I had a resolution about three years ago to plan weekly meals so they’d be within our budget. I’ve faithfully followed this practice ever since. Before that, we had a $50 per day budget (that excluded our lunch) but because of improper planning, we sometimes overspent. Before we moved to New Zealand and before Alvin accepted his job offer, we researched about Wellington’s cost of living from www.numbeo.com and somehow concluded that we could live with the same budget. 

Within the first two weeks after our arrival, I thought that it would be difficult to budget only $50 per day for food, given that our plan included not just breakfast and dinner, but also packed lunch and snacks. (Here, it’s the norm to bring packed lunch unlike in Singapore where you can eat out for lunch at affordable prices in hawker and food courts.) I usually pack sandwiches for lunch. As for the snacks, I like to bake cookies or cake.

I found it difficult at first because I wasn’t familiar with the available items and their prices from different supermarkets. I discovered that produce in season are much cheaper so I adjust my plan accordingly. So after more than two months, I can say that it is possible to stick to the same budget! 

This Garlic Shrimp Tomato Spaghetti is a meal that won’t exceed NZ$15 for the 3 of us. You can see at the end of this post the detailed cost breakdown of this recipe.

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Garlic Shrimp Tomato Spaghetti

Serves: 3

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or more
20-25 pcs shrimps (frozen,medium size), peeled & thawed 
1/2 lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 can (410g) diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
4 tablespoons Italian (flat leaf) parsley, divided finely chopped
250g spaghetti
Salt and black pepper
Grated Parmigiano Reggiano

1. Place shrimp, lemon juice, half portion of Italian parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl. Mix well, cover using plastic wrap and place inside a fridge.
2. Cook pasta as per instruction.
3. Heat in medium heat a large pan with oil. Add half of the shrimp in single layer – do not overcrowd them. Cook until each side turn spotty brown about 1-2 each side. Place in a plate. Cook the second batch.
4. Using the same pan, add oil if necessary. Saute garlic and cook until golden brown. Add red chilli flakes.
5. Pour in diced tomato, add oregano, basil and half of the parsley. Stir well. Cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Add the cooked shrimp and juice from the plate. Stir. Cover the pan and simmer for 3 minutes.
7. Add in pasta and toss.
8. Serve with Parmigiano Reggiano.

Happy Cooking!
Garlic Shrimp Tomato Spaghetti COST