Budget Tam Chiak – 15 Meals for Less Than $50 in 5 Days (CBD Edition)

Wan Ping Ho
Wan Ping Ho
February 21, 2017

How many of us are still climbing our way to the top of the success ladder? Some of us are barely staying afloat and it doesn’t help that a meal in CBD often demands at least $5. As such, we often end up with a meagre amount to bring home every month.

But don’t surrender to the unnecessary “exorbitant” lifestyle. If there’s a will, there’s a way. And this is the way that we have specially paved for you to consider – a comprehensive food diary comprising of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in the CBD for a typical 5-day work week. ALL UNDER $50!! Yes, it’s humanely possible.

Let’s speedboat towards the 6 DIGIT bank account balance together. Read on to find out how.

Sian-Day Monday – $9.80

Breakfast: Chwee Kueh ($1.80)

Situated towards the back of Clifford Centre, a nameless eatery offering local delights awaits. We were shocked that they genuinely do not have a shop name, but #01-K3 is the clue! Receive 5 plump chwee kueh (steamed rice cakes) topped with ample preserved turnips for just $1.80 – what a steal! The chwee kueh are a little denser than what we would have liked, but the greasy and fragrant turnips seemed to be screaming 加油 (add oil) for my dreadful Monday. Thank you, I really needed that encouragement.


Chwee Kueh

Address: Clifford Centre, 24 Raffles Pl, #01-K3, Singapore 048621

Opening Hours: 10.30am-2.30pm

Lunch: Nasi Padang ($3)

Despite the huge number of office workers invading the area during lunch hour, the delicious food at Shenton House lacks an online presence for some reason. Or maybe, they want to keep it a secret. Tucked away at the last eatery, this Nasi Padang has won countless hearts over the years. For just $3, you can order 1 meat + 2 vegetables/egg on top of the amazing portion of rice drenched in curry. Doesn’t the chicken drumstick look so appetizing? My eyes were glued to it the moment I stepped into the eatery. The meat ended up tasting slightly dry, but the crispy skin made up for it.

Mon-Nasi Padang

Shenton House Nasi Padang

Address: Shenton House, 3 Shenton Way, Level 2, Singapore 068805

Opening Hours: 10.30am-3pm

Dinner: Pad Thai ($5)

My nose picked up the lovely aroma of stir-fried noodles as I was on my search for dinner at Amoy Street Food Centre. I went for the classic Pad Thai ($5) that was indeed satisfying and good value for money. SAP Thai Food is a relatively recent addition and has a pretty extensive menu representative of Little Thailand. I was too excited to tuck into the piping hot noodles, that I even found squeezing the lime a chore. The umami flavours radiated throughout the dish, ending my Monday on a pleasant note.


SAP Thai Food

Address: 7 Maxwell Road, Amoy Street Food Centre, #01-58, Singapore 069111

Opening Hours: 10am-9pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SAP-THAI-FOOD-214069421533/

Fry-My-Brain Tuesday – $9.00

Breakfast: Fried Bee Hoon ($1.50)

I don’t only get Monday Blues, I get Tuesday Blues too. So, I need to recharge for Day 2 with energy boosters like Fried Bee Hoon. This takeaway box will surprise you with just how much noodles are packed inside. The Bee Hoon is a tad plain, and could do with less oil. However, you will really appreciate this dish if you’re up for a super busy day ahead.


Yi Jia Chun

Address: The Arcade, #01-24, 11 Collyer Quay, Singapore 049317

Opening Hours: 9am-4pm

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/yijiachun/

Lunch: Chicken Leg Angel Hair Pasta ($5)

Shall I invite you into the house of Italian food? Taste Affair is one of Amoy’s newest guests, injecting fresh vibes into the old building. For $5, you may twirl away with a good serving of Chicken Leg Angel Hair Pasta coated with a chili oil-based sauce. Looking beyond the pasta, the tender chicken actually emerged as the angel of the meal. Also, a golden poached egg is never a bad idea.


