Today’s guest post comes to us from The Independent Hoosier. He is graciously sharing his ultra-frugal vegetarian stir fry recipe with us – minimalist style. Give it a try and then click on over and check out his great blog at Hoosier FI.
If you have been following my blog then you know I am little more odd than your typical Midwest, Indiana Hoosier. Well, my fair readers, I will not disappoint you today.
This 30-year-old guy, from small town Indiana, follows a fairly strict vegetarian diet.
I know, it sounds like an oxymoron: Vegetarian and Indiana are not often in the same sentence.
However, I say fairly because I would call my diet a 90/10 vegetarian diet.
I still occasionally eat meat…usually when someone else is preparing it. I do not have any specific moral reasons behind it, I just enjoy the health benefits.
So, judge if you will, but as always, I am just being honest.
I have learned a few things from following this practice, but it always struck me as to how damn hard it is to eat as a vegetarian! I even give myself 5-10% room for cheating and it is still tough! Add living in the middle of farmland Indiana to the mix and it makes it even tougher (technically, I live in Bloomington, a college town, so that does help)!
Just with keeping an exotic menu and not getting bored (most everyone I know believes that eating a vegetarian lifestyle is just eating a salad every day).
But, the health implications are not what we are here to discuss today.
Today we are discussing how to make a healthy vegetarian meal when you have next to nothing…like, “you are moving your girlfriend out of her apartment and the movers come later in the afternoon” nothing.
Part of me just wanted to go across to the street to Chipotle, but the inquisitive, frugal side of me wanted to see what I could “MacGyver” with a quick stop at Fresh Thyme.
I have to give credit to Frugal Turtle as she asked a couple of weeks ago on Twitter about healthy, quick, vegetarian recipes and I was able to provide her with a similar one as we are going to discuss today.
It piqued my interest enough that I decided to write a post about the recipe on Hoosier FI. However, very nicely enough Amanda told me a couple of weeks ago if I ever had any ideas for a guest post I could contact her. I emailed her the idea and she trusted me enough to give it a shot with this one!
For that, I thank you both very much!
Let’s move on shall we?
Vegetarian Ramen Midwest Stir Fry
Prep Time: 10 minutes-ish
Cook Time: 10 minutes-ish
Yield: Volume of Goodwill frying pan (technically, it varies on how many veggies you use)
1 pinch crystallized ginger
1 pinch garlic
½ white onion
½ green pepper
Handful of mushrooms
1 package dorm room Ramen Noodles w/o flavor packet (Jeez, that packet has so much sodium)
Olive oil as needed
Gerber automatic pocketknife (it was this or a plastic knife)
Leftover Christmas paper plates
Medium frying pan from Goodwill to also double as cutting board
Smart phone for taking terrible, amateur pictures of the process
1. Cut your vegetables any way you would like – sliced, julienne, chopped, etc., in the Goodwill frying pan (remember, I did not have a cutting board) and place them back on the paper plates.
*Bonus – Do not worry about scratching the pan with your knife…however, I would not recommend cutting in the pan if you do not plan on donating back or throwing it out, aka “do not use your All Clad Stainless Steel pan and then yell at me when it looks like Wolverine used it for combat practice”
2. After you have put the vegetables back on the Christmas paper plate, fill ½ of the Goodwill frying pan with water and place on burner on high heat. After it starts to boil (about 3 minutes) add the dorm room Ramen noodles. Boil to desired tenderness – I usually let them boil for 2 minutes.
3. Drain water and remove the dorm room Ramen Noodles and place them on the extra Christmas plate and set it in microwave to keep warm until your vegetables are cooked (do not microwave dorm room Ramen Noodles…they will dry out and burn…and your kitchen will literally smell like an actual dorm room).
4. Place a small amount of olive oil in the Goodwill frying pan and heat on medium/medium high.
5. After the olive oil warms up, place the vegetables you sliced, julienned, or chopped into pan. All of them!
6. Sauté those vegetables for as long as you feel necessary. Crunchy = less time and less crunchy = more time. Aren’t my descriptions insanely technical?
7. Make sure and keep stirring the vegetables to prevent scorching. During this time add the garlic and ginger. Add as much or as little as you want. It depends on your taste.
8. This is it! The moment you have been waiting for! Take those awesomely sauteed vegetables, pull out that Christmas plate, and toss them on with the non-burnt, yet tender, $.32 Ramen Noodles!
9. Enjoy while sitting in the middle of an empty room, waiting on movers, and eating with leftover plastic ware.
This meal came out to a grand total of $4.56! Around half of what I would have spent at Chipotle and most likely 1/4 of the calories.
I also used only half of the ingredients (and the others on this recipe) in this meal and the rest in my breakfast the next day: The Independent Hoosier Indiana “Egg Roll.” Which is another healthy, quick breakfast that I make quite often.
I mentioned before that one of the most difficult things about being a vegetarian is coming up with different quick and delicious recipes so you do not get burned out on eating the same thing every day. I have discovered that this “stir fry” method is perfect for mixing it all up.
You can add any ingredients you would like and pretty much keep the recipe the same. Don’t want Ramen? Use rice. Want some protein? Add a meat or tofu. Want a Mexican style dish? Mix in black beans, tomatoes, and taco seasoning. The joy of stir fry is you can literally add anything you want to add your own flare.
As I stated in the beginning of this post, the hungry, lazy side of me just wanted to go to Chipotle (I love Chipotle), but I know that my meal there is going to cost at least $7-9 and at be least 800-1200 calories.
That is what is great about this FIRE concept – it literally applies to everything! With a little work, time, and patience you can have healthy meal(s) for very little cost. Just like everything else in life, before you go chow down on fast food because you are hungry, step back, survey, and think about you could make this healthier and easier for yourself.
I hope I was able to convey to you that cooking healthy really is not that hard to do. A common misconception is that eating healthy and especially eating vegetarian is expensive, complicated, boring, “insert excuse”…at least that is what most of the fellow Hoosiers I know believe.
Just remember, next time you are having a bad kitchen day and want to devour a Big Mac, a guy from central Indiana cooked a healthy vegetarian recipe with a pocket knife, Ramen noodles, and a few vegetables and wrote a blog post about it.
Suggestions for more recipes? Do you have a hard time eating a vegetarian lifestyle? Let us know!!
The “Independent Hoosier” is a 30-year-old child-at-heart. He enjoys reading, writing, comic books, and personal finance…oh, and obviously his beautiful girlfriend and awesome dog. He also very much enjoys any beverage that ends in “beer.” He is a Hoosier, born and raised in that great flyover state you have barely heard of: Indiana. He loves to travel and interact with anyone he can. Check out his blog, www.hoosierfi.com, and feel free if you are in Indiana (or wherever you both may be) to seek him out. He would love to grab a beer with you.
In case you were wondering, the “Independent Hoosier” is not his real name, but a pseudonym. Come on, not even people from Indiana would name their child that.