Grocery Experiment: How Many Cooking Ingredients Can You Buy with RM50?

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Grocery Experiment: How Many Cooking Ingredients Can You Buy with RM50?

Ever since the implementation of GST three years ago, more Malaysians are devising their own ways to save more when shopping for groceries. Despite the negativity surrounding the taxation on everyday goods, we’ve grown more prudent with our money.

That said, you should never skimp on the things you need ‘just to save money’. Simply have a shopping strategy and know which items are taxed and which aren’t.

I did a little grocery shopping experiment (online) to see how many essential cooking ingredients can be purchased with RM50.

Must Read: 11 Clever Hacks That Will Help You Save Money at the Supermarket

Shopping mission and strategy

My goal is to produce meals on a daily basis for four people using the cooking ingredients and to see whether the ingredients can last for at least a month.

The shopping list doesn’t include perishable foods (e.g. eggs, seafood, fruits, vegetables) or frozen foods. For experimentation sake, I’d start with shopping based on categories.

My shopping strategies are quite simple and obvious for someone who wants to be frugal. Also, I purchased the stuff online from Tesco.

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So, here’s list of essential cooking ingredients I purchased with RM50:

Screen grab of my online bill

With RM50, I managed to get 17 essential cooking ingredients in my e-trolley:


Price (RM) Quantity GST (6%)

No GST (0%)

Life Sweet & Sour Sauce 250g

RM3.59 1 *

Puteri Fresh Squid Fish Sauce 750ml

RM3.29 1


Tesco Choice Five Spice Powder 80g

RM3.25 1


Tesco Choice Cumin Powder 100g

RM2.99 1


Tesco Plum Sauce 250g

RM2.69 1 *

Tesco Chicken Stock Cube 6x11g

RM2.29 1


Tesco Oyster Flavoured Sauce 250g

RM2.09/each 2


Tesco Choice Turmeric Powder 100g

RM2.05 1


Mak Siti Traditional Herbs & Spices Soup 10g

RM0.95/each 2


Adabi Chicken and Meat Curry Powder 250g

RM4.29 1


Pure Dry Vacuum Salt 450g

RM0.65 1


Maggi Cukup Rasa All-In-One Seasoning 100g

RM3.10 1


Adabi Chilli Paste 150g

RM4.35 1


Peace Brand Thai Tom Yum Sauce 114g

RM4.89 1


Ummi Paste Perencah Ikan Bakar 280g




None of the items I needed was on sale, so I tried buying some items under the Tesco brand to save more. I bought 17 items for a total of RM49.76.

If we include service and delivery charges, the actual total would be RM59.76 (RM10 is charged for same week delivery).

To save more on delivery, you can buy your groceries weeks in advance or choose a nighttime delivery slot.

Easy meals you can cook with the ingredients

These are some of the easy, quick meals that I’m able to cook under time constraints (30 minutes or less):

  • Fried rice – 30 minutes (20 minutes for prep, 10 minutes for cooking)
  • Tom yum soup – 30 minutes (15 minutes for prep, 15 minutes for cooking)
  • Grilled fish – 15 minutes (5 minutes for prep, 10 minutes for cooking)
  • Stir-fried kailan with oyster sauce – 15 minutes (10 minutes for prep, 5 minutes for cooking)
  • Five spice chicken with plum sauce – 30 minutes (15 minutes for prep, 15 minutes for cooking)        

How long do they last?

The essential cooking ingredients could last about six to eight weeks if you cook daily for a household of four people.

Related: 7 Intelligent Tips to Help You Save for Your Retirement

Based on my experiment, here are my simple grocery shopping tips in Malaysia:

  • Download the GST Sundry Goods list for a complete list of taxable and non-taxable items (this will greatly help in saving more and keeping track of expenses).
  • Most major supermarkets have their in-house brands for products, and they’re normally cheaper than their branded counterparts.
  • For more discounts and other rewards, sign up for membership cards, such as Clubcard (Tesco), Membercard (AEON Big), or Meriah Loyalty Program (Mydin).
  • Look out for the latest promos at any store you shop at.
  • To save more on delivery (if you shop online), you can buy your groceries in advance or choose a nighttime delivery slot.
  • Use eCoupons at checkout for further saving (some supermarkets like Tesco offer Coupons).

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