When working to eat healthy and still feed your family for less, it’s important to get creative and work to find ways to serve meals that everyone loves and do so in a way that fits in with your family’s targeted food budget. One of the ways we do this in The Frugal Farmer home is by writing down meal items we love to have at our favorite restaurants and finding ways to make them at home. In our quest to eat well (which for us means finding a balance between eating healthy and throwing in a few of our favorite not-so-healthy restaurant foods) but still keep our grocery budget at around $400 for our family of six, we’ve found ways to make a number of popular restaurant dishes at home for cheap.
We do this not only for regular weekly meals, but for celebratory meals such as Valentine’s Day as well. By finding ways to make restaurant dishes at home, we can save the money we would have spent on a restaurant excursion, yet still eat a special and satisfying meal.
As we work to eat primarily whole foods and stick with a largely macrobiotic diet, we are continually looking for new recipes that are healthy, flavorful, cheap and easy to prepare. One of our favorites has become this homemade fried rice recipe I put together last winter. It’s healthy, delicious and easy to make too. Many times we serve it alone, or occasionally we’ll serve it with an oriental salad, as seen in the picture here.
Healthy, Delicious and Cheap
Our local Costco sells a large bag of oriental salad for $6.99. The salad is quite similar to the Oriental Chicken Salad served at popular chain restaurants, except for that it’s sans chicken. This bag can serve our family of six for two meals, which brings the price of the salad down to $3.50 per meal. Since we buy our veggies in bulk, we can easily make the veggie fried rice for less than $1.50, bringing the total price of the meal to $5 or less. Try it at home and let me know how you like it.
Recommended for your “Feeding Your Family for Less” library:
Homemade Fried Rice Recipe
4-6 cups prepared rice (we use organic brown rice but any rice will do)
1/8 to 1/4 c. toasted sesame oil
1/4 to 1/2 c. frozen peas
1 garlic clove, pressed
1 onion (yellow or green will work), diced
1 large carrot, shredded
1 egg, scrambled with milk
a sprinkling of soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste
In a large non-stick frying pan or wok, heat sesame oil on medium high. Add peas and onions and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring regularly. Add the carrot and garlic and cook for another minute or two. Scoot the veggies over to one side and add the beaten egg/milk mixture, tossing it until the egg is fluffy and fully cooked. Mix the veggies and eggs together, add the rice, and combine until mixed well. You can add more oil if need be at this point. Add soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste, continually mixing. That’s it!
Being quite picky about my fried rice, I’ve found this recipe most similarly emulates a good old-fashioned quality Chinese restaurant tasting rice. It’s nice to be able to serve this at home, avoid the MSG (which is nothing more than a liquid sprinkled on many Chinese and Thai food dishes) and save money as well.
For more information and recipes for the frugal meals we serve at home, click here to access our Frugal Food section.
I’d be curious to hear after you try it if you find it as delicious as we do here. Also, feel free to share the restaurant meals you serve at home as well. We’d love to hear from you!