Just 3 years ago, you could eat a bowl of noodles for RM3.50/USD1.10 but now, you'd have to pay at least RM6/USD1.95 for less than the same. I've eaten fish noodles for RM8/USD2.60 and the ingredients were noodles and only TWO slices of fish. It is just crazy.
While shopping at the market recently, I challenged myself to cook lunch for less than RM5 to feed 4. It had to be nutritiously balanced, meaning there should be meat and veggies on top of the basic starch. I also wanted a simple dish that doesn't take much preparation and cooking time. The dish that fits all that was fried noodles, with the least expensive ingredients I could think of: bean sprouts (RM1), wheat noodles (RM0.80) and pork roll (RM4). The total cost came to RM5.80/USD1.88, RM0.80 more than my budget. I could push the cost to less than RM3/USD1 if I used two eggs instead of the pork roll but that would be too much of a shock to the family although Hub would probably be very pleased.
Despite the scrimping, the noodles were delicious and went very well with a chili-lime sauce.
Any suggestions for more budget meals?
RM5.80 Noodles (serves 3 to 4)
1/2 kg yellow 'oil' noodles
1 pork roll, sliced
1/2 kg bean sprouts
2 T oyster sauce
1 to 2 T light soy sauce
pinch of salt
2 T veg oil
1 T garlic, chopped (optional)
spring onions from your garden for garnishing
1. Heat up a wok or a non-stick frying pan. Add the oil and fry the garlic until gragrant but not brown. Toss the noodles (which are pre-cooked) under medium high heat, mixing well with the oyster sauce and the light soy sauce. This will take several minutes, to heat the noodles through and to sear some of the noodles to give a smoky fire taste. If you like softer noodles, sprinkle chicken stock or water by the spoonful over the noodles. Adding too much water or stock all at once will make the noodles starchy.
2. Push the noodles aside, throw in the bean sprouts and a pinch of salt and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the pork roll and push the noodles into the center to mix by tossing and turning. Taste and season if necessary. Throw in the spring onions and dish up. Serve with a chili sauce.
note: if you prefer saucy noodles, use one tablespoon of the oyster sauce and one tablespoon of the light soy sauce to mix with 1/2 T of cornstarch, a pinch of salt, a pinch of sugar (if like), some white pepper and 1/2 cup of chicken stock or water and add that to the wok/pan (push the noodles to the side of the wok) just before adding the spring onions. Make sure to let the cornstarch sauce boil or the sauce'll taste floury. Push in the noodles and toss to mix.