Cheaper to Eat Out in Singapore ? Part II

I reached home at 3.15 pm early this week and found that nothing had been prepared for dinner. I was hungry and I knew if I waited for either lady to prepare dinner, I would be filled with snacks by the time dinner was ready. Since I was actively losing weight to prepare for Winter, I didn't want that to happen. After changing out of my dirty work clothes and exchanging hugs with the little ones, I started to prepare dinner at 3.30 pm.

What do we have? A whole chicken. That opens up a lot of possibilities but for me, I had to go for the fastest way to cook it and get food on the table. I am no choosy eater like the average pampered Singaporean. I can probably eat combat rations everyday if I have to. Since, I had options that day, I decided to boil a pot of water over the stove. It took awhile for the water to boil. My stove ran on gas, not dynamite. So in the meanwhile, I washed rice, flavoured it to my taste and set it in the rice cooker to cook. I am definitely not the best cook around, but I can give anyone a run for their money if they want to compete on efficiency. If you really want to be an effective cook, run your cooking tasks like a Gantt Chart. Identify tasks with requisites, know exactly which ones are on the critical paths and waste no time on those. Squeeze in tasks in between the float time. That way, one can multitask effectively without a high level of cooking skills.

How long do you need to take to boil a pot of water and get the rice cooker going? Mere minutes, even if I include smashing some garlic and throwing in some ginger slices. You can add it the yummy flavouring at the expense of lowering the meal's health rating if you will, it's up to you. So how long does it take for these task to complete? Way longer. There should be no wasting of time by waiting without any action. While waiting for water to boil, I cleaned the chicken and rub salt on the skin. Don't ask me why, just do it. Pluck any feathers left over by the negligent chicken cleaner. Chances are, the water has not come to a boil at this stage. If so, find something to do, such as preparing a side dish or chop up some cucumber if you will. When the water boils, gentle drop the chicken into the pot. Experts will advise dipping a few times to tighten the skin. Forget this shit. Nobody has the time for that. We are rushing for time here.

Once done, cover the pot to allow the water to come back to the boiling temperature again, for the introduction of the chicken will drop the water temperature significantly. When the water boils for the second time, you can shut the flame out and set the timer to 30 minutes to let the chicken cook slowly. During winter, it will be better to use a thermal pot and transfer it into the thermal casing at this stage. Despite reading a whole chunk of shit so far, you'll be surprised you have only spent 15-20 minutes so far. Water doesn't take that long to boil you know?

While waiting for the chicken to cook, you can take a nap, kill a few fellows in GW2 WvW, make chilli sauce if you are into it or bathe your kids. Your dinner will not be burnt if you return late. Neither will your kitchen catch fire in your absence. Your kitchen top is practically clean. There is nothing to wash at the moment. No mess, no frills.

After 30 minutes, you return to the kitchen and prepare a chopping board. The rice will have been long done before this. If you have an assistant, ask them to scoop the rice and set the table politely. So you chop. I prefer to debone the chicken, simply because I don't like the splatters that I will create if I chop the chicken through bones. Sure, it takes practice to debone a chicken but never forget, with practice, you will eventually do the task in double or triple quick time. I managed to place the plate of boneless chicken on the table 5 minutes after the table was set. That can be improved but at least the rice was still hot.

Did I take more than 1 hour to prepare this dinner from the start to end? No. I took 50-55 minutes at most. Was the food adequate for 3 adults and 2 kids on the table? Yes. Now the most important question, is it cheaper to eat out? Not a chance. In fact, I removed half the amount of chicken breast for our chicken porridge dinner the following day. I insisted on the fact (despite Judy's disagreement) that hawkers steal chicken breasts from customers by leaving out a huge portion of it on their "whole chicken"  set up. Believe it or not. You can try deboning your own chicken to find out. 

Anyway, the chicken only cost us $6.50. You can add the cost of rice, garnish, gas bills to it if you are the anal sort. It doesn't matter. According to my sources, a "whole chicken" rice set will cost around $23 in a hawker centre in Singapore these days. Even if you add in my labour cost of active cooking 15 minutes (boil water) + 5 minutes (debone chicken) = 20 minutes, it will not come out to that bill of eating out of something equivalent in Singapore. My labour cost isn't that high. I'm after all just a pissed poor peasant.

Don't forget, I have succulent shredded chicken breast for dinner tomorrow. What do you get after you eat out in Singapore?


  1. This is quite funny and amusing. I call it domestic bliss! It's faster to boil water with an electric kettle when beginning to cook! I make myself a cup of tea before I start and then whatever that is left can be used for boiling rice and making sauces.

    To make chicken rice with even less effort, put the whole chicken in with the rice at the bottom together with the aromatics! While the rice cooks, the chicken is steamed, which retains a richer flavour!

    I love your writing. Philosophical without being too intense (cheem) and the touch of dry humour is very English which I appreciate as I currently live in England. I am thinking of moving back to Singapore eventually to be with family members who are all older. We forgot that bit, I think! My brothers and their families are now living in Australia - new migrants. I might visit them soon!

  2. "While the rice cooks, the chicken is steamed, which retains a richer flavour!"

    This lady knows her stuff, learn from her!

  3. Hi there! Enjoy your posts - keep them going!

    Just wanted to say that usually when someone says it's cheaper to eat out in SG, the comparison is with eating out in Australia or somewhere else. Your comparison is more eating out vs eating in. If so, it doesn't matter whether in SG or Australia, eating in is usually cheaper as you have shown (no labour costs, no rental etc). So to reject the statement (your heading) that it is cheaper to out in SG but using an eat-in example, is not accurate. SG kena slammed for nothing....

    1. I am not slamming Singapore. It is just a cost comparison between common practices. (Unless, you are telling me you eat in in Singapore MOST of the time) It does not aim to address anything else.

  4. Hi there! Enjoy reading your posts... Keep them going 👍

    Just wanted to say that when someone says eating out in SG is cheaper, the comparison is with eating out in Australia or somewhere else. Your comparison is more eating in vs eating out. If so, it doesn't matter whether in SG or Australia, eating in is usually cheaper (no labour cost, no rental etc)... SG kena slammed for nothing leh...