How To Cari Makan With RM50 A Week

Anyone can save a little money on weekly groceries, but doing so without resulting to cream crackers for dinner can be a challenge - or is it? Read on to find out how you can stop overspending at the supermarket!

Buying groceries that can last for a week could cost you RM100s – a bottle of this, and a packet of that can rack up quite a sum at the checkout counter. For a person living in and around the Klang Valley earning a minimum wage of RM900 to RM1200 per month, RM50 per week is not a meagre sum. With the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax ( GST) next year, not only will minimum income earners feel the pinch but those from every income group will also have a harder time budgeting to make ends meet.

Cutting down on food expenditure is more than necessary to survive living in the big city. Hence, the important question here is, is it possible to buy groceries with RM50 (or less) per week?

This may sound like a radical idea, but definitely not impossible. To arrive at an answer, I've went through (thankfully, survived it too!) one week of living with nothing more but RM50 in my pocket to fulfill my most fundamental need - to put some yummy in my tummy!

My Supermarket Experience

Embrace Supermarket Sales Flyers

I started the week by going grocery shopping at the nearest supermarket. Immediately I noticed that the supermarket's sales flyer was available for free at the entrance. 

Looking over all the sales and clearance items, I thought to myself, “Instead of thinking about what I'm in the mood for, I should instead think about the delicious and healthy meals I can cook up with what's on sale for the week!"

Alternatively, you can visit their website to check out ongoing sales and promotions.– always think about the well-being of your wallet, and of your own.

Choose Home Brand Items

Buying the store's home brand is also a good strategy for extra sayings - why spend on expensive imported cereal or dish detergent when the cheaper generic home brand is just as good?

At the end of the day, after careful consideration, my basket consisted of :-

ItemsPrice(RM)
200g of oatmeal3.99
Loaf of bread4.90
Packet of rice7.90
Packed chicken breast6.55
Kang-kung1.50
1 carton of eggs4.29
500g red onions4.99
250g garlic4.99
Soya sauce4.95
750g salt3.40
Packet of red apples10
TOTAL48.46

That's justs below RM50, with a good mix of branded and generic products, along with fresh poultry and leafy greens. 

I can have bread and apples for breakfast, oatmeal to keep pangs of hunger at bay throughout the day, and dinner consisting of stir-fried chicken, boiled eggs, kang-kung, and steamed rice. - miraculously, I managed to still have some leftovers after that week!

Plan Your Meals Beforehand

To avoid overspending on unnecessary items that will only stuff up your fridge, it is also important to plan your meals ahead of time before shopping. 

And a meal plan was exactly what I came up with – you thought I picked all these items at random? Oh please! It is easy to get into the habit. If you think a pen and paper is too old-fashioned, you can use mobile apps such as Out of Milk and Evernote Food to keep grocery lists, recipes, and keep track of your spending.

Pay on Credit

If you've got access to credit, and are confident that you can make your full monthly payments promptly, go ahead and pay for your groceries with a credit card.

Some credit cards offer higher cashback specifically for groceries, or purchases on the weekend - a perfect match if you're one to make it a ritual to go grocery shopping on days off!

Finally, there are also co-brand credit cards that offer exclusive cash rebates and reward points whenever you spend at certain big name outlets such as the New AEON Visa Classic, or the Tesco- RHB Visa.

I'm Not Alone!

As I've discovered, I wasn't alone in my quest for a more frugal lifestyle. In fact, there is an ongoing thread on Reddit where quite a handful of young working Malaysians offer their own solutions on saving on grocery expenses. Some of the responses include :-

“Instant noodles is the cheapest and laziest way to last for 1 week. But if you cook: rice 1kg x 3 = RM11.70, bread RM2.80, peanut butter RM5.50, sausages RM5.40, garlic M2.50, carrot RM1.50, 2 cans of sardines = RM6, butter RM4.30, cream crackers RM4.40. Total is RM44.10.” ~ faceles133mhz
“I survived on rice, kangkong, eggs, scallions, garlic, salt, chilli and ikan bilis powder for quite some time. Well below RM50 per week. All from Tesco which was within a walking distance from my place. The lowest point of my life.” ~ niggamajingga
“For leafy vegetables, I will go to TLC supermarket. They have more produce and clearance section. You can also buy a can of beans for less then RM3. Look out for deals in the clearance corner. Also if you go to AEON supermarket near closing time, some meat and fish produce are discounted up to 50%.” ~ maximus7

While these responses can be quite humourous, they are also very insightful and goes to show that it is possible to live on RM50 a week, without resorting to a Maggi dinner every night. The main takeaway for my experience is that you must commit to the idea of grocery budgeting - that is the most important. If you are stubborn and want nothing to change, then you’ll get exactly what you wish for.

