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Midweek Meals: Budget-Friendly Recipes

Eat midweek meals tuscan pasta feature
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Give your wallet a break with these budget-friendly recipes to try this week.

We all know that grocery shopping in Hong Kong can be expensive. While you don’t want to constantly be pinching pennies, it’s always good to have some tasty, nutritious, go-to recipes (that won’t break the bank) to hand.

Read more: Midweek Meals: Cooking With The Kids

eat midweek meals pat krapao

Stir Fried Pork And Holy Basil (Pat Krapao Moo Sap)

Bring this lip-smacking, “Land of Smiles” dish into your family’s midweek meals repertoire. This Thai street food favourite is so simple, quick to make and packs a big flavoursome punch that your family will love. You should get four servings from this recipe and leftovers be kept in the fridge for up to two days.


300g minced pork
2 tbsp sunflower oil (or another “neutral flavoured oil”)
2 large red Thai chillis, finely sliced (remove seeds for less heat and younger palettes)
2 garlic cloves
150g to 200g green beans, sliced into 1cm pieces
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dark soy sauce
75ml water or chicken stock
Large handful of fresh Thai Holy basil, roughly chopped
2 pinches of salt, or to taste
Fried egg, to garnish (optional)


  1. In a pestle and mortar, pound the garlic and chilli until the garlic is a rough pulp. Set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the fish sauce, sugar, soy sauce and oyster sauce. Set aside.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium heat. Add the minced pork and salt. Stir fry the pork until slightly crispy and dry (about 4 to 5 minutes). Transfer the pork to a sieve (placed over a bowl) to drain.
  4. Wipe the wok or frying pan clean with a paper towel. Return the wok or frying pan to the heat and warm the remaining tablespoon of oil over a medium heat.
  5. Add the pounded garlic and chilli mixture to the wok or frying pan. Stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the chopped green beans, a pinch of salt and stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Gradually pour the water or stock over the beans and continue to stir fry for 2 to 3 minutes to combine. Add the fish sauce mixture and stir fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the drained pork to the wok or frying pan and stir fry for another 2 minutes.
  8. Sprinkle over the chopped basil leaves and stir fry for 1 minute.
  9. Serve immediately with rice and a fried egg (optional).

Lunchbox Leftover Ideas: For an easy, healthy wrap, roll 1 to 2 teaspoons of the minced pork with grated carrot and Thai Holy basil leaves in a crunchy lettuce leaf.

eat midweek meals tuscan pasta

One Pot Tuscan Pasta

Mamma Mia! Your family will want more than a second helping of this tasty, tangy, Tuscan pasta meal. For bambinos who prefer smaller veggies – grate the onion and courgette, roughly chop the spinach and reduce the sauté cooking time for steps three and four below to a total of two to three minutes. This recipe makes six to eight servings and can be kept in the fridge for up to three days.


500g pasta (coccinelle, penne or fusilli)
2 tbsp olive oil
200g onion, chopped into 1.5cm cubes
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
200g courgettes (zucchini), cut into 1.5cm thick slices
350g spinach
250g tomatoes, skin removed and chopped into 2cm cubes
2 tbsp tomato puree
3 tsp dried Italian herbs or oregano
250g Greek yoghurt
150g sour cream or Crème fraîche
125g mozzarella cheese, grated or torn into small pieces
60g parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
A small handful of fresh basil leaves, roughly torn (optional)


  1. In a small bowl, combine the parmesan and mozzarella cheese. Set aside in the fridge.
  2. Cook the pasta according to the packet instructions until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  3. In a large saucepan warm the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until slightly translucent. Add a pinch of salt and a large grind of pepper.
  4. Add the garlic and courgette and fry for 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, dried herbs and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes.
  6. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting. Stir in the spinach until wilted (about 2 minutes).
  7. Add the Greek yoghurt, sour cream and stir thoroughly to combine. Turn off the heat. Add the pasta and two-thirds of the cheese. Continue to mix thoroughly until the cheese has melted.
  8. Serve immediately with the torn basil (if using) and the remaining cheese sprinkled over the top.

eat midweek meals prawn curry

Goan Fish And Prawn Curry

Bring the aromatic spices of coastal India into your home with this wonderful Goan meal. We find our Kashmiri chillies, fresh tamarind and Indian spices in our local independent stores (see our Frugal Foodies article for more details). This recipe makes four to six servings and can be kept in the fridge for up to two days.

Ingredients for ground masala

4 to 6 dried Kashmiri chillies, soaked in warm water for 15 minutes (for less heat use 2 to 4 chillies)
6 garlic cloves
1/4 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tbsp whole coriander seeds (optional: toasted and ground)
1 tsp cumin seeds (optional: toasted and ground)
3 cardamom pods, outer husk removed
1 tsp Garam Masala powder
1 tsp tamarind paste (or 1 small knob of fresh tamarind)
1 tsp turmeric powder
50g grated coconut
400ml coconut milk

Ingredients for the curry

2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp finely minced ginger
150g onion, finely chopped
200g tomatoes, finely chopped
150g green pepper, sliced into 1.5cm pieces
2 tsp salt, to taste
8 to 10 curry leaves
500g skinless haddock (or tilapia or river cobbler or any other firm, white fish), cut into 3 cm squared cubes
15 to 20 frozen prawns


  1. In a food processor (or with a hand blender in a measuring jug), blend half of the coconut milk with all of the ground masala ingredients to a smooth paste and set aside.
  2. Defrost the prawns: combine 1 teaspoon of salt with enough cold water to fill a large bowl. Add the frozen prawns and set aside to defrost.
  3. In a large saucepan, warm the coconut oil over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for 3 minutes.
  4. Add the green pepper and sauté for 2 to 4 minutes until the onions are golden brown.
  5. Add the ginger and sauté for 30 seconds.
  6. Add the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes until they break down easily with the back of a spoon.
  7. Stir in the ground masala paste, the remaining coconut milk and 1 teaspoon of salt.
  8. Bring the curry to a boil, then reduce the heat to the lowest setting. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes, until the colour of the curry deepens slightly.
  9. Drain the prawns and wash under running water.
  10. Add the fish and prawns to the curry. Continue to simmer for another 7 to 8 minutes, stirring the curry every few minutes to prevent the mixture from sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
  11. Stir the curry leaves into the curry and turn off the heat.
  12. Allow the curry to rest for 5 minutes before serving with steamed rice and/or flatbreads.
All images courtesy of Melissa Au.

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