A Rice Cooker Makes Healthy, Frugal Meals

By ERIN TURNER

We received a rice cooker for our wedding 16 years ago.  I kept it for a few years without using it and then finally decided it was taking up prime real estate in my kitchen so I sold it in a garage sale.   It wasn’t until just recently that I realized what a dreadful mistake it was to sell it!

I was talking “shop” with a fellow frugalite and she said, “You have a rice cooker, right?”  I just looked at her and shrugged my shoulders.  With astonishment she looked at me and said, “You DON’T have a rice cooker?! I can’t believe you DON’T have a rice cooker!”  Okay, okay…fine! I DON’T have a rice cooker.  What’s the big deal?

Well, the big deal is rice cookers are a super time and money saving gadget for your kitchen!  I never realized it until my frugal friend shared her love of the rice cooker. Well, I wasn’t going to run out and buy one so I continued to be rice cooker-less for awhile Until our neighborhood community center had a craft fair and a silent auction this fall.

Erin Turner Rice Cooker

Just add the rice and the water, push the start button and walkaway.

Wanting to support a good cause, I wandered over to the silent auction table and laid my eyes on something which made my heart flutter!  It was a RICE COOKER…brand new, never used.  I quickly placed a reasonable bid on it and crossed my fingers.  In the end, the rice cooker came home with me.  I was so excited but I still couldn’t wrap my brain around the beauty of this device!

For Christmas, I received a book about Freezer Cooking and baking in large batches (blogging material at its finest!) and many of the recipes called for large amounts of rice.  Enter: the rice cooker.  In this rice cooker, I can cook up to 5 cups of uncooked rice at one time.  That’s a lot of cooked rice!  But the super cool thing?  All I have to do is add the water and the rice and then push a button and walk away.

Now, I have to admit I am not the best rice cook in the world.  I don’t have a lot of patience to stand over a pot of rice for hours on end and I really try to stay away from Minute Rice because of how it is processed.  So, for years my family has had to endure either my under cooked rice or overcooked clumped rice.  No wonder they all say, “Rice isn’t my favorite thing.”

So imagine my surprise when the rice cooker finished and I opened the cover to find perfectly cooked rice.  It was completely cooked, plump and had the perfect amount of stickiness! Plus, I had multiple servings at my finger tips.  Okay, now I’m getting it….I understand why my friend was so adamant about owning a rice cooker.

My first large batch rice meal was Pork Fried Rice.  It was a frugal one pot dish with lots of veggies.  Every grain of rice was licked off every plate on our table that night and I received compliments from every member of the family.  I really was wrapping my brain around it now.

Perfect Rice

Perfect rice. Plump and just the right amount ofstickiness!

When dinner finished, I bagged up the rest of the rice into sizes which I needed for other large batch meals and put it in the freezer.   I also saved out a few cups for a side dish casserole I was making for a potluck dinner the next night.   Plus, this cooker also can steam veggies and any other food that just needs steaming.  A double purpose gadget…gotta love that benefit!

It took me less than five minutes to pull out my rice cooker, fill it with water and rice and push the cook button and in return I received 4+ meals for a total cost of: $4.00!  Now, these aren’t complete meals yet but the rice serves as a good foundation for building a frugal, healthy and tasty meal!

I’m not always an advocate for buying extra gadgets unless they really pull their weight around the house or in the kitchen, but I highly recommend getting your hands on a rice cooker.  I’ve seen them at Goodwill in like-new condition or check out the sale ads for local stores.  Last week, Shopko had a rice cooker on sale for $14.99.   This also makes for a great birthday gift idea!!

I’m a believer now…years after thinking my wedding gift was a worthless device, I have discovered differently and am grateful for my friend challenging me for not owning one.  This rice cooker will provide multiple meals for just pennies in no time at all and with almost zero effort on my part!  Yeah, I’m pretty proud to say that I now own a rice cooker!

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 Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, sticking to a budget, and living sustainably in her blog archive.

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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