Modern flash-freezing technology prolongs the shelf life of food without preservatives and it is now more common to see the frozen section of supermarkets filled with local dishes.
Before the circuit breaker started earlier this month, I went to NTUC FairPrice to see what frozen meals I could stock up.
Zane Elixir's Cordyceps Bak Kut Teh caught my eye with its striking black box showing an enticing photo of the pork rib soup in a claypot. But what convinced me to put it in my basket was the promise that it had no artificial colouring, added MSG, added preservatives or trans fat.
It was going for $14 for two packs. On the supermarket's online store, it is currently at $7.90 a pack.
The ribs were not as big as those in the photo and the meat was a tad dry compared to fresh pork, but it was tender and tasty.
What impressed was the broth. It was peppery, though not overwhelmingly so, and a little garlicky. I couldn't taste the infused cordyceps militaris - a fungus believed to have health benefits - but the tasty soup was as good as many hawkers'.
It would have been hard to tell it was from a frozen pack if I had not heated it up in a water bath myself. You can also pop it into a microwave oven.
The serving is good for one person.
WHERE: NTUC FairPrice supermarkets or online
Some of the best cookies I ate during Chinese New Year were from Mdm Ling Bakery, so I was pretty eager to try the steamed buns that it launched for online orders this month.
There are three flavours: tau sar pau or red bean bun ($8.90 for six), liu sar pau or salted egg yolk lava bun ($10.90 for six) and lian rong pau or lotus paste bun ($4.80 for six).
All are delivered to your doorstep frozen. Just steam what you want to eat.
The dough is fine but not outstanding. The fillings, however, are a standout. The salted egg yolk custard is smooth and not overly sweet.
The other two flavours are sweeter, but the paste is just as silky smooth. The red bean buns are also much bigger than the others.
What is good too is that they are all made without preservatives, colouring or artificial flavouring.
WHERE: Order online or call 8468-0201
INFO: Free delivery with minimum order of $45, otherwise pay $10.90
Just because you now have to depend on takeaways and home deliveries for your meals does not mean you do not have choices.
Ketomei, for example, offers a subscription plan for ketogenic meals.
I'm not a big fan of diets and am definitely not advising anyone to go on a keto diet that is high in fat and low in carbohydrates on a long-term basis. But some people who try it for short periods find it effective for weight loss.
For me, cutting down on carbohydrates helps to keep my weight under control, so I tried some of the offerings from Ketomei to see if they taste good enough to be occasionally incorporated into my daily meals.
I didn't stick faithfully to the diet as I ordered meals from restaurants too, so I won't judge it by its effectiveness in weight loss. But as for taste, I would say it's hit and miss.
What's good is that there are a mix of Western and Asian dishes such as Beef Stroganoff and Masala Chicken Boneless Leg.
The meals are sealed and chilled, to be kept in the refrigerator and microwaved before eating. And they keep long enough for you to skip a meal or two if you want a cheat day.
The meats generally taste fine as fattier cuts such as chicken thigh rather than breast are used. They turn out moist and tender.
They are well-seasoned too, though I would have liked more kick in the masala chicken.
The vegetables, however, are sometimes not so enticing. The broccoli and cauliflower in some dishes taste boringly plain, but the cauliflower rice and baked king oyster mushroom were tasty.
WHERE: Order online
PRICE: From $180 for 12 meals