Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hunger Challenge 2010: Days 1 & 2 and Recipe: Chicken Fried Rice

Because I'm still easily exhausted from last health scare, I wasn't feeling all that creative for my first day of the Hunger Challenge (which was Monday; I'm doing my challenge during the workweek again).  On Sunday night I'd prepared a few cups of brown rice - one of the best bare bones staples out there in terms of nutrition and affordability - so that I could make a few different dishes from that one pot, like my Brown Rice, Veggie & Tuna Salad.

For Monday's meals I took it really easy.  I started off my day with a bowl of corn flakes & blueberries, a simple, but tasty breakfast that kept me satisfied for several hours.  I'd been craving corn flakes for a few months now but usually shy away from buying cereal at grocery stores because of their sky-high prices.  My $1.39 box of real Kellogg's Corn Flakes from the new Grocery Outlet in Midtown Sac both curbed my craving and took away some of my cereal fear.  Fresh blueberries - though nowhere near as good as the kind picked straight off the bush - added a burst of sweetness and healthy antioxidants.  Total breakfast cost (including milk): $1.10.  A bit on the high side because of the blueberries, but I still had plenty to get me through the rest of the day.

My lunch of Brown Rice, Veggie and Tuna Salad is filling, nutritious, and full of flavor, so I knew I'd be set for the rest of the work day.  At just about $0.85 per serving, this counted just slightly towards my $4/day allotment.  A small box of raisins for snack ($0.17/box in a 6 box snack), and I was up to $2.12.  Unfortunately, I wasn't up for much more than serving myself a leg & thigh quarter ($0.76) and some brown rice with tomatoes that first day, so there's nothing fun & new to share from my first day of the Hunger Challenge.  Good news is that I got through the whole day on just $2.88.  Not bad for Day 1.

My second day was a bit more exciting, as I was feeling a bit less like death warmed over and more like my normal self.  I enjoyed a Poor Girl breakfast staple that I had during last year's Hunger Challenge: Scrambled Egg & Tomato Sandwich.  Not much to this one either, but using just 2 eggs, a small tomato and some bread, this is a great on-the-go breakfast if you want something savory over the standard sweet portable breakfasts.  Total breakfast cost: $0.82 (take that, McDonald's "Value" menu!).  A second lunch of Brown Rice, Veggie & Tuna Salad made my middle meal both satisfying and tasty, and with a bit more energy than the previous day, I turned some leftover chicken & brown rice into an easy Chicken Fried Rice for dinner.  Similar to my Quick & Easy Fried Rice with Asparagus, this dish was another good example of how to make one bare bones staple turn into a giant, tasty meal that could be stretched out for ages...

Chicken Fried Rice (makes 4 servings; total cost per serving: ~ $0.60)

1 c brown rice (cold leftovers work best)
1 c cooked chicken, diced
1/2 c frozen peas & carrots
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 T soy sauce*
2 T plus 1 t cooking oil

Heat a small fry pan or skillet over medium high heat.  Add oil followed by the eggs, and cook until fluffy and no longer moist.  Set aside.

In a larger skillet, heat the remaining oil and add the diced onion.  Sauté over medium high heat until the onion just begins to soften, then add the frozen veggies and rice.  Cook until the vegetables have thawed and the rice has softened.  Add the scrambled eggs and soy sauce, and stir fry for another 3 minutes, or until the entire dish is completely heated through.  Garnish with chopped scallions (if you have them), season with extra soy sauce if you like, and enjoy!

*Hunger Challenge Tip: If you don't have a bottle of soy sauce on hand, don't fret!  Putting together a few packets of soy sauce will do the same job in a pinch.


  1. I'm avoiding sodium, soy sauce has a lot I've heard. Is there a healthy substitute?

  2. you might be interested in bragg's amino acids. it is not cheap, but it is a great alternative to soy sauce.

  3. Hi there - I know I am commenting on a post that was from awhile ago, but I felt it was the most appropriate one to start on because it hit home with me the most. I just found your blog yesterday and I have to say it is already a real inspiration to me. I recently quite my relatively high paying (but soul numbing) corporate job to go back to school to pursue my passion in the theatre. However, that has also left me financially in a pretty tight situation. I was lucky enough to be approved for SNAP assistance 2 months ago, which most college students aren't, because I am an adult and not under my parents support.

    I was reading about this hunger challenge you did and was thinking "Oh my goodness! How hard would it be to eat on $4 a day??" and then I added it up and realized that is exactly how much I get monthly from food stamps, I had just not looked at it by a daily total yet. So even though I am a good cook, and I try to get creative, I find myself getting into ruts and then spending money (I don't have) on fast food on campus or using my food stamps on junk food that is quick to microwave in between classes.

    But reading your posts is really giving me a kick in the pants again to get back to eating healthy, preparing more from scratch, helping my $30/week budget stretch as far as possible, and NOT find myself resorting to convenience food on a regular basis.

    So thank you, I appreciate it, and I feel your budget straining pain!! I guess it a $4 a day challenge for me every day...what a shock that is!



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