In the recent post I have been complaining that food in Taiwan is getting more and more expensive. The money that I spend on food takes a large portion of my budget, and usually eating out is the first thing I cut when I need to save money. I like to eat at home whenever I have a chance, but when everyone works full time and have other responsibilities between work and sleep, there is hardly enough time left for cooking, the first choice is to grab some lunchbox or noodles from stands, or some burgers from some fast food chain.
Then it really hit me. I really enjoy microwave food. It might not be the healthiest of choices out there - but it does its job: get me from starvation to normal functioning again. If you are not that picky, and take your time with choosing which microwave food you prefer, you might be really surprised with the quality of the microwave food and how really low it is priced.
I go to do my grocery shopping about once a week both to local Cosco and Carrefour, here in Taipei city. I always buy so much frozen food that I have dilemma of stuffing it inside my freezer. I do have additional freezer at home, but I do not want to turn it on to save on power, but anyway, probably when summer comes, need that extra space for ice creams. In Cosco I love their frozen pizza - there are 2 choices, 1 party size pizza or 4 large pizzas together. They also have meat and vegetable burritos which I also enjoy quite a lot, and German sausages. If you really have huge freezer, get their french fries. For around NT230 you get like 4kg of fries - its just really cheap. I stay away from their frozen Pasta, because it is... not good enough for the price they ask. In Carrefour, I look for the deals. Every week they have different frozen food on sale. Wait till the one you like is on sale and then buy it. I love the pasta (as on the picture) which normally sales for around NT50, usually on sale for NT35. Frozen fry rice is also awesome, but I think the best are the soup pots - like lamb soups, chicken sops, and beef noodle soups.
Unfortunately, you will not see many (or at all) western style TV Dinners, that usually have some veggies, meat and mash potatoes, but for that the closest choice you can get is in any local convenient shop. A bit pricey (NT50-80) but that really hit the spot when you are craving for some other food.
Totally another story goes with instant food, like instant noodles. There is no better place than Taiwan for the variety of choices and it is incredibly cheap. You want to have some instant noodles? What would you like? Regular? Vegeterian? Chicken, Pork or Beef? Maybe craving for seafood? Or more Oriental taste, like Tom Yum, or spicy Kimchi? Do you want just noodles, or with meat inside? Tons of choices, and instant noodles are really cheap, starting as low as NT8 per pack.
Here is my shopping list of the frozen food that I do every Sunday when my freezer can still fit:
Pizza 1 pack (4 large cheese pizzas) NT399 - 1 large pizza is 3 meals for me.
Party pizza is NT270, but the pack is much much better deal.
Burritos: 1 cost NT39, but you need to buy a dozen
German sausages: For about 2 dozens, NT220 I love them, quick breakfast with eggs and I am full till dinner. You can freeze them
French Fries: 4kg for NT230 (those are tasty fries, the curly ones. You will do good owning an oven)
Beef noodle soup: 4 pack for NT399. It might seem expensive, but 1 pack is good for 2 people. It is really delicious
Tom Yum instant noodles: 1 costs around NT14, you need to buy whole box, I think there are 24 inside.
Red Pasta- 4 servings, NT159. I stay away from it, I don't really like it, but maybe it is just my own preference.
Hot Pockets: Sometimes they have it. If they do... snap it. NT20 for a hot pocket, in the box total of 20. Usually they have cheese and ham inside.
Frozen fry rice: I wait till price drops to NT30, then buy at least dozen
Pasta: Green, Bacon and Red, I wait for at least NT39, then buy like 2-3 dozens
Rice with cheese, curry, mushroom, etc: Same brand as above, so same price.
Sometimes when you see promotion lady, ask if they have any freebies. I usually get some extra freebies for every 3 items I buy.
Instant noodles: Like I said, countless possibilities. NT8 to NT50 per pack
7/11 and other convenient stores
Most of the food you can think of that can get into microwave, but its expensive. Just if you are on the go, or don't own a microwave :)
If you only feed yourself on instant food and microwave food (please don't do it) then the monthly expenditure on food would be no more than NT1000.
When I eat outside, and do not care about saving money, each month spending on food can reach NT20,000!
Its delicious, its fast and is convenient. As long as you keep it in balance, its good way to save time and money.