How To Maximise Your Groceries in Trying Times
By Debbie Wong
Mar 23, 2020

How To Maximise Your Groceries in Trying Times

Virus or not, fall back on 4 pillars when grocery shopping: Tasty, Healthy, Versatile and Economical

Virus or not, I tend to fall back on four pillars when grocery shopping: Tasty, Healthy, Versatile and Economical. I focus on ingredients that last, recipes that are multi-purpose, and effortless meals that taste awesome and happen to be good for you. 

Here are some of my favorite tips on how to get the most out of your groceries, as well as ways to elevate your go-tos, so you feel like you’re at a restaurant, even if you’re cooking at home!

Make a Big Batch of Tomato Sauce 

You'll need some cherry tomatoes and good tangy creamy tomato puree for this One-Pan Red Curry Shakshuka

I make a lot of tomato sauce. It’s easy, cheap and VERSATILE.

Toss it with pasta, make shakshuka, use it as a base for minestrone soup, chili, curry… the list goes on. I like to make a big batch and freeze it in portions. That way, when you’re getting ready to cook dinner, you’re 50% there.

Long Live the Cabbage

Use Chinese cabbage, mushrooms, a tangle of glass noodles in a classic vegetarian Buddha's Delight 

Literally. Cabbage lasts for weeks in the fridge and is one of the most nutrient-dense, versatile, and economical ingredients ever. Slice up a whole cabbage and see for yourself- you’ll feed a family of four. 

Cabbage is delicious raw and shredded in a salad, quick-cooked in stir-fries, and stewed in soups. Other veggies that have a long shelf life: carrots, potatoes, pumpkin squash.

Eggs and Greens - A Super Versatile Combi!

Learn the basics of egg cooking here

Hands down my favorite combination for their sheer versatility and ability to complete any meal. And here are two ways to do just that:

  1. Top a bowl of hot rice (use leftovers!) with two soft scrambled eggs. Drizzle with ponzu or kecap manis- sweet soy sauce, and sprinkle with furikake, a household Japanese dried fish seasoning. Pair with a crispy green salad and a side of kimchi. Voila. Healthy, quick, tasty, and meat-free.

2. Elevate your instant noodles! We all know they’re not the healthiest, but they are an undisputed staple in the Asian kitchen, and let’s face it, in times like these, it doesn’t hurt to have an emergency stash.

Cook the noodles partway in the broth; when there’s about three minutes left, crack an egg straight into the broth and let it poach. At the last minute, toss in a handful of baby spinach. Let it wilt and serve it up!

If you’re feeling extra fancy, tear up some cilantro and scatter over the top. Boom- insta-worthy instant noodles.

From Scraps to Stock

When I’m cutting up veggies, I like to save the scraps- in particular, those of onion, carrot and celery. I also save mushroom stems and and leftover woodsy herbs like thyme and rosemary. Keep the scraps in a zip lock bag in the freezer and keep adding to it.

When the time comes, empty the frozen veggie scraps into a pot, cover with water, bring it to a boil and simmer for an hour. Use it for gravy, noodle soup, or risotto!

Leafy Heroes

The Vegetarian Tagine (pictured) is a sweet flavour-bursting medley of turmeric, onion, coriander, parsley, and much more

I cannot live without fresh herbs. They are an effortless way to transform any dish. Keeping them perky beyond 24 hours however, is another story.

Here’s how I stretch the life of my fresh herbs: After washing, wrap them gently in a paper towel to form a loose bundle. Sprinkle a touch water over the bundle to dampen. Keep them inside sealed containers in your fridge and use for up to one week!

Well it might be cliché by now, but we really are in this together. I hope you found these tips valuable; and wishing everyone strength, positivity and inspiration!

Debbie Wong is self-taught cook and classically trained actor based in Hong Kong. She is the host of Food Wars Asia, Kitchen Quickies, and her ongoing international culinary series on YouTube -Debbie Wong’s Wok and Gong. Follow her on all socials @ms.debbiewong.

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