Not so much a product of imagination and improvisation, but tasty and easy without going all Bonnie and Clyde on the budget.
Rinsing the rice, a couple tsp of butter or vegetable oil and a bit of salt, got the base of the dish under way.
As an appetizer, Kikkoman Miso Soup. The instructions called for 2/3 cup of water to each envelope, of which three come to a package. I split the three between the two of use and used approximately 2.25 cups of water.
We cooked the chicken in stir fry oil not only raising the flash point but adding a different flavor. After draining the oil and juice (to be saved for later to make gravy), we added the Masala sauce and a bit of coconut milk.
Along with some homemade pot stickers (unfortunately not ours), this meal was not only great tasting, but economical as well.