Japanese equivalent of beans and rice?

ibii
Joined: 8 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 31 weeks ago.

Hey everyone,
As an average student I was wondering if there was a Japanese equivalent of the super cheap meal beans and rice. I mean something healthy, cheap, and easy that isn't instant ramen. :P I'd also be interested in learning what your country's version of a cheap and healthy meal is! Thanks! :D

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maki
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Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 2 weeks 7 hours ago.
Re: Japanese equivalent of beans and rice?

Rice is used as the base for many cheap meals. Probably the cheapest healthy meal is just brown rice, which has a lot of nutrients, perhaps sprinkled with gomashio (sesame seed and salt), or furikake (savory sprinkles of various kinds). Otherwise the direct equivalent of rice and beans is, well rice and beans, as in natto (fermented soybeans), flavored with soy sauce and often something else like mustard or chopped green onions and so on. Another very cheap meal is a bowl of rice with a raw egg mixed in, flavored with a bit of soy sauce. Or rice with a bowl of miso soup (quite nutrious with the miso). Tofu is very cheap in Japan, so tofu plus rice is a popular before-payday meal too. Other cheap food included half-dried and grilled fish (himono), pickles, etc.

Instant ramen is not a sound nutritional choice. It's about on par with a bag of potato chips, nutritionally. It is high in salt, saturated fats, refined flour, and chemical preservatives. (Unless it's a better brand of instant ramen, but then it's not that cheap anymore.) See instant ramen is very bad for you.

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Stephanie
Bento-ing from: San Lorenzo › California › USA
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 3 years 44 weeks ago.
Re: Japanese equivalent of beans and rice?

Since college is a not too distant memory, I know what I ate. Fried rice (brown rice and whatever ingredients I could afford to put in), whole grain pasta (with a lot of vegetables, to stretch 1 lb of pasta for a week), vegetable soup, and vegan chili.

ibii
Joined: 8 Jan 2009
User offline. Last seen 4 years 31 weeks ago.
Re: Japanese equivalent of beans and rice?

Thank you for your replies! :D Maki, I've always thought that rice+furikake was a simple cheap meal but wasn't really sure of the nutritional value, so thank you for all of that lovely info. Stephanie, I regularly make fried rice and omuraisu but always worry about the amount of oil that goes into it.. I know that I can control it but have trouble getting it to fry correctly without a certain amount of it. I will DEFINITELY have to try the whole grain pasta+vegetables thing though, especially if you made it last a whole week!

maki
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Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 2 weeks 7 hours ago.
Re: Japanese equivalent of beans and rice?

I am overdue to post my method for fairly low-fat fried rice in a frying pan (no wok needed, suitable even for ceramic top/electric ranges)

Jiza
Bento-ing from: Madrid › Spain
Joined: 13 Feb 2009
User offline. Last seen 2 years 22 weeks ago.
Re: Japanese equivalent of beans and rice?

The cheapest food you can eat in Madrid (and I did eat it a lot at college) is... spanish omelette sandwich (bocata de tortilla).
Just french bread, some omelette and (optional) roasted green peppers or mayo. Yum!
It's also the most typical sandwich when you go for some trekking to the mountain :)

Something cheap and easy... you can try tuna salad? :D

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My bento blog: http://justbento.com/blog/1305
My art blog: http://jizaacaso.deviantart.com

Loretta
Moderator
Bento-ing from: London › UK
Joined: 4 Mar 2009
User offline. Last seen 38 weeks 3 days ago.
When students get together

There's a dish called 'nabe' which is very healthy and when students, as well as other young Japanese people of modest means, get together they often have a communal nabe pot which everyone contributes to by bringing some of the constituent ingredients.
Here's what Google Images comes up with using the search term 鍋パーティ (nabe party)
http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:e...
Communal nabe type dishes can be quite extravagant with crab and prawns, but they can also be very frugal - I've seen one where wiener/hot dogs were used.

As maki has mentioned, it doesn't really get much cheaper than hot rice and natto for those on a budget. Personally, I like natto best in a bolognese type sauce on spaghetti, I guess this combines English notions of student food with Japanese (but I then ruin the economics by adding a dollop of mascarpone cheese to the sauce... so good!)

Standard miso is also extremely cheap and in Japan it's easy to buy varieties that include the soup stock. This lets anyone add a big spoonful of the paste to a bowl and pour in some hot water for instant, cheap miso soup. A pinch of dried wakame seaweed and within moments this expands so that the soup is threaded with green 'vegetables'.

Another student staple is commercially made ochazuke (photo of popular brand) http://blog-imgs-40.fc2.com/r/o/k/rokkinhouse13/DSC_0002-1218.jpg
Add some rice to a bowl (the rice can be cold leftovers), sprinkle on a packet of ochazuke, then add some hot green tea (or just hot water, the ochazuke packet has green tea powder in it). This is a simple to prepare rice soup. Garnishes can be fish flakes or pickles such as umeboshi (sour plums/apricots) if there are any available. My husband tends to prepare and eat ochazuke in the way English people might have beans on toast.

Curry and rice is a Japanese student staple I don't enjoy at all (Japanese curry and English curry are exactly alike in my experience... yuck!)

Hiyashi chuka I very much do enjoy. Although this is essentially a ramen dish, there is no soup. The noodles can be bought with a ready made dressing then you just add some rudimentary ingredients and toss together to eat like a salad. It's served cold.
More here: http://www.justhungry.com/cold-noodle-time (including my own favourite home-made dressing in the comments section)

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