I made dozens of dumplings today (well, I did can all that plum sauce-we needed dumplings) and have a good supply in the freezer for unanticipated dumpling emergencies. Yeah, like you never have unanticipated dumpling emergencies, right?
I've been doing quite a bit of cooking and freezing (dozens of ready to nuke burritos, curries, etc.) so they boys can help themselves to simple dinners, and lunches. This works out well as I've been kind of busy of late.
Anyway, my big discovery is that you can use what we always called "baby pasta" (the small round dots) in dumplings in place of ramen noodles. Because the noodles are all made in factories where allergens are present, I decided to stop using them at home altogether. The tiny round bits of pasta give a nice bite to the dumplings along with the vegetables and baked tofu-you really don't miss the ramen. I suppose it is marginally healthier if you care about fried noodle calories, though really, how many can you get in a dumpling that you're going to fry anyway? Angel hair pasta works OK too, though you need to break it into pretty short strands first.
Seriously though, I spend about 60 bucks a week on groceries, and they eat pretty well. You can turn carrots and cabbage into all kinds of exotic things (like dumplings, for instance). Keeping the freezer stocked with meals prevents impulse purchases of quick ready-to-serve meals. I mean, if you have homemade dumplings in the freezer, they will probably be better than just about anything you can pick up on your way home.
Repeat after me:
"carrots, cabbage, kale, beans, and rice."
You'd be amazed how many varied meals you can build around them.