Saturday, May 30, 2015

How we do rice...

Rice is a food staple in every frugal kitchen but there is an economical way to buy and a super economical way to buy.

First, there is name brand versus generic. I personally don't see a difference in taste or texture - I believe it's all in how you prepare the rice. Here's an example of difference in pricing (using our local Wal-mart):

Mahatma 32 oz $2.16 vs. Great Value Brand 32 oz $1.48
$1.08 per pound vs. $.74 per pound OR $.07 per ounce vs. $.05 per ounce
Let's say you go through 4 pounds per week. That's a savings of $70.72 a year! Just buying generic over brand name rice.

Second, there is Instant versus Long Grain Enriched (generically speaking of course):

Instant 28 oz $2.44 vs. Long Grain 32 oz $1.48
$.09 per ounce vs. $.05 per ounce.
If you use 4 pounds of rice per week then that's a savings of $133.12 per year! It's sort of obvious that instant rice is NOT the way to go.

Then lastly there is buying rice in bulk:
Great Value 32 oz $1.48 vs. Great Value 20 lb $8.98
That's $.74 per pound vs. $.45 per pound OR $.05 per ounce vs. $.03 per ounce.
Again, if you use 4 pounds per week that's a savings of $66.56 per year just by buying in bulk!
And just because I love divulging numbers so much... the savings of buying bulk generic versus buying name brand rice is a whopping savings of $133.12 per year!

What's more... just because you can always kick it up a notch... we buy our rice in bulk at Sam's Club. While the savings aren't as dramatic - it's savings nonetheless.

We buy the 25 pound bags of Riceland at Sam's Club for $8.89 and if you compare that to the 20 pound bags of Great Value Brand at your everyday Wal-Mart store that's a savings of $33.28 per year which is awesome! If you don't have a membership to Sam's Club (which I do not, but my step-mother does!) then buying the 20 pound bags at Wal-Mart is still an awesome deal!

Bottom line - Generic rice is just as good as brand name and is significantly cheaper but to really get those savings buy your generic rice in bulk!

So you've bought rice in bulk... how do you store it? There are multiple ways and if you do it correctly then rice can last a super long time. I currently store mine in leftover pickle jars with a couple oxygen absorbers in each one to keep the air exposure at a minimum. You can buy oxygen absorbers on for super cheap if you're into long term food storage. Don't have a clue what those are? They are those tiny packets that you sometimes find in food bags that say "DO NOT EAT" - they are strictly for removing oxygen from the inside of a bag to maintain freshness.
If I buy more rice then I will likely put them in storage bags and keep them in a sealed food grade bucket in my basement to limit exposure to air and light. Whatever storage method you choose the one thing you should not do is store all 25 lbs together in the original bag. Once opened you have to worry about the rice going stale or little buggies finding their way in and making a home in your stored food!

So, now you have your rice but what's the best way to cook it?
This is how I do (without a rice cooker): For every one cup of rice I use 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of salt with 1 Tbsp butter. Cooking it is incredibly simple. Bring the water, salt and butter to a boil. Once at a rolling boil, stir in rice and cover. Turn the burner down very low and let simmer WITHOUT removing the lid or stirring for 15 minutes. Then remove from heat and let it sit another 5 minutes. Then at last you can fluff with a fork and serve! Add some variation by using broth instead of water (or add a couple bouillon cubes to the water) but drop the salt! Throw in some minced garlic or onion. White rice is so versatile and can be paired with almost any dish! It's a great meal stretcher.

Mama's Mojo

So there are many marinades out there for pork but if you have never gone the Cuban route then you should definitely give it a try. I threw the following ingredients together and they sang a beautiful symphony!

3 cups orange juice
2 lemons juiced
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 head garlic minced
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 onion rough chopped

Combine and let the marinade sit and mingle flavors for 30 minutes. Then add your pork cut of choice and marinade for 24 hours (or minimum overnight) and cook. 

What I like to do is boil the marinade for 10 minutes, to get rid of the nasty raw bacteria, and add a couple tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken it into a sauce for the pork. Perfect for a Cubano sandwich. Yummy!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Honey Garlic Chicken ($1.05 per serving)

Here's a great chicken dish that pairs wonderfully with white rice. Once the sauce is thickened it reminds me of sweet and sour sauce. Very tasty! This also makes a great freeze ahead meal. Simply mix all ingredients in a freezer bag and lay flat to freeze. Thaw overnight.

