Jun 18, 2015

How Much Does It Cost To Cook Dinner In Japan?


Back home, the easiest way to burn through money is to NOT cook for yourself.  The discrepancy between eating out and eating in is significant, and whilst restaurant portions will leave your stomach full, your wallet will be emptier than a politician's soul.


Here in Japan, the cost distinction is less clear.  Family restaurants, stand-up joints, ramen shops, and meat-on-a-bowl-of-rice purveyors can all get bellies passably filled from as little as 300-400 yen.  Such establishments conspire to discourage the would be, cost-conscious home cooker.


With this article we want to break down the potential costs of cooking at home.  So, we ask the question; How much does it cost to cook dinner in Japan?  We'll look at putting together some (reasonably) classic, (reasonably) easy dishes that might be familiar to the Western palate, among others.  Hopefully this will serve as a useful resource for potential movers to these shores, concerned about the cost of living.


A quick disclaimer before we don the apron; all of these dishes are based on this writer's repertoire.  I can't lie, it's very limited (as are the culinary skills), and some of the ingredients will be pre-packaged in form.  Most of the prices will be based on this writer's local supermarket, a Saty (part of the AEON group), one of the cheaper options in Japan. All prices include tax.


First for some of the basics ...


Cooking oil (canola):  429 yen / 1300 g
Salt:  105 yen / 1 kg
Pepper (refill packet):  90 yen / 14 g
Rice:  1,274 yen / 5 kg
Garlic:  198 yen / two heads

Butter:  204 yen / 300 g (of the cheap stuff)


Basic Pasta Dish

Packet of pasta sauce (meat/cream/arrabiata):  88 yen

Can of tuna (for extra volume):  100 yen / 110g

Green peppers:  138 yen / packet of 4

Cherry tomatoes:   213 yen / packet of 14

Pasta (spaghetti):  198 yen / 800 g

Total cost:  737 yen

Adjusted cost for one person:  259 yen


Japanese Curry

Curry cubes:  170 yen / packet of 8 pieces

Carrot:  51 yen / one

Potatoes:  186 yen / three

Onion:  51 yen / one

Pork mince:  296 yen / 200 g

Total cost:  754 yen

Adjusted cost for one person:  250 yen (not including rice)


Full English Breakfast

Sausages:  367 yen / packet of 7, small, good quality sausages

Bacon:  459 yen / packet of 6, good quality rashers

Eggs:  208 yen / packet of 10

Mushrooms:  213 yen / packet of 7, white button variety

Tomato:  138 yen / one large

Bread:  78 yen / 8 slices, white

Total cost:  1,463 yen

Adjusted cost for one person:  520 yen


Steak Dinner With Fried Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Onion, and Potato

Steak (Australian beef):  518 yen / 8 oz (227 g at 228 yen per 100 g)

Mushrooms:  213 yen / packet of 7, white button variety

Onion:  51 yen / one

Cherry tomatoes:   213 yen / packet of 14

Potatoes:  186 yen / three

Eggs (if you like one on your steak):  208 yen / packet of 10

Total cost:  1,389 yen

Adjusted cost for one person:  786 yen


Stir-Fry Dinner (From a Pack!)

Ready to go stir-fry pack:  307 yen (includes meat, veg, and sauce)

Extra veg (usually required):  

Onion:  51 yen / one

Green peppers:  138 yen / packet of 4

Total cost:  496 yen

Adjusted cost for one person:  244 yen (not including rice)


Chili/Mexican Rice (Taco Rice in Japan)

Can of chili:  388 yen / 425 g

Lettuce:  213 yen / one whole

Cherry tomatoes:  213 yen / packet of 14

Cheese:  298 yen / 150 g bag of grated, mixed cheese

Total cost:  1,112 yen

Adjusted cost for one person:  337 yen (not including rice)


All in then, it looks cheaper to cook for yourself.  I mean, you can't eat at Saizeriya or Matsuya every day, can you?  The ingredients you buy can be chopped and changed to cover a number of dishes and cooking in bulk will save time and money.  You'll probably end up with larger portions, too.


If the price of some of this veg has caused you to soil yourself, well, I understand.  This information was compiled, however, at a time when prices were unusually high (due to lack of rain).  Things will likely get cheaper.


For more about buying and cooking your rice, check out our earlier article here.

For a good tip on how to buy cheap, ready-made meals in Japan, head over to a user's post here.


Got a better answer to the question, How much does it cost to cook dinner in Japan? Well, we 'd love to hear from you

Tomuu

Tomuu

Traveler, surfer, and scribe. Based in Tokyo for six years.


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