Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat for Eight Bucks: Rice Bowl with Miso-Marinated Flank Steak

[Photograph: Cara Eisenpress of Big Girls, Small Kitchen]

It's hard to imagine steak as the center of a budget meal. Just recently, I spent $40 on steak for a special-occasion filet mignon dinner for three, which, though vastly cheaper than eating filet at The Palm, is a bit draining on the wallet, to say the least.

There are two tricks to incorporating red meat into a budget meal. One, buy cheaper meat. The very cheapest meats tend to need a long, slow braise, but skirt and flank steak are good options for grilling or searing. Two, stretch that meat further. This idea is enabled by bowls full of carbs—best of all, a big bowl of pantry-staple white rice.

Now if you have to buy a tub of miso to make this meal, you will go over budget—it can be expensive at many supermarkets, but it's cheaper if you head to Chinese markets. You also may have to increase or decrease the amount of steak you buy, depending on the deals you find at your particular store. But if you're eating for only $8, the rice fills you up and the small-ish portion of steak is a treat.

Shopping List: 2/3 pound flank steak, $6.75; 1 tablespoon white miso, $0.10 (prorated); 1/2 pound carrots, $0.50.
Pantry Items: Mirin, Rice Wine Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Sesame Oil, Salt, Oil, Honey, White Rice, Sesame Seeds
Total Cost (for 2 portions): $7.35

About the authors: Phoebe and Cara are the co-founders of Big Girls, Small Kitchen, a food and cooking website for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens. They have a heated, decade-long rivalry about whose Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie is the best. Their book, In The Small Kitchen, will be published in the spring of 2011 by William Morrow. Visit their blog here.

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