There are several items that we can all keep in our pantries to aid us in the event that we can not get other foods. Simple and effective!
Rice is a very inexpensive item to keep on hand. It is extremely versatile.
It can be used to extend meat or eggs. It can be used in casseroles and soups. It can be used in salads and as a side dish. It can be mixed with veggies, meat, fruit or nuts. Fried rice is a favorite here or served with stir fry meals. We like a scoop of rice in a bowl of chili. There really isn't much that can't be done with it. It is the GREAT EXTENDER!
(You can cook a bunch and freeze for later as well)
There are so many varieties available, and I must sadly admit that I have tried just a few. That is one of my goals - try more varieties.
Our mainstay is long grain white rice, then there is brown rice and one of my favorites long grain wild rice.
There is jasmine, Arborio, black, yellow, red, basmati, brown, wild, and on and on.
White rice is processed and the hull (or bran) is gone. It requires less cooking - and it also contains less nutrients. It is extremely inexpensive. It stores very easily on the shelf for long periods of time.
(* a trick to keep it from sticking together when cooking - is a splash of lemon juice while cooking. Fluffy rice every time)
All others are basically whole grains and are minimally processed, so they have their nutrient rich outer hull in tact. They take much longer to cook and tend to be much more flavorful. These flavorful and colorful rice varieties can only be kept on the pantry shelf for a SHORT period of time before going rancid (from natural oils). It is best to keep them in jars in the frig or in the freezer. I have brown rice and wild rice jars in my frig all the time.
Wild rice is actually a grass - not rice. It has a toasty flavor and is great for pilaf.
The other varieties are quite flavorful - from fragrant and flowery to nutty and robust. Do a little research and give some new rice types a try. They are all quite frugal.
Easy Fried Rice Bowl
1 C cooked rice
1/2 C frozen mixed veggies
1Tbsp. Balsamic vinaigrette dressing or an Italian
1 Tbsp. soy sauce.
Mix veggies into rice, pour egg over veggies/rice. Cover and microwave for 5 minutes. Let it stand covered for 5 minutes. Fluff and add dressing and soy. Toss to combine. Super easy meal.
(This can also be done on top of the stove- just watch it doesn't stick)
My hubs would also add sesame oil if he was eating.
Soups can be a mixture of anything! They are convenient and easy. They are filling.
You can keep home canned soups in your pantry, store canned, dehydrated mixes and yes even Ramen!
I know, I know - Ramen is not really nutritious, not healthy (high salt) - but it is tasty and easy to store and it is SO CHEAP (.10 - .20 pack) and could keep you from going hungry. There are dozens of flavors available too.
I keep a variety of canned soups on hand - that I get on sales - just because they are so convenient in a rush.
I also keep gallon jars of dehydrated soup mix on hand. I generally add some to my homemade soups that I make with fresh goods. It is great extender and has lots of herbs in it. I can also make a 'cup of soup' with dehydrated veggie soup mix and scalding water.
I make up my own mixes for cream of soups and for onion soup mix. I dehydrate tomato skins (when canning) to use for flavor in soups, and I even blend dried tomato with different herbs to make my own flavor combos.
Folks there is nothing you can't do!!!!!! Don't be afraid to mix and match and come up with your own personal flavor sensations!Soups are basically meals in a can/jar. They are easy, nutritious, frugal and will keep you filled up and happy.
Back to Ramen - I have made the noodles many times without the seasoning pack to use with our home made oriental dishes. It is cheaper than even spaghetti.
The noodles can be deep fried and added as a topping to oriental dishes (this is really tasty - kind of like chow mein noodles). Those seasoning packets can be saved and used in large pots of soup for seasoning. If used in a big pot of soup - it cuts the salt factor. Add cooked unseasoned noodles to soup right before serving.
I love inexpensive ways to extend meals.
RAMEN NOODLE SALAD
1 pack slaw mix (16 oz.)
2 packs beef Ramen noodles (Break into smaller pieces)
1 indiv. size pack of sunflowers seeds
1 small pack (4 oz.) of sliced almonds
1 bunch green onions - chopped
1/3 C vinegar
1/2 C sugar
3/4 C oil
Mix slaw, noodles (not cooked) and seeds/nuts and onion in a bowl.
Mix oil, sugar & vinegar in a separate bowl and add both seasoning packets. Mix.
Pour dressing over salad 10-15 minutes before serving.
This is REALLY YUMMY!
So now we have two more food items to add to that deep pantry for those times that life may throw us a curve ball.
We use these items daily/weekly as well - but it sure comforting to know they are here (and cheap) and will be good eats now and later.
Lets keep those pantries stocked up! You just never know.
Stay frugal and stayed prepared!