When I first entered the 9 to 5 world, I was surrounded by young professionals who got a taste of their first paycheck. One of the things we loved to do as a group was splurge on lunches. We didn't have mortgages, major bills or kids. We splurged on ourselves with the daily hour of freedom we got during the work week.
After a few months, eating out on a daily basis got old fast. It was burning a hole in my wallet and I was no longer satisfied with takeout food. I started packing my own lunches. What began as packing lunch once a week, turned into packing lunch every other day, then pretty much every day. I was a regular in the work break room with my new packed-lunch homies.
My home-packed lunch usually consisted of rice and a type of stir-fry. I ate good and I ate healthy. Best of all, I saved a good portion of my paycheck. Money that would have gone into daily Starbuck drinks and restaurant food were saved and invested. Packing lunch sounds lame in your early twenties, but those simple stir-fry lunches started my journey to financial freedom. I'm very proud of that.
Stir-fry is the quickest and easiest food to pack for lunch. It's a versatile dish of any combination of meat and vegetables you have on hand. These ingredients are cut into bite size pieces and fry with a little bit of oil on high heat. The high heat quickly sears and seals in the flavors so you have a vibrant healthy meal in 5 minutes or less.
Stir-fry sauces are available aplenty on grocery store shelves. However, I like to make my own since I usually have all the ingredients in my pantry and it's easy to make. Below is my simple recipe for a tasty stir-fry sauce. I usually make it in bulk and store it in the fridge. This makes my stir-fry dishes even quicker to prepare.
- 1 tablespoon oyster sauce
- 1 tablespoon fish sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
- 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1 lb shrimp (peeled and deveined)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 large carrot (peel and slice thinly)
- 1/2 lb peas (cut into bite size pieces)
- 1/2 lb Shitake mushrooms (slice thinly)
- 1 clove garlic (peel and mince)
- Combine the sauce ingredients and set aside.
- Marinate shrimp with salt and pepper for at least 15 minutes.
- In a small pot, blanch the carrots and green beans for a few minutes. This will ensure all the vegetable are evenly cooked. No need to blanch the Shitake mushrooms. Drain in a colander and set aside.
- Heat up a wok or pan with a little bit of oil.
- Add garlic and fry until lightly brown and fragrant.
- Pour in your stir-fry mixture. Mix until it gets thick. It will only take a few seconds.
- Add the blanched vegetables into the mixture until evenly coated. If your mixture clumps together, add a bit more water or stock. Your sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
- Sprinkle with a dash of black pepper and serve with white rice.