By Apolinario Villalobos
With the soaring prices of various food items that include vegetables, fish, meat and spices, one must be resourceful to be able to scrimp on these. Along with the effort, one must also use ingenuity in coming up with recipes that make use of cheap ingredients and quick cooking to save on fuel, such as gas, electricity, wood or charcoal. The following are some suggested and simple recipes with cheap ingredients:
- “Okoy” or fritter using strips of singkamas (jicama, turnip), squash and monggo sprouts (toge), flavored with dried krill or kalkag. This can be eaten as snacks or as viand (ulam).
- Vegetable combo using all kinds of indigenous vegetables – camote tops, alogbate, eggplant, saluyot, okra, tomatoes, onions and ginger, especially, those wilting in the ref.
- Pickled radish, eggplant, string beans, mustard or cabbage using cheap old stock of the said vegetables, the prices of which could be 50% less than the fresh ones. The mentioned vegetables can be pickled separately using vinegar and salt. As a salad, they can be prepared with slices of fresh tomatoes and onions.
- Mashed eggplant using the old, hence, cheap ones. Boil the eggplants into soft consistency, mash and sauté in oil, chopped tomatoes and onions. This can be used as a bread filling or as appetizing main dish.
Other cheap ideas are:
- Steaming vegetables by placing them on top of about-to-be cooked steamed rice. Remove them when ready to be served. Dips or sauce can be soy sauce mix with vinegar, chopped onions and tomatoes. This is the cheapest way to cook steamed vegetables and is more nutritious than boiling.
- Flavoring vegetables or fried rice with the sauce of canned sardines while saving the whole fish for pasta dishes or as a separate dish sautéed in plenty of tomatoes and onions.
- Preparing skinless tomatoes by freezing ripe ones after which bringing them out, and as they start to thaw or soften, starting to peel them. Skinless tomatoes can be frozen again to be used when preparing salad or sauce for pasta dishes, or can be mashed and cooked in oil, little vinegar and salt, to make tomato paste. The traditional way of peeling tomatoes is by soaking them in boiling water for a few seconds, but could be messy.
- Preparing ready-to-use tomato and onion sauce using cheap old stock of the said vegetables. Cook the chopped vegetables in oil after which, apportion in small container for freezing and bringing out only the needed portion….this is a time and fuel saver.
- Not continuously boiling monggo beans. Upon boiling, remove from stove and allow a few minutes “rest” to give the beans time to absorb the water, then return to the stove for another round of boiling; remove again…and on the third time, cook over slow fire until the beans become mashed in boiling water. This technique is best if only a single-burner stove is being used, as other dishes can be cooked while the monggo pot is “resting”.
The problem with most Filipinos today is that they refuse to think of ways to live on a tight budget, yet, they have the gall to waste food such as a spoonful or two of rice left on the plate or throw the left-over instead of recycling them. Also, they have the courage to blame the government for their travails due to low wage and soaring prices of commodities but they do not exert effort to save! They forgot the adage, “kung maikli ang kumot dapat ay mamaluktot” (one should exert effort to be covered with a small-sized blanket by lying curled on his side.)