Apr 20, 2009

Cheap Eats

Cheap is super chic these days – everywhere you turn there are tips on how to save money, spend less and get stuff for cheap. Especially food. I've stumbled on what I think has got to be the cheapest way to feed yourself and still get a sliver of nutrition. It’s in the same vein as my Thai Beef Salad from a few weeks ago – cabbage and ramen noodles.

If your blood pressure is even the slightest bit high you need to stop reading and turn back now. Seriously, there’s enough sodium in this to send your cardiologist into cardiac arrest – don’t say you weren’t warned.

Dinner For One: Noodle Bowl

I was cleaning out my pantry last week and there was a package of ramen jammed in the back from who knows when - but really, does that stuff ever go bad? I was caught up in the spirit of frugality so I decided to break it out. I think a pack goes for something like 14 cents so I was feeling pretty economically virtuous. But then I realized I was about to eat dehydrated noodles for dinner and visions of college nights spent huddled over a hot pot came flooding over me. I had to do something to make this more exciting.

I’ve been eating a lot of stir-fried cabbage lately. I change it up and try different sauces but the way I make it the most is just a simple saute with soy sauce and chili sauce that leaves it spicy, salty and vaguely Asian-y. And, because slicing cabbage would be more than I can handle on some nights, I’ve started picking up a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw mix with green cabbage and carrots every time I’m in the grocery store. The height of laziness? Yes. But I’ve noticed that it’s on sale more often than not, so really the cost difference is minimal and the added convenience means I’m more likely to eat veggies than, say, microwave popcorn for dinner.

So, while I was waiting for the noodle water to heat up I grabbed my bag of cabbage mix from the fridge and did a quick stir-fry – a swirl of oil, salt, pepper, a splash of soy sauce and a quirt of chili sauce. Let it cook over high heat until the cabbage is nice and wilted and starting to brown in spots. I cooked the ramen with its spice pack (I could only bring myself to use half of it – it’s SO bad for you) and dumped the cooked noodles and some of the “soup” in a deep bowl. Topped with the stir-fried cabbage and a swirl of sriracha chili sauce it was actually really good. Gourmet cuisine? No. But tasty and filling and kinda fun if we’re going to be completely honest with each other. Plus, it’s the kind of everything-but-the-kitchen-sink dinner that has endless possibilities – you can throw whatever you have in and it’ll work! I’m thinking a little egg omelet, some leftover cooked chicken or beef, any and every vegetable, sliced jalapenos… I have to get more Ramen!

So I was in a noodle bowl frame of mind when I stumbled across this and I think it’s hysterical. It’s a Noodle Bowl Idea Generator from a woman who takes her noodle bowl far more seriously than I do. This was my noodle bowl suggestion today:

Instant ramen noodles in coconut-curry broth with ginger; topped with sweet potato tempura, sautéed sweet peppers and fried garlic chips.


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