If you are the cooking type, it will help you save a lot in your daily expenditures. Most Filipino opt to cook as ingredients are cheaper and almost everything is available. If you are just renting a bed space some landlords/caretaker lend their cooking utensils to the renters. The thing is you have to wait for your turn if in case one tenant is using it. So if you have extra cash buy yourself a small rice cooker, a small sauce pan and a frying pan.
Some of the things you would also be needing are spoon and fork, a mug, some bed sheets, blanket and pillow case. There are some bed space that only provide mattress so you need to buy a pillow too. Before using the provided mattress check with bed bugs. It is a must. Before I came here I didn't know what bed bugs were (don't judge!). So my first week, my legs were full of red blotches. I thought it was just allergy, turned out I was feeding a huge population of bed bugs on our new mattress!! The mattress was new but the place we rented was just full of bed bugs. I guess they were there first before we did. We have actually invaded their space.
So where to buy these stuff?
Abu Dhabi is full of grocery stores and supermarkets. So you can choose where ever you want to buy your groceries from. For specialty stores there are some small grocery shops that sell ethnic ingredients. For Filipino ingredients the go to place is the Green House and Queen Saba. There are two Green House stores in the city one is corner of Najda St., and Electra St and one is along the old airport road. The Queen Saba store is in Tourist Club Area behind Al Salama Hospital.
Before we used to have a flatmate who is from Kazakhstan and she usually cooks her native dishes over the weekend. Ingredients were particularly difficult to find in local groceries and she told me, she got it from a store near Russian Embassy. I don't know the name of the store, so if you are looking for some Russian ingredients or cooked meals have a little tour around Russian Embassy area in Hamdan.
For Chinese ingredients, there is a Chinese store along Salam St., They have almost everything you need when you want to make your own "shabu-shabu" at home. For Indian ingredients most of it are readily available in big supermarkets. It is the same for Thai but a wider range of spices and sauces are available in Choitram.
So how much are you going to allot for the necessities? Here are some of the prices of grocery stuff as of 24 April 2014:
Small rice cooker - price starts at AED 49 and up, depending on the size and brand.
Sauce pan - price starts at AED 15 and up
Frying pan - price starts at AED 15 and up
bed sheet - price starts at AED 10 and up, depending on the size
blanket - price starts at AED 10 and up, depending on the size
pillow - price starts at AED 15
Jasmine rice - AED 27.00
egg - AED 3.75 for 6 pieces pack
milk - AED 4.50 for tetrapak and AED 5.50 for bottled fresh milk
cooking oil - AED 6.50
coffee - AED 15.90 for Nescafe three in one box of 28 pieces
chicken - AED 9.00 for whole frozen chicken 800-1000 grams a piece.