1 dish and plain rice every meal, that's how this family fights rising food prices

1 dish and plain rice every meal, that's how this family fights rising food prices
With essential consumer goods like cooking oil becoming more expensive, Singaporeans like housewife Raihan (above) are feeling the pinch.
PHOTO: Raihan Ibrahim, The Straits Times file

Housewife Raihan Ibrahim feels the pinch whenever she shops for groceries near her five-room HDB flat in Bedok. 

Prices of groceries, lamented this 44-year-old to AsiaOne, has gone up markedly in the last few years, especially cooking oil and butter.

So much so that Raihan came up with a savings hack of her own – by opting for frozen ingredients instead of the more expensive fresh ingredients to cope with rising food prices

Besides switching to frozen ingredients, Raihan has in her arsenal a more drastic measure, by making her family of four make do with just one dish with rice for every meal.  

"We are okay with that. We don’t need two to three dishes [for every meal],” she added.

You see, even before the pandemic, Raihan has been doing this to cut down on her family's grocery bill. 

And for good reason too, given today's climate. 

Fuelled by higher energy and food cost, Singapore's core inflation jumped to 3.3 per cent year on year in April – the highest level since February 2012.

The core inflation rate, which excludes accommodation and private transport costs, increased from 2.9 per cent in March.

In a CNA report in April, MAS warned that the Russia-Ukraine conflict will have “significant repercussions” on global prices of food, which had already risen to close to record levels before the war. 

Egg prices up 32.4 per cent

But how exactly does this affect Singaporeans like Raihan when they do their grocery shopping? 

To get a better idea of how food prices have increased from pre Covid-19 days, we compared the prices of a few staple consumer items including rice, bread, eggs and cooking oil back in April 2019 to April this year. 

This data is from the Consumer Price Index (April 2022) which measures the average price changes over time of a fixed basket of consumption goods and services commonly purchased by the resident households.

From this data, we found out that the prices of the six items we selected have increased between 1.6 to a staggering 32.4 per cent. (See table below)

Consumer item

April 2019

April 2022

% increase

Premium Thai rice (Per 5kg)




Ordinary white bread (Per 400g)




Whole chicken, chilled (Per 1kg)




Infant milk powder (Per 100g)




Hen eggs (per 10)




Cooking oil (Per 2kg)




Before the pandemic in April 2019, the average cost of a bag of premium Thai rice was $13.22 per five kilograms.

The same bag of rice will set you back $13.43 today, a modest 1.6 per cent increase. 

The price of cooking oil, on the other hand, has gone up nearly 21 per cent, from $6.02 per two kilograms, to $7.25 today.

This price increase is partly due to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, where the Black Sea region accounts for a large proportion of global grain and edible oil supplies, CNA reported in March. 

The highest jump goes to eggs – a whopping 32.4 per cent – from $2.37 to $3.14 for a box of 10 eggs. 

This price hike is driven mainly by the rising cost of imported chicken feed, egg suppliers from Malaysia and Singapore told the Straits Times in March.

While the price of chicken has seen a modest 13 per cent increase, it is expected to be even more expensive in the future – following Malaysia's move to ban exports of the poultry from June 1.

We still have to buy

Before the pandemic, Raihan, with a $50 budget, would be able to buy one item from the list above with $14.22 to spare.

Today, with the price increases, she would only be left with $10.78 now, a drop of 24 per cent in savings. 

Going forward, it seems that there may be little respite for Singaporeans like Raihan, as MAS and MTI said that core inflation is forecast to pick up further in the coming months, reported the Straits Times on May 22. 

This will moderate towards the end of the year as some of the external inflationary pressures recede, they said. 

Despite the jump in prices of food items, Raihan told AsiaOne that consumers like her are left with "no choice since these items are essential".

"Whether they increase the price or not, we still have to buy," she said.

To help tide over the global rise in prices, all Singaporean households can collect $100 worth of Community Development Council (CDC) digital vouchers, which they can spend at more than 16,000 participating heartland merchants and hawkers.

$200 in vouchers will be disbursed in early 2023, and another $200 in 2024, with major supermarkets roped in for the next two years, the Straits Times reported. 

ALSO READ: Shoppers clear out shelves of fresh chicken from Singapore wet markets, supermarkets after Malaysia announces export ban


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