Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Simple Foods = Good Eats #2

Last week we talked about dried beans/peas and pasta.  All cheap, yet good eating.  Inexpensive foods can get us through the hardest times and keep our bellies full and give us nourishment that may be very needed.
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
1 egg
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.

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
Seasoning packets

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.

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!


  1. I always keep 50 pounds of white long grain rice in my storage. All of us can eat it. I can't say that about many foods. I always have brown rice on hand as Hubby likes it. I make my own rice seasonings. No Rice a Roni in my house. I also buy canned soup, on sale of course. It is easy for when we get sick. I also keep canned stock on hand but I make my own too. When I make a pot of soup, I always freeze half in small containers for easy lunches. With kids in school and working, they can grab the kind they like and heat it in the microwave. I am not a Ramen fan but my son is. He doesn't use the seasoning pack that comes with it. He makes fancy meals out of the noodles. There is a Ramen cookbook with over 100 recipes. I can get them so cheap that I always keep some on hand. Hubby keeps a few in his desk at work in case he can't get home.

    1. Looks like we think alike. I love making homemade Rice a Roni! It is so easy and I keep that on hand all the time.
      Good job on freezing soup in meal size portions.
      You really can make a lot of neat things with Ramen - and it is about the cheapest thing you can buy.

      It is nice to be prepared.

  2. I love rice of any kind. I also love potatoes and legumes, so I can be an easy feed.

    1. Me too!!!! Some of my favorite things. I guess we are cheap and easy dates!!!! LOL

  3. I, too, love Ramen noodles. When I make it I snip open the seasoning packet and add a pinch to my bowl. I also add l/o bits of meat and vegetables until I have a full meal. So satisfying. I've never made my own Rice a Roni and haven't bought it for years since my son moved out on his own. Fresh rice (brown, jasmine, basmati and white) is on my grocery list and will be transferred to jars and kept in the fridge. Thanks, Cheryl!

    1. I like adding things to Ramen as well. It makes a quick, cheap and filling meal.
      Good going - keep those different types in frig. White should be fine on the shelf. Don't want you to lose any again!

    2. You're right Cheryl! Lesson learned.

  4. Thanks for the tips and recipes. We all love rice here, and it is a great way to stretch a meal.
    I so love your blog. You keep things real. Some bloggers are food police, so they would never have ramen in their pantry. But I think ramen is a great thing to have on hand. My son likes making an egg drop or hot and sour type soup with ramen. We all love the noodle salad that you posted.
    I keep some canned soups in my pantry too. When I am sick, I surely don't feel like cooking.
    Thanks for keeping it real, and not making me feel guilty for having ramen and canned soups in my pantry. ;)

    1. No food police at my house!!!!!
      I think we all have a variety of things we like and/or use - good or bad for us - well, it is what it is. Not all good things are healthy!!!
      I regularly have chips, Ramen, and snacks of all kinds at my house. I like being healthy - but I like treats too.

      Egg drop soup sounds yummy, that would be so good with the noodles.
      You are much welcome my friend!

  5. Rice is life in my home. It is my main food and my favorite food. I have it several times a week in different varieties.

    Soup is also a big love. I don't get all the ramen hate either. Too much hate in the world when you start judging on food, lol. It is a main staple in a lot of Asian diets. They are very healthy. I never eat the season packets because I have an allergy to one of the ingredients. :( I love a cup of hot noodles with yummy vegetables and broth. Yum! I had Ramen last night for a snack.

    1. We love rice as well. I don't have it that often, but at least every week.

      Exactly - we started sending out hate vibes on food - we are doomed!
      Buy what you like and eat what you buy! You are right, Ramen is a staple in many Asian diets. I think the salt content is what freaks people out. My theory, is use less of the packet or make your own variation.

      I often have a nice bowl of Ramen to warm up on a cold winter's day!

  6. Good recipes here. I keep ramen on the shelf too, for a treat or for emergency meals. If we are just making soup with it we always rinse the noodles off after cooking it removes a lot of the starch. I don't use the seasoning packet most times but season with 5 Chinese spice and what ever else tastes good.
    I love rice but it just doesn't like me too much.

    1. That's a good idea to wash off the starches. Using Chinese spices and such is a great idea. Maybe even an oriental sauce or marinade. YUM
      They are just so easy to fix in a minute.

      Bummer on the rice. I love it. Glad I don't have a problem with it. Lucky - not too much messes with me.

    2. Thanks for the tip, LaurieS, I haven't bought Ramen in awhile but I just added it to my current grocery list and I have 5 Chinese spice in my rack.

  7. So glad I came by ..I love that slaw noodle recipe. I have had that a t church functions and it's so good. Thanks!