Hoping to slash her P8,000 grocery budget, advertising strategist Rachelle is trading her supermarket cart for a reusable bayong, hoping the palengke could help her offset the diminishing effect of inflation.

Heads of household like Rachelle are looking for ways to save as authorities have warned that prices will stay elevated in the near term. This means cutting back on non-essentials like streaming subscriptions and looking for even more ways to spend less on food and transportation.

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"The news is very worrying. Scary times ahead kasi basic necessities na ito e... Hindi ko rin lubos maisip how people will survive or what they will cut out," she tells reportr.

Government employee Donna, who feeds five people at home, keeps her palengke budget at P5,000 a month thanks to the suki relationship she has built over the years. The rest of her P30,000 take-home salary goes to the internet, electricity, and water bills.

"Mahirap mag-budget lalo na 'pag tumaas ang bilihin and never tumaas ang sahod," she says to reportr.

How far can your budget take you?

When soaring inflation chokes household budgets, how far can P1,000 go to feed a family?

Back in July 2022, the reportr team tried grocery shopping on a budget at SM Supermarket and Puregold, assuming you buy all the ingredients from the supermarket, including soy sauce and cooking oil.

Take note that it's cheaper at the public market, where, like Donna, you can ask your suki for discounts. For your palengke price guide, check out DTI's Price Monitoring

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P1,000

You can cook chicken sopas for around P500 using these ingredients:

  • Uncooked elbow macaroni pasta: P34.5 for 200g
  • 1/2 kilo chicken fillet: P168.3 for 1/2kg breast fillet
  • Two medium onions: about P13 (a bag of five onions is P31.50)
  • Peppercorns: P39 per pack
  • Four cloves garlic: P7 (P33.25 for about five bulbs of garlic)
  • Bay leaf: P5.30 for 10g
  • Butter: P121 for one brick
  • Two medium carrots: P32.50 for two carrots
  • Celery: P29.50 for 250g
  • Can of evaporated milk: P29.75 for 370mL

READ ALSO: Here Are 5 Fool-Proof Ways to Make Sure You're Not Overspending

You still have room for your budget to buy the following ingredients for beef nilaga for P350:

  • 1/2 beef brisket or beef cubes: P199.65
  • Two onions: P13 (a bag of 5 onions is P31.50)
  • Two medium potatoes: P17 (a bag of 4 potatoes is P33.60)
  • Peppercorns: P39 per pack
  • Fish sauce: P10.25 per pouch
  • Cabbage: P40 per kilo
  • Pechay Baguio: P33 for half kg
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P500

If you want a homecooked meal, you need about P300 for the following ingredients for chicken adobo:

  • Oil: P26.55 for 175mL pouch
  • One clove garlic: P7
  • Peppercorns: P39 per pack
  • A whole chicken: P206
  • Vinegar: P9.25 for one 200-mL pouch
  • Soy sauce: P10.75 for one 200-mL pouch

You can use up your entire P500 to cook a pork menudo using these ingredients:

  • Vegetable oil: P26.55 for 175mL pouch
  • Three cloves garlic: P33.25 for about five bulbs of garlic
  • Small onion: P7
  • One kg pork: P293
  • 1/4 kg pork liver: about P55
  • Potatoes: P17 (a bag of 4 potatoes is P33.60)
  • Medium carrot: P17
  • Soy sauce: P10.75 for one 200-mL pouch
  • White sugar: about P23 for 1/4 kg
  • Tomato sauce: P19.25 for 1 200-g pouch

READ ALSO: Super Saver: 5 Sneaky Ways to Cut Back on Your Grocery Expenses

You need some P250 for this tuna lumpiang shanghai with the following ingredients:

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  • Three 180g tuna flakes in oil: P129
  • One cup carrot: P17
  • 1/4 cup white onions: about P13
  • Lumpia wrappers (small): P29 for 20 pieces
  • Oil: P26.55 for 175mL pouch
  • Spiced vinegar: P24.50 for 350mL
  • Ground black pepper: P18 for 25g

You can also try this ginataang puso ng saging recipe using these ingredients:

  • Oil: P26.55 for 175mL pouch
  • Two cloves garlic: P13.3
  • One medium onion: P7
  • Ginger: P29 for 225g
  • Two puso ng saging (banana blossom): P55 per kg
  • One 400-ml can coconut milk: P26 for powder version

Or adobong tokwa for P124 using the following:

  • 300 grams tofu: P35.30
  • Soy sauce: P10.75 (one 200-mL pouch)
  • White vinegar: P9.25 for one 200-mL pouch
  • One tablespoon garlic: P7
  • Two pieces bay leaf: P5.30 for 10g
  • Peppercorns: P39 per pack
  • Brown sugar: P17.70 for 1/4kg

For ready-to-heat and -eat items, you can buy a family serving of Rico's Lechon Sisig (P320) or Lechon Paksiw (P280). If you prefer something to eat, Chooks to Go roasted chickens are for P300 each.

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P100

For some P80, you can cook adobong kangkong at home using the following:

  • One small white onion: P7
  • Garlic: P7
  • One tablespoon cooking oil: P26.55 for 175mL pouch
  • Soy sauce P10.75 for one 200-mL pouch
  • Vinegar P9.25 for one 200-mL pouch
  • One bundle kangkong leaves: P16
  • One native red tomato: P5

You can also buy ready-to-cook items, like 228-g burger patties for P62, CDO jumbo hotdogs (500g) for P94, Purefoods Beef Tapa (220g) for P91, half a kilo of uncooked kikiam for P86, or a Bonus Pork Tocino (220g) for P56.50.

If you're craving fast food, you can get a McDonald's Crispy Chicken Fillet for P62 and a P39 Burger McDo, both solo. A Jollibee Spaghetti meal without fries is priced at P80, while convenience store chain 7-Eleven also offers a one-piece chicken meal for P80.

For healthier options, 7-Eleven also has a kani salad worth P99.

Those familiar with food court offerings can also buy a stick of four-piece dumplings plus Hainanese rice for P75 at Pao Tsin.

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READ ALSO: Supermarket Smarts: Over 20 Tipid Tips for Doing Your Groceries

P50

For P50, ready-to-eat food is easier to buy. A 155-g can of flavored tuna is worth P29.

If a sandwich is enough for you, an 85-gram can of tuna spread costs P21.95 plus P23.50 for a 250-g pack of pandesal.

For fast-food options, a Jollibee spaghetti solo is P55, while a Burger McDo solo is P39.

You can also buy siopao at Ministop for P39 apiece.

How to save even more

For those who shop at the supermarket, Rachelle advises trying to look for stores that offer cheaper items. In her case, it means skipping Rustan's and going instead to Uni-Mart and Pioneer Center.

Also, try visiting the nearest palengke for your fresh produce, meat, and fish so you can score cheaper finds from multiple sellers, said Donna. "Puwede pa tumawad."

Check your pantry or refrigerator before leaving the house so you can avoid purchasing another stick of butter because you haven't checked if you still have one in the ref, advises Rachelle.

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Look for alternatives too, she says. Instead of using coffee creamer, maybe you can switch to powdered milk, which is more versatile and can be shared with non-coffee drinkers.

"Unfortunately, we have a long way to go. The belt-tightening continues... Tipid-tipid," said Rachelle.

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