Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Day 337- More Fried Rice

While I *really* need to hunt down a more flavorful soy sauce, fried rice seems to still be my go-to meal.

If I don't use too many different veggies, I can get them all peeled, chopped, and cooked while the rice is cooking away in its' little cooker. Yesterday, of course, I used about twice as many veggies as any sane person. You can use as few or as many as you want, even mushrooms if you'd like.

Yesterday I used:

  • 1 small beet
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 4/5 of a large-ish onion
  • 1 small turnip
  • 1 large carrot
  • ~8 oz green cabbage
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1C frozen green peas
  • 1 (heaping) Tablespoon pickled ginger
so as you can, I'm sure, imagine it took a while to get everything chopped. You can reduce cooking time (a little) by nuking the (chopped) hard veggies while you chop the onion, cabbage, and garlic. I never bother, 'cause I'm silly, but I bet it would speed things up a lot. Nothing quite as texturally off-putting as biting into something yummy crispy/squishy and having it go crunch half way through. 

With 6 cups of cooked rice (about a pound raw), 2-ish T oil, a splash of vinegar and all the soy sauce you care to use the fried rice is about 2400 to 2800 calories. Guestimating from fitday, so I can't be exact. That's basically dinner for 4. Veggies could always add diced, saute'd tofu, egg eaters could add an egg (check elsewhere for how that works), and meat-eating types could add about a pound of 49 cent chicken "quarter" either in the rice or on the side. That drives the cost up a bit, of course.

The way I cooked it yesterday, it was about $2.25 for the veggies (ginger, garlic, and peas had the highest package cost), 50 cents for the rice (3lbs @ $1.49), and about another 30 cents for oil, vinegar, soy sauce, and whatnot.

So growing your own veggies this would * definitely* be an under $1 dish. Buying veggies, though (and going a bit crazy with using them...) it was $3.05. So my meal-sized serving cost was about $0.76, and side-dish sized serving cost (enough to fill half a plate) is about 38 cents. Using fewer veggies or leaving out the spendier ones would (obviously) drop the price a bit- enough that you could make up the rest of the day's calories with bread and beans and still stay under $1 per person per day. 

Is it just me, or does this whole cheap diet thing work better when there are more people to split the costs with?

Starting to think I should have braved the wilds of the back yard and planted some forking veggies last year....


  1. What I like about the method of fried rice is that you can make it any flavor you want. I had a great Spanish rice recipe with brown rice, that just got to be too hard to make. So I switched to using the rice cooker and added the same "flavors" in the fried rice method.

    I do it too with Italian or Indian flavors also.

    It's definitely easier to eat cheaper if you are cooking for many. Large families can buy 50-lb bags of rice or flour. Singletons or small families will let that stuff go to waste.

  2. Ooh, I hadn't thought of doing it with "other" flavors. I could do a real number on my budget with Mediterranean flavors- artichoke hearts, olives, grilled or roasted veg, lemon juice. Sound perfect for summer.

    Yeah, 50lbs of flour is $15 or so and would last even me (gluten lover that I am) most or all of a year. I pay twice as much (or more) but end up with less waste and fewer space problems.

    Of course, cooking only for me means I cook only what I want and don't have to work around anyone else's preferences. That might be worth the cost all by itself....

  3. I can't imagine any math that says that feeding more people costs less. If you make 10 servings at 50 cents a serving, that is either 10 meals just for you, or 5 meals just for you and 5 for someone else. Which means it should cost twice as much to feed 2 people. It's not like there are rules that say you can't buy in bulk for less than a certain number of people. You just have to have a realistic view of how much food you eat how quickly, and know how to store it to avoid waste. Flour and rice aren't going to go bad.

  4. It costs more per-person, not total. Two people can eat for less than twice as much as one. With all the money (and space) up front, I could totally lay in staples for a year, but most people don't have a year's grocery money up front.

    I sound argumentative today, I think, but it's not intended.

    Mainly the problem is with fresh stuff. Carrots and whatnot- they take a while, but still go bad eventually, and lose ones cost a lot more than bags.