When you have a huge debt and a rather modest income, in addition to earning more, you still have to find ways to make cuts to the budget. One of the ways I do that is by having a rather lean food budget. Dave Ramsey calls it, “Eating beans and rice.” The Penny Pincher Meals posts are where I share what “beans and rice” looks like for me.
When I previously shared my monthly budget, there was some concerns that I might be making unhealthy (lacking in nutrients and volume) cuts to my food budget. To be fair, that is a pretty valid concern. I love watching YouTube videos on extreme budget meals but I have found that many are either very involved/time consuming or incorporate very few fresh vegetables. Which makes sense. To save money you often have to trade time/convenience or nutrition. Fortunately, as an African American woman with roots in the South, I grew up eating and loving the relatively cheap leafy greens. Read: Collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, and kale (way before it was cute). Many of my meals substitute greens for other more expensive veggies like broccoli or spinach. I even substitute turnip greens for lettuce in salads. (Seriously, try this.)
Egg Fried Rice
Perhaps my current favorite greens for veggies substitution is egg fried rice. A couple of my variations are below…
“Ummm, AP, doesn’t all fried rice have eggs in it? Why is this egg fried rice?” Yup. Traditionally, fried rice does include eggs, however, they usually also feature a meat (pork, chicken, etc.). Because I am a vegetarian, I don’t include meat and feature (include a lot) eggs.
You’ll notice that my recipe cost for some items is much higher than the manufacturer suggested serving size/cost. That’s because for some things like rice, I know I eat more than the suggested serving size; and, I am definitely heavy handed with seasoning. You could make this even cheaper if you stuck closer to the recommended serving size but I want to be honest about how I prepare the dishes and what it cost me. Another point is that the eggs and the greens are the only consistent items in this dish. I added portobello mushrooms here because they were in the reduced bin at Kroger for $0.75 a carton.
The actual cooking is pretty simple and only uses one pot.
- I cook the egg(s) in the bottom of a five (5) quart pan on medium heat using one (1) tablespoons of olive oil.
- After the eggs have completely cooked, I add the turnip greens.
- Once the turnip greens have cooked down, and most of the water has evaporated, I add the cooked rice and mushrooms.
- In a small bowl, I mix one part rice wine vinegar to one part soy sauce, and add it to the pot. Note: This step is completely optional and you can just use straight soy sauce. However, soy sauce tends to overwhelm this dish for me (perhaps less so if meat was incorporated) so I lighten it a bit with rice wine vinegar.
- Cook on high heat.
- Once the mixture is “dry,” I add mushroom seasoning* to taste.
- Plated (or bowled) I add garlic powder to taste, and that’s it!
I have definitely cooked this other ways that had a lot more steps and a lot more ingredients, however some things went away because I just didn’t happen to have the ingredient on hand one day (onions/scallion or green onions) and then it became one less ingredient for me to buy; however, I do incorporate them when I have them. Other ingredients, like fresh garlic, went away over time as I tried to figure out how to make the dish cheaper and easier (I’m kind of a lazy cook). I began with fresh garlic, which turned into minced jarred garlic, which finally turned into garlic power. Honestly, at this point, there is no reason to go back to using fresh garlic for this dish.
2 thoughts on “Penny Pincher Meals – Egg Fried Rice”
I am currently hungry and these look really good! I love that you broke down the cost by serving. It really shows how much you save by cooking at home. Thanks for the post!
Awe, thanks for reading. I hope you have a delicious lunch (or breakfast or dinner depending on where in the world you live).
I’ll be honest and say I almost didn’t post this series because I didn’t want people to think that I, someone in significant debt, was telling them how to live (Do as I say, not as I did..). However, someday, when I am no longer in debt, someone may wonder how I did it. Having a lean food budget is definitely a part of stretching a modest income and I want to quell concerns that I am not eating enough or that my meals are significantly lacking in nutrients.