Andrew and I are on a single-income student budget so we try to spend as little as possible. Sadly, I am picky eater and don’t like to eat leftovers so this can be difficult as we try not to waste anything while spending very little. Since it’s only the two of us and we do not have a freezer, I thought I’d share two of our favorite no-waste/healthy/yummy/cheap meals.
Ingredients Needed (prices from Tesco & our local Chinese supermarket):
- 1 Whole Chicken (Ideally Free-Range)*: £4
- A Bunch of Green Onions*: £.49
- Ginger*: £.99
- Garlic*: £.30
- 3 Cups of Brown Rice*: £1
- A green vegetable (whatever is on sale)*: £1
- Olive Oil (or sesame seed oil)
*Isn’t it awesome that I actually only have to go to the store for 4 (or 5) items? Often times, I’ll have these items in my pantry/fridge so I only need to get veggies and a chicken.
Part 1: Hainan Chicken (or 白切雞/báiqiējī/baak cit gai)
I suppose in English, I could just describe this dish as boiled chicken.
- Try to clean out all the gunk in the cavity of the chicken. (You’re not supposed to wash raw chicken, but I hate all that gross stuff in my meal.)
- Cut off the excessive chicken skin (I keep most of the skin on it, but I take off any skin off that’s not attached to anything to try to reduce the amount of fat in the dish.)
- In a large pot, boil water (enough to cover most of the chicken) with 2 or 3 scallions (I normally chop them into large pieces) and 5-6 slices of ginger (I like to peel the brown skin off).
- Once the water is boiling, I put the chicken in the pot. If needed, I add more water.
- After it boils again, take the chicken out of the water (to try to empty any colder water that might be stuck inside the cavity) and put it back in the water.
- Turn down the heat to a simmer and cook the chicken for 20-35 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken). I just check if the chicken is done by poking a fork into the thigh to see if it’s cooked.
- While the chicken is cooking, I mince green onions, 2-3 cloves of garlic, and a small chunk of ginger (without the skin). (I try to mince it as finely as possible).
- Mix the green onions, garlic, and ginger with olive oil and salt to taste.
- Once the chicken is done, take it out to cool. (DO NOT THROW AWAY THE CHICKEN WATER/STOCK)
- Cut the chicken to serve.
I’ll normally cook 2 cups of rice and stir-fry some vegetables with salt and the garlic I did not use. Then, it’s ready to be served! I generally am able to make 4 servings with these ingredients. You can also use some of the chicken stock to cook the rice in if you have time.
I keep the chicken stock, chicken carcass, bones, and any leftover chicken or rice for Part 2.
Part 2: Chicken Congee (or 粥/zhōu/jook)
In English, I’d probably call this Chicken Rice Porridge.
- Shred any leftover chicken from the carcass or bones and keep to the side.
- Wash 1 cup of brown rice.
- Fill the pot with 5-6 cups of the chicken stock and 4-5 cups of water with the rice to bring to a boil.
- Add the chicken bones to the pot.
- If you have any leftover ginger, you can add that to the pot as well.
- Turn down the heat to a simmer.
- Stir occasionally so the rice doesn’t get stuck to the pot. You can add any leftover rice to this pot as well.
- While the congee is cooking, slice the green part of the green onions for garnish.
- When the congee becomes thick (I don’t know how long it takes–probably around 45 minutes to an hour) (if you like it thinner, you can always add more water) like porridge, you can take out the bones and add the shredded chicken.
- Salt to taste and garnish with the green onions.
If you’re fancy like my grandma, she’ll make some ground beef with soy sauce to add to the congee. Thousand year old egg and pork floss are also good garnish choices (but this is supposed to be a cheap meal so we won’t talk about that). 1 cup of rice generally makes 2 servings of congee.
Total Cost: £7.78
Total Servings: 6 meals
Price per Serving: £1.30
Price per Serving in USD: $1.85
I hope this is helpful in meal planning for people on a budget. It’s relatively healthy (since the chicken is boiled and I only use brown rice). And, the particularly picky girl (me) likes it. Enjoy and please share any other no-waste/healthy/yummy/cheap meals you know with me too!