Everything is expensive, even lemons! —Money Saving Tips


By Assunta Ng

Recently I asked a supermarket cashier if she was wrong about a lemon I had bought.

“No, it’s 59 cents,” she said.

A few months ago, I bought three small lemons for $ 1. Now a small lemon costs 59 cents. That’s a 78% increase! I usually don’t look at the cash register when the items are scanned or entered. At that point, however, I just saw it.

Last year regular gas was $ 2 +, now it’s $ 3 +. The cow, what’s going on? My parent said, “Since the Democrats came to power, everything is expensive. You can tell my parent is a Republican. When something is wrong in this country, she blames the Democrats. The truth is, it has nothing to do with Democrats or Republicans.

So, is this linked to the pandemic? Is it because of the stimulus checks and the people getting the money? Is it because the economy is recovering? Is it because of inflation?

The pandemic has had a lot to do with it. During Covid, many supply chains were disrupted. For example, farmers lost income because they were unable to transport their produce or did not have enough workers during the harvest season. Wood prices have skyrocketed because many people who stay at home have plenty of time to engage in DIY projects. The demand for housing has also created the need for lumber. The good news is that lumber prices have stabilized recently.

The labor shortage has also improved wages in many sectors of the economy. The majority of grocery stores have increased their wages because their employees are essential frontline workers. As a result, food prices have soared much higher. In the post-pandemic era, the demand for all kinds of goods is natural. When demand is low, prices fall to encourage consumption and sales. Now, business owners must raise prices to make up for the losses they suffered during the pandemic.

Save money on gas

There are ways to save money even if the prices go up. All you need is better planning. To avoid spending money on gas, work remotely. This is now possible due to the pandemic. Organize carpooling with your friends and colleagues. If you don’t drive, you save not only on gasoline, but also on parking costs. Finding parking is stressful and time consuming.

Public transportation is an option. These days, I avoid using Uber or Lyft. It is also expensive. If I need to go downtown from Chinatown, I walk. I exercise while saving money. If you take a walk with a friend, it’s even more fun.

Save food costs

It’s not my style to go out for coffee or soda. Most of the time, I drink hot water, even in restaurants. I prefer to save money to tip the waiters. If you want to buy healthy, economical drinks, I recommend coconut water, not coconut juice, which is not as healthy. The other choice is soy milk without sugar. A bottle of coconut water or soy milk contains several cups.

Before Covid, I never looked at the price when shopping in supermarkets. Now I am doing this so that I can do a better job of writing this blog. Since I am a foodie, I love to learn more about food costs to help my readers.

Eating well doesn’t mean you have to buy expensive things. You save a lot more money if you buy seasonal vegetables and fruits. It’s better and it’s more important if you are a good cook.

Eat out or not

With the reopening statewide, many restaurants are teeming with diners. But if you’re on a tight budget, it’s best to cook at home. It’s just simple math. You save more money by eating at home. But if you can afford it, eat more in restaurants and spoil your family and friends. Restaurant owners need your support more than ever.

When you shop, buy local. It saves you money in the long run and supports the local economy. Imported food is generally more expensive, but with a few exceptions. A papaya from Hawaii costs between $ 5 and 9, but papaya from Thailand, which is three times the size, costs a lot less. You can get one at Lam’s Seafood. A can of corned beef costs $ 6 and more from Australia, but those from the United States cost a lot less. So read the labels.

Grow your own food

My office housekeeper grows vegetables at Danny Woo Garden, as well as a community garden in another part of Chinatown-International District (CID). She often gives her crops to us and to her friends. That’s why she has friends all over the community. We pay her for the food she gives and cooks for us too.

Imagine her joy when she collects all the fresh produce from East and West in her own little garden, not to mention the money she can save by buying vegetables. Doctors have suggested gardening as an effective way to fight depression. The benefits are plentiful: getting out, soaking up the sun, breathing fresh air, and making new friends.

What do we eat at home?

Celery Tuna on Hawaiian Rolls (Photo by Assunta Ng)

Celery Tuna and Miracle Whip Sandwiches are nutritious, delicious, and quick to prepare. Hawaiian rolls are my first choice, costing around $ 3 and up for 12. Our tuna lunch for two with five Hawaiian rolls is just $ 5.

Creativity plays an important role in your food choices and their presentation to improve your appetite. My husband once asked me if I wanted to eat corned beef sandwiches or frozen wonton noodles, which we bought.

“How about some corned beef wonton noodles?” ” I said. It was our original idea, and it was fabulous and inexpensive.

It’s a good thing I like bones. Fish bones are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus and calcium. And they are the cheapest in Asian supermarkets. It is misleading that they are labeled as bones because these bones also contain fish meat. You can also use them to make broth. We steam them and turn them into one of the dishes.

Smoked pork knuckles with garden vegetables and steamed fish bones (Photo by Assunta Ng)

Another inexpensive but delicious food is smoked pork knuckles. We bought two recently which were only $ 2. I love them because it also contains meat.

Sautéed split scallops with sweet potatoes (Photo by Assunta Ng)

Scallops are a great dinner dish. You would say scallops are expensive, which can cost over $ 25 a pound. Not if you buy the broken scallops (not in one piece) at Uwajimaya. I prefer broken scallops as it saves cutting time. For $ 10, my husband and I can split them into three meals. The first, we jumped with mushrooms; the second course we sautéed with red peppers; and the third meal with sweet potatoes. Because scallops are salted (from seawater), we made them into a broth after cooking them.

Sautéed split scallops with red peppers and mushrooms (Photo by Assunta Ng)

Maximize your use in daily products

If your makeup or toothpaste is from a plastic tube, you can cut it and use every drop. Anyway, it can last over a week for me.

The bone broths we use at home, I usually rinse them with water to wash off the last drops of my soup.


Paying rent is expensive, unless you live in social housing. But I’ve heard that some low-rental housing is just as expensive. For example, a small 200 square foot room in the CID can cost up to $ 800.

It is better to own your own house. My mom relied on rent money to make ends meet by owning a home in Hong Kong. She rented three to four rooms in our apartment. It’s a good way to lower your living expenses or help pay off your mortgage if you own your home.

Or you can rent a house with friends to share the cost of maintaining the house. It also saves money.

Make your own drinks

For those who like to drink expensive bubble teas, coffees and lattes, do you know that if you cut back you can save a lot of money in a year? You can learn how to make these teas and even these smoothies yourself. The ingredients for pearl tea are available in Asian grocery stores, such as the Viet Wah Market. You can create your own and take them with your friends to the parks.

It doesn’t cost you much. It’s great fun making your own drinks.

There is a lot you can do to save money. You just have to think harder and be careful. Share tips with your friends and vice versa, you never know what you are about to find out. It’s a great way to connect with people.

Assunta can be contacted at [email protected]


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