Shops for him, his wife, 3 dogs and a cat

SHOPPING on a budget for the Karunaratne family means deciding in advance how much money they are going to use and sticking to it.

The family shopping is usually done by Mr Karunaratne who believes that only taking the budgeted amount to the supermarket helps him shop wisely.

He spends up to $300 a week and likes to shop in bulk for the two of them plus their pet’s ration.

He shops at MHCC, New World Damodar City Centre and Shop N Save Nabua since it’s close to his home and convenient for them as a couple.

He shops for himself, wife Radhika, three dogs and a cat with a weekly shopping list that includes rice, vegies, assorted items, chocolates, sweets, bread, tinned products, pet food and other usual necessities.

He advises members of the public to be cautious when buying frozen foods and to always check expiry dates of products.

From the countries he has travelled Mr Karunaratne says there’s no place like Fiji with absolutely fresh fruits.

“Even in tropical Sri Lanka, 25 years ago, they used to add chemicals to almost all the fruits that were coming to the market to maintain its freshness.

“We are so blessed in Fiji that we get so many local fruits straight from the tree.

“We have continuous flow of fruits in different seasons, from mangoes, mandarins, pawpaws, guavas, bananas and other traditional ones all year around.

“Unfortunately we tend not to value what is around us and so much of them are wasted too.

“For example, one small pawpaw in New Zealand or Australia could easily cost anything between $5 to $15 while here you can get large heaps for that same price.

“One of the simplest things we could do here is just eat them, value their freshness and appreciate how important they are for our health.

“The other is to look at different mechanisms to preserve fruits.

“We all can enjoy chemical free fresh fruits rather than going for imported fruits that are expensive with added chemicals that can harm our health,” he said.

On the changes he hoped to see in the local supermarkets Mr Karunaratne said shoppers should be given handheld bar code readers to ensure their shopping was within their budget.

This would also allow speedup checkout and shoppers would be able to read the details of the products they wanted to buy before reaching the cashier.

He added there was also a need for proper health and safety mechanisms in all shops and supermarkets and regular presence of health authorities.

So the next time you shop appreciate more local products and add them to your weekly shopping list for a better and healthier diet for your family.

Karunaratne’s favourite watalappan recipe


Four eggs

Two egg yolk

Half lb natural dark brown molasses sugar or finely grated kitul jiggery

One eighth cup of water

Three to four cardamom pod seeds crushed just over quarter tablespoon

Quarter tablespoon of nutmeg (If using fresh nutmeg, use less as it will be more potent)

Two cups of thick coconut milk (first press milk) if the coconut milk is lumpy – which can happen in cold weather – warm it up to dissolve the lumps

Pinch of salt


Preheat the oven to 320°F or 160°C

Oil and prepare seven to eight or half cup ramekins.

Mix sugar and water in a large bowl and stir until it becomes a paste with no lumps (the sugar does not have to dissolve completely)

Add the eggs and egg yolk, spices and salt and whisk until the egg mixture becomes slightly thick (not the “ribbony stage just enough to thoroughly mix the sugar and eggs). Take care not to make the egg mixture frothy.

Add two cups of coconut milk and whisk well.

Pour the mix into the prepared ramekins (or a large dish if you prefer). Cover the ramekins / dish with foil.

Bake the ramekins/dish in a water bath for about 30 – 40 minutes for the ramekins and up to an hour if in a large dish, depending on the depth of it. You want the custard to set, but the middle should be very slightly wobbly.

Remove from the oven and let them cool for about 15 minutes in a water bath.

When cool enough to handle, remove them from the water bath and cover the ramekins with plastic wrap, and place it in the fridge to chill for at least three hours (longer for larger dishes).

Serve as is, or with some cashew nuts on top.

Note – some watalappan recipes add raisins and cashew nuts into the custard. You can also do this if you like and enjoy!

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