Looking at the average spending of an average Filipino family, a good chunk of the spending budget goes towards food. In fact, a lot of people quite literally eat through their income, often spending more than they can afford on unnecessary groceries and dining out. One of the best ways to curb your spending and make it through your next payday is to cook at home.
There are a lot of easy, cheap, and tasty meals you can make at home using just a few simple ingredients such as Spanish sardines. Recipes like this won’t even take up much of your time, making it perfect for a hassle-free weeknight meal. Here are some of the best budget meal recipes to get you through your petsa de peligro:
Calamansi Fish Fillets
This is a healthy and quick fish recipe you can add to your dinner repertoire. You can serve this fish dish with steamed vegetables and a cup of rice.
- 400 grams cream dory fillets, thawed
- 1 tablespoon butter, unsalted
- 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped (and more for garnish)
- ¼ cup fresh calamansi juice
- 1 teaspoon fish sauce
- 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
- Ground black pepper, to season
- In a small bowl, combine fish sauce, calamansi juice, cilantro, and pepper.
- Place fish fillets in a shallow container and pour half of the calamansi mixture over the fish. Make sure that the mixture is evenly spread out and marinate for at least five minutes.
- In a large pan, heat butter and oil over medium heat. Saute garlic until fragrant and cook the fish fillets for about five minutes.
- Flip the fish and cook the other side for two to three more minutes. Drizzle the remaining calamansi mixture over the cooked fish. Top with chopped cilantro and serve warm.
Misua With Spanish Sardines
You might be surprised to know that you can use canned or bottled Spanish sardines in a recipe for soup! This dish pairs the delicious fish with delicate misua or thin rice noodles and patola to make a simple soup that is perfect for busy weeknights.
- 1 small can of Spanish-style sardines (or about 155 grams)
- ⅛ kilo misua or fine rice noodles
- 1 medium patola or Chinese okra, sliced
- 2 cups of water
- 2 tablespoons cooking oil
- 2 tablespoons fish sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- In a medium pot, heat the oil then saute the garlic.
- Add the sardines, including the oil, and cook for two to three minutes.
- Add water and the patola and let it boil for about five minutes. Add the fish sauce and the ground black pepper to adjust the taste.
- Add the misua noodles and cook for 5 minutes on medium heat. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve warm.
Shrimp Sinigang Rice
This is a dish for all of the sinigang lovers out there. Try out this simple cooking trick: instead of cooking the rice in water, boil it in tamarind stock and give it a distinct, tangy flavor.
- 150 grams medium-sized shrimp, trimmed
- 2 cups uncooked rice
- 650 grams fresh of tamarind, unripe and unwashed
- 1 cup taro (gabi), peeled and diced
- 1 medium red onion, minced
- 2 cups kangkong leaves, sliced into thin strips then blanched(set aside more leaves for garnish)
- 2 ripe tomatoes, diced
- 1 green finger chili, minced (optional; more for garnish)
- 2 tablespoons butter
- Fish sauce
- To make the tamarind stock, boil the tamarind in four cups of water. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes. Using a sieve, strain the tamarind. Into a saucepan, press the tamarind to extract the juice. Add 3 ½ cups of water to the extract and season with fish sauce to taste. Bring the mixture to simmer over medium heat; you should have about 4 ¼ cups of stock.
- Poach the shrimp in the tamarind stock for about two to three minutes or until they are cooked through. Set aside.
- To make the rice, melt the butter in a saucepan. Saute onions until they are translucent and add rice. Stir and evenly coat the grains in butter.
- Add the tamarind stock, tomatoes, and taro. Cover the pot and let it simmer for about 40 minutes or until the rice is tender.
- Add the chilies and kangkong. Toss and mix well.
- Transfer the rice to a serving platter or individual bowls. Top with blanched kangkong leaves, chilies, and shrimp.
Just because petsa de peligro is coming up doesn’t have to mean you have to stop eating good food. All of these simple and easy-to-make meals are not just great for your lunch at school or work, but for your family supper as well.
Relying on these cheap, delicious meals even for just a few times a week can make a huge difference in your monthly food budget.