(Closed) Taste Affair

Address: 7 Maxwell Rd, Amoy Street Food Centre, #02-128, Singapore 069111

Opening Hours: Mon-Tues, Thurs-Fri, 11am-2.30pm. Wed, 11am-12.30pm. Sat, 11am-2.30pm.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Taste-Affair-729520223883533/

Dinner: Nasi Lemak ($2.50)

While you may pick your own dishes, we went with Set C ($2.50). This Nasi Lemak (which means ‘fatty rice’) comes with a huge scoop of green long-grain rice, filled with subtle coconut notes. Spice your carbs up with an ikan kuning, otah, ikan bilis, a sunny side up and a spoonful of sambal chili which will curb your nasi lemak cravings temporarily. For me, the sambal chili plays an important role in bringing the whole dish together, but unfortunately, it was more sweet than spicy. Nevertheless, within the CBD, this plate suffices.


Market Street Nasi Lemak

Address: Golden Shoe Hawker Centre, 50 Market Street, #02-24, Singapore 048940

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 8.30am-7.30pm. Sat, 8.30am-5pm.

I-Am-Dead Wednesday -$8.60

Breakfast: Curry Puff ($0.60)

Sometimes, I wake up craving some Indian spices to heat me up for the day. Do you? Especially when I am in a rush, a curry puff is my go-to breakfast. The Real One Teh Tarik & Indian Food prepares a whole range of cheap eats that includes 60-cents curry puffs. Despite the puff skin being slightly thick, the flavourful filling was a joy to savour. Although they are small, I’m cool knowing that I will be having a heavy lunch later.


The Real One Teh Tarik & Indian Food

Address: 24 Raffles Place, #01-K1, Clifford Centre, Singapore 048621

Opening Hours: Mon-Sun, 9am-8pm.

Lunch: Fried Kway Teow Mee ($3)

Told you that it would be heavy, but I forgot to mention that it’s tasty and smoky as well. Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee – this name shouldn’t be foreign to the CBD crowd. The first outlet is kickstarted by Mr Ng’s father at Metropole Cinema in the 50s, and Mr Ng is now in charge of the second outlet in Outram Park. The noodles are smooth, thoroughly coated with a special black sauce and awesomely packed with a wallop of wok hei. And, we couldn’t possibly do without the cockles, beansprouts, fried pork lard and egg, right?


Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee

Address: Blk 531A, Upper Cross Street, #02-17, Hong Lim Market & Food Centre, Singapore 051531

Opening Hours: Mon-Sat, 6am-4.30pm. Closed on Sun.

Dinner: Hand Crafted Salad ($5)

To combat the greasy lunch I had earlier, I wanted something light and guilt-free. Off I skipped towards Tanjong Pagar MRT to grab my precious box of greens. Your eyes will sparkle at the plethora of brightly-coloured toppings and dressings; don’t hesitate to ask the staff for recommendations! 1 premium (protein) + 3 toppings, and a box of 5 toppings are both sold at $5. In the end, I decided to go for smoked duck, corn, purple cabbage, carrots and Japanese sesame dressing that evening. Not to forget, the cosy ambience and friendly staff played a part in putting a smile on my face.


Crunch Salad

Address: B1-14, Tanjong Pagar Xchange, Singapore 069119

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 10am-7.30pm.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crunchsalad/

Press-On-A-Little-More Thursday – $8.10

Breakfast: Peanut Pancake ($0.90)

I never want to live a week in CBD without Frankie’s Peanut Pancake. Located at the coffee shop at the junction of Boon Tat Street and Telok Ayer Street, the stall has a range of fluffy yet chewy ban chiang kueh which sells like hot pancakes. Get the combo version which is a mix of both red bean and peanut for just 90 cents. This spongy pancake is a reminiscence of my childhood and I absolutely love it.


Frankie’s Peanut Pancake

Address: 121 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068590

Phone: +65 9849 9056

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-5pm.

Lunch: Mee Rebus ($2)

$2 noodles?! Yes, you saw that right. Uncle Ah Cai has kept his prices constant since 22 years ago; this uncle is a true friend. He wakes up at 3am daily and heads to the coffeeshop to prepare the noodles. You will be spoilt for choice as there are 8 different types of noodles – mee siam, prawn noodles, laksa, wanton noddles, fishball noodles, bak chor mee, mee rebus, lor mee. If you’re seriously troubled over what to eat, I will suggest the hearty mee rebus – yellow noodles swimming in a thick potato-based gravy.


Frenzlink Cafeteria

Address: No. 62 South Bridge Road, Singapore 058692

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 6am-3pm.

Dinner: Aussie Rolls ($5.20 for 3 rolls)

Wrap your day up with some charming rolls from the basement of Chevron House. The rolls are usually priced at $2.60 onwards for one. However, get a bang for your buck from 6pm onwards. You can purchase 3 rolls for the price of 2! Mhmmmmm, all 31 of them looked delightful but the indecisive me finally settled on Tuna, Korean Bulgogi and Sweet & Spicy Calamari. The Calamari Roll stood out the most as a result of the interesting combination of textures and flavours.

Thurs-AussieRoll Collage

Aussie Roll

Address: 30 Raffles Place, #B1-05, Chevron House, Singapore 048622

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-7pm.

Drink-Drank-Drunk Friday – $13.90

Breakfast: Popiah ($1.40)

Start your day on a roll, with this traditional Fujian snack. Similar to how a burrito is made, stir-fried turnips, beansprouts, lettuce, mashed hard boiled eggs and peanuts are wrapped in a thin crepe-like skin. It isn’t too heavy, so you can pop this Singaporean-favourite into your mouth easily. I particularly enjoyed the delicate popiah skin, even though I feel that the uncle could have been more generous with the sauce.


Market Street Long House Popiah

Address: Golden Shoe Hawker Centre, 50 Market Street, #03-02, Singapore 048940

Opening Hours: Mon-Fri, 8am-2.30pm

Lunch: Hainanese Curry Rice ($2.50)

Hainanese Curry Rice Sets start from only $2.50 here, and this Pork Chop Rice Set costs exactly $2.50. It is almost unbelievable that such a generous amount of comfort food comes at such an affordable price. The pork chop is served crispy and tender, despite coming with a limited amount of fat. Watch as the auntie pours the fragrant curry over the rice; it didn’t turn out spicy at all. This was easily one of the tastiest hawker meals, but prepare your battle gear for the insane queue that stretches to no end during lunch hour.

Fri-Curry Rice

Hock Gooi Hainanese Curry Rice

Address: Golden Shoe Hawker Centre, 50 Market Street, #02-35, Singapore 048940

Opening Hours: Mon-Sun, 11.30am-10pm.

Dinner: Ninja Burger

TGIF!!! What does that mean? Suit up, it’s time to reward yourself with a treat to end the stressful week. Does a burger sound good to you? Well, it surely did sound like heaven to me. In the heart of bustling Raffles Place lies a silent Dojo, which is home to affordable burgers. In fact, they specialise in pork burgers which isn’t the most common in Singapore. Bite into a juicy pork patty dressed with a special oriental sauce, sandwiched between freshly toasted buns. You would wanna pair the porky goodness with some addictive fries that are worth all the calories. All at just $10 nett (Pss no GST and service charge)! It doesn’t deserve a “OMG THIS IS SO GOOD, LET ME CRY IN HAPPINESS”, but experience the unparalleled feeling of satisfaction after a week of scrimping.


Dojo Singapore

Address: 72 Circular Road, Singapore 049426

Website: https://dojo.sg/

Opening Hours: Mon-Sat, 11am-3pm, 6pm-10pm. Closed on Sun and Public Holidays.

Total: $49.40!!!!!!


Give me a Hi-5! $50 under a week in CBD, who says we can’t achieve that? I had a very fulfilling week putting myself to the challenge, and I genuinely hope that this will come in handy for anyone and everyone.

If you are up for this challenge, do tell us how it went and if you managed to complete it! Also, if you have other ideas for affordable meals in the CBD, please share with us!