Saturday, 10 March 2012

Food Adventures: A Japanese Home-Style Set Meal on a Budget

So my first Japanese bank statement came through this week, confirming what I already know: I spend too much money. I'm not silly with money but Japan just seems to eat it somehow. Mothers (mine and John's!), stop panicking, I'm not spending anything like what I earn, but I would like to save more for holidays/when I return to England. Most of my money seems to get sucked up on food. No matter how 'Japanese' I try to go with my diet, meals still come out expensive. There doesn't seem to be cheap food options in the same way there are back home.  Partly it's a problem with still mentally converting prices to £s. When the exchange rate is what it is, that's bound to make me feel depressed. But since I have nothing to compare it to, that's what I'm having to go with at the moment. If anyone whose is living or has lived in Japan fancies sharing what they spend on groceries a week, I'd love to hear. The only estimates I can find online are usually followed by statements like '...and a meal out in an average restaurant costs around ¥5000'. I don't think they're on the same budget as me! Or, occasionally people just suggest eating instant ramen constantly. I'm not that broke yet!

So anyway, this week it's been about eating fairly cheaply. A couple of meals of soup (one miso soup with soba noodles in a soy sauce dressing, and one of pumpkin soup with croutons and pumpkin seeds) brought down our weekly food budget a lot, and John spoilt me on Tuesday by having this delicious spread out for me when I got home from work!

Traditional Japanese set meals are a lot prettier than this, but in the same way, they are made of a few different dishes, that everyone shares from, and eats with their own rice. Usually there would be a fish or meat dish, along with a couple of sides, but since we're trying to be cheap and healthy, this was entirely vegetarian. 

Aubergine (or Eggplant if you are so inclined) with miso. This was the tastiest by far. Yum yum yum. The recipe is here. That website has a lot of good cheap food ideas, but it drives me mad by not allowing right clicks to open a new tab.

This was a John invention of green beans, red pepper and pumpkin fried with a sauce of pretty much equal parts soy sauce, mirin and rice vinegar. It was tasty enough and nice and fresh, but nothing to blow you away. 

This was made entirely because there was okra on offer in the shop, and is okra simmered in soy sauce and dashi stock, with wakame seaweed and sesame seeds. It tasted fishy, and was an interesting different dish. 

Sorry, too much writing and not enough photos for a food post, so one last photo...
7/11 (obviously the best conbini in Japan), is selling chocolate mans. Mans are steamed buns, traditionally pork (which are OK in my opinion), but it's the pizza mans that I love. YUM. Soft bready dought filled with cheese and tomato. Mmmm. And now they make a chocolate one. Filled with delicious runny chocolate sauce. Life is complete.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Susie!

    Yes! I found choco-mans recently fact Belgian Choco choco-mans.....Lawsons I wow!
    About cheap eating - lots of Japanese students do a pack on instantnoodles and then add in a mix of veggie toppings...
    Just found your blog - Hi to a fellow Brit!