0 comments

Agree or disagree with this post? Questions? You also have your word!

  • Yossarian

    I always go to cold storage grocery or AEON at the end of the day to buy all the clearance items, especially the bread and packed meals

    Reply
    • S.Stone

      Cold storage grocery or AEON clearance item price still consider expensive. I think we can get more cheaper food at NSK or pasar malam/pasar pagi.

      Reply
      • Cathy

        The problem with those who lives alone and no family in KL (outsider), we do not have time to go for pasar pagi to buy vege and the only option is the supermarket which close later after works.

        Reply
        • Paul Soo

          S Stone you are right

          Reply
          • cikin

            setuju sangat.. rm50 cn get 2-3 bag of groceries, better than aeon or tesco

            Reply
        • Meatlover

          That's a great idea. Finally, a healthier option. A pack of chicken breast wouldnt last me more than a week though. I could probably add on a small pack of mince meat, that will hit the RM50 budget.

          Reply
          • Gramsci

            50 ringgit? why you go to the supermarket?!

            Reply
            • Kenny

              For housewives, I think it is a better idea to do grocery at wet markets. There you can get more fresh vegetables and poultry too. Most importantly, your RM 50 can get you more than what you got from supermarket. You just have to wake up a little bit earlier, then you can live healthily and within your means.

              Reply
              • Paul Soo

                People can get cheaper seafood at the wet market when the stores intended to clear their stock for the day or in the afternoon I get cheaper and more Fresh vegetables and others but not on meat

                Reply
              • Chee Foo

                Nice tips! I love being cheap and frugal!

                Reply
                • Paul Soo

                  Enjoy curry without cooking Buy ready cook curry from mamak shop Boil what you like - vegetable seafood or meat and add to the curry for the next meal

                  Reply
                  • Girlie

                    Normally I'd buy curry fr Mamak shop.Jz plonk in okra /aubergines n it's done. Same thing for soup. Jz plonk in vege of ur choice. Wala , meals ready...

                    Reply
                • Lee CH

                  Cari Makan means find money la... find money first then find food lo...

                  Reply
                  • Mr. Exclusive

                    Coupons!

                    Reply
                    • Scarlett

                      When the sun goes down supermarkets often decrease their prices to half if not more of the original cost. You're guaranteed to find some good bargains that you can either eat quickly or freeze to extend its shelf life.

                      Reply
                      • Paul Soo

                        Yes I agree that is what I have been doing

                        Reply
                      • Jebengotai

                        You can buy a lot more from farmer's market.. :)

                        Reply
                        • Lim

                          Go for the mark down items, say from Tesco. Yes, these goods near expire but still good to consume. Use card points like bonuslink, Tesco card or Smile card to buy.

                          Reply
                          • starfish

                            100% agree to maximus7, TLC is the best place to find various types of vege. Look for price tag with yellow color (Aeon Big), that means promotion price.

                            Reply
                            • Be aware for those 50% clearance sale for meat and fish in hypermarket! Usually they are not fresh and even closed to rotten! I understand that everyone is struggle in saving money but bear in mind health is more important! I personally suggest to buy chicken and fish at wet market.

                              Reply
                              • Paul Soo

                                Smart you are 100 percent correct

                                Reply
                              • Rick

                                Aeon member's day!!

                                Reply
                                • Bee

                                  Is this for per person...or whole family consist of two child and mother and father.

                                  Reply
                                  • Patty

                                    Of course per person la, haiyo where is ur common sense! One packet of rice how to feed two children you tell me??

                                    Reply
                                  • Glamgirl

                                    All this frugality is useless if you eat out a lot during lunch and acquire a Starbucks habit.

                                    Reply
                                    • Healthy girl

                                      Eating canned food and rotten food like ikan bilis might seem cheap now but in the long-term might pose great health and financial costs. Better to eat fresh food as far as possible and adopt a healthy lifestyle, reducing exposure to carcinogens. Don't take your health for granted.

                                      Reply
                                      • gary

                                        1 week?? 3 meals??

                                        Reply
                                        • pacifier

                                          I certainly agree on both to source food from wet markets and supermarkets. I shop mainly at wet markets for poultry and fresh vegetables. However, sometimes supermarkets do offer fresh food on special discounts and the groceries items are cheaper especially their in-house brand. Eating maggi is definitely not a long-term solution and eating healthy food doesn't necessarily mean organic or imported, which is expensive. A balanced diet is good enough.

