Make-do dishes

Our apartment in China is planted right on a busy food street, and it’s INSANELY cheap to eat out here. A decent sized bowl of dumplings costs 1NZD (still blows my mind every time!).  If you’re feeling really flash, you might stretch your budget to 10NZD and select a wide range of dishes at a restaurant with a group of mates.  Eat like a local, spend like a local 😉

Nonetheless, we still love whipping up home cooked meals (even though you don’t save a cent).  This quite often means racking our brains, changing things up and having to make-do with what we’ve got.  We don’t always have the ingredients or resources to cook certain dishes, and there’s only so much you can boil, poach and fry – I’ve never missed having an oven this much!

This online shopping site – and stand of imported goods at the local supermarket (below) are our best friends


It’s hard to find bread that’s just plain here.  I don’t want red bean, raisins, coconut, custard or a little sweet… Just PLAIN. Life’s tough.  So we’ve resorted to a bit of DIY bead.  Here is a bread recipe that only requires 5 ingredients, a gas stove and pot (full credit to Alan on this one!)

Make-do Stove Top Plain Bread


6 heaped Tbsp flour
1/4 cup warm water
5 tsp sugar (dissolved in water)
Pinch of salt
1/2 Tbsp yeast

In a bowl or a pot, add the flour, salt, yeast and mix the dry ingredients together. Add the warm water with dissolved sugar in the mixture and combine. The dough should be like an elastic-like texture.

Flour the bench and knead the dough for about 5 minutes (make sure it’s not too wet where it’s sticking all over your hands, or too dry and crumbling).

Shape to a bun and put the dough in a floured pot. Place the pot in a warm spot in the house for 1-2 hours and let the dough rise to a desired size.

Line the inside of a clean pot, rack and lid with tin foil.  Place bread inside the lined pot and “bake” the bread on the gas stove top for about 1 hour on the lowest gas setting (just make sure the flame covers the widest part of the pot so the heat distributes evenly)

Ta-da!  Enjoy your DIY stove top bread however you like!
Note: This only serves 2 people or 1 hungry person, so you can double the ingredients in a bigger pot to make a bigger loaf.

Make-do Muesli

Nuts, cranberries, sultanas, raw oats and fresh fruit are sold at very reasonable prices here and it works out to be waaay cheaper than buying the ready made packs, so home made muesli is a popular breakfast for us! Plus you know exactly what goes in it, and you can chop and change the ingredients.

This is one of my favourite combinations…

4 Tbsp raw oats (soaked overnight)DSC05811

Have you ever had to make-do in order to eat familiar or favourite dishes?  Feel free to comment below, we’d love to hear what you have to say and any suggestions!


  • 1 NZD for a bowl of dumplings is indeed crazy cheap, and yes, taobao is awesome. In Sweden we used to live with a Chinese, who ordered a shitload of clothes from taobao every month…:)


    • Haha I sometimes need to pinch myself, it’s ridiculous! Yep, you can buy absolutely anything from that site. Where are you guys travelling/living at the moment?