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Stir Fry Recipe: Exotic Eating On a Food Stamp Budget

Asian recipes are probably my favorite to come up with.  Growing up in Hawaii gave me a huge craving for Asian food, and a wealth of knowledge from my aunties, uncles, and tutus (those are grandmas by the way!) of multiple Asian ethnicities.  They’re also great on a budget because with rice and noodles in the recipe, it’s easier to stretch your more expensive ingredients like meat and produce.

Cabbage is a great vegetable for stir fries and curries, it’s very filling and takes on the flavor of the dish.  You can stretch a cabbage pretty far too!  One red cabbage cost 99 cents at the Latino grocery store down the street.  I made a half batch of red cabbage salad the other day (1/2 cabbage makes 3-4 servings as a side), used a quarter of it in this recipe, and have another quarter to play with next week.  I love how durable cabbage is since I sometimes forget it’s hanging out in my fridge.

This chicken recipe is such an easy stir fry to make that you will want it all the time!  Feel free to sub whatever vegetables you want, it’s so easy to adapt.  Just keep in mind that vegetables like carrots take longer to cook than something like cabbage so add them to your pan in order of cooking time.

I’m short on pictures today because I was so hungry my hands were shaking and all my other photos were blurry.  This was not necessarily because we were eating less food.  We’re having a few less snacks, but still eating REALLY well.  I think maybe this was the wrong week for me to take up Zumba dance classes as a hobby.  3 days of intense cardio dance classes seems to have revved my metabolism!

Two quick money saving tips:  First, don’t use all the chicken and onions you cook for this.  Pull 1/3 out before adding the garlic and save it to use in fried rice the next day.  You can save the marinade as well and use it to season the fried rice.  It will get fully cooked so you don’t have to worry about it having had raw chicken in it.  Second, make double the rice (that means start with two cups of uncooked rice, you’ll get 4 cups cooked).  Refrigerate 1/2 the rice and use it for your fried rice the next day.

Chicken Stir Fry Recipe

serves 4


1 cup cubed raw chicken breast (1/2 inch cubes)
1/4 cup soy sauce (I use Aloha Shoyu)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 tsp brown sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups cooked rice
1 TBS canola oil
1/4 a red onion chopped (to 1/4 inch or so pieces)
2 cloves garlic very finely chopped (or pressed!)
1/3 a green bell pepper chopped (to 1/4 inch or so pieces)
1/4 a red cabbage cut into thin strips


In a ziploc bag or plastic storage container, mix the cubed chicken with the soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and lemon juice.  Marinate 4 hours or even better overnight (up to 2 days).

Begin cooking your rice.  Pour oil into a large skillet or wok and place on the burner on medium.  Remove chicken from the marinade (I reserve the marinade for fried rice this week!) and put chicken into the pan.  Stir well to coat in the oil.

Cook chicken 3-5 minutes stirring every so often to make sure it cooks evenly.  Add onions and stir again (that’s why it’s called STIR fry!).  When onions are soft, turn the heat to low and add the chopped garlic.  You guessed it…STIR!

Once mixed, add bell pepper and cabbage, stir yet again.  When cabbage begins to soften, remove pan from heat.  Serve over hot rice.

Approximate cost/serving: The stir fry itself is only $1.60 for the whole batch and was enough for leftovers for each of us.  With 1/2 cup cooked rice each serving it was only 68 cents per serving!  I know, insanity!

Vegetarian/Gluten Free: You could easily leave out the chicken to make it vegetarian, just use a little of the marinade mix to season the veggies.  For gluten free, make sure you use gluten free soy sauce.

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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.

10 thoughts on “Stir Fry Recipe: Exotic Eating On a Food Stamp Budget”

  1. Good question Becky, you can use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar. The main difference is that rice vinegar is a little less acidic than the other vinegars, but they’ll work fine.

    • You can definitely sub shrimp for chicken! It will make it a little more expensive but will taste oh so good. Just make sure you put your shrimp in last because they cook so quickly.


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