You'll need:

8 pieces chicken thighs, legs or 4 of each (approx. $2.80)
1/2 cup ketchup ($.17)
1/2 cup honey ($.80)
1/2 cup brown sugar ($.14)
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar ($.15)
2 tsp soy sauce ($.04)
2 tsp minced garlic ($.05)
1 tsp garlic salt (pennies)
1/4 tsp dry mustard (pennies)
1/4 tsp salt (negligible)

Mix all ingredients and pour sauce over chicken in baking dish. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes covered and then another 30 minutes uncovered. Also cooks very well in the pressure cooker (my prefered way!) for 12 minutes on high pressure.
Remove chicken and thicken sauce with cornstarch. Serve with white rice. Makes 4 servings for only $4.18!!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Mama's Bean & Bacon Chili Bake ($1.27 per serving)

There's an epic combination out there that is hard not to love. When put together in a dish they provide a hearty rib-sticking meal that makes you feel all warm and bloated inside - in the best possible way. I'm referring to the 3 B's... Beans, Beef and BACON! There are many flavors you can use to bring each one of these 3 ingredients together in perfect harmony. This one is my favorite way. It's a little tangy and a little smokey, a little sweet and a little savory. The flavors are just plain awesome. It's definitely a more expensive recipe if you go out and purchase all of the ingredients specifically for this recipe. It's frugal to me because it includes items that I almost always have on hand on any given day. This recipe is definitely like a chili so if you'd rather just let it simmer on the stovetop rather than bake it in the oven then that'd probably work out okay! If you don't like the tanginess effect of the cider vinegar you could leave this out as well.

You'll need:

1 1/2 lbs ground beef (approx. $4.48)
1 tbsp onion powder ($.08)
1 tsp salt (negligible)
2 cans pork & beans ($1 on sale)
1 can Rotel (Mild, Regular or Hot... I like Mild for our family), drained ($.98)
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, drained ($.63)
9 oz of your favorite BBQ sauce (about half of a standard bottle) ($.50 on sale)
1/2 cup ketchup ($.15)
4 Tbsp brown sugar ($.25)
2 Tbsp mustard ($.05)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce ($.05)
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar ($.03)
12 oz package of bacon ($1.99 on sale)

Brown the ground beef with onion powder and salt, In a separate pan cook the bacon then set aside. Drain off fat from the ground beef but then add back in about 2 Tbsp of the bacon grease. This sounds counterintuitive but it adds a yumminess factor! Once the beef is browned all all remaining ingredients, except for the bacon, and simmer for 10 minutes covered.
Pour all into a greased (why not use bacon grease?!) 9x13 baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes covered and then another 10 minutes or so. Let it sit about 5 or 10 minutes before eating because it will be super duper hot.
Serve with cornbread or put it on top of some cornbread waffles! Makes 8 servings for $10.19!

Cornbread waffles you say? Why yes, they are a fantastic pairing! I go simple and use a box of Jiffy corn muffin mix. Add 2 Tbsp melted shortening, 1 egg and 1/2 cup milk and cook on a waffle iron! One box makes about 2 big 'ol belgian waffle size waffles which works well for a family of four. Just throw this chili bake right on top of that bad boy and enjoy!

Friday, May 22, 2015

I can explain...

What a super busy 12 months I've had! Posts have been non-existent. Apologies!

Excuse #1: My husband came home from a 13.5 month business trip - without a break in between I might add! When he got home we took an amazing vacation to the Dominican Republic and then spent the majority of the summer of 2014 cuddling and loving each other. I gave him and my family undivided attention.  :-)

Excuse #2: I was PREGNANT! I found myself doing numerous things around the house to prepare for our little bundle of joy... when I wasn't suffering from morning sickness that is!

Excuse #3: I HAD A BABY!! We welcomed our newest baby boy mid-March 2015. So blessed to have our little Woodchip! :-)

Taking care of a newborn is a super busy job but I'd like to attempt to begin posting regularly again! We'll see how that goes... but for now I'm excited and am enjoying life immensely!