A week of Asian recipes, based on dishes from Myanmar (Burma) and Taiwan. For the health concious, there is also kale. Asian food tends to be more expensive where I live, as exotic ingredients are generally overpriced, unless if you live in a city with a large foreign population. And even then, the largest group of foreigners are North-African or Middle Eastern, so Asian produce is not always as easy to come by as I would like. Or you pay far too much. So this week I wanted to challenge myself a bit more by going for Asian food. After all, even if you are on a budget, you should still be able to eat a variety of dishes. This week I also went to a regular supermarket, not the cheaper (but equally good) Lidl, due to time constraints. I stayed just below budget by a very small margin, but the groceries did include 450gr shrimp and almost a kilo of pork, of which plenty went to the freezer. Shrimp and pork also happen to go really well together, allowing this week to have the luxury of a surf and turf. The total combined cost of dishes stayed well below the budget.
I didn’t buy rice because I had so much left from other budget challenges. You can serve most dishes with noodles or potatoes instead of rice as well. If serving rice, it is worth making a large batch in the beginning of the week, storing leftovers in the fridge and re-heating however much you need in the microwave. Place the rice in a bowl, cover loosely with a plastic lid (or a plastic bag) and heat like that. Be careful, the bowl will become very hot. Stir with a fork and you are good to go.
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.
My shopping list of this week (if I bought more, the quantity bought is between brackets):
- 225gr shrimp (450gr bag)
- 415gr pork leg steaks (966gr)
- 455gr broccoli (550gr, stem left over)
- 375gr kale (450gr)
- 180gr green beans (220gr)
- 150gr oyster mushrooms
- 240gr butterbeans, 400gr undrained weight
- 5 cloves of garlic (pack of 2 heads)
- 7 onions (2kg bag)
- 1 chili pepper (pack of 3)
- 90gr unsalted peanuts (250gr)
- 275ml coconut milk (400ml can)
- 250gr Shanghai noodles (340gr)
I spent €24.56, which was in a regular supermarket and includes the following leftovers for the freezer: 225gr shrimp, 550gr pork leg, 75gr kale. The leftover green beans (I estimated the needed amount wrongly), coriander and coconut milk I used for a lunch dish, while the garlic, onions, chili pepper, peanuts and noodles were added to my pantry.
I used the following items from my pantry this week: Rice (BC6), honey, fish sauce, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sambal, lemongrass (BC8).
Plus these standard pantry items: Sunflower oil, salt/pepper, dried spices (turmeric), flour.
Day 1 – Saturday
Lunch: Butterbean Kale Soup
This flavourful soup is made by puree-ing butterbeans and flavouring it with soy and fish sauce. By adding some softened, browned onions, extra flavour and texture is created. The soup is warm, hearty and economical.
Pantry items: Turmeric, fish sauce, soy sauce, sunflower oil.
Dinner: Pork Skewers with Peanuts and Caramelised Onions
Pork and peanuts go very well together. The onions provide a sweet component and a cheap method to add some veggies.
Pantry items: Rice, fish sauce, oyster sauce, honey, sunflower oil.
Day 2 – Sunday
Lunch: Onion Fried Rice with Broccoli
Onion fried rice is a very simple thing, but it becomes more special by adding broccoli baked in an Asian sauce.
Pantry items: Rice, oyster sauce, soy sauce, sunflower oil.
Dinner: Pork in Coconut Milk with Kale Fried Rice
Kale goes quite well with Asian flavours. Here, a creamy pork dish is combined with flavourful kale and rice. It is healthy but also very delicious.
Pantry items: Rice, fish sauce, oyster sauce, honey.
Day 3 – Monday
Dinner: Stir-fried Garlic Prawns and Pork
Prawns and pork are a match made in heaven (if you have never tried it, make prawns with bacon sometime, it is the best thing ever). Although not the most expensive dish this week, it definitely feels the most luxurious.
Pantry items: Fish sauce, honey, sunflower oil.
Day 4 – Tuesday
Dinner: Green Beans and Butterbeans in Asian Sauce
Very simple to make yet also very delicious. It is rich in flavour, making this a great vegetarian option. The sambal makes it a bit hot. You can use less or omit it if you prefer.
Pantry items: Rice, oyster sauce, fish sauce, sambal, sunflower oil.
Day 5 – Wednesday
Dinner: Shrimp in Lemongrass Coconut Milk
The most expensive meal this week. I had to limit the amount of shrimp to 125gr to stay within budget. If you want to have a bit more luxury, feel free to increase that to 150gr.
The kale goes very well with the creamy coconut milk, and the lemongrass provides extra flavour and fragrance.
Pantry items: Lemongrass (BC8).
Day 6 – Thursday
Dinner: Green Beans and Oyster Mushrooms in Garlic Oyster Sauce
Vegetarian but definitely not boring or plain. A great option to serve vegetarians outside of the budget challenge as well, but I can guarantee that even meat-lovers will enjoy this.
The dish came out more expensive than planned, especially for a vegetarian option, but oyster mushrooms were very expensive in the regular supermarket (€2.00 for 150gr). Feel free to use a different kind of mushroom instead, one that is more economical.
Pantry items: Oyster sauce, sunflower oil.
Day 7 – Friday
Dinner: Burmese Flour Soup
Within the budget challenge, I could not get chickpea flour and use only a tiny amount. I use these flours in bakes as well, but for these challenges it is not fair to use very strange ingredients that may cost a lot and you will never use again. So I substituted flour for the chickpea flour. That means it loses a bit on flavour, but the other ingredients make up for that plenty.
Pantry items: Flour, sunflower oil.
Grocery costs: €24.57
Recipes total: €17.53