Big Taste on a College Budget

If your like me (unemployed/self-employed or just frugal) saving money is very important. But being a frugalista is hard… especially when trying to dine on a dime. I don’t want to sacrifice taste! But right now it is very important for me to keep my grocery bill small and few/far between.

I’ve started planning meals ahead. Then buying in bulk when possible. My menu consists of recipes that use things I have on hand and also items that make great leftovers or freeze well. I follow sales/circulars and plan meals around the best deal.

As much as a like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches– I don’t want to have to live off them. In trying to come up with meals on a budget, I came across an item that we used to eat a lot of in college. Ramen Noodles!

I got a great recipe from my mom. She made Shrimp Lo Mein while I was back home last month. She used the oriental flavor noodles and stir fry vegetables. At first I wasn’t sure about a recipe that called for ramen noodles…but it turns out that it tastes like take-out from your favorite Chinese restaurant– but better/fresher!

I loved that the meal was quick, inexpensive and delicious. (Which are my main recipe requirements these days)

Yesterday I attempted a similar meal, but this time with beef.

RAMEN BEEF AND VEGETABLES

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound beef boneless sirloin steak, cut into thin strips
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 2 packages (3 ounces each) beef flavored ramen noodles
  • 1 bag (16 ounces) fresh, refrigerated stir-fry vegetables ( or a mixture of fresh veggies of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup stir-fry sauce (teriyaki or soy sauce works too)

Preparation:

1. Spray nonstick skillet with cooking spray; heat over medium-high heat. Cook beef in skillet 3 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until brown. Remove beef from skillet and set aside.

2. Heat water to boiling in same skillet. Break up noodles into water; stir until slightly softened. Stir in vegetables.

3. Heat to boiling. Boil 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are crisp-tender. Stir in contents of ramen seasoning packets, stir-fry sauce and beef. Cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until hot.

Makes 4 servings

Tips:

  • To add a nutty, delicate flavor, replace 2 tablespoons of the water with dry sherry.
  • To easily cut the beef into thin strips, pop it in the freezer first for about 30 minutes. Beef is easier to cut when partially frozen.
  • Try other variations such as chicken, seafood, pork, etc. Try different mixes of vegetables.

Serve with crisp egg rolls or wontons!

Jim and I both loved it. It was so quick and easy. I used beef this time since it was on sale. I used frozen vegetables instead and prepared them ahead of time. This way they were partially steamed and could be added when directed. If produce isn’t on sale or in season, try a bag a frozen stir-fry vegetables that are sure to be on sale or at least less expensive.

Since this meal turned out so well, it got me thinking. Are there any other recipes that use ramen noodles?

And wouldn’t ya know–

A spiral bound cookbook compiled by a college student. The recipes are sure to fit into your tight budget and busy schedule. $9.99 from Amazon.

It includes fast, easy and filling food such as:

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup, Tuna Noodle Casserole, Ramen Fajitas, Summer Picnic Salad and more!

I’ll definitely have to try some of these! It brings back college memories and I know I’ll be saving money while preserving taste.

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