Cheaper to Eat Out in Singapore?

"Cheaper to eat out in Singapore."

I have heard Judy said that multiple times.

Of course, I disagree but it is difficult to debate the notion with the disparate forms of our definition of 'eat'. Truth to be told, the relatively low cost of eating out in Singapore is one of the last reasons, and a weak one, that explains why most Singaporeans eat out. That's simply because, it isn't true. 

A Malaysian colleague of mine, in his mid twenties, refuses to eat out to "save money." He told me a scrumptious beef stew that cost him $10.00 to make can cover his entire lunches for the week. It doesn't take that much effort to stew it. The gravy beef chunks were already cut during purchase. He unwraps and chuck them into a mixing bowl. He sets up a blending equipment, grind 2 onions, scoop out the contents with his hands and squeeze it over the mixing bowl, drawing onion juice. By doing, there are 2 benefits. First the onion juice will tenderize the meat. Second, the loss of water content will enable to onion to caramelized faster. 

He fires up his pan, splashes some oil on high heat, stir in the onion evenly and lower the heat. In the meantime he places his beef chunks neatly at the bottom layer of his slow cooker pot. Once done, he checks his onions by stirring them for a few seconds. Then he de-skin 2 carrots, 2 large potatoes and chop them into bite size chunks. As he chops, he empties them into the slower cooker, burying the beef chunks placed earlier. A few more stirs of the onion in the pan and he goes cleaning the blender, the chopping board, chopper and clear all waste. 

The kitchen is back to the spick-and-span state, well except for the stuff on the stove. Whether or not the onions are perfectly caramelized by then, he empties the content into the slow cooker. A busy man seeks function, not perfection. A few bay leaves and the sprinkling of herbs and spices he desires, salt and freshly ground pepper, he covers his slow cooker and switches it on. Finally, he washes his pan and dries his hands. The kitchen is clean, the food is cooking. Active time spent: 15 minutes for the well drilled, 30 mins for the noobs. 

Then he makes his breakfast and have it with a cup of hot tea and a book in hand. A nice way to start a Saturday in Perth. After breakfast, he does the laundry and some other chores. When he comes back to his slow cooker 2 to 2.5 hours later, his stew is ready for a good mix and a final touch of taste. With that, he divided them into 5 portions in air tight containers, freezes them for a meals ready in merely minutes in the microwave when required. He washes the slow cooker out. Another 15 mins at most. Less than 1 hour invested, an entire week of lunch settled. Tell me, how much time do you save if you add up the time you get to the hawker centres and queue to get your entire week's lunches Singapore? Not very much I suppose. How about cost saved? Less than $10 for 5 meals in Singapore? Not quite realistic.

There is hardly skills involved to stew. If any, the learning curve is gentle and forgiving. There isn't any difference time invested to get food on the table. If anything, this method saves more time than to get out there and take all the trouble just to get a meal. Pathetic. There isn't much difference in cost either. I've proven it costs less to cook than to dine out. Beef too expensive in Singapore? Use chicken then. So what's the problem?

"I don't want to eat the same meals every day." - find neighbours or colleagues to do the same and exchange then.

"I don't want my house to smell bad." - untrue and lame

"I don't want to get my hands dirty." - wimp

"I don't want to learn a new skill." - your loss really

"I don't have the time." - proven wrong.

"I don't want to eat in the office." - prefers a 2 hour lunch time and complains about knocking off late

"I'm tired." - yeah, getting to the hawker centre is so relaxing

The suggestion that it isn't economically viable to cook at home in Singapore for 1 person is not true. I can give you 10 easy meals you can do at home not more than $2 per meal. There are 1001 excuses not to do it of course but don't tell me cheaper to eat outside lah, plus the cost of your ordered drinks (which you otherwise wouldn't be tempted to incur), it'll rock the scale. Don't talk cock k.

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