Thursday, August 5, 2010

In an Instant

I'm at a crossroads in the kitchen, and it all started with instant mashed potatoes. What are the pros and cons of keeping boxes of instant mashed potatoes or rice mixes or pasta mixes? Should I even bother buying jars of spaghetti sauce?

I have a good Cuban friend who left Miami four years ago and along with her family moved to Georgia. In Miami she was a realtor; now, we call her a guajira (Cuban hillbilly/farmer), she has a big enough property where she and her husband plant their own garden; a garden that this year has yielded 504 ears of corn which were husked, cut in three, blanched and frozen and greens beans that were canned as well as the peaches from her trees. Jellies were made with the many raspberries, blackberries and strawberries. She put her onions and peppers through a food processor and froze them in exact proportions to make sofrito. She has enough to last a year and she feeds a family of nine. She has 25 hens so she never has to buy eggs. She buys her rice in 40 lb bags, the same with sugar and flour.  I'm pretty sure she doesn't have any Rice-A-Roni boxes sitting in her pantry. The pictures above are from her garden.

I guess it all comes down to time, expense and nutrition. You can get a box of macaroni and cheese for under a dollar, but how nutritious is it? It's easier to open and heat a can of beans than to prepare a batch of dried beans from scratch, but dried beans are much cheaper and yield way more than what you get in a can, plus you can prepare them to your taste. Then again, if you live alone, when would you ever be able to go through a pound of beans?

But my conundrum started with instant mashed potatoes. The potatoes in my refrigerator were starting to shrivel, so I peeled them, boiled them and mashed them. We can only eat so much, then what? I don't like frozen mashed potatoes, so in this instance I think I'll keep buying the instant.


  1. lol. My family buys the 50 lbs. of rice, and the only canned beans we've ever had were garbanzos and refried pintos.

    LOL. to answer your question I can go by myself through 1 lbs. of beans in about 1 week at most.

    like i just love love love legumes/ beans we always have some sort of potaje, or bean dish in the fridge, makes perfect lunch with some rice or bread and a salad. And I like the Mexican and Salvadorian style of refried beans tooo mmmmmm.... I'll make lots of Spanish bean dishes too.

    Then again in my household we are 5 people (Mom, Dad, Myself, Sister, and Grandmother) not to mention the guests that may pass by to visit so we often do cook big meals.

  2. We don't go through that many beans or rice, but we like them. I just like a variety of rices and beans and I just don't have the room to store all that. I don't have a good place to store potatoes either, and I hate to throw away bad food. So even though it might be more expensive to buy potatoes a few at at time it is better for our family, and sometime in a pinch those instant work fine. We live in between 2 Publix Supermarkets that are about 1/2 mile away one in one direction one in the other, then go north about a half mile there is a Sweetbay Supermarket. Not to mention 2 health food stores, one we could walk to, and and Italian, Asian, and Hispanic Market all in between in every direction. We are so close to so much it's crazy and I'm spoiled! I do grow my own fresh herbs! :D

    Although I did stop buying the pasta and rice mix. I'd much rather season it myself and avoid all the salt and other unwanted additives. But I'm not giving up the jar of spaghetti sauce, I just wish they made them in smaller jars. So it all comes down to what works best for you and your family in your location.

  3. Nathan you are too funny. I don't want to know what a pound of beans would do to my digestive track in one week!

    Lyndsey, I know what it's like to store food in Florida. The saying "keep it in a cool dry place" means nothing there. Everything spoils.

    Up here though I'm already thinking winter, and I need to stock up. I don't mind the snow too much, but when there is ice I won't drive, and when the wind chill is below zero I'd rather stay at home. So I stock up on staples.

    Also, most people here have two refrigerators and a stand up freezer. I have a refrigerator in the kitchen and one in the garage. I don't have a stand up freezer, but when it gets really cold I put anything that won't fit in the freezer section in a large cooler and sit it out on the deck. It's colder out there than in the freezer! LOL!

  4. I'm not a big fan of mashed potatoes, but we love grated potatoes in eggs. I think you can grate and freeze them. Your friend's farm look amazing! But that's not possible for everyone. A box of easy-to-make food now and then isn't so bad.

  5. Thanks for the tip Otehlia. I will definiely try that.
    My friend refers to her "farm" as a garden. I told her no garden yields over 500 ears of corn! LOL