Budget: Eating-in day 1 restart : ochazuke (green tea rice soup) for breakfast

Budget: Eating-in day 1 restart : ochazuke (green tea rice soup) for breakfast

Ok, so today (Saturday) I restart my 7-day eat-at-home challenge. Morning plans are visit Carol at the hospital, go to the library and noon is for this insomniac’s nap. I look around for something quick but filling to tide me over until evening.

Luckily I found a package of ochazuke (green tea rice soup).  Ochazuke is a family favorite.  It is simple to make — pour boiling green tea over hot rice, add bits of fish (or any meat) and slivers of veggies.  That’s the whole shebang. It’s a Japanese rural dish.


Nagatanien OCHAZUKE | Rice Soup Flavoring | NORI 48g (on Amazon, they have other flavors too)
Since I don’t often have a pot full of green tea on the boil, I cheat and buy the ochazuke packages from the local Asian market in packages of 8 for around $5 give or take. I usually buy the nori (seaweed) type. The sake (salmon) is popular too.

It’s super easy:

  • Put hot rice in a bowl.
  • Pour the package contents over the rice. You’ll see green powder for the tea, seaweed and crunchy rice cracker bits.
  • Pour very hot water over it all
  • Stir until the green powder turns the water pale green and you’re done.
  • Eat it right away. Don’t let it sit or the crunchy bits will be all soggy.
We have a Zojirushi boiler I bought ages ago to keep very hot water on tap.  I drink ginger tea most days but it’s also great for making ochazuke.

Kettle or pan boiled water is good too.  Nuked water not so much.  It’s unevenly heated, making it cool faster.

Zojirushi CW-PZC22FC Micom Super Boiler 2.2L, Floral

My okinawan mom made big batches of Japanese Calrose rice and froze them in individual sandwich bags.  It’s habit for me now. Nuke a bag for 7-8 minutes and you have a hot single serving of rice. I use the 8 minutes to make scrambled eggs today. I like seasoning it with Garam Masala.

To start the eggs, I shook a bit of garam masala (1t?) into a bowl.  Garam Masala is a bunch of India spices — think Chinese 5-spice powder gone Bollywood. I stumbled across the spice mix at a tiny India store in Berkeley. I put a little into soup or eggs for a bit of jazz. I love the aroma but mom, who likes her food bland, hated it.  My Oakland roommates loved it. Garam Masala varies regionally. Mine has coriander, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, black pepper, nutmeg and other spices but the manufacturer is long gone.

Epicurious has a recipe to make your own. I lack the courage to do that. If I ever run out, I’ll buy it at an India store or Amazon if I can’t find one locally.

Epicurious says add garam masala at the end, don’t let it stew in anything because it can turn bitter.  That’s never happened to me.  I just stir it into stuff as I cook but never very much. It’s pretty potent. My 7 oz jar has lasted decades.

I cracked a couple eggs into the bowl, added a little milk, and whipped with a fork.  Melted a little bit of butter in the frying pan  and poured the eggs in.

I grew up with margarine but discovered butter as an adult.  Butter smells yummy while it’s melting.  Ads spout margarine tastes just like butter but no one talks about the aroma.  Margarine generally doesn’t have much of a smell.  If I’m going to cook at home, the scent of butter and garam masala is lovely.

Scrambled eggs take no time at all. I use wooden chopsticks to stir but a wooden spoon would be better.  Today chopsticks made the egg bits too small.  I wish I knew how to make an omelette like mom.

I had some cold brew coffee in the fridge.  My first batch of cold brew was awesome.  My second batch?  Warning: Never forget you are making cold brew.  12-24 hours max depending on the beans and the coarse grind.  This batch was ground too fine and sat for 48 hours so it is extremely strong and bitter — like hot overbrewed coffee.

My first batch tasted of rich dark chocolate; this batch tasted like bitter burnt chocolate.  Oh well, it jolts you awake if you’re an insomniac with only a couple hours sleep even with a ton of milk mixed in. Cold brew coffee gives you a zzzzttt zap.

A fast, filling tasty breakfast and I am out of the door.  More than that I am back on track on my eating-in for 7 days.  So this is Day 1 … again.

Dinner:  I ate angel hair pasta with Classico alfredo sauce, throwing in sliced sweet red bell peppers.

I know I’m not doing “real” cooking but I am eating at home by cooking simply. That’s a good start.  My food budget is down to 33% of what it was. Plus I finished the alfredo sauce before it spoiled. I need to do something with the bell peppers as they look rather sulky.

Budget allowed today for food and drink $5.

All food already in cupboard and fridge so $0 spent on food today. Yay!

Drinks: spent $2 on raspberry tea.  $3 rolls over, adding to tomorrow’s $5.

Food cost today: $2.40 for breakfast and dinner for a single person.

  • $0.56   Ochazuke  $4.49 for an 8pack ÷ 8
  • $0.50  Rice — How many sandwich bags does a 10lb bag turns into?  A lot.  50 cents is probably too high.
  • $0.11  for 2 Eggs — one dozen Safeway sale $0.88-$0.25 Ibotta rebate /12 x 2
  • $0.01 Garam Masala — the 7oz jar cost me $2.99 and I used maybe 1t. After 30 years, I still have 20% left — honestly a little goes a long way.
  • $0.06 Butter —  $1.00 for boxed 2 bars (8T each) from the 99cent only store.  $1÷ 2 ÷ 8 = 1T. I didn’t use a whole tablespoon but rounded up
  • $0.20 Angel hair pasta — $1 for 1 lb box at the 99cent only store.  Used a handful
  • $0.83 Classico alfredo sauce — $2.50 on sale and it was about 1/3 left
  • $0.13  Sweet red bell peppers — a 16oz bag of small red and orange bell peppers was $1 at the 99 cent only store.  About 16 in the bag. Used 2.

I didn’t count the cold brew cost. Mom left a 10lb can quarter full of ground coffee. I’m clueless to the original cost.

Tomorrow, Sunday, is a blogger’s noon Meetup at a restaurant.  Hope it doesn’t seem weird that I don’t eat. As bloggers, they’ll understand I’m keeping to a challenge on my own blog.

Ochazuke is one of my favorite comfort foods — I’m curious, what is one of yours?

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