My hubby and I have been working on our dreaded budget. Always a joy, as most of you know. We learned that we basically bleed out money when it comes to eating out. We really enjoy going out, and it doesn’t help that we moved into a neighborhood with a gazillion delicious restaurants and bars within walking distance.
Walking = good, eating and drinking all our money = not so good.
One of the biggest challenges (weaknesses) for us eating out is when I get hangry. What is hanger, you ask? That moment when you are so hungry/ low blood sugar that you rage with anger at people or things who don’t deserve it. Crying for no reason also makes the list. My poor husband has been the victim of my hanger more times than I care to admit, but he knows the signs. Hunger + anger = Hangry. It’s not a pretty picture, as I become unable to make logical decisions or function on any sort of logical level. Now that I’m exercising, hanger can come on faster than usual. It is not usually a summer issue, as I am home, so I don’t notice it as much.
Why do I bring up being hangry? Well, one of the most vulnerable times when it comes to eating poorly and eating out is when I am hangry. Fast is really all I care about, rather than my waistline or my wallet. That’s when mishaps like Taco Bell or over-eating really happen.
The key to avoiding my hanger seems to hinge on two things: eating high protein snacks and having a meal plan. During the school year, this is huge! Alas, I am still learning how to truly be prepared and make this work. Being creative, especially when the fridge is nearing a condiments-only state, is essential.
Which leads us to my creative adventure last night- Chicken Fried Rice.
It was after eight p.m. and we hadn’t eaten dinner. I had exercised, and was starting to feel some tinges of hanger coming on, so I knew I had to do something soon, or it was gonna get bad, and fast.
My first impulse was chicken.
I had frozen chicken tenderloins in the freezer, so I took four out, popped them in in a pan with some olive oil and sprinkled Johnny’s seasoning on them over medium- high heat. When they started to get brown, I added some chicken broth and lemon juice, and covered them.
At 7 minutes, I turned them, added some more chicken broth, and waited 7 more minutes. I still didn’t know what I wanted to make, but after staring in the fridge, I noticed some leftover white rice.
Bingo! Fried rice! I looked up a recipe, but realized that, other than the basics (soy sauce, rice, sesame oil, egg), I didn’t have any of the traditional ingredient add- ins. Crap.
Popping my head in the freezer, I noticed I had about a quarter of a bag of frozen broccoli florets left. Awesome!
By this time, the chicken was done, so I removed it from the pan, added some sesame oil, the rice, minced garlic, soy sauce, a little left-over broth from the chicken, and hoped for the best. I made sure the rice was coated, turned down the heat a bit so it wouldn’t burn, and then added the broccoli and this great Asian ginger spice we got at Costco a while back.
After the frozen broccoli started to cook, I added a beaten egg in the middle and scrambled it up.
Let me tell you, this was not really following any recipe, and I just made sure to stir the rice often until it started to resemble actual fried rice!
I tore the chicken tenderloins with a fork and threw those in, too. They were pretty salty, which was perfect with the amount of rice I had.
It ended up being awesome. Hanger was abated, husband was very happy with the result, and I was able to use up leftovers! Yum!
Chicken Fried Rice
Like I said, this “recipe” is really more of a “let’s throw a bunch of stuff in a pan and hope for the best” type meal. There was no actual measuring of anything.
Basically, you need a protein, like chicken, shrimp, tofu, or diced ham, leftover white rice (mine was probably two or three cups worth), some soy sauce (I used probably 1/4 cup), some garlic, some oil (sesame is best for this), some veggies of choice, frozen or fresh, and an egg or two.
Make sure your pan is hot and that your protein is cooked beforehand, and add the oil, garlic, rice, and soy sauce. Stir to coat rice, and keep stirring often. Just don’t add too much soy sauce, otherwise it will be super salty and too mushy!
Add veggies, stir, and watch for them to get tender. I covered mine for a short time so the broccoli would steam a little, but you don’t want the rice to be mushy, so watch it carefully, and keep stirring! This is also when I added my ginger seasoning, but this is optional.
When the veggies have reached an almost done phase, make a little well in the middle of the pan, and pour in your beaten egg. Scramble with a fork until egg is near done, then stir in with rest of rice.
Add cooked protein. Stir in. Rice should be looking and tasting like actual fried rice by this point.
Turn off heat and remove. Eat and enjoy! You can avoid hanger and get some delish dinner in the process.
What are your eating out weaknesses? Have you found a good way to balance your diet and your wallet?