August 23, 2015

First up, my parents give me an allowance of RM100 per week (occasionally when they're feeling generous they give RM150). To some well off kids that might seem veeeeeery low. When I first started college I found that RM100 was NOT ENOUGH. If I spend all of that cash on food, what about the things that I want to buy? What about my savings? What if I accidentally spent my money on Etude House or Hermo.my??!!


More often times than not I find myself buying things I want, only to find myself in need of more money for food. After some trials and errors, I've learned along the way that the answer is proper budgeting and compromise. By eating cheap on some days, I can eat nicer (more instagrammable) food on others and still manage to buy stuff that I want to buy, ALL UNDER RM50. That's right, you don't have to starve yourself to be able to buy stuff!


Having a budget of RM50 for a week's worth of food can be tough and some people might feel that its a bit tight. I personally find that its manageable and I sometimes even go for 2 weeks with only RM50! (Okay, so maybe I go to RM60-70, but still, not bad right?). The key for this to work is variety. You should eat different things everyday so that you don't get bored with eating just one type of food.


I'm no Bong Qiuqiu or Budget Barbie, but in this post I shall be sharing with you some of my favourite budget meals to help you save money!


Since after eating people usually drink, having a bottle of water comes in really handy. I know, drinks are cheap (at least at some places), but having plain water isn't a bad idea. Bringing your own drink might sound super cheap to some, but hey, at least you saved up a few bucks, right? In a country with blazing sun and boiling temperatures, having a bottle of water in your bag helps quench your thirst as well. (Gotta keep the body and skin hydrated!)


Since I usually have classes in the morning, when the clock strikes noon I'm usually still in campus. In our cafeteria we have a Malay stall that sells lost of stuff but more importantly: NASI LEMAK. Nasi Lemak has soothed my crying wallet more than a few times because it is so cheap (RM1.20)! It's rice so its very filling and if you're a big eater you can buy more. Nasi Lemak is my definite, #1 go-to food when I'm budgeting or when I've accidentally spent my money on stuff that I don't need. If you're lucky, it might even come wrapped in your favourite celeb's face! XD

There is also economy rice available from "Ang Ki Ki" lady and if you don't know what economy rice is, you is a rich bish hahaha. Economy rice is basically when you serve yourself and take how much rice you want and select any kind of viand you want from their wiiiiide selection of food, always at cheap prices. 


Tom Yum noodles are one of my favourite foods of all time and I'm very grateful for the people who invented it. There was this one time when I had Tom Yum for one week straight hahaha. My friends and I usually have Tum Yum at Chin Noay Cafe or the restaurant across it (which we've nicknamed "Cheap Bacon").  You get to choose what goes into your bowl of delicious spicy Tom Yum and my bowl usually costs around RM8-9. A warning for people who sweat easily though, prepare your tissues! Tom Yummy's Tom Yum is pretty yummy too! (whoa try saying that sentence 10 times)

I love eating Tumyum but on days when I don't want to sweat and ruin my hair I usually opt for chicken soup.

You don't always have to eat rice or noodles to be full, though. Maybe because we're Asian but in my family (and with a few of my friends as well), there is this thought that if you don't eat rice, you won't be full. People eat bread all the time abroad so I guess its just our Asian culture. Subway's sandwiches are great because for a bargain price of RM7 something you can choose from either their Chicken Slice or Meatball Marinara. Best part? You get to choose your bread, select limitless toppings and sauces! Add in one more buck and you get a drink! When I'm not in college or if it's a weekend I usually drop by Subway for lunch.

Credits to Fufy for the photo on the left!

Speaking of bread, burgers are also a great way to sate your hunger, and where else but the world famous McDonalds! I know, its unhealthy, it not real meat, its not real potatoes, its not real vegetables, its not real YOU ARE GONNA DIE! Yeah. I can't vouch for how healthy McD food is, but having McD once in a while isn't so bad. I personally find McD to be very appetizing. I usually buy the Double Cheeseburger set which costs about RM7ish~

This isn't the double cheeseburger but for illustration purpose's sake...


As for dinner, I'm usually at home or with my friends. I would say that my number 1 go to food for when I'm alone would be instant noodles. I know, another unhealthy choice, but noodles are really cheap! A packet of 5 usually costs RM3.50-5, depending on brand. Having noodles for dinner isn't as bad as you may think. Just imagine you're in a Korean drama, eating ramen from the pot with Lee Min Ho

My personal favourites are Mamee's duck noodles, Maggi's Tom Yum noodles, 出前一丁's Tom Yum and Sesame noodles and this Thai brand's Tom Yum Noodles.

This photo was taken when I was still staying in my old rachet hostel XD

Noodles are not only cheap, they're super easy to make and it saves me the trouble of agonizing for hours just figuring out what to eat.

Whenever I can I try to drink tea as much as I can. Tea is a great way to detox your body because its filled with antioxidants and it curbs your hunger as well!

My favourite tea would be Lipton's Yellow Label Tea! I find green tea okay but a bit too bland sometimes. Fufy introduced me to peppermint tea and its quite nice, so I might get it next time ^^ I also drink tea on days when I don't have class and just chill all day in my room hahaha.

Please excuse my face, I just woke up here XD


Another cheap alternative for dinner is mamak stalls. Whenever my friends and I go to mamak stalls, I usually don't get rice or get stuff from their self-serve counters because I find them too spicy and a bit too oily. Instead I order their roti! My favourite would be roti bom and if roti bom cheese is available, EVEN BETTER. Its a very light dinner and it costs RM2-3, depending where you are. One mamak shop that my friend and I frequent at is KSB Cahaya (Abu Mamak). They have a wiiiiiiide variety of roti, including Roti Hong Kong! The guy who's kinda the main waiter there is a very smiley and cheerful guy too hahahaha. 

Left: Roti Bom Cheese
Right: Roti Hong Kong

Food courts are everywhere here in Penang and the ones I frequent would be Seong Huat and Viva. Seong Huat is closed at night (I think), but Viva is open at night. There are a lot cheap local food you can choose from so you get variety as well. I usually order Wan Tan Mee that costs RM5-6ish because who can resist Wan Tan Mee, I mean come on. Another food court that I frequent is the food courts in Gurney Plaza and Paragon. I usually have their claypot chicken rice which costs about RM6.

Ever since meeting my friends I've also been introduced to a lot of Indian food. One of my favourites would be cheese naan. Cheese naan usually costs RM3ish and you have the option of adding on Tandoori chicken as well. There are lots of other naans available too (like garlic naan). My friends and I usually have naan at Sri Ananda Bahwan or Indies.

Another type of Indian food which I really enjoy is Banana Leaf. Banana leaf is basically eating on a banana leaf lol. The side dishes that you get differ from place to place. My friends and I usually have banana leaf at Passions of Kerala and it costs about RM5-7. Best thing about banana leaf is free flow of side dishes and rice! You can literally eat as much as you want and it won't cost you a dime over 10 bucks!

You can also opt to order fried bitter gourd when you eat with your friends, that way you can share/save.

Sushi at Empire Sushi is also super cheap, and I wouldn't really recommend this for dinner because you can never get enough of sushi, but maybe when you have money you can splurge on sushi! Or when it's a noodle night, you can buy a few pieces so that the meal isn't too dull. My personal faves are the mentai tamago (RM1.60 each) and this big ass roll that I don't know the name of, it looks like a big california roll but its not (RM1 each for such a big piece)!

The rolls I was talking about are the ones on the right. 

Lastly, for lunch and dinner, my friends and I frequent J.L Cafe where they have a RM19.90 set meal. Their portions are quite big and their carbonara IS TO DIE FOR. I used to think that my mum made the best carbonara but nope, J.L Cafe takes the crown! For RM19.90 you get soup, a main course dish, drinks and ice cream, which is very worth it. This is probably the most expensive option on this list, but hey, it's nice to treat yourself to good food once in a while as well! (Harvest Times and eld21's set meals are pretty worth it too)

J.L Cafe's carbonara

Harvest Times' carbonara


So that's all for this post! Eating on a budget doesn't have to be so awful if you have a positive mindset and budget properly. I hope you found this post informative, entertaining and helpful! If you have any more recommendation on cheap alternatives, please do let me know in the comments ^^ I hope that I helped you and that you'll have enough money to buy whatever it is that you want!

Thanks for reading!

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