I try to feed my family healthy whole foods for the most part, but it’s usually so expensive that I have to pick and choose what to compromise. This is why I was determined this week to come up with a healthy, balanced recipe for about $1/serving.
This Brown Rice Stir Fry recipe is versatile, too! You can substitute many of the items to add variety while still keeping dinner cheap. The very best part is that my family loves it! Who can argue with cheap, healthy, and smiles on top of it all? Certainly not me!
This dinner takes about 35 minutes to cook. All prep work is done while the rice is cooking, so there is no added time there. The yield is 4 generous servings. You can use whatever oil and vegetables you have in the house, so I used sunflower oil and frozen stir-fry veggies. Enjoy!
Cheap Family Dinner Recipe
First things first – Get that rice cooking! It takes the longest, so get it going according to the directions for whatever rice you have. If you have minute rice, then this cooking time will be cut much shorter, but you can still get it started first.
For my brown rice, I boiled 2 cups of water and then added the rice. I turned the heat down, covered it, and put the timer on for 30 minutes. (A good trick for knowing when rice is done cooking is watching for those tunnels that escaping air creates, but not removing it from heat until there is only a tiny bit of water on the bottom when you stir it.)
Then, it’s time to trim, cut up and cook the chicken or whatever protein you decide to add. Steak or shrimp would be good too.
While the chicken is cooking, make your sweet and sour sauce in a separate bowl. I take my chicken out of the pan without draining it and then cook my veggies until tender. This took 5-6 minutes for me because I used a frozen sugar snap stir-fry veggie mix. Covering them while cooking will keep them from burning or drying out.
Add the sweet and sour sauce and the chicken to the vegetables in the pan. The rice should be almost done, so just stir for a few minutes to reduce the sauce and get the flavor cooked into the chicken and veggies a bit.
Then, add the rice and stir for just a minute or two more before serving. And there you have it! A yummy, healthy dinner for the family in about a half hour for a little over $4! Not too shabby.
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup brown rice
- 1 tbsp oil of your choice
- 1-2 chicken breasts (or whatever protein you would like to add)
- 1 lb vegetables of your choice
- ½ cup chicken broth
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- Get your brown rice cooking. Boil the water and then add your rice. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Cut the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces. Add 1 tbsp of oil to a pan on medium heat and add the chicken. Stir occasionally until fully cooked. Do not drain. Put aside.
- While the chicken is cooking, make the sweet and sour sauce by mixing the chicken broth, soy sauce, cider vinegar, brown sugar, and pepper flakes in a small bowl.
- Add 1 lb of vegetables to the pan, cover, and stir occasionally until tender.
- Add the chicken and sweet and sour sauce to the pan and stir until thoroughly mixed and heated through.
- Add the cooked rice to the pan, stir for a minute or two, and serve.
I hope your family enjoys this recipe as much as mine does. The leftovers (if you have any) are delicious, too! (Especially if you add some honey!) We have this often with different sauces, meats, and veggies substituted and only the rice remaining the same.
If you really want to save money, you can use eggs instead of meat. Or you could try flank steak or pork tenderloin and maybe some zucchini and summer squash with a honey teriyaki stir-fry sauce. Yum! Makes my mouth water just thinking about it. Leave a comment below explaining how you made this your own, or let us know if you have any creative ideas for other cheap, healthy dinner recipes!