                                          Reply
                                          • evan


                                            RM150 per week at Tondong Bazaar

                                            Reply
                                            • evan

                                              RM150 perweek at Tondong Bazaar

                                              Reply
                                              • My pet dog food cost more than rm50 a week

                                                Reply
                                                • VaginaWhisperer

                                                  Sell your dog or eat your dog then.

                                                  Reply
                                                • Of course, it is possible
                                                  By the end of the week,you'll look like a famine disaster victim
                                                  And.... your tounge will forever taste of kangkong

                                                  Reply
                                                  • justletmepost

                                                    Fasting helped me out ;)

                                                    Reply
                                                    • MrLonely

                                                      lol, thanks for sharing!!

                                                      Regards,

                                                      Reply
                                                      • Linnyleeen

                                                        Wake up early on Sunday, exercise and head to the pasar la to buy food. Late nights is not am excuse to sleep in and then complained of having no time for chores and all

                                                        Reply
                                                        • Michael Klim

                                                          makan bread dengan kicap soya, now that's something new. spending RM50/week and hosting a personal finance blog such as this? penipu.

                                                          Reply
                                                          • VaginaWhisperer

                                                            Tesco has great sales on fresh vegetables. You don't need nasty unhealthy Maggie sup with msg and preservatives. Make fresh soup in a large pot and take portions with each meal. You could blend the vegetables and add garlic, onion, other seasonings that you like very easily. Using cheap spaghetti noodles or whatever is on sale works,nicely or simply add in your leftover rice.
                                                            Pumpkin (labu) is usually less than 3rm per piece. Steam it and remove the outside shell after. Add butter, sugar and cinnamon and you'll have a cheap and amazing,vitamin packed side with your meal or you can refrigerate it and have it as a healthy dessert. (Even without,butter it's still very,yummy.)
                                                            cheap and healthy,drinks are possible,too using,discounted,fruits or just making lime,juice. If sugar free, buy a 1rm lemon and add it to plain water for a mildly,sour and healthy drink that detoxifies. Don't throw away the lemon, keep reusing it throughout the day in each,new container onward.

                                                            Reply
                                                            • onestly

                                                              hehe michael kim.

                                                              Reply
                                                              • lol

                                                                Save money with spin-off article writers and you get this. Stop scamming with your silly marketing tricks

                                                                Reply
                                                                • kc

                                                                  one dinner at a normal restaurant for 3 people already cost more than rm50...

                                                                  Reply
                                                                  • maria

                                                                    Dont lie to malaysians. my 13year old can finish 3/4 loaf of bread in a day.after lunch, before dinner.

                                                                    Reply
                                                                    • Jing

                                                                      Just thoughts from a healthcare student...
                                                                      Bread is high GI, fast releasing sugar, he'll get more hungry after eating bread.
                                                                      Oat on the other hand, gets you stuff, 4 tablespoon of oat + milk, low GI, high satiety. Keeps you full longer, thus don't need to eat as much.
                                                                      The above is definitely do-able.

                                                                      I think we are tempted to spend more when we can afford to spend more.
                                                                      When there's a budget, we'll try to make do with what we have.

                                                                      Reply
                                                                    • Nadia ong

                                                                      I usually buy things in pasar borong Selangor during weekends once/month. Spend about rm100..usually can than for d whole month esp d meat stuff..d perishable veges can stand about 2 weeks (if not leafy greens)..if din eat out, I'd say spend rm150/month for food..when got offer I made soup stocks n sauces n frozen them..so cooking time also lessens..hope the additional tips helps

                                                                      Reply
                                                                      • jack

                                                                        wow..things sure are cheap from where you're from..

                                                                        Reply
                                                                        • harris

                                                                          NSK guys...really cheap n worthit

                                                                          Reply
                                                                          • Ray L

                                                                            try look around Mydin hypermarket nearby your home...

                                                                            Reply
                                                                            • SomeWhite Brown Nigga

                                                                              This person wrote this article from year 2001 is it.....eat like that sure become really thin. But i accept your challenge, i will try this for a month...if its impossible, i will come back and debunk this article with my P3n15 hammer

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                                                                              • mia

                                                                                if living alone, rm50/week is possible. but for a family?unless ur husband and children r willin to eat the same food a few times then ok lor..

                                                                                Reply
                                                                                • Jing

                                                                                  The basket above looks like the one I used to shop in my college days. Def save more in places like Econsave.

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