LI NANXING, 55
Actor and foodie
Li, who is single, lives alone in a semi-detached bungalow.
But he has three refrigerators and freezers that are filled to the brim with frozen seafood.
His cabinets are packed with packets of brown rice and organic noodles, bottled sauces, canned food and spice mixes.
And there is a big stash of his favourite snack: cream crackers.
The veteran actor is a well-known foodie and loves to take over the kitchen from his domestic helper.
Three or four times a month, he invites friends over and cooks up a storm for them.
“I go around looking for good food and when I taste something I enjoy, I like to try cooking it at home,” he says.
Most of Li’s dishes are re-created from his childhood memories of what his Peranakan mother and grandmother used to cook, such as black ink sotong, assam fish head and beef rendang.
He likes to concoct his own creations, such as spicy fried crab piled with lots of garlic, shallots, dried chillis and curry leaves.
What to stock up on
Assistant Professor Verena Tan of the Singapore Institute of Technology’s Dietetics and Nutrition programme gives tips on stocking up.
1 FROZEN FOOD
High on Dr Tan’s list are frozen meats, seafood and vegetables.
“Nutritionally, they retain their vitamins and minerals, and there is no change to the carbohydrate, protein or fat content whether the food is fresh or frozen,” she says.
In fact, with the correct freezing procedures, frozen food preserves its innate vitamins and minerals better than fresh food stored for several days.
2 CANNED FOOD
Canned food is another obvious choice because it has a long shelf life and is generally inexpensive.
But Dr Tan warns: “Choose canned foods judiciously as some can be very high in sodium and fat.
“Good options include canned mushrooms and tomatoes that can be easily incorporated into a pasta dish or stew.
“Canned tuna – in water, not oil – and sardine can be sources of protein. Choose fruit that is canned in juice instead of syrup.”
3 DRIED FOOD
Dried food such as rice, dried noodles, pasta, beans and oats are also good options.
As for instant noodles, Dr Tan suggests “healthier” non-fried, baked or air-fried versions that are lower in fat and sodium or contain whole grains.
She says: “To make it healthier, you can add vegetables, egg or tofu, chicken or lean meat.
“Use half or less of the seasoning packet. Even better, use homemade stock for the soup base.”
Whenever he travels to China, he returns with Sichuan peppercorns and grinds them up to mix with local spices as a meat marinade.
“I like to see if they click,” he says.
Li’s pantry is always full, with enough to last for months, he reckons.
He tends to buy in bulk, cook up big batches of pastes and store them in the fridge.
And he has no shortage of seafood – he owns a fish farm in Lim Chu Kang.
Whatever he has in his freezer is like his catch of the month.
“I put a net in and see what I catch,” he quips.
GUO WEI LE, 24
The lanky Guo, who stands at 1.88m tall, keeps plenty of dairy products and eggs in the fridge of the four-room Housing Board flat where he lives with his parents.
The bachelor explains: “I do a lot of high-intensity workouts, so I need to take more protein. And I always keep instant-energy snacks.”
The model and up-and-coming actor has appeared in Channel 8 dramas such as The Good Fight (2019) and movies such as When Ghost Meets Zombie (2018).
He cooks every two weeks for himself and his parents, mainly Western dishes he learns to make from online tutorials, such as creamy meatballs – “but I always modify it a bit – for example, adding a bit of chilli because I like a little spice in my food”.
Guo started cooking fried rice as a Primary 1 pupil, when his mother returned to the workforce and taught him basic cooking skills.
“It was the easiest thing. I just fried what was left over in the fridge and added some seasoning.”
An only child, Guo credits his mother for his healthy eating habits.
He snacks only on cheeses, cherry tomatoes and fruit. He also prefers munching on celery and carrots to potato chips.
He says: “We never had any unhealthy snacks at home when I was growing up, only vegetables and fruit. I ate fast food only about once a year and I have no craving for it.
“Diet habits are built up from young. I’m very used to food that is low in sodium and oil.”
Guo adds that his family has enough food to last a week and has not stocked up on more.
“I trust the situation will remain under control,” he says.
CONSTANCE SONG, in her 40s
Actress and owner of Bam restaurant
The television actress has very simple tastes when it comes to food and her pantry reveals this.
She keeps a supply of eggs and soba because these are what she enjoys cooking and eating.
Her fridge has a smattering of chillis and mushrooms, but her freezer is relatively bare – “just some fish or pork ribs for soup, at most”.
Song, who is in a relationship, cooks mostly for herself and sometimes her mother, never for big groups.
She favours quick, basic cooking such as steamed prawns with minced garlic and rice wine, plain steamed cod or pomfret Teochew-style, and steamed egg custard, either plain or with minced pork.
“I also like to cook soup and sometimes one-pot meals such as rice with cabbage, dried shrimp and mushroom,” she adds.
LYNN YEOW-DE VITO, 39
Public relations and communications veteran
She is married to Mr Beppe De Vito, owner of the ilLido group of restaurants. Their four sons, aged five to 15, are perpetually hungry.
As such, Mrs De Vito says she spends most of her “me time” grocery shopping.
“In between meetings during the day when I have an hour or so, I go shopping for food,” she says.
She frequents places such as Little Farms and NTUC FairPrice Finest at Valley Point, Cold Storage and Meidi-Ya at Great World and Tiong Bahru Market.
Shopping for food is also an important part of her itinerary when she travels.
“I always research the markets, farmers’ markets and supermarkets of the places I go to. I would travel for three hours to buy soya sauce from some amah,” she recounts.
She has come back with live hairy crabs from China, mohinga spices from Myanmar and local seaweed from Laos.
Her biggest haul was when she flew home from Japan with 120kg of food that included live seafood, beef, melons and sauces.
“I knew I was going to throw a big party, so the beef was for shabu shabu and the melons were gifts for friends. I love to share food – I’m a feeder,” she says.
The food in her pantry – comprising rice, pasta, mixes, nuts, cans and sauces – fills up the shelves of a floor-to-ceiling cupboard.
There are also three fridges and three freezers packed with eggs, butter and frozen food.
Says Mrs De-Vito: “I’ve not done any panic buying. I don’t think I need any more.”