Friday, March 8, 2013

What Zatarain's taught me.

In the past few months I have been looking at ways to cut our budget along with eating healthier, and there is a trend in some staples like, rice and oatmeal, that I have come accustomed to growing up.

I have always used 'rice in a bag' or 'minute rice' when I want to add it to my dish.  Then one day I used a box of Zatarain's.  I know - that is still a 'convenience' food - but really only for the combination of spices.  They didn't put their rice in a special bag - instead they said I needed to have an exact measurement of water then throw in this package of loose rice and spices - then.... wait for it ..... KEEP AN EYE ON IT.  Imagine that!  I could make rice when it wasn't in a bag.  I know it sounds silly, but in all honesty, for those of us raised on the bagged stuff, it is hard to imagine making something with out it.  One starts looking at rice cookers and thinking these are a necessary part of making loose rice.

This revelation got me to thinking - why?  Why do I buy these bags of rice that force a specific amount of portions on me.  I realized I do it only because it is what I have always done, it is a repeat of what I have seen my mother do when I was growing up.  Well - I am done with that.  I will now purchase my rice in the bag, measure out exactly what I want or need for the meal - and cook it up in a pot (I know the rice cooker is for convenience, but really - I am already at the stove cooking other stuff) - and now I am free from spending extra money on those bags of rice in a box.  Free from trying to figure out the best way to reheat the rice that I didn't need - and so on.

Don't get me wrong - I will still purchase the rice with seasonings, like Zatarain's - but I will start purchasing my bags of brown rice by the bag and not the box of bags.


This line of thinking even spilled over to my oatmeal.  I enjoy Quaker oatmeal, and usually get the boxes of the little packets.  Again - for the seasoning - but really, seasoning oatmeal isn't a mystery, and I tend to add some extra anyway.  Chop up some apples, find some raising, sprinkle some cinnamon, dribble some honey - how hard is that?  I have this stuff in my home anyway.  The way I see it a medium apple and small box of raisins could easily supplement my morning oatmeal.  So - why not by the big thing of plain oatmeal and try this on my own?  Wouldn't that be considerably cheaper?  I think I am going to try it - what is the worse that could happen?

So take a minute - look at what you are doing.  Are you really saving yourself time?  or are you just doing the same thing you have always done - spending extra money that is really unnecessary to spend - because there really is no added convenience?  (In my opinion instant potatoes do add convenience - they aren't as good, but they are convenient)

This was originally posted in an old blog of mine on 10/25/11

Update:  Since this post, I only purchase rice and grits in the bags.  The grits I get are usually the 'quick cook' kind, only because when I am cooking them I have already spent enough time at the stove cooking the bacon.  It is nice to quickly move through the eggs and the grits.  I always purchase my rice in the bag, or in pre-seasoned boxes (if I am not looking for white or brown rice).  I always cook it in a small sauce pan over the stove.  Once I mastered that, I saw no point in purchasing a rice cooker.  Yes sometimes I still burn it if I stop paying attention, but not often enough to change my new habits.

The only 'do-it-yourself' quick cook skill I have not learned is how to appropriately flavor oatmeal.  At this time I still prefer the instant packets to making it on my own - but I think I just need to learn the magic mix of ingredients before I kick those to the curb too.

9 comments:

  1. I love rice. Yes, I burn them sometimes too but I still love them. thanks for visiting and I am your newest follower.
    Vickie

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    1. Thanks so much - I went back and got you on Bloglovin' as well :-) The dogs love the burnt rice, so it never goes to waste :-D

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  2. Since I live with a jillion people (yeah, that's a real number) convenience foods are almost always too small, too expensive, and too unhealthy for us. The only exception is giant boxes of frozen waffles I get at BJs, and that's really only because making pancakes takes roughly the same ingredients and is much faster (plus what the majority prefers), so I tend to do that if I'm cooking breakfast.

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    1. I miss BJs! We don't have them here. But you are right, in a large family the prepackaged stuff just wouldn't do. I am still working on getting rid of some more pre-processed stuff ... it is slow going - I was raised on TV dinners so it is a tough thing to step away from, limited funds help! :-D

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    2. BTW - I just realized that first sentence sounded really really bad ... BJs is like Sam's Wholesale or Costco. I used to go to them in FL, but they aren't here. (they have in store coupons and take manufacturers coupons - the only wholesale club that does)

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  3. Oh you practical woman! You bust up the un-reality that is my kitchen! :) I know there are probably a hundred ways we could be saving money, but that requires someone who actually wants to be in the kitchen, lol.

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    1. hahahahahaha - that was SO me about 2 years ago. Then our income cut by over half and I had to learn - and do it quickly :-) I am kind of liking it better, and I am telling you I have a hell of a lot less acid reflux!

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  4. You had me until grits! That stuff is nasty ;)
    Isn't it amazing how much you can save when you stop buying for convenience and get back to cooking the old way. Thanks for coming by the Hump Day Hook Up

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    1. Thanks for stopping by here! And I am a southerner .. can't really call yourself a southerner and not like grits :-) and sweet iced tea! LOL

      Loved your post about Tweetdeck :-D

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