The Coupon That Inspired My Themed Dinner:
Here’s a new printable coupon that I was very happy (and surprised) to see: 50 cents/2 Sun-Bird seasonings or soups. I have been using this brand for a looong time to make some very authentic Chinese-American food favorites at home on a budget: Kung Pao Chicken, Teriyaki Beef, and my favorite, General Tso’s Chicken, which, if you are a regular reader of my blog, you will see pop up in my grocery posts almost weekly.
I’ve turned a lot of Chinese take-out junkies onto these mixes, and I’ve never been met with a bad review about the results. These little seasoning packets (I’ve never tried the soups) are very handy. For example, with the General Tso’s blend, all you have to do is add a little water, soy sauce and sugar (I add chili flakes for a bit more heat) and whisk them in a bowl, the contents of which you add to floured, browned cubes of chicken cooking on the skillet. The result is a VERY tasty facsimile of the General Tso’s you might order in a restaurant, but WAY healthier because you can make it with white-meat chicken breasts, and less “breading” then you might find in Chinese take-out. The sauce thickens beautifully, and is delicious served over some fried rice (either homemade or from a mix).
These packets only cost around $1.19 ($1 if you’re lucky), and can usually be found in the Asian foods section of the International aisle at your local Giant Eagle (or other supermarket). With this coupon, you can basically get them BOGO, as the coupon will double (at least here in Western PA).
Mike’s gonna be sooooo happy!! I’m printing my limit of these!!
Get your coupon here: 50 cents/2 Sun-Bird seasonings or soups
(note: I found this coupon by leaving the zipcode area blank on coupons.com)
You can also read more about Sun-Bird’s other products on their website here.
The site features a full list of products, recipes, tips and tricks. For instance, the site just informed me that substituting a little coconut milk in place of the water in my General Tso’s mix would give it an even better flavor! Thanks Sun-Bird, gonna give that a whirl next time!!
Anyway, this coupon gave birth to a great idea for a fun, special family dinner…or a quirky dinner party with friends! Don’t worry, it’s VERY FRUGAL! Just order a few super-cheap supplies, whip up the General Tso’s (courtesy of the Sun-Bird coupon, and make some home-made fried-rice and (personalized) fortune cookies. Recipe ideas are below.)
You could go this route:
Cost of Take-Out General Tso’s (with fried rice) from a restaurant: around $10 per dinner, which usually will feed two people (plus tip for the delivery guy/gal)
(yeah, I know, you get a cute Chinese take-out box and some cool chopsticks!! And a fortune cookie!!)
Or, do it the fun, frugal way:
Here’s My “Do It Your Damn Self!” Method...more fun, more frugal, more healthy! (heck, make this a party and invite the whole fam over…or a few friends.)
Cost to make it yourself at home: $3.20 to feed around four (see below for the breakdown)
You’re already saving a bundle, so why not make your Chinese take-out experience complete when you do it yourself at home (It’ll only cost a few cents more per person…)
- You can score 50 Chinese take out boxes for around $4 from Papermart.com…that’s around 9 cents each. These are the plain white variety, so you can really get creative decorating these (get the kids busy with stickers if you’re dining family-style, or write suggestive messages in a sharpie to your sweetie-pie at a dinner-for-two…up to you, my friends!)
- How about a pair of too-cute panda chopsticks from Asian Ideas for only 30 cents?? (This site sells chopsticks galore, so be sure to search and find your favorite…they even have children’s chopsticks if the kiddo’s are having trouble and flinging Kung Pao Shrimp all over your walls every time they try to “be authentic”).
- Here is a great, simple Fortune Cookie recipe by Aleta on Allrecipes.com. The best part is, you get to make the fortunes yourself to put inside the cookies! (Honey…you will find much happiness doing the dishes tonight…and afterwards rubbing someone’s aching feet…)
Cost of the homemade version was calculated using Sun-Bird seasoning, loss-leader priced boneless chicken breast, and homemade fried rice/on-sale fried rice instant packet (such as Knorr’s…If I use this I like to mix it with a little plain white rice to get more servings out of it, and I think it tastes better!)
If you’d like to make your own fried rice, here is a very simple and delicious recipe (you can easily add/subtract ingredients to suit your tastes) from Liberal Simplicity…she uses brown rice instead of white, which adds to the nutritional value of the dish (and gives a great flavor…give brown rice a chance!) The basic ingredients of this dish would make it a very frugal base to add the chicken to, or enjoy it as a meal in itself with lots of veggies (for the non-carnivores out there!) The total cost of this would probably be around the same, or even less, than the packaged fried rice.
Anyway, here’s the breakdown:
- 1 lb-1.5 lb boneless chicken breast, cut into chunks $1.99
- 1 package Sun-Bird seasoning (with doubled coupon) 50 cents
- 1 package Knorr’s Fried Rice packet, on sale with coupon (last time I bought it) 50 cents
- a dusting of flour, 2 TBS soy sauce, 3/4 cup sugar and a sprinkle of chili flakes (all purchased in a frugal manner, on sale and with coupons, of course!) 20 cents, if that
Tip: When I mix the seasoning packet with the other ingredients, I add a BIT more water/coconut milk than the package suggest to make the sauce go a little furter…it tends to thicken up quickly. I also add some red pepper flakes for some extra heat (if I’m serving to adults).
Total Cost of At-Home Take-Out (which is healthier, and will feed more people…or leave you yummy leftovers for the next day…woo hoo!) $3.20
Total Savings: $13.60 for four people (plus add around 50 cents per person if you’re buying take-out boxes, chopsticks, and making fortune cookies…you know, doing the whole shebang!)