I was concerned that this year’s United Way Hunger Challenge was actually going to be a big challenge for me. I’m not just cooking for Eric and I, we have two teenage boys that eat twice as much as Eric and I put together! This has increased our budget from $12 a day to $22 a day. The good news is, this actually gave me more money for buying basic staples for our pantry (since with the Hunger Challenge you can’t use anything you already own). Soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, sugar, hoisin sauce, sesame oil and honey are going to be some of my secret weapons this week. The first thing I made with the soy sauce, vinegar and sriracha? Some tasty homemade beef and vegetable potstickers.
Eric and I love potstickers, but they can take some time to make so I usually just buy a bag. But a bag of 40 potstickers costs $10 at the grocery store, I can make 90 potstickers for under $6.50!!!
I really like chicken, shrimp and or pork in my potstickers, but beef was the most affordable for this batch. I got a pound of beef on sale for $1, pretty typical sale price in my area. This recipe is easiest with a food processor, but I’ve also made it by finely chopping the vegetables and mixing everything by hand.
By putting a bell pepper, a carrot and some cabbage in the mix, I’m adding some nutrition to the dumplings. I like putting vegetables in just about everything (like spaghetti sauce!) because if I run out of fresh vegetables for salads or side dishes by the end of the week, I know we’re still getting some vitamins in our main dish.
The price breakdown is pretty impressive:
-2 packages of (45) dumpling wrappers: $3
-1 lb ground beef: $1
-1 green bell pepper: $1
-1 carrot: 12 cents (I get big bag of 25 for $3)
-1/8 red cabbage: 25 cents (I bought half a cabbage for $1, the rest will go in a salad)
-fresh ginger: 25 cents (I got a thumb sized piece, just broke off how much I needed)
-garlic: I figured out that the jar of minced garlic was actually cheaper than fresh bulbs, I got it for $5 but only used about 10 cents worth.
-soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil: I only used 20 cents worth
-green onions: I got 12 for $1, so 50 cents for 6
I also make a dipping sauce of soy sauce, sriracha and rice vinegar which only comes out to an additional 40 cents.
If you’re not sure how to wrap the dumplings, don’t be intimidated. It’s surprisingly easy. I use a little water to moisten the edge I’m going to pleat. Then I put a rounded teaspoon worth of filling in the center of the wrapper. I fold both ends up and pinch in the middle of the two ends. Then you begin pleating, just the moistened side, toward the middle. First I pleat the right side, then the left. (Pleating basically means making little folds) It took me two hours to make 90 homemade potstickers (watching Scrubs on Netflix!) but with two people working together and talking, that time is cut down to just 40 minutes!
If you have kids, this is a great way to get them to help and save you some time. Once you fold your potstickers, lay them on a cookie sheet to freeze. I cover them with a slightly damp paper towel to make sure the wrappers don’t dry out. The potstickers can last a whole year in your freezer, but ours are gone within a couple of weeks.
As I mentioned last year, the key to success in this Hunger Challenge is to plan out your meals for the week. This week we’ll be having a lot of Asian food, tonight is SPAM fried rice, the next night is hoisin wings. I got zucchini, broccoli, cucumber and carrots to put in stir fry, fried rice and salad. I’m making the salad dressing with rice vinegar, honey, a little soy sauce and sesame oil. By planning out meals that use some of the same ingredients, I can stretch what I buy to last the whole week.
We also make the challenge easier by having pretty much the same thing for breakfast and lunch each day, oatmeal or english muffins for breakfast and sandwiches or any leftovers for lunch.
If you’re looking for more tips on saving money on food, check out my post on How to Save Money on Groceries and Still Eat Healthy. You can also read about last year’s Hunger Challenge including Taco Soup, Stir Fry, Chicken Pasta and an Easy Scramble. If this is your first time visiting, I post delicious, healthy and easy recipes on a shoestring budget three times a week! With each recipe I always list what it cost me per serving and if there are easy vegetarian and gluten free options. I’d love to hear from you in the comments!
Beef Vegetable Potsticker Recipemakes 90
green bell pepper
small red cabbage
- 2 TBS
grated fresh ginger
- 6 cloves
- 1/4 cup
- 3 TBS
- 2 tsp
- 1 lb
green onions, chopped
round dumpling or gyoza wrappers
- 2 TBS
- Peel the carrot and cut off stem end. Remove stem of the bell pepper. Add carrot, bell pepper and cabbage leaves to food processor and process until finely chopped.
- Add the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Pulse a couple times and taste to see if you want more of any seasoning.
- Add ground beef and pulse until incorporated.
- Place filling in a bowl and stir in chopped green onions.
- Put one rounded teaspoon worth of filling in the center of the wrapper. Moisten the edge of half the wrapper then fold both edges up and pinch in the middle.
- Pleat the moistened side toward the middle, first the right side, then the left.
- Place folded dumplings on a cookie sheet and cover with a slightly damp paper towel. When sheet is full remove paper towel and freeze.
- Once solid, potstickers can be put in a plastic bag in the freezer.
- To cook, pour canola oil in a skillet and heat on medium high. Add the potstickers and let fry for one minute, then add 1/4 cup water to the pan and cover.
- Steam 6 minutes then remove the lid. Let fry another 1-3 minutes until the edge touching the pan is golden. Don’t move the potstickers until yore ready to take them from the pan to prevent sticking and tearing.
Approximate cost/serving: It came out to $6.42 for 90 potstickers. I usually eat 6-7 at a time with some rice and a vegetable but our teenagers can easily eat 10 so we’ll say a serving is 10. That’s just 71 cents a serving!
Gluten Free: You can make gluten free dumpling wrappers for about the same price as buying them.
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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.