Sunday morning, I had big plans for what I was going to cook for the week. I had Monday off from work and I was going to spend the day whipping up healthy, delicious food that I would be able to enjoy all week.
I went through my recipes, picked a couple and put together a grocery list. And then I realized — I’m BROKE. Payday is Friday and some poor financial planning on my part means there’s not a lot of extra money this week for elaborate meals.
Instead, I was reduced to planning a “whatever’s in the fridge and pantry” meal. Luckily, I’m a pretty smart shopper and stock up on certain items whenever there’s a sale and/or coupons. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts usually go on sale once a month or so. Ditto for frozen veggies.
After a brief expedition into the icy tundra of my freezer, I pulled out some chicken and some broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mix. A quick check of the fridge door uncovered some soy sauce and there was some corn starch in the back of a cabinet. I also had a couple of handfuls of cashews in a bag hiding behind the instant oatmeal. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? STIR FRY!!!!
Stir fry is a great dish for three reasons. 1. It’s fairly quick-cooking because everything’s in small chunks. 2. It’s all made in one pan, so it’s an easy cleanup. 3. There’s no wrong way to make stir fry. Add your favorite veggies, a meat or meat-substitute for protein and some sort of flavorful, low-fat sauce and you’ve got dinner.
To make my stir fry this week, I sliced defrosted chicken into thin strips (cook’s tip: slice it while it’s still slightly frozen and you’ll get really even strips) and threw it in a wok with some garlic and a couple of shots of cooking spray.
When the chicken was brown on both sides, I threw the frozen veggies and a teaspoon of olive or vegetable oil. I added a few shakes of soy sauce. I stirred it around until the chicken is cooked through. I added the cashews and stirred to mix in. Finally, I added a few pinches of corn starch and stirred it in (see why they call it stir fry??) to thicken the sauce slightly.
You can serve your stir fry over brown rice. I usually skip the rice to save on carbohydrates.
One word of caution: Don’t overcook the veggies, especially if you plan to reheat leftovers. Frozen veggies only need a few minutes to warm up, so make sure the chicken is cooked pretty well before adding them.
Nutrition facts will vary depending on the ingredients. The easiest way to figure it out is add up all the calories, fat, carbs, protein, etc. in the entire dish and then divide by the number of servings. A good rule of thumb is 2-3 oz of meat and a cup of veggies per serving.
Your turn: What’s your favorite ingredients for stir fry?