Why, oh why aren’t the meat prices what I expect them to be? Even some of the sale prices are out of my budget this week, and the items that are on sale have been on sale so long, I’m not finding much inspiration for my Bargain Meal of the Week $5.00 more or less category.
But wait, on the second page of the ad – Cooked Salad Shrimp, 4 ounces for $1.00. What can you do with a dollar’s worth of shrimp? A lot, if you learn how to make Fried Rice. Check out the Asian Grandmother’s Blog, where Pat demystifies the process. Now, I’ve tried fried rice before at my house and always ended up with lackluster results – reading all her hints has definitely helped. I’ve changed a few ingredients around to suit what’s on sale and our taste. (Just a note, as I was making this dish, I thought the 4 ounces of shrimp was a very generous amount. I only used part of it, and used the rest to make my Curried Shrimp Spread.)
This is the second recipe I’ve tried of Pat’s in the last week, the first being Beef, Tomato and Green Pepper Stir Fry, a recipe that was much better than my childhood favorite. (As a matter of fact, the kids ate so much of it, I had to remake the rice I was hoping to have left over for this recipe!) Scan to the bottom of the page to see a picture of the Beef, Tomato and Green Pepper Stir Fry - I was so involved in eating the Fried Rice, I forgot to grab my camera, so the above photo is from a second batch.
I’m going to serve mine with steamed Bok Choy and bring it in for a price of $1.89 for the Fried Rice, and $2.97 for the Bok Choy: Total $4.94. The Bok Choy is a bit of a splurge, but since there is room in the budget…(Just an update: the Bok Choy was so large, we were actually able to spread it over two meals. I love when things are even a little more frugal than expected!)
Recipe: Asian Grandmother’s Fried Rice – anyway you like it, from her Blog: The Asian Grandmother’s Cookbook. cost $1.89
Time: 20 minutes
Makes: Pat says makes 2 to 3 servings, but those are VERY generous servings (since I’m also serving Bok Choy, I’ll just divide it amongst us four.)
- 4 cups cooked long or medium grain rice, leftover from the day before or refrigerated for at least 2 hours
- 1 tablespoon canola or other neutral oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium red or yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 cup carrots chopped into small pieces (about 3-4 medium)
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup of frozen peas, defrosted
- 1 cup meat (I used 4 oz shrimp)
- 2 tablespoons oyster sauce (or sweet soy sauce)
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce (or fish sauce)
- White pepper powder
- Green onion for garnish (I just added because I have them)
Break up large clumps of rice and separate the grains with wet fingers.
Preheat a 14-inch wok or 12-inch skillet over high heat for about 1 minute. Swirl in the oil and heat until it becomes runny and starts to shimmer.
Reduce heat to medium and add garlic and onion and stir until fragrant, about 15 to 30 seconds. Add the carrots and cook until tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Move all the ingredients to one side of the wok. Break the eggs into the wok, and stir to scramble until they are almost cooked through but still a little soggy, about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.
Add the rice, then the peas and then shrimp (it is already cooked,) stirring and tossing between each addition. Use your spatula to break up any clumps.
Add the sauces, and salt and white pepper to taste. Stir everything swiftly around the wok until the rice is well-coated and – colored (little bits of white here and there is OK) and heated through, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add more oil if the rice begins to stick to the wok; reduce the heat if it starts to scorch. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
Divide the rice among 2 to 3 serving plates. Serve immediately
Money & Time Saving Strategies: Cost $1.89
For pricing, remember to use your coupon matching sites for your local stores. My favorite is Pocket Your Dollars in my area, but every store has a group of enthusiastic couponers who can point you to the best bargains. Don’t be discouraged if your prices are higher at first – just keep shopping the best sales and follow the strategies and you’ll get there! Check under Saving on Basic Ingredients for more detailed information and storage hints – use <control f> to search each page to bring you to the item you want to check out.
- Green Onion: You may have seen me talk about me Green Onions I’ve been keeping in a glass on my windowsill. I’m up to about five or six weeks, and still using them. I’ll call them Free for this recipe.
- Rice: I’ve been paying 19 cents for Riceland’s rice on sale with a coupon. Now the prices are a bit more, so you’ll pay 30 cents for a package. You’ll use about 2/3 of the package, so your cost will be around 20 cents.
- Eggs: On sale at Rainbow this week and there are coupons available. 3 eggs cost 19 cents.
- Shrimp: I bought the 4 ounce salad shrimp for $1.00. That’s still $4.00 a pound, more than I usually pay for a protein, but I’ll use such a small amount in this rice, that it’s still a great budget item.
- Onions: 99 cents for three pounds, one half is about 5 cents.
- Garlic: Cheap this time of year, but will go up in price in the late winter and early spring months. Sometimes I’ll really cheap out and buy a jar, but I bought a head for about 90 cents; two cloves put me back around an estimated 5 cents.
- Peas: Always in my freezer for things like chicken pot pie, soups or other items, I can usually buy for about 30 cents for a 1 pound bag with coupons. Peas are about 15 cents.
- Oyster and Soy Sauce: Estimate about 25 cents. Buy on sale. You will now and then find coupons for Soy Sauce.
Per Serving (excluding unknown items): 376 Calories; 5g Fat (12.1% calories from fat); 18g Protein; 63g Carbohydrate; 4g Dietary Fiber; 202mg Cholesterol; 431mg Sodium. Exchanges: 3 1/2 Grain(Starch); 1 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 1/2 Vegetable; 1/2 Fat.
Put your own spin on it:
- You can vary Fried Rice with all kinds of ingredients, and use leftovers as the meat option, and even play with the sauce flavors until you get your own exact favorite blend.
- See the Asian Grandmother’s site for even more ideas.
My Payoff – A quick budget meal that I can feel good about, and a great, frugal use of left over rice. The whole recipe is less than I’ve paid for one serving of fried rice when I’ve been out.
By the way, the Beef, Green Pepper and Tomato Stir Fry from the Asian Grandmother’s Blog I mentioned? Here’s a picture of mine – it turned out beautifully cooked in my cast iron skillet.