Mr. FAF is currently finishing up his PhD in Computer Science and lives primarily in another city. He completed his Teaching Assistant assignment in early May, so he could stay with me for a long time and work on his dissertation.
It means that for May you will see the food expense report for two people instead of just me like usual.
Food Expenses – May 2017: $777.26
H-Mart (Korean grocery store) – $31.3
Bananas: $2.70 ($0.49/lb) – You can tell I buy bananas almost every week. It’s because bananas are cheap, sweet, and nutritious! Mr. FAF and I each will have on banana as our frugal Asian dessert.
Strawberries: $2.98 ($1.49/each; originally $2.99/each) – It’s cheaper than the one I usually get from an American store ($2/each). Mr. FAF think strawberries are too sour for him. I like them because they smell nice and have lots of vitamins and antioxidants. And the price’s reasonable.
Cilantro: $1 – Mr. FAF likes putting it in his egg drop soup.
Scallion: $0.4 – Mr. FAF puts scallion in soup and a lot of other dishes.
Black bean paste: $4.79 – After watching a series of mukbang videos of people eating jajangmyeon, I decided to make it at home. I have never had jajangmyeon before, but I love all kinds of noodles, so this shouldn’t go too wrong.
Jajang noodles: $3.99. I will use these noodles to make jajangmyeon.
Garlic: $5.38 ($2.69). I think the garlic at Costco is cheaper. It’s a big bag of garlic for roughly $5. Mr. FAF puts garlic in almost everything he cooks.
Daikon radish: $1.46 ($0.60/lb). Another staple in our family.
Seedless cucumber: $2.37 ($0.79/each). I usually just eat it raw, but Mr. FAF likes adding some salt and sesame oil to it to make cucumber salad.
Chocopie: $2.98 ($1.49/each). I grew up eating Chocopie every once in a while, so this is definitely one of my most favorite snacks. I saw it on sale, so I got two boxes.
Macha mochi rice cake: $2.49. I’ve been eyeing this mochi for a while but didn’t want to buy it. I like mochi and think that anything that’s made with macha (green tea powder) is delicious!
Great Wall – $15.55
Chinese asparagus: $4.95
Crispy pork chop powder: $1.79
Spiced seasoning mix: $1.79
Steamed meat-five spice: $1.79
Beef stew spice pouch: $1.79
Chinese cabbage pickle: $1 ($0.5/each)
Pickled cabbage fish: $1.99
Costco – $55.78
Romaine lettuce: $8.98 ($1.49/each) – We usually just dip it in a bit of soy sauce and eat it raw.
Oranges: $10.69 (22 counts) – This is much cheaper than at the grocery store where each orange retails for almost $1. I usually put all the oranges in the bottom drawer of the fridge, and they can stay fresh for almost a month.
Apples: $7.99 – These are really sweet. Mr. FAF eats one with breakfast every morning.
Whole milk: $2.79 – 1 gallon of whole milk retails for $3.45 at the grocery stores, so this is a good deal. I wanted whole milk instead of soy milk for a change.
Corn: $4.99 – We usually just boil these. Mr. FAF likes the corn soup. I like eating the corn.
Water melon: $5.99 – Mr. FAF likes water melon smoothie.
5 dozen eggs x 2: $8.59 ($4.30/each) – We make a variety of dishes with eggs.
Kirkland Greek yogurt: $6.49 – I regret buying this. I’m not a big fan of Greek yogurt. It’s also too sour. I have to add sugar to it. I won’t buy it again.
EATING OUT: $190.01
Asian food court – $83.3
Mr. FAF brought these from his city since food is cheaper there. From top to bottom and left to right:
Deep-fried breaded frog legs: $10.95 – We’re Asian, so we eat everything, including frog legs. Just kidding! But really, these are really good. It tastes like chicken but more juicy with a hint of fish.
Slow-cooked chicken with potatoes, flat noodles, and chili: $18.95 – This is a huge tray for the price. Mr. FAF and I bought the seasoning and cooked this dish once. It took both of us more than an hour to make it. This tray can last us just for lunch for a week.
Braised rib fish: $10.95 – The dish is flavorful but could use a bit more salt. It’s very thin and has lots of bones.
Roasted duck: $13.38 – If you’ve heard of or had Beijing roasted duck, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Duck is used widely in a lot of Chinese dishes. This dish was my most favorite out of the whole batch.
