Cold Storage Triathlon 2013

Last Sunday I took part in my first triathlon at East Coast Park. Granted, it was a miniĀ event – 200 m swim, 10 km bike and 2 km run – but it could just the miniĀ impetus I need to get me started in the world of triathlons! I think that there is something quite mysterious about triathlons. It’s quite easy to find runners and cyclists in Singapore but it is quite rare to find people who are willing to compete in three events in one go. I think it’s because the swimming portion tends to put people off. I mentioned the event to several of my sporty friends and the response ranged from “I can’t swim!” to “I can swim but not that far!”

I am extremely fortunate to have very close friends who enjoy sports and are willing to indulge in my newfound interests with me.Ā When I ran 10 km for the first time at the Yellow Ribbon Run, Serena accompanied me. This time, it was Barbara who kindly agreed toĀ join me at the Cold Storage Triathlon. This is a friend whom I have known since I was seven years old. Her boyfriend Ivan alsoĀ came along to take photographs for us so we have amazing shots of us in action!

Triathlons are a lot more complicated than just running events because of the equipment involved. We arrived an hourĀ earlier because we had to stamp ourĀ bib numbers on our bodies for the swimming portion.

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How to save money at the supermarket

I do a lot of grocery shopping because it is difficult to get paleo food at hawker centres in Singapore. I like to buy meat at the rotisserie as well as other snack staples such as avocados, cheese and nuts.

These food are not cheap. It’s not the same as buying a $3 plate of rice at the hawker centre. Adding to that problem is the issue of location – the nearest supermarket to my workplace is Cold Storage, which is more expensive than NTUC Fairprice and Giant.

In order to save some money while shopping for my costly groceries (I am addicted to cheese), I have utilised the strategy of getting instant cash rebates. This is achieved via two cards: the Citibank Dividend card and the PAssion card. The former is just another credit card from Citibank and the latter isĀ a membership card for Peopleā€™s Association (PA). It can also be used as an EZ-link card for public transport.

This is what I bought today (the brie was excellent, by the way):

save money grocery shopping

If you notice, my initial bill was $20.81. Following the use of the Citibank card and the PAssion card, I paid $19.83, which amounted to a $0.98 discount. It’s not a lot but these cents add up when you buy a lot of (expensive) groceries.

The Citibank card works by giving me a 2% cash rebate. The PAssion card gives me one point for every dollar spent, and 150 points equates to a $1 cash rebate. However, you can still redeem your points even if you have less than 150 points, which was what I did in this case.

If I wanted to save even more money, I should apply for the HSBC Visa Platinum credit card, which gives a 5% rebate at Cold Storage and Giant. The only thing stopping me from switching is the lack of petrol rebates at Esso, where I usually pump petro for the car; the Citibank Dividend card gives a 5% cash rebate.

Do you have any money saving tips to help reduce grocery bills? I would love to hear your thoughts!

P.S. I have the crazy idea of making my own cheese. Will that be cheaper than buying it?

P.P.S. I know it’s quite easy to make your own yoghurt. My friend tried it and she said the taste was good, although it’s more work if you want very thick Fage-like consistency.

We are made of corn

I like reading books and watching documentaries about health and our food system. The only problem is that it makes me afraid of food I buy from supermarkets. I went to Cold Storage recently and they were having a sale of “jumbo chickens.” Instead of salivating, I looked at them suspiciously. They were all the same jumbo size with the same massive breasts, looking very swollen and brown.

Jumbo roasted chicken

(They looked something like that)

These thoughts raced through my head:

  1. Why is the chicken so big? Has it been pumped full of antibiotics?
  2. Where is the chicken from? Were they caged up with no space to run around and fattened up on corn?
  3. What’s the sauce they use to coat the chicken? Is there sugar in it?
  4. Why do I need to think so much before I buy a piece of poultry?

This makes grocery shopping very stressful.

In one of the documentaries I watched recently, a scientist examines the hair shaft of two Americans to see how percentage of their carbon originated from corn. He found that more than 50% of their diet derive from corn. But this doesn’t mean that the film makers eat corn on the cob half of the time.

Rather, corn is processed, broken down into so many additives and added to so many processed food that it manages to sneak into our diets without us realising it. Some of these industrial products are:

  • High-fructose corn syrup – a sweetener used in Coke and other soft drinks
  • Dextrose – a sugar added to French fries
  • Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) – flavour enhancer used extensively in Singapore hawker centres. I have a big problem with MSG. Too much of it and I get a very bad neck and spine ache. They feel numb and start tingling at the same time. The last time this happened I ate a fish cake from a hawker centre, which turned out to contain more MSG than fish.

This is a great resource that lists the ingredients derived from corn.

To read more about the industrial food industry and the impact on our health, check out:

The documentaries are:

  • Food, Inc
  • King Corn