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Expat home / meal setup

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cathbthomsen
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Expat home / meal setup

Postby cathbthomsen » Mon, 12 May 2014 10:46 am

Hi all,

I just arrived Singapore two weeks ago, as a a trailing spouse.

I am considering setting up a small business, so I'm starting to do a bit of research on the feasibility of the business idea.

Would very much appreciate any input from you all

What is the normal set up of expat families here? does the wife normally work as well?

Do most of the expat families have live in maids?

Do expats normally cook at home or eat out?

How do expats do their grocery shopping especially for vegetables, meat etc.

Thanks all!

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Postby sundaymorningstaple » Mon, 12 May 2014 11:01 am

Start with this thread to see the myriad problems you will face. After digesting all that is there, if you have specific questions we will try our best to answer them.

ftopic93619.html

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JR8
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Re: Expat home / meal setup

Postby JR8 » Mon, 12 May 2014 12:10 pm

cathbthomsen wrote:Hi all,
I just arrived Singapore two weeks ago, as a a trailing spouse.
I am considering setting up a small business, so I'm starting to do a bit of research on the feasibility of the business idea.
Would very much appreciate any input from you all
What is the normal set up of expat families here? does the wife normally work as well?
Do most of the expat families have live in maids?
Do expats normally cook at home or eat out?
How do expats do their grocery shopping especially for vegetables, meat etc.
Thanks all!


Hi, from one trailing-spouse to another, welcome to the forum!

- No I expect most trailing spouses do not work in SG. More likely the one who got posted here works, and the spouse gets to stay at home, lie by the pool and cook dinner [don't feel guilty, enjoy it while it lasts].

- IME most expats don't have maids, whereas most local families do. I think many expats are inherently uncomfortable with having a stranger living in the house, and all it entails. This equation can change markedly if child-care is involved, *especially* if both parents work. But in our case we have a cleaning lady in for 3hrs a week, and she takes care of just about all of that side. ... I enjoy cooking, and I wouldn't wish for a live-in 3rd party to take over that role.

- Kitchens tend to be small here, and this is the bane of my life. Half the kitchen gear is in boxes in the bomb shelter, a lot of the rest in huge plastic storage bins on top of the fridge and so on. So if I need to find something like my stick-blender, or set of steel kebab skewers, I have to plan on achieving that a day or two before planning on doing the recipe. This probably limits me more than anything else, the fuss of finding bits of kit I know we have, but have little idea where. #2, would just be having space to breath in the kitchen, work-top space for prep for example, just 12" besides the sink is a significant handicap...

-- So I cook the simper stuff at home (Italian etc). Or something like steak+vegetables etc. I have done a full 3 course Xmas meal before, incl turkey and the works, for about 8-10pax, but I'll *never* volunteer to do that again. Not with a 25ft2 kitchen and a single oven+hob.

- For shopping. There are many options.

-- To begin with, you might want to visit the higher-end chains like Cold Storage. They'll have just about everything you want, in a comfortable surrounding, but at a cost. But it gives you a chance to cook what you're familiar with, and consider unfamiliar ingredients at your leisure.

-- Later you might visit local supermarkets. NTUC is the major one. Depending on your neighbourhood they will have some products that cross-over with CS, but be pitched more towards locals. [As I was reminded yesterday, avoid Sundays, as it can be bedlam!]. NTUC will generally cost markedly less than CS.

-- Once you're bedded in with that, you might consider visiting the local 'wet markets' which you'll find scattered about, especially in the heart of local housing estates. They're covered markets that sell everything from meat, fish, fruit and veg, to a bucket, mop, and laundry poles. They can be better value still. However if you can visit with a local friend a few times it'll pay off. The stall-holders are not too used to seeing foreigners, and the lingua franca of the signs, and anything spoken won't be English.

As mentioned elsewhere recently, my approach is go to NTUC for all the staples and basics. If I'm after anything unusual (expatty) or gourmet I'll seek it in CS, and the other similar offerings (Jason's etc).

The approach would be similar to, in the UK, getting 80% of your shop from Tesco, and then the 20% more specialist meat, fish etc from Waitrose, or similar. And as it happens this happens to be precisely my parents 'sensible but quality budget minded' strategy back home.



---- A wet market here might be compared with a street market back home. A visitor might not get the yelled banter 'Best Jerseys 80p/lb, 3 for two, alright for you son best price of the day 2 for £1.50!!, and how about a pound of carrots and we'll make it £2 [etc., all at 110 decibels]' and so on. You just need to learn to 'break the code' and hence get comfortable with how it works.

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Postby Hannieroo » Mon, 12 May 2014 12:59 pm

Reading between the lines you are researching the possibility of a catering business for home cooked meals?

All the couples I know who have children and both work have a maid. The ones with no children either eat out a lot or cook at home as part of their wind down. A regular meal service would work for single people who can't be bothered, particularly those on restricted diets looking to avoid restaurants or as one off dinner party services. Hats off to JR for even attempting Xmas lunch in the kitchens here.

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Re: Expat home / meal setup

Postby nutnut » Mon, 12 May 2014 2:29 pm

cathbthomsen wrote:does the wife normally work as well? - Sometimes, but if so then a maid is usually in the house if they have kids and if not then they tend to dine out a lot

Do most of the expat families have live in maids? Depending on the amount and age of kids

Do expats normally cook at home or eat out? More likely cook than eat out for families

How do expats do their grocery shopping especially for vegetables, meat etc. - Veg/fruit in local supermarkets for us, meat from somewhere like QBfoods or Rudi's that delivery directly as we have a huge freezer and like to consolidate monthly, open to options though

Thanks all!


Answers in line, I'm with Hanieroo though, likelihood is that most people prefer to cook themselves or have a maid cook things they have taught them to cook. We also eat a lot of local fare.
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Postby Beeroclock » Mon, 12 May 2014 2:30 pm

Hannieroo wrote:Reading between the lines you are researching the possibility of a catering business for home cooked meals?

All the couples I know who have children and both work have a maid. The ones with no children either eat out a lot or cook at home as part of their wind down. A regular meal service would work for single people who can't be bothered, particularly those on restricted diets looking to avoid restaurants or as one off dinner party services. Hats off to JR for even attempting Xmas lunch in the kitchens here.
I had exactly the same thought, you could segment the answers to a lot of your questions based on knowing with/without kids.

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JR8
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Postby JR8 » Mon, 12 May 2014 3:56 pm

If you were pitching at home catering, you could take it a step further, like - 'You book the BBQ pits, we come and do everything else'. 'How gourmet do you want this, here are some typical menu options, but we;ll cater what ever you wish... We'll also completely clean up after, so you don't have to worry, and can instead focus on your guests'....
All beverages (as ordered) brought to the BBQ area, all chilled in ice-boxes - so you don't have to break your nails or back.'


Or for a children's party, 'we serve what they love back home'. No more limitation to cold delivery KFC and pizza.

Or door-to-door '24hr' beer+ delivery... and so it goes on.


If I were expecting to spend say 5 further years here I'd give a subset of these a go. I have a friend (stay at home mum) who started out making a range of muffins and iced cupcakes (with design-to-order, logos etc). Fresh ordered for delivery, particularly catering for parties. She is very creative I must say... and it's going a storm, she's now doing a lot for corporate events, which seems to be really $kerching.


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