$15/15 meals: Chinese Take Out

Fried Barley

Were in the home stretch now and you’d think I’d be really pushing the limit. Although surprisingly, it isn’t so much the quantity of the food that has created the issue. Similar to Sarah’s boredom of black beans, as the week goes on my breakfast and lunch have become a bit mundane. That being said, cutting down on large lunches often consisting of a monstrous amount of carbohydrates has really made me more productive. My chicken soup, which I’ll be finishing up just as the challenge ends tomorrow afternoon, is giving me the energy I need for the latter part of my work day. No more food comas for me! Plus it’s really amazing how we’ve convinced ourselves we need more food than we do. I’ve been doing little to no snacking, and as the week goes on I miss it less and less.

This challenge has really opened my eyes in so many ways. I was skeptical of how well I could eat and how nutritionally balanced my meals would be. I think we’ve proved that with a little creativity and advanced planning, eating well doesn’t have to cost a fortune. However, many of the followers have brought up the concern that this experiment is somewhat skewed because of my ability to cook for myself. One of the major deterrents of home cooking is a perceived lack of creativity. As Sarah mentioned on her blog yesterday, she was struggling to come up with a new way of eating her ingredients. All it took was a small suggestion and look what she was able to create! I hope this week has inspired some of you to get into your kitchens more and more. A few basic techniques and a bit of trial and error goes along way. I see this $15/15 meal challenge as a re-occurring event on the blog and would love to have more people involved the next time around so let me know if your interested…In the mean time, here’s an example of a incredibly simple dish that anyone could make…

How many times have you gotten home late from work and ordered some chinese take out. A little wonton soup and maybe some fried rice? I’ll be honest, I have a weak spot when it comes to Chinese food. Doesn’t matter how full I am, if it’s there I’ll keep eating it. MSG? No problem…I just love Chinese food. Well clearly ordering out was not within my budget this week, so I decided I’d make my own.

Fried rice is a great dish for all levels of cooking. If your just starting out and looking for some interesting options this is a great one to try. I didn’t have any rice, although I did have my barley which I am now 100% hooked on. I love it way more than rice, and I figured it would work just as well for this application. So I cooked a 1/2 cup of barley as the directions on the bag instructed. While the barley was simmering, I julienned a carrot and some red onion, and chopped up some of my remaining red cabbage. Once the barley was cooked and cooled, I brought out my wok. You’ve heard me rave about the wok before, but if you don’t own own, a good saute pan will do the trick. Preheat the wok over high heat. I’ve always loved the scrambled egg in the fried rice so I was sure to include this. Scramble the eggs in the wok with a bit of oil and then remove them. Immediately add the veggies and stir continuously. After only a minute or so I added my barley, shredded chicken, and the scrambled egg. While stirring I added just a touch of soy sauce (maybe this counts as my remaining $.10) and let the whole dish come together. If you don’t include the cooking of the barley, this dish took 4 minutes to make. 4 minutes! And it was absolutely delicious.

Four meals to go and a ton of food to get me there. I still have three eggs, 1 cup cooked barley, chicken soup for two days, enough ground beef for a meal, a small amount of cabbage, 1/4 red onion, and 1/2 can of diced tomatoes. Any ideas what I’m making for dinner tonight?

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