Braised pork: $11.95 – This dish is a bit too fatty for my liking, but Mr. FAF loves it.
Onion pancake: $6 ($3/each) – It’s a bit bland for my taste, but Mr. FAF likes it. I honestly think it’s a bit expensive.
Pork stomach: $6.95 – I told you we eat everything (ehem). Mr. FAF told me people eat this dish when they’re drinking alcohol. It’s spicy, chewy, and flavorful. I didn’t really like the taste at first, but it grew on me.
Starbucks green tea w/ whip cream: $5.72 – Mr. FAF bought this before coming to DC. I was in shock when I saw the receipt. He said he’d bought it once or twice. I suggested he not buy this again because it’s too expensive, and he agreed.
Bakery: $6.22 – Mr. FAF bought these to eat on his way to DC.
Bubble milk tea: $4.77 – I realized this is not much better than the Starbucks green tea. Both of us love bubble tea. We got a large cup and shared it. I like drinking the tea and catching the bubble. It’s like a treasure hunt to me.
Mini hotpot: $90 – We treated a friend to hotpot and got a scoop of green tea ice-cream for $3. They gave us a scoop of lychee ice-cream for free. It was a total disappointment and a complete frugal fail. Each portion was roughly $24, but it was tiny. We left the restaurant feeling hungry and cheated. We will never go to this place again. It got raving reviews on Yelp and Google, and we just can’t understand why.
GROCERIES – $120.19
Giant – $17.5
Pork riblets: $4.12
Red pepper: $5.08 ($2.99/lb)
H-Mart – $102.69
Below are some of the dishes we made with the groceries:
Braised fish, stir-fried tofu and leek, stir-fried pork and red pepper, tomato egg drop soup, watermelon, cucumber salad, and rice
(1) Shrimp teamed with garlic on top of dry noodles & (2) Wonton soup
EATING OUT – $139.8
Thai food: $34.80 – I took my colleague out for her birthday. She always gives me a birthday gift and takes me out to lunch, so I think it’s just appropriate that I do the same for her.
Peking duck: $105 – We treated two of our good friends to dinner. They help me a lot when Mr. FAF is not in DC.
The main dish of the night
We ordered a whole duck for $42. It came with thinly sliced duck meat, duck skin, pancake, onion, and hoisin sauce. You’re supposed to spread a bit of hoisin sauce on the pan cake and put a bit of everything on it to make a wrap.
I’d seen people eat this dish on Youtube and just couldn’t wait to try it myself. Mr. FAF gave it a 7 out of 10. I think it was ok, but I wouldn’t want to pay $42 to try it again. We both agreed it wasn’t as good as the $14 duck Mr. FAF had bought in his city.
Besides the duck, we also ordered Hunan beef and braised eggplant.
GROCERIES – $139.86
Great Wall – $139.86
Veggies, fruit, oil, sauces, and seasoning
Duck wings, pig ears, chicken hearts, pork, pork bones, whole chicken, fish, and pig feet. I know a lot of this stuff is not your standard groceries, but we can eat pretty much anything.
These are the dishes we made for week 3:
Sauteed green beans, tomato egg soup, duck wings cooked with Chinese five spices, chicken hearts stir-fried with jalapeno, stir-fried leak and bean curd, braised fish, and deep-fried breaded pork
Matcha bubble tea: $4.77
Mr. FAF and I didn’t feel like eating out this week. Part of the reason was because our grocery expenses were skyrocketing. We (mainly Mr. FAF) decided to get a matcha bubble tea instead.
Mr. FAF went back to his city and spent another $80 on food. I didn’t buy more food since we still have most of the groceries we bought in the fridge. I don’t think I need to buy groceries until mid June (maybe except for milk and fruit).
I guess now you know by now why my food expenses were so low in March and April. Whenever Mr. FAF comes to visit, we will stock up on a lot of groceries in the fridge/freezer since I don’t have a car in DC.
Our food expenses were higher than usual since we took three of our good friends out for dinner. They treat us really well and help us a lot, so I think we did the right thing. I know there are other ways to thank our friends, but we generally just love eating.
The good thing about this exploding budget is that now we know how much we spend on food for sure. We no longer have to guess or estimate. Also, I won’t need to do grocery shopping for another two weeks, so I hope our food expenses will balance out next month.
How was your food budget last month? I hope it didn’t explode like ours.