Saturday, May 9, 2009

F is not a four-letter word...

In our endeavour towards simple living, the letter F is the first alphabet for spelling the word frugality. The dictionary defines frugal as "thrift". And, thrift is defined as "economy; careful management; providence. How do these definitions encompass what frugal living means to us? To us, frugality is all about living better for less. Whether you call it thrifty or frugality it all comes down to any vocabulary as getting more for your money. And since everyone is different, your definition of better is going to be a bit different from everyone else’s; your definition of frugal living is also going to be a bit different. Of course, it isn’t one-size-fits-all, and you can make it exactly what you want it to be.

I must admit that for many years in my younger days I did not practice being frugal, I wasted money and goods, and I might have been considered, a spendthrift. Now living a simple life has taught me how to be frugal.I am earning less money now, but it is amazing how much more money I seem to have in my pocket by practicing frugal living! It has given me a way to get by on a tight budget. Furthermore, it is a personal commitment to consume less and challenges myself to find ways to reuse what I have.

Last night’s dinner was a good example how I put my thoughts into action – challenging myself to live the version of frugality that I have created for myself and have fun doing it. We had friends over for dinner and everyone except me had to guess how many type of food are there in the “chai boey” dish. Traditionally this dish is prepared by using all the leftovers following a feast day or celebration. (especially during the festive season of the Chinese New Year or after a wedding feast). For last night's dinner, I used the roasted duck carcass saved in the freezer and almost all the remaining vegetables from my last shopping in the fridge.

Chai Boey (Mixed Vegetables and Braised Duck/Chicken/Pig Hocks) Recipe.

1 pc Roasted Duck Carcass
500g Kai Choy/Chinese greens/cabbage. shredded
100g carrot
2 pcs tomatoes
10 pcs dried shitake mushrooms, soaked
2 pcs Hard Tofu
6 pcs Assam Keping(Tamarine Peel)
6 pcs Dried Chillies
1 litre Chicken stock
2 tbsp cornflour
3 tbsp water

In a stock pot bring chicken stock to boil. Add in the chopped duck carcass and all ingredients into the pot. Cooked on medium heat for about 30 minutes until cooked. Mixed the cornflour with water and stir this into soup to thicken. Bring the soup to boil. Seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.


  1. This is the kind of dish that my late father used to cook with leftover roast pork, charsiew or roast duck.

  2. Hi HW,
    That's the beauty! Our parents know best. If only we take a moment to understand them. But is not late to take a page from their book and learn how to recycle and not to contribute more to the carbon footprint.


  3. Hi Uncle Phil,

    What a coincidence that you have brought up the subject of frugality when my friends and I have just talking about how much money one needs for retirement. You see, I have been told by quite a few people I know that one needs way more than a million US$ in order to be able to retire "comfortably". When I look around, it made me wonder how many people - even in developed countries - actually have that kind of money when they retire and does one really need that much to be able to live simply and reasonably comfortably? I'd love for you to share your views on this.

    Thank you,