If you have lived more than fifty years in Singapore, you would know the taste of cooked food have undergone great changes over the years. The eating culture has evolved from having home-cooked meals to eating takeout dinners. A few years ago, you could still find good tasting and value for money dishes in many Singapore food courts. In recent years, high rentals have pushed operators to hire cheap labour from abroad as stall attendants and cooks. Prices have risen, portions are reduced, and the quality of food has dropped to an unsatisfying level.
As a working mom, I usually pack food from the food court on my way home. The cheapest packet is $3.80 which is rice with a few slices of duck meat and not even a slice of cucumber to go with it. We cannot have that for dinner every day, can we? My takeout dinner for 3 adults and a teenager usually costs between $16 to $22, excluding drinks and fruits. In recent months, I have to order an extra food packet for anyone who needs extra helping. You see, the portions have reduced and I feel sorry that my husband sometimes looks hopefully for food that our daughters leave behind because it tastes lousy or it has too much starch.
The last meal of the day is a time when the family meets and chats. The topic should not be a complaint about food cost and unpalatable fare. I remember a time when compliments are passed about the aroma and delicious taste of food. Now the family has less reason to stay and talk. I decided to end the days of unhappy dining.
For the same amount of money spent on takeout food, I could easily feed the family with plenty of vegetables, fruits, and just the right amount of meat and staples. The only adjustment we have to make is to change our dinner time to 8.00 p.m. My family is elated with the prospect of having home-cooked meals again.
Now I prepare comfort food and favorite dishes of the family all within two hours. I can pick up the ingredients at the supermarket on the way home, and easily prepare a stew one day, a meat and vegetable soup the next evening, or a curry and a dessert mid week. A real quickie would be steamed fish fillets and a vegetable stir fry. The days of small offerings of rice or noodles with a few slices of fish cake, miserable amount of minced meat and one leaf of greens are over for us!
The motivation to cook comes from knowing everyone is happy and feels satisfied after a day at work. On the other hand nutrition and clean food preparation is assured. Home is now a place to come back to because Mom is cooking again.