much easier to handle as you cut away skin and fat to make a healthier chicken-based dish.
5. Invest in a magnetic A5-sized white board
Stick that onto the door of your fridge, and write down the food items you just bought back from the supermarket. As you use up each item, just erase it off, so you know what’s left. This makes it much easier for you to plan your next meal without the need to stand in front of your open fridge, trying to figure out what’s inside those nicely stacked zipper bags you have in the freezer (See point 1).
6. Grate your garlic
And your ginger too. You no longer need to spend as much time mincing and slicing these essential cooking ingredients, and can get on with cooking up a storm.
7. Wield those cards wisely
Do you get your money’s worth when you shop? Savvy shoppers will tell you — stretch your dollar with additional discounts and rebates for more savings.
At Giant, you can receive additional 3 per cent discount on all DTC-featured products with the UOB Delight Card. Cardholders can also receive year-round 10 per cent discount on Giant Top Picks products and receive up to 8 per cent rebates on grocery shopping.
If you are a Passion Card member, you can rack up points that are redeemable for instant discounts on your next purchase at Giant.
8. Make shopping a family affair
This may be related to point 7. But if you bring your parents or grandparents who are 60 years old and above shopping with you at Giant on Tuesdays, they will nab you a 3 per cent discount off everything you buy.
And you kill two birds with a stone — spend time bonding with the folks, and getting groceries for cheaper.