Frugal Dinners: Last Minute Noodles


One of my big time and money saving tips for food is batch cooking ahead of time.  I usually cook a big, huge meal once a week for the rest of the weekdays.   Then I package them in tupperware (freeze the extra’s, if any), and eat the portions through out the week for lunch and dinners.  This works if you don’t mind eating the same thing the entire week.  If not, then try freezing some portions for next time.

I’ve shared some meal ideas about making dumplings, roasting a chicken, saute carrotsspinach lasagna, and potatoe & leek soup.  Planning ahead has saved my wallet so many times, and is much healthier than buying lunches and fast food.  But what I don’t talk about is that I never make just the right amount of food.  It’s hard to figure out exactly how much rice I need, or how many servings each dish will turn out to be.  I may just be short by a little bit, but enough that the meal is no longer complete.

In most cases for me, to make another dish might be too much, and I will end up wasting food instead (since I am usually not home on weekends).  So instead, I stretch my food by having some handy items ready.  And even though a stocked pantry helps, my secret is having some Udon (Japanese) noodles on hand.  I buy the pre-packaged ones from Asian super markets, and I just cook them for a quick side (with whatever is left from my meals), or cook it with some veggies (fresh or frozen) with some broth for a whole meal.

Here are two of my favourite ways to have Udon:

Udon Noodle Soup

  • 1 package of udon noodles
  • 1 cup of chicken broth (or whatever broth you like)
  • 1 fried egg (optional)
  • some cooked meat (optional)
  • veggies you have on hand (I like mushrooms and baby bok choy)
  • seasonings

Bring the broth to a boil, and add in meats, veggies and udon noodles.  Fry the egg in a skillet and place on top of noodle soup.

Dry Mix Udon Noodle

  • 1 package of udon noodles
  • 1/4 tsp of bbq sauce
  • 1 tsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp of sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp of soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp of “Tian Jin” preserved vegetable
  • 1/4 tsp of oyster sauce
  • salt and pepper

Feel free to substitute any of the above seasonings as you wish.  It is very flexible.  I just use whatever I have on hand.

First boil water and cook udon noodles.  Drain.  First mix with olive oil to prevent sticking, then add remaining seasonings to taste.

You can have this noodle as-is, or you may have it as a side.

What are some last minute ideas you have when your meal planning doesn’t quite stretch it?



Filed under Frugal Dinners

7 responses to “Frugal Dinners: Last Minute Noodles

  1. Ann

    Both recipes sound fab. I used to mix udon noodles with miso soup base (pretty cheap in bulk), and chopped up green onion and tofu (if there is any on hand). Lately, my last-minute meal planning seems to always veer toward grilled cheese… you’ve inspired me to branch out into something healthier!

    Another default recipe of mine is to saute green pepper, onion and mushroom, add red pepper flakes, and then mix it with pre-made alfredo sauce. This sauce goes great over noodles, or mixed up with grilled salmon or chicken. I almost always have the sauce, peppers and mushrooms so it’s pretty easy to whip up.

  2. Frugal Forties

    Love the noodles. Unfortunately with my current weight loss plan, I have to be very careful about noodles .. .they can add a lot of empty calories! Argh – cause I love them so.

    My default when I come home and don’t want to deal with planning and cooking is to whip up a frittata. Easy as can be and pretty healthy, too, as long as I go easy on the cheese!

  3. I keep Quinoa on hand and usually cook up whatever veggies left in the fridge and make a roast veggie and qunioa salad.

  4. Pingback: Link love (Powered by good reads and wine cellars) | Musings of an Abstract Aucklander

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