Having the most frugal grocery budget in the world isn’t going to help you any if you can’t put together at least a few healthy, tasty, and cheap eats! Every month, The Outlier Model features a cheap recipe idea, along with the cost breakdown.

This is a great meat-efficient recipe that produces soup stock as a byproduct.  I used daikon (a large, white radish), but regular radishes and carrots would work, as would large chunks of cabbage.  Basically, you want veggies that will absorb flavor well.

What you need:

  • ribs ($2.50 for 4-5 servings of meat, where each serving was 2-3 large ribs or ~2oz of meat)
  • 1.5-2 cups of root vegetables or cabbage ($1)
  • 15ml soy sauce (< $0.10)
  • 10ml fish sauce (< $0.05)
  • 1 tbsp chili sauce (< $0.10)
  • 1-2 tsp sugar (< $0.05)
  • 1 small knob of ginger ($0.40)
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed (~$0.06 when bought at $0.79 for 3 bulbs)
  • Salt and sugar to taste (for the broth)

Boil the ribs for 1 hour in a medium to large pot of water.  Add a bit of salt and sugar to season the broth – not too much, as you can always add more later.  After one hour, remove the cooked ribs and set aside the broth – you can use it to make soup later!  If you’re not going to use it right away, let it cool, skim off the fat, and then freeze it.

Chop the ribs up into individual ribs.  If you have a cleaver, cut the ribs into halves or thirds to make it easier to marinade.  Place the ribs into a mixing bowl and add soy sauce, fish sauce, chili sauce and sugar.  Mix well and set aside.  Peel and chop root vegetables into large chunks.  I used half of my daikon for the braised ribs and half for making soup with my leftover broth.

Heat up oil in a small-medium sized pot.  Toss in ginger and garlic.  Add ribs and sauce mixture, and brown for 3-4 minutes.  Then add your veggies, fill the pot with just enough water to almost cover everything, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a low simmer.  Cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Taste at half an hour.  Add more soy sauce or chili sauce if needed, and continue cooking.  If you use daikon like I did, you can tell when it’s done because the daikon starts to absorb the colour of the sauce!

When finished, serve on top of jasmine rice.  Yum.

<This is where a picture would be if I could find the picture I took!> Grr…

Servings: 4-5, plus bonus soup broth!

Cost per serving: About $1, not including any soup you might make

Feeling adventurous? Don’t use meat!  An assortment of braised cabbage, daikon, carrots, beans and fried tofu – served with rice – is one of my favourite meals.  If you don’t use meat, skip straight to heating oil in a pot and add the sauces directly to the veggies.  You can buy pre-fried tofu for about $2 for 10-12 large chunks.

Links: What is